The Dark Pattern

Phil Slater


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The Dark Pattern is the latest work by jazz trumpeter and composer Phil Slater, out on Earshift Music. This 2 CD set is the much-awaited follow-up to the trumpeter’s critically acclaimed recording The Thousands, and expands the creative development of one of Australia’s most original and uncompromising artists. 

The music is paradoxically calm and meditative whilst bristling with an undercurrent of energy and stream-of-consciousness excitement found in all of the best jazz music. The Dark Pattern features long-time musical collaborators pianist Matt McMahon, drummer Simon Barker, bassist Brett Hirst and tenor saxophonist Matt Keegan, and represents an impressive highpoint in the ongoing development of creative and original Australian jazz.

The Dark Pattern emerges from a sustained period of research and practice undertaken by the trumpeter in the landscape of the Illawarra region. Taking influence from landscape-inspired Australian contemporary music, Slater is exploring a new direction for his creative practice by developing improvisational skills and processes informed by musical reflections and interactions with place. Slater says: “Our understanding of the places we inhabit – our sense-of-place - is directed by our actions within the environment. We move our bodies to experience the world around us. When these experiences are from music making, we can begin to understand place through sound, and at the same time, understand something new about the music we make. The Dark Pattern explores ways that the environment can guide musical decisions in ways other than just the representation of landscape.  I’m interested in the ways in which we musically enact the landscape, and can develop our understanding of place through a musical experience and engagement with it.”

“There is a pattern,” says Slater, “of non-indigenous Australian artists, composers and performers struggling with the appropriateness and authenticity of their work in the context of Australia’s history, location and conditions. The turn to the landscape as a theme in music making has been a pathway for many Australian artists seeking authenticity and identity in their work. The Dark Pattern attempts to make a small contribution to this ongoing engagement with landscape by Australian musicians.”

Slater is one of Australia’s most accomplished jazz artists. He is the leader/co-leader of the Phil Slater Quartet, The Sun Songbook, Band of Five Names and Daorum. He has been  a featured performer with a wide variety of  artists including the Australian Art Orchestra, Archie Roach, Sandy Evans, Missy Higgins, Lou Reed, Bae Il Tong, Katie Noonan, Vince Jones, Jim Black, Bernie McGann, Baecastuff, Genevieve Lacey, Andrea Keller, Jonathan Zwartz, PNAU, DIG, and many others. His work has been featured widely in Australian theatre, cinema and television productions. He has been awarded the National Jazz Award, the Bell Award for Australian Jazz Musician of the Year and Best Australian Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, the Freedman Fellowship and the Limelight Award and is currently a lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.     

Artist: Phil Slater
Album: The Dark Pattern
Release: July 19, 2019
Label: Earshift Music distributed by MGM
Personnel: Phil Slater (trumpet), Matt Keegan (saxophone), Matt McMahon (piano), Brett Hirst (bass), Simon Barker (drums)