While Gjerstad (alto sax, clarinet) and Norton (drums, marimba, vibes) had already been collaborators in preceding projects, Tipples represents their first recorded meeting with Watson, here stripped of his far-famed bagpipes but offering extensive dosages of hard pressure – often in rather noxious fashion (it’s a praise…) – on the electric guitar. The music possesses an aura of impermanent practicalness, if you can forgive the oxymoron. At the very beginning, Gjerstad is the one who starts sniffing the air quite evidently, expelling a series of indoctrinate squeals and skew-whiff figures around which his companions try to build highly variable structures mostly defined by Watson’s grumblingly magmatic, unkind-yet-controlled distortion and by Norton’s propensity to depict diaphanous percussive textures highlighted by occasional spurts of complexity, either on tuned percussion or on the drum set. Over subsequent transitions, this type of organized anarchy leaves space to frequent episodes of proportional stillness, always with an eye (and both ears) open by all the participants. Under the apparent calm, boiling energies are waiting to be exploited for additional segments of unsettled dialogue. The entire record is flavoured with intelligence – not a pitch, or a noise for that matter, getting wasted – and technically erudite reactivity to the spur of the moment.

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