Ollie Dover: saxophones/bass clarinet; George Whalley, Craig Scott: double drumkit; Tom Lumley: saxophone/brains learner; Al MacSween: accordion; Seth Bennet: double bass; Yvonna Magda: violin; Richard Ormrod: saxophones/clarinets/brass/steel pans; Mila Dores: voice; Johnny Richards: 4 pianos/synth; Mick Bardon: double bass; Upneet Singh: tabla; Craig Scott: editing, composition, fretted/fretless guitars, circuit bent toys, drums & percussion, homemade tape manglers, bass, cracking bones, re-composition, urination & everything else
Picture a stammering kid who is also physically clumsy, endlessly stumbling upon objects to barely hold a balance in a resolute attempt of walking towards an unidentified aim. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, he starts performing improbable pirouettes and convoluted dance moves, all the while continuing to hit and break whatever comes through his path. In the meantime, a cocksure smiles materializes on his face as those who used to laugh at him are now watching in amazement, attracted by the new animal.
Craig Scott’s auditory communications start with improvisations, from which he extrapolates selected cores, protuberances, impairments and normalcies. By way of an apparently magnificent ear, Scott then proceeds to reorganize the implausible into what is not only “acceptable”, but ultimately challenging and, sometimes, dance-inducing (at least unconsciously; I found myself nodding in rhythmical support at the outset of a truly captivating piece called “Voodoo Friday”).
Interestingly, when someone creates music from preexisting materials the best results are usually achieved by eradicating the useless to keep the essence. Conversely, Scott attributes equal value to limitations and failures; his evolved ragbag features everything that an average audience would consider waste in a “regular” context. But, turning potential frustration into aural divertimento, the man interlocks patterns, elementary melodies, skewed pulses, amusing noises and tangled chords in an all-embracing non-genre that transmits a sense of healthy fun. Perhaps because one can detect that the ingredients of the whole enchilada come from musicians who can really play; no screaming agony rubbish or low budget “bad-trip psychedelia” here. The closest we get to the above description is the title track, but the territory is nearer to Mothers Of Invention circa “The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny” than to the numberless cheap imitators. And, of course, the favorable opinion expressed on the project by former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas in the press release tells all you need to know as far as convulsive drumming and jangly dissension are concerned.
What we’re trying to tell at the end of the day is that Craig Scott is an excellent composer, War Is A Racket being an intelligently entertaining album that doesn’t overstay its welcome for a minute.