Sunday, July 12, 2009
Tom Chant/Angharad Davies/Benedict Drew/John Edwards - Decentred (another timbre)
An intriguing smorgasbord that hits home a few times and just misses some others. Three of the six pieces are by Michael Pisaro, each a duo (violin/bass, violin/bass clarinet and bass/electronics). They're quite spare, often near unisons of held tones hovering in space. I found the first and second of only moderate interest but the third subtly wonderful, perhaps merely due to the instrumental combination, but it clicked far more forcefully and movingly for me. The two improvisations fare better, "Activation" an engaging mix of ethereal drones and everyday pops 'n' squeaks that remains solid and colorful throughout, "Decentring" a fine mesh of thin tones flitting past, the quartet again finding great variety in a fairly circumscribed area.
I've heard several versions of Cage's late "number" pieces; I don't have nearly a good understanding of them, I'm sure, but I've tended to enjoy them greatly. "Four6", presented here, is no exception. There's just a certain kind of openness in play, an unforced breadth, that makes it a joy to enter, each instrument really penetrating the aural space in a corporeal but delicate manner, like tendrils hanging from an eave. Really good work.
Rhodri Davies/Michel Doneda/Louisa Martin/Phil Minton/Lee Patterson - Midhopestones (another timbre)
Would have guessed, wrongly, that a session with Doneda and Minton present would turn into something more rambunctious. Restraint is the order of the day here, however, and it's an excellent day's work. There are actually only a handful of moments when you can recognize Minton; he blends amazingly well with the harp (e-bowed, pretty much), soprano sax, laptop and amplified objects. Mostly hushed with an great mix of textures, sandpapery to bell-like, sighed to gravelly. Nice, distant foghorn-y effects on the last cut, over whistled saxophone. Solid, mature in the best sense, well worth a listen.
Simon has also released four more CDRs in his Byways series, meant to provide snapshots of the British scene, in these cases having been recorded in March and April of 2009.
Léo Dumont/Matt Milton - Scrub
Percussion/violin in quiet, though very active mode. It stays in the area initially circumscribed, investigating intently, scratching away like furious termites for some 20 minutes before an "alarm bell" sound ushers in a second phase of gentle cymbal washes and softly plucked then more harshly sawn violin. This in turn settles into a small bed of muted bells, barely there drones and assorted chatter. I found the performance to get more engaging as it progressed, always a good thing, ending succinctly after about a half hour. I've been listening to these Byways discs a bit differently, trying more to psychically place myself in the live situation as opposed to hearing it as a "release". I can see being quite satisfied after this one.
Paul Abbott/Léo Dumont/Ute Kanngiesser - Loiter Volcano
The excellently titled "Loiter Volcano" was a constant source of somewhat surprising pleasure the first time I listened. "Surprising" because the general attack leans a bit more toward efi (I suppose "post-efi" has been appropriate for a good while) than I normally care for. But this mix of electronics (that's printed here with a line through it--no idea why or how to reproduce it typographically), percussion and cello simply filled the space in a manner that held me rapt throughout. As with the other release featuring Dumont, it's partially about the textures and their creative deployment but, more, it's the structural fabric that emerges during the piece, the tensile strength one hears; there are no weak planks, each passage provides sure, if giddy, footing to the next. Whatever (non) electronics Abbott is wielding, he does so with great tact and Kanngiesser's cello, often residing in a semi-traditional zone, is a perfect foil, not lacking in emotion. Loiter Volcano is my personal pick of this litter.
Matthias Forge/Phil Julian/David Papapostolou - Meshes
I'm not quite as sanguine about this one, one track of which was recorded at the same event as the above. Trombone, electronics (sans disfigurement) and cello, the trio opts for a sparser, more irregular path, with perhaps a higher degree of difficulty. Two cuts, both emerging more or less unscathed, but somehow striking me as overly forced. Actually, it's a tough one for me to call; sometimes it has a searching quality that's very appealing, other times I hear it less as "searching" and more as "casting about". Again, I don't believe these are meant as statements or finished projects, more as snapshots; there's nothing here that would dissuade me from hoping to hear more from this trio by any means. I just wanted more rigor this time around.
Jamie Coleman/Grundik Kasyansky/Seymour Wright - Control and Its Opposites
Eighty minutes of trumpet/electronics and alto sax. Here, the length works in its favor. An advantage, oddly, to listening at home (and reading the back of the sleeve): You know it's 80 minutes long so you "read" it as such, as it's happening, sitting back a bit, seeking a wider focus. Wright gets nicely strident here and there, Coleman generally staying with breath tones early on, getting more vociferous later, Kasyansky hither and yon (some well modulated radio), doing a fine job integrating and coloring. There's a break almost an hour in and one wouldn't have been surprised or disappointed had it ended there, but happily it does not, the ensuing 20 or so minutes taking on a kind of AMMish quality (replete with brief Sheryl Crow and "Blue Moon" captures), all subdued tension. Rather rare, that, after a relatively lengthy set. Good job.
A quality set of releases; nice to get the documentation of the scene.
....now if only that long-awaited Tilbury disc would finally see the light of day...