Mercurial BalmECM ***

Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen and British saxophonist Iain Ballamy may play traditional acoustic instruments, but their sound is filtered through layers of electronic processing and “performed” live on laptops, creating dense, limitless soundscapes. One of the more original players to emerge from the seminal Loose Tubes big band, Ballamy eschews the traditional soloist’s role in favour of slowly evolving melodic ideas that stretch out into the huge spaces created by Stronen’s taut percussion and post-industrial noise. Guests on Food’s second ECM album include guitarist Eivind Aarset, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, and Indian slide guitarist and vocalist Prakash Sontakke, whose Hindustani melodies provide a welcome counterpoint to the Arctic austerity of the two leaders.