Another Timbre

Two alto saxophones and an electric guitar, recorded in a church in Midhopestones, in the proximity of Sheffield. Glimpses of radio futility overwhelmed by metallic clatter and a by now customary damp whoosh, a battery fan, swift gestures in abundance. Razor-like buzzing, some wrongdoing, various thuds, the progressive addition of string resonance. A gradual escalation of the activities – call it crescendo – thanks to which the instrumental mass becomes more compact, abnormally harmonic in a way; a direction begins to appear. Percussiveness seemingly subjugated by the amplitude of a whirring body defined by its unhurried development. After a while the reeds partially reveal their primordial character, still mixing efficiently inside the textures generated by Rowe. No authentic openings, except single plucked note – or sheer hits – on the guitar, the radio again dictating ephemeral rules. Growls and rasping sounds amidst popping tongues and ringing sax bells, the acoustic picture resembling that of an artisan’s workshop. Overtones, noise and sporadic intrusions from the ether keep our attention tight enough. Apparent reed dismemberment, highlighted by fleeting female voices and additional interference; manifestation of indistinct tones coming from nothing, followed by stifled globular figurations. Stabilization of an organic entirety, intrinsic musicality palpable despite the unfriendly uniform. Squealing staccato, maltreated components, a continuous flux of air surrounding “material” actions. As the minutes elapse, the separation between the instruments turns out to be quite pronounced; we can follow each activity on different plans while maintaining the spotlight on the sum. A snippet from Sade’s “Smooth Operator” introduces an enigmatic segment, whose calmness is just an excuse for other kinds of meddlesomeness. This enforced amity – never totally reassuring, “enriched” as it is with gurgling and bubbling protrusions complementing the altos’ legitimate pitches – leads to the performance’s conclusion. Rowe’s humming drone emerges from the background at last, its quiet menace a thing of beauty for ears that seek beyond what’s ostensible.

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