Tagged: electronic

The Third Ear Band

À La Face Du Ciel! (SHHPUMA SHH022CD / CLEAN FEED RECORDS) is a superb record of free improvisation and another very successful meeting between Jean-Marc Foussat, the Algerian synth player and electronic music maestro, and João Camões, the Portuguese viola player (also from Open Field Trio and Earnear). In June 2016 I raved about Bien Mental, an intense record they made with Claude Parle. À La Face Du Ciel is not as “wild” as that release, nor is it intended to be; “more intimate and introspective results” is how they would describe it, while what I’m feeling on today’s spin is a very heartfelt and rather melancholic range of emotions. Pain, anxiety, fears; many of the modern ailments facing contemporary man are dealt with through musical exploration, which is a very good and sincere way to do it. Please note I am not talking about “confrontational” music which we might get from the “industrial” musician type, one who wishes to bludgeon the listener until we’re the ones feeling the pain. Nor do I refer to the many synth drone players who find it all-too-easy to slip into tones that suggest “unease” and “disquiet”, mostly through lazy keyboard presets. Make no mistake, Foussat and Camões understand that their music is a language, not just an array of sounds, and what we hear on this record is a subtle, nuanced and very genuine articulation of that language.

The notes here point out, quite rightly, that the electronic music of Jean-Marc Foussat has very little to do with contemporary electronica or ambient genres, and has been forged in the heat of improvisations with a number of important avant-garde players since the early 1980s – not to mention his exposure to the genre through acting as sound recordist for many of Derek Bailey’s Company events. “Acting by impulse and always with new ideas” is the apt description given here of his responsive and highly creative approach to collaborative playing. Part of that process involves real-time processing of amplified signals from Camões’ viola, a strategy which takes this (classically-trained) musician somewhat out of his comfort zone, but it’s a bracing experience which he clearly relishes.

They’re able to sustain this high degree of focus and concentration for long periods, as these two tracks (22 mins and 23 mins) testify. Well, while the pair may occasionally tread water on ‘Mécanique Verte’ and lapse into quasi-classical viola phrases on top of electronic drone, it’s still an impressive blend of timbres and textures, packed with detail and very intimate sounds. The main event though is ‘Suite Pour La Troisième Oreille’, a powerful shape-shifting beast which never stays in one place and leads the listener through several genuinely surprising corridors of mental exploration – surely the definition of what “free music” should be doing to earn its keep. The “third eye” is a phrase which can be used as a metaphor for a form of spiritual awakening or discovery, and with the reference here to a “third ear” Foussat and Camões make good on their promise of enlightening the soul of the listener. From 11 July 2016; many thanks to João for sending this.

First Briton In Space

The British Space Group is an alias for Ian Holloway, the talented UK player who owns and operates the Quiet World label, home to many strong releases of lyrical and poetic music in the synth and drone areas…he also publishes his writings under his Wyrd Britain blog, a highly personal exploration of strange things and strange places in the United Kingdom, heavily influenced by what he finds in science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, cinema, and TV shows. I mention the latter as a way to put in context The Phantasmagoria (QUIET WORLD FIFTY SIX), Ian’s new collection of short electronic instrumentals. It’s a compilation of all three Phantasms EPs which were previously published on Bandcamp, over a five year period – this stretch of time indicates the amount of thought and reflection that Ian, clearly never one to rush things, puts into his work.

In each of these three suites, working as The British Space Group, Ian explicitly plays homage to some of his favourite themes and preoccupations, and in so doing he also evolved an interesting working method. The first set, released in September 2010, was inspired by Doctor Who, and (needless to say) the music of the Radiophonic Workshop. Rather than simply pastiche the sounds and music of the Workshop, Ian wanted to work within a structure, and so he came up with an imaginary storyline to which he could compose the score. Well, almost – he got as far as devising enough plot points to create what he calls “a suitably vague story arc”. This saved him the burden of having to create a complete television screenplay, even though he has long wanted to express himself in this area, and it’s clear that in his own mind there’s a perfect Doctor Who episode which has never been filmed, but contains all the elements that excite his imagination (including “robot mummies…and Victorian sewers”). The provisional narrative as expressed in his list of titles was enough for him to create the music. And with evocative titles such as ‘The Control Room’ and ‘A Deeper Puzzle’, it’s likely that Ian has drawn deep from the well of the Patrick Troughton period. Accordingly, the music here – comprising short cues, some of them under a minute in length – strikes the perfect balance between suspense, humour, and pastiche. Full marks so far.

