That an artist would become enamored with divination after moving to the sprawling, mountain-laden countryside on the outskirts of Santa Fe, N.M., makes perfect sense.
So, too, does Frames.
While not improvised, per se, the album does toe the line between boundlessness and structure. A methodically composed exercise through the tempered scale, Frames clocks in at a brisk 31 minutes, yet its scope is cavernous and pastoral, much like the mountains in which Haas wrote its 11 songs. Its tone was inspired as much by contemporary artists James Blake and Nigel Godrich as much as Fats Waller or Earl Hines — which is to say this thing is lush — with soundscapes so immersive you’d swear it took more than two people to make them.
This is in large part a testament to Chamberlain’s drumming, which utilizes percussive sounds to either drive a song or supplement it. On “Of Many, One,” his style is assuredly dizzying, while on “Death: An Introduction,” toms and snares patter like rain on a foggy window. The instrumental chemistry between Haas and Chamberlain is unusually on-point, especially for a first-time collaboration.
Astrology may be or may not be real, but jazzstrology certainly is. And Frames is as allegorically alive as it is academic. — Zach Hale