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Michael Thomas: Event Horizon

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Michael Thomas: Event Horizon
Photograph courtesy of the artist

It makes eminent sense to begin by recalling Aristotle’s iconic mimesis: “Life imitates Art.” However, Plato, mentor to Aristotle, puts a damper on this argument. In his palimpsest Republic he suggests just how far removed from life poetry and art can be; creating realities from which little form exists; complex amalgamations of imagination and desire with little or no connection to reality. You can almost see Plato run screaming down the hallways of a contemporary music conservatoire, or even rushing the stage during a performance. But it seems that he’s far from correct in the case of this performance by Michael Thomas on Event Horizon. This music holds up to Platonic scrutiny rather well.

It holds your attention for the entire duration of these two discs not only because its repertoire is not only designed to imitate life but because it sublimates life into art in the grand manner. So in the context of deconstruction of musical art and its imitation of life it is a magnificent safe haven for Mr Thomas to escape his own existential crisis. It does the same for us, as listeners, as well. So in a sense for Mr Thomas and the performers [Jason Palmer, Hans Glawischnig and Johnathan Blake] as well as for us experiencing it all, the veracity of the music takes us to a special place where “Art imitates Life” because there is nothing true, other than the composer’s manifest emotion, and ours as well.

Aristotle’s mimesis has been borne out in this sublime music. In Michael Thomas’ re-creation of what he sees as life around him or in his imagination, we find a search for true art that accurately reflects reality. And in the performance of Mr Thomas’s artistic meditations, voices in a moist and vivid manner, in the supplications of Jason Palmer’s trumpet and in the gravitas of Mr Glawischnig’s bass and the earthy hiss and rumble of Mr Blake’s drumming we come face to that art which in turn, brings us closer to the sorrows and joys, despairs and hopes – in fact, to the goodness of life itself.

These musicians’ collective attempts to walk a fine line between what the artist truly feels and what is actually being imitated; to describe what they see – no matter how subjective- and to report the events as an emotional reaction what they perceive. From “Distance” and “Framework” to “Underground” and “Event Horizon” we come face to face with authentic musical art. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of curious exploration, individuality and tradition are all maintained throughout this extraordinary repertoire.

Track list – Disc One – 1: Distance; 2: Drift; 3: Bass Intro; 4: Dr. Teeth; 5: Framework Disc Two – 1: Sax Intro; 2: Chant; 3: Underground; 4: Drum Intro; 5: Event Horizon; 6: Fox and Cat

Personnel – Michael Thomas: alto saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Hans Glawischnig: contrabass; Johnathan Blake: drums

Released 2020
Label – Giant Step Arts [GSA 005]
Runtime – Disc One 49:35 Disc Two 58:42

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