Long Overdue Part 6

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From around 2004 onwards I was enchanted with the music of The Inecto School, a mysterious UK combo who would occasionally send me CDRs of their sporadic output. They weren’t interested in fame and fortune and I never really found out much about them, apart from Stewart with whom I exchanged a few letters. It might be possible to characterise their work as “free improvisation”, but it’s not really – you can tell just by listening these are musicians who play for the sheer fun and liberation of making something new together, in a comparatively innocent fashion, and have no ambitions to expand the envelope or push their egos to the fore at the leading edge of some avant-garde ploughshare. Whatever that means. There’s a simplicity to the music, a directness; they don’t fear playing ordinary 4/4 rhythms, for instance, an area regarded as taboo by some hard-core improvisers, and they are not afraid of creating music that’s enjoyable to listen to.

On 8th September 2011 I was sent a copy of Free Time, a CDR containing 16 more examples of their work “compiled from live sessions”. Confusingly, the track listing is printed with Side A and Side B, as if a vinyl LP pressing were intended. The recordings were made in Leeds between 2003 and 2006, and all we have to go on is the forenames of the five performers, Mike, Andrew, Will, Lee and Stewart. The music is enchanting – all acoustic, involving lots of percussion, strings, horns, and some low-key murmured vocals that are midway between singing and spoken instructions. I suppose what I liked then, as I like now, is the general diffuseness of the music, the lack of a definite form; within a quiet, acoustic nebula of sound, something persists and repeats, creating sporadic and organic patterns, a breathing heartbeat rhythm. It might be that these precious 3 or 4 minute segments we’re hearing are edited down from much longer improvised events, where it took four hours of playing to produce only a few minutes of value; or it might be that The Inecto School can bring themselves to this “sweet spot” with a minimum amount of effort. It is charming music, understated, and not weighed down with a sense of the players’ egos or ambitions. Many thanks to Stewart for sending this.

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