If one had to choose a solitary word to describe Universal Mind
, it would have to be "pensive." Homeported in the Hague, AsGuests was founded some fifteen years ago by vibraphonist Herak and pianist Vanoucek as a duo that eventually evolved into a quartet with a revolving cast of guest artists to augment the ensemble. Here they add a string trio to perform eight compositions written by the pianist. Except for "Solace Cells" and "Guanc," which log in at a little over eleven minutes each, three of the items are no more than sketches of two or three minutes duration while the other two are a little longer at around 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 minutes. As permanent members since 2004, the bass & drum team of Soniano and Sun are the glue that holds the co-leaders and Dutch string section together and provide what little fireworks are to be heard rhythmically. As can be expected of a pair of conservatory graduates, the leaders are technically excellent on their respective instruments and, at times on the opening track and two longest numbers, reminded this listener of the interplay between Chick Corea and Gary Burton. The string section is interspersed cleverly throughout the program; they introduce "Solace Cells" and take solos (written?) on the floating ballad "Belba Song." Both parts of the "?74 Prologue" feature upright bassist Soniano (who has an impressive spot on the opening title) intermingling with one of the lower string players. The no-metered, string-heavy "Koloratok" closes out the album. Expertly rendered with exquisite sound but a tad too mild-manner for my specific tastes.