A Dance That Empties is Travis Laplante‘s latest album-length composition, written for Subtle Degrees, a new two-musician ensemble consisting of Laplante (tenor saxophone) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). The duo's uncategorizable sound evokes everything from contemporary classical music, avant garde jazz, minimalism, technical metal, and sacred world music. Inspired by the longer durational forms of spiritual ceremonies, A Dance That Empties is a continuous journey that unfolds over 43 minutes, with musical motifs that foreshadow, recur, and evolve.
The piece refines sonic territory that Laplante has pioneered in his celebrated saxophone quartet Battle Trance, as well as his solo saxophone work, utilizing long passages of circular breathing and other extended techniques to create specific and yet ineffable emotional and sonic resonances. A Dance That Empties, as the title implies, adds the distinctly new element of complex rhythmic pulses precisely and expressively executed by Cleaver, that compel listeners to lose themselves in the hypnotically repetitive yet subtly shifting grooves.
With A Dance That Empties, Laplante and Cleaver throw themselves into unknown territory, delving further into the devotional intensity that has long distinguished both their work.