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Album Review: Topology - Ten Hands

9 August 2013 | 11:54 am | Matt O'Neill

There is a sense that Topology can go further still – but, for now, Ten Hands does a wonderful job of bringing their oft-obscured sense of adventure a lot closer to the surface. An awesome album.



Ten Hands finds Topology moving in a different direction. The album is billed as a hulking, solitary piece of music – composed collectively by all five members of the Brisbane chamber ensemble. It's previously debuted as a relatively successful hybrid theatre performance directed by Annie Lee of the Kranksy Sisters. While not as bracing on record as it is live, it still feels like a bold and appropriate new direction for the group.

Topology have always struggled with balancing their experimental tendencies with their jazz and classical influences, but Ten Hands stands as a record that could be enjoyed by audiences well outside of the jazz and classical realms. It's got an ambition and an edge to it that gives it a far-reaching, adventurous appeal. This is accomplished in part by the stylistic experimentation on display throughout. Reunion rides a spiraling synth squiggle. When You Found Out sees upright bassist Robert Davidson drop some Paul Weller-style vocals into the fray. There are lots of little subtle experiments littered across the album.

Beyond that, it's simply an immediately appealing work. Sprawling and romantic, it's a beautiful listen. Melodies practically cascade from the instrumentation. The overall structure of the work is knotty and, upon initial listens, overly complex – but repeated investigations find the group's music truly blossoming. It grows into an incredibly emotional experience. The experimental outlook ultimately only serves heighten the group's dramatic flair for romance.

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There is a sense that Topology can go further still – but, for now, Ten Hands does a wonderful job of bringing their oft-obscured sense of adventure a lot closer to the surface. An awesome album.