One of the more striking features of “Arcade,” the opening track on What Exit, is that in nearly 23 minutes it neither drags nor presents itself as a piece with clearly defined sections or movements. As Anders Jormin opens the piece with a bass solo—played over Tom Rainey’s rolling cymbals and Feldman’s aggressive violin bowing—pianist John Taylor begins playing changes beneath him, which flow into a violin spotlight and, later, group interaction. Even in moments where notes decay into silence, Feldman and his group create anticipation for what comes next.
The violinist, whose resume includes appearances with everyone from Tim Berne to Loretta Lynn, writes in a manner that derives qualities from jazz and contemporary composition, and the end result defies easy categorization. What Exit is sequenced to alternate ruminative pieces with more upbeat ones, with variations in structure marking each piece. “Ink Pin” has a stop-start quality built on the repetition of complex, clipped phrases that cue the different solo passages. “Elegy” is divided between somber violin passages and the rhythm section’s open-ended responses. Throughout, Feldman plays with a strong tone that never gets thin or shrill, even as he flies into the upper register of his instrument.