This double CD documents a series of intertwined geological, compositional and improvisational designs acoustically rendered by a supergroup of sorts. The pairing of different live performances — in Newcastle and Durham, respectively — warrants an admirable balance between coincidental and predetermined events. The instrumentation is comprised of electric harp (Rhodri Davies), violin (Angharad Davies), saxophones (John Butcher) besides the “amplified devices and processes” operated by Lee Patterson.
The first set encloses the quartet’s interpretation of “Cup And Ring”, a graphic score by Davies based on his interest on the namesake stones and their fascinating marks. The Welsh harpist found the source useful enough to try and develop interesting sonorities influenced by those patterns. The resulting music shows all the “right” facets of the sonic polymorphism to be expected from each participant’s expertise in the field. Across dynamics shifts occurring inside a compass of relative restriction, we discern brain-numbing harmonics, biotic propagations, wheezy multiphonics, subsonic quaking, inherent pulsations, electrical matters, gradual crescendos. Every gesture is defined by a pronounced tension; when states of unstable quietness are reached, more conceptions of modification and decay naturally arise to delineate new environments. The piece is lengthy, but never overstays its welcome; even better, there are no segments of trendy “fake zen” inactivity.
The same firm confidence pervades the bulk of “Repose And Vertigo”, by all accounts an improvisation in spite of an equally organized appearance. Here the single voices become clearly visible — and possibly stronger — in the overall enhanced concreteness of a rather composite performance. However, in selected sections of this context we notice the emergence of an increased sense of urgency. There the sounds coalesce in lumps along parallel paths, occasionally attempting a transition towards the “fff” regions, always maintaining a distinct personality in the indisputable ethicalness of the whole. Still, the track preserves the gripping characteristics of a rigorous ceremonial deprived of futile appendixes: each drone, scrape, yelp or clattering growl is there for a reason, facilitating the mind in the achievement of a receptive focus that welcomes “harmonic noise” while shutting out that generated by the average human behavior.