Give Us A Clue

The Living Puzzle
UK DISCUS 51CD (2015)

After a long pause, The Living Puzzle follows on from the Weavels at Nether Edge c.d. and this part studio/part live recording is my first encounter with Weavels and Weavelist thought. My curiousity centres were immediately piqued when the player credits of this improve trio revealed a weirdly unorthodox line-up. Step forward Mick Beck (one time Klinker Club regular and Feetpackets/Shkrang member), well known in avantist circles for his fearless reactivation of ‘the tenor of the oboe family’: the bassoon. His secondary arsenal here being recorder, swanee whistle and nose-flute; a Vicks Sinex and ocarina hybrid. He’s joined by bass clarinettist and Eric Dolphy fan Chris Cundy and Derek Bailey’s ‘Company Week’ stalwart/boy wonder Alex Ward on electric guitar. So, in other words, by my reckoning, that amounts to one string bender and a pair of mouth-breathers…what gives??

Well, what gives in this puzzling triangle is that the focus is on the expansion of standard playing disciplines (in the winds dept.), through harmonics and circular breathing. And as those techniques are rolled out, the whimsical/fruity tones of the bassoon and the somewhat lugubrious voice of the bass clarinet assume slightly edgier profiles. I could easily see the two gentleman players being forcibly escorted from the ‘Peter and the Wolf’ auditions for such beastly outbursts. With what seems to be a squadron of geese in attack mode, the misleadingly titled “Welcome Home” opens the five-part ‘states of living’ concept (no, me neither). “Improving the Dining Room” adds to its turbulent heft with a dash of steel appendage guitar while the reckless blart and poot of “The Sun Room Avoids Invasion by Rats” is marked by a number of uncredited vocal outpourings, worthy of Jaap Blonk in his prime, no less….

The guitar tweakings however, appear to be in slightly reduced form, Alex doesn’t quite ‘whip it out’, which is a little cranky as he actually mixed a lion’s share of this collection in his studio. A guitarist who mixes down his own contribution is one of a rare breed for sure…

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