The Verdict, Brighton
Monday 22nd May 2017
ENEMY, a superb trio of Kit Downes, Petter Eldh and James Maddren, was formed as a reaction to how Kit thinks about “complexity, and how liberating it can be”. And although this was an evening of complex music, it was also an evening of tremendous energy, interplay and sensitivity.
With a collection of highly original, contemporary compositions, each piece was like a rollercoaster ride contrasting busy and frenetic playing with sparse, gentle melodies, particularly the esoteric piece entitled Politics. Ending the set with a disjointed sounding composition dedicated to Brandy Norwood which began with James Maddren’s tight playing, it soon evolved into a vehicle for extended improvisations from Downes and Eldh.
Downes, playing with an injured finger on his left hand, performed some beautiful, unique improvisations on some very creative compositions by both Downes and bassist Eldh.
Starting the second set, the trio continued with motifs played in different registers, on different instruments, played underneath a drum solo, filled with Maddren’s trademark dexterity.
The final piece, Children with Torches, began with a solo piano montuno that abruptly transformed into a lopsided but jaunty piece imbued with small motifs and chord clusters which then transformed further into an Eldh-esque metal version before reverting back. The final encore, demanded by a jubilant Verdict audience, made references to Thelonious Monk’s Well You Needn’t whilst maintaining the spirit of original, contemporary music that sets this group apart.
Although ENEMY signed to the Edition label last September and recorded their debut album soon after, it won’t be released until 2018.
Kit Downes, piano; Petter Eldh, double bass; James Maddren drum kit.
Review by Charlie Anderson
Photo: Alex Bonney