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NDIO: Airback

Former Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper’s current band, NDIO, offers some exciting pieces on Airback, though the insertion of distracting samples sometimes detracts from rather than improves the composition. That’s particularly true on “Stromboli,” where Hopper’s samples make the short tune overly busy, and on “Last Night of the Prawns” where Michael Banabila’s samples don’t buttress the main arrangement so much as clutter it up. But “Big Bombay,” “Landscapes,” “Bone” and “Mr. Barn,” the disc’s finest selections, combine flamboyant solos and adept unison passages without electronic distractions. Shorter songs like “Stromboli,” which is both disjointed and limp, and the rambling “Mind Interception,” fail to inspire.

Besides principal composer, tenor/soprano saxophonist and bass clarinetist Frank van der Kooij, the band’s other sterling instrumentalists include trombonist Robert Jarvis, guitarist Niels Brouwer and Hopper, a clean, fast soloist and fine accompanist.

Originally Published