GRUTRONIC – Essex Foam Party


Stephen Grew, Richard Scott, Nick Grew and David Ross constitute the vital organs of Grutronics, an improvising body formed by musicians endowed with ascertained technical preparation on acoustic instruments. Alternatively, for this project they make the most of the possibilities of electronics, sampling, analogue synthesis and processing to create music that is extraordinarily multicolored, often wacky – and occasionally formidable. In three (of seven) tracks of Essex Foam Party they’re aided by Paul Obermayer (of Furt fame) and vibraphonist Orphy Robinson. “Permanence” is a term that should be entirely excluded from the quartet’s vocabulary; the compositions, repeatedly reaching levels of cartoon-ish fun – a whole lot of belching squeals, incontrollable movements and overjoyed explosions keep us good company – are not classifiable straight away but still manage to attain an almost immediate positive reception by the equipped listener. This is mainly due to a discernible recusancy of the po-faced aspects of improvisation, enriched by a seemingly illimitable fantasy which pushes the group beyond the boundaries of unfruitful knob-turning. The total fragmentariness of everything that’s heard does the rest, never allowing the attention to dwindle, always producing the type of intense stimulation that usually gratifies a demanding kind of person. Yet, incredibly, it is also soothing – in a special way – for its conscious musicality. This “edibility of the tortuous” is possibly the outstanding trait of a praiseworthy ensemble whose artistic spirit stands somewhere between a schizophrenic version of Voice Crack and an alien Spike Jones.

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