“Super-charged scrimple-skriffle improv coming at you mixed in, depending on your view, (almost) mono or 3-way stereo.
But what’s going on?
Dave Birchall plays granite-flecked guitar in the left speaker, Javier Saso spills slippery, silvery lapsteel in the right speaker and Nicolas Dobson sprays wild, wild violin all over the place.
Side one is a string piece for three players and it waxes happily, darting in and out of focus like a lazy eye would. Contributions are in part clotted and meshed (like a scab) and independently driven. Imagine walking three energetic hounds, each with their own digging, burying, pissing mission. Their colourful leads are soon a wrapped-up maypole binding your arms and hands. Got it?
Now replace the noble hounds with these three improv-dudes and the dog-specific missions with group-mind blankness and collective musical mischief and you’ve got the perfect picture!
While the pace is athletic there’s always room for a ruminative cul-de-sac, a wet sniff about a single tone or blunt-thumbed technique. And as I listen I pass through several phases myself: chin-stroking on the non-idiomatic tip but also horn-throwing on the sexy electric eruption.
On side two I briefly land in a thoughtful strung-out lake but get distracted by amp-pops and bright lead-crackle. The tension mounts as our three players riff on the giant nothingness that exists right at the point of the horizon; saw, saw, sawing away, whipping up a gentle typhoon that bursts with bloated rain. It doesn’t take long to plinkety-plonk and things end with that ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ intro-played inside out and over ice.
This is what it sounds like when Slash cries.”
Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg – Plastic Knuckle
“Colin Webster’s Raw Tonk label celebrates its fifth birthday with a ragin’ all-dayer at London’s And Hundred Years Gallery in March. In the mean time, why not catch up on their releases, all of which can be checked out on their Bandcamp page Plastic Knuckle is the label’s 22nd release and brings the London-based saxophonist together with three key players from Manchester’s vibrant jazz and improv underground: guitarist Dave Birchall, drummer Andrew Cheetham and bassist Otto Willberg, all three of whom play in freeform psych outfit Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura.
Like many operating at the noisier end of free jazz, Webster and his collaborators are looking to escape the dead end of boring macho blare. Their approach is lean and agitated, as the players attempt to contain their ecstatic urges on the fidgety title track, and negotiate an uneasy calm on ‘Ghost Dance’. The latter sounds like an occult gamelan ritual, with Webster’s baritone sax prowling around the resonant chimes of Cheetham’s cymbals and Birchall’s behind-the-neck guitar. Rather than build to an obvious freak-out, the piece develops in a more rhythmic direction, with Cheetham moving in concentric circles around his cymbals. Willberg’s bass walks ‘Low Level Curlew’ back to the jazz citadel, but its progress is harried by razor wire guitar traps and saxophone strafes.
Birchall/Smal/Webster – Drop Out
Webster and Birchall hook up with Dutch drummer Rogier Smal on Drop Out, the latest tape from Austin’s Astral Spirits. The nervy skronk of the first side has Webster spitting out staccato phrases, while Birchall switches between high-end slide squall reminiscent of Borbetomagus’s Donald Miller, and lunging stoner riffage. Smal ramps it all up by hammering at his snare like a speed-addled carpenter, before dialling things back for a twitchy and atmospheric passage that ultimately takes off like peppercorns on a hot skillet. Side two sees the trio in a more contemplative mood, with Webster laying sustained tones over Smal’s pygmy percussion. The underlying tension explodes in the second half, with Birchall scrabbling around the fretboard as Webster’s sax stutters and jabs.”
First studio recording with Colin Webster and Rogier Smal out very soon on Astral Spirits! Recorded at Dropout Studios, Camberwell.
A short film made by Andrew Brooks of a session which was part of a research project led by Naomi Kendrick along with Dan Bridgwood Hill from summer 2016.
Really pleased with this! First release from a new project attempting to improvise short songs:: in fact pop music:: with some degree of precision. Its in an edition of 27 copies then its gone. I’m playing guitar along with Greta Buitkute on vocals, Alecs Pierce on drumset and Otto Willberg on electric bass. Its a really nice excuse for me to think about improvising and some of my favourite band/guitar lines things at the same time: The Slits, DNA, God is my Co=pilot, the quiet guitar bits from the Nirvana song Milk It, The Raincoats, The Shaggs etc are all pleasantly looming there for me.
New youtube EP showing a first exploration of straight to guitar pickup to metal sounds. Recorded straight into the recorder on headphones; using an extremity of volume and zero overdrive (an unusual feature for me!) to make the small interesting elements audible. This is part of a longer piece of research looking at ways to generate sound from pickups. The main approaches so far are using interference in the electromagnetic to generate sounds and using non-traditional methods of string playing as you hear here.
New release from one of my favourite quartets to work with. These are takes from an epic session in Stockport last winter with Sam Weaver at the helm.
I still have some copies here of the tape released by Sound Holes of myself, Javier Saso and Nicolas Dobson. Its material drawn from a session at Brazil Studios recorded just outside Madrid on the day before a gig there together in February of this year. Only £3 email to davidmbirchallatgmail.com for a post quote.
Pleased to announce that DRK MATTA have released a digital recording of the new set up I’ve been working with recently; pickups, light sources, motorised fans and objects. Its a binaural recording made by Jason Singh on the top floor of the Hotspur Press building in Manchester.