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From A Jazz Trio, Hypnotic Work That Hardly Sounds Like Jazz

Dawn of Midi. Left to right: drummer Qasim Naqvi, bassist Aakaash Israni and pianist Amino Belyamani.
Falkwyn de Goyeneche
Courtesy of the artist
Dawn of Midi. Left to right: drummer Qasim Naqvi, bassist Aakaash Israni and pianist Amino Belyamani.

It takes a while to orient yourself when you're listening to the band Dawn of Midi. The new album Dysnomia is a 47-minute-long composition by what looks like a jazz triodrums, bass and piano. But it sounds like something completely different — looping, minimal electronic music. And there's no improvisation here: It's performed the same way, note for note, every time.

"We definitely sculpted the sounds of the piece as an homage to electronic music," says the band's bassist, Aakaash Israni. "We wanted to show that these instruments are capable of more than just the way they've been heard traditionally."

One writ-large example: Pianist Amino Belyamani's extremely unconventional approach to his instrument.

"The entire piano part is played one-handed on the keyboard, because his left hand on the strings of the piano," Israni explains. "So he's muting the strings to create this sort of synthy kind of sound; it almost sounds like a guitar harmonic. And that allows him to move and change and sculpt the sound of the piano in incredible ways.

Dysnomia is named after the furthest moon in our solar system. Each of the tracks, Israni says, gets its name from a different orbiting body — a tribute to the elliptical nature of the music.

"From the listener's perspective it can be very difficult to follow what's going on, but it can still be felt, which was very important to us — that you can feel the pulse, or many pulses, whether or not you understand how it's happening" he says. "From our side of things, having worked this out and composed this, we are not lost when we play it. But that only has come through a lot of labor."

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NPR Staff