Mere's self-titled release is certainly very different than the prototypical Gizeh recording. Recent albums by FareWell Poetry (Hoping For The Invisible To Ignite), Richard Knox & Frédéric D. Oberland (The Rustle of the Stars), and A-Sun Amissa (Desperate In Her Heavy Sleep) are all very much in the label's ambient-classical-soundscaping tradition. More to the point, each emphasizes formal composition and a corresponding de-emphasis on free improvisation. Mere's raison d'etre, by comparison, is improvisation first and foremost, as evidenced by the fact that all three of the album's tracks were recorded in single takes preceded by shared understandings about outline and tuning.
Bass clarinetist Gareth Davis, guitarist Thomas Cruijsen, and drummer Leo Fabriek first came together to create material for a soundtrack for a Dutch TV documentary titled Visserman, but then decided to continue on as an experimental, jazz-based trio. A scan of Davis's discography reveals that he's someone who collaborates often, a recent example being Gramercy, the Miasmah set he created with cellist Frances-Marie Uitti only a short while ago (others he's worked with include Machinefabriek, Scanner, Ryan Teague, and Elliott Sharp); it's no surprise, then, that he fits in comfortably within this configuration, though Cruijsen and Fabriek, truth be told, sound no less comfortable.
In keeping with that live improv spirit, the forty-three-minute disc's three pieces are titled “I,” “II,” and “III,” as if to suggest that all that was needed for the recording's purposes was to differentiate between the takes in some clear manner. Track times vary, however, with the three checking in at ten, eight, and twenty-five minutes, respectively. The opening piece clearly captures Mere's improvised approach in showing all three playing freely and responding in the moment to one another, even if the snake-charming lines of Davis's sinuous playing lead the way before Cruijsen and Fabriek dig in more aggressively as the track progresses. The dynamic pitch of the second is a bit more restrained as the three hew to a lower level of intensity, content to keep the fire under control before the journey's longest leg is undertaken. It's the third track where Davis, egged on by the drummer's oft-explosive accompaniment, really lets loose with repeated flurries of high-pitched squeals and guttural cries. Cruijsen never sits out though at times is felt more subliminally, his playing often textural and atmospheric but in certain moments manic (one episode even finds him resembling a fiddler). The name Mere comes from the Dutch word for ‘more,' and as such one can't help but think that the Gestalt principle “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” clearly applies in this case.