Tin Hat: The Sad Machinery of Spring (Rykodisc)

Rob Burger’s 2004 departure from Tin Hat Trio left remaining members, Mark Orton and Carla Kihlstedt, with quite a dilemma. How to replace such a long-time collaborator and colleague? In the end, they chose to substitute one for three, and so Zeena Parkins, Ben Goldberg and Ara Anderson joined the renamed Tin Hat; The Sad Machinery of Spring is the new line-up’s first release.

The album draws inspiration from the writings of Polish novelist Bruno Schulz, which possess the classically-inflected surrealism that is Tin Hat’s natural mode. Easing itself into gaps between modern chamber, folk and jazz cabaret the 15 compact tracks slip past like hours in an Austrian cafe. If one song recalls early mornings shots in European films, another sounds like a heady mix of chocolate torte, schnapps and Kurt Weill.

All five players are represented as composers on this disc but, in the same way that the group’s instrumental palette easily suggests Central Europe (clarinet, violin), Celtic folk (harp), American blues (guitar) and classical (cello), it is ensemble thinking – and some nifty arrangements – that holds together this dreamlike collection.

The Sad Machinery of Spring is out on 30th January.

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