Lydian Collective is a 4-piece instrumental group formed by composer / producer Aaron Wheeler (aka Laszlo) and fellow producer and guitarist Todd Baker. They are joined by Sophie Alloway on drums and percussion and Ida Hollis on bass.

This is the first release I have heard from them and it has very quickly become one of those albums that is impossible to pigeon-hole but that I have been going back to time and again for new discoveries and mood enhancement.

They describe themselves as ‘Blissfully Different’ and there is certainly an ethereal and blissed element to the music but there is also no shortage of real musical talent on show and I have been knocked out by just how well they handle complex melodies and themes.

On first listening I was spotting elements of Caravan and Egg – the Canterbury stalwarts – in their sound but the more I delved into it the more I was hearing jazz, samba, latin and other styles. Much of it could be dismissed by the unwary as ‘light’ but listen closely and there is real joy in the playing and complexity in the way that the music is built.

Every number has unique charms whether it is the insistent beat of opening number ‘Thirty One’ which underpins some tricky guitar lines and delicate drum patterns or the lovely ‘Sleepyhead’, swirling around a sweet piano ‘noodle’ creating that feeling you get just as you are dropping off.
That it then leads into ‘Legend Of Lumbar’ is about perfect – strong and powerful, very much in the vein of Soft Machine and again that superb guitar playing, this time, against moody and sinister keys.

The whole album is something to give yourself to – you’ll only get from it if you add to the experience – but persevere and it may prove to be the best instrumental album you hear this year.