For Phantasms II, released April 2011, he applied much the same method to another source, the ITV series Sapphire & Steel. In his notes, I like the way he assumes his audience is as besotted as he is with cult TV and thus completely familiar with this offbeat series from the late 1970s, and feels no need to explain the (admittedly ambiguous) premise of this Peter J. Hammond creation, nor to mention that it starred Joanna Lumley and David McCallum, which to me is a casting anomaly bordering on the miraculous. Holloway remembers the strangeness of the plots, however, as a thrilling combination of the “mundane and the obtuse”, and he wanted his music to evoke suspense and “unease”. For the most part he succeeds, but Phantasms II is also a rather bitty collection and doesn’t quite hang together so well; there’s one too many “clunky” synth sounds and lame disco beats, though this may all be part of the subtle homage to the period. This was originally issued with a superb cover image, not present in this reissue, that strikes exactly the right note of creepiness and compelling eerie charm; he doesn’t quite capture that same tone in the music, but he tries. Again, a lot of the work is done by the titles, which do much to trigger the audience’s imaginative contribution; ‘Waiting in the Blue Room’, ‘A Hand In The Wall’ and ‘The Melancholy Machine’ are all plausible submissions as TV episode titles, or titles of fantasy paintings.

Phantasms III, released in March 2016 on Bandcamp, is the most ambitious of the three sets and contains some of the best music too. At first, Ian’s impulse was to apply his same method to Quatermass, one of the high watermarks of British sci-fi weirdness; through both TV and cinema versions, Nigel Kneale has permanently warped the minds of many a receptive English youth. Instead, Ian devised something original of his own, referring to the “partially formed unnamed travellers who have lived in my head for the last six years”. This is a very strong way of referring to the power of imagination and the effects of these sources, and indicates Ian is not merely some fetishistic fanboy obsessed with trivia and the minutiae of a science-fiction TV script. Phantasms III tells an ambiguous story of the travellers being summoned on a journey but saying goodbye to a comrade who they leave behind. A simple but evocative tale, expressed in 16 instrumentals of electronic music; it’s a compelling blend of alien strangeness, nostalgia, and poignancy. Once again the titles are an important prop; ‘Through the Skin of the Water’ is my favourite, and makes me think The British Space Group should have been commissioned to provide music for the movie Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer. Holloway rarely hits a wrong note on this suite, and the music is genuinely unsettling, whereas the first two Phantasms are a tad soft-centred, perhaps hampered by their own need to align themselves with their original sources.

At a time when the Radiophonic Workshop and all things associated with their work have been thoroughly explored and interpreted by many imitative musicians, it takes a rare insight and talent to be able to come up with something as original and personal as The British Space Group. I just have to carp about one trivial detail, and that’s the inclusion of the Lewis Carroll couplet on the back cover. First, it’s been misprinted by one word, which (wearing the cap of a strict English Lit. master from the 1950s) I find unacceptable; Lewis Carroll paid close attention to metre, and he would never have added that redundant extra syllable to his verse, which was always as tautly-constructed as a piece of Victorian furniture. Second, why reference the poem Phantasmagoria at all? It’s a comic-supernatural story about a ghostly visitation, and a glimpse into the lives of the rather mischievous ghosts who haunt houses; I can’t see the connection with the futuristic sci-fi music here. This quibble aside, a lovely piece of work. From 7th July 2016.

The Non-Existent Knight

The cassette Sharp Intake Of Breadth (TUTORE BURLATO #07) by Lovely Honkey is the next item I’ve pulled from the big July bag sent here by Tutore Burlato. This surreal and queasy mess is another recording which seems very much like something Ezio Piermattei would favour, and seems to occupy similar areas of strange humour and indigestible noise, arrived at by means of tape manipulation, layering, and juxtaposition of unrelated elements. Plus there’s the grotesque voice, which on more than one occasion resembles someone being seriously ill – groaning, howling, and clearly on the point of vomiting out their intestines. Lo-fi noise, broken electronics, damaged cassette tapes, and heaven knows what else – the detritus of modern consumerism is meat and drink to Lovely Honkey in his quest to reduce all around him to absurdity. What always impresses me about this sort of thing is the deliberation and poise with which the lunatic in question goes about their task, proceeding slowly and carefully through the rituals of their inexplicable antics. Thick, acoustic porridge noise-spew results, a potage which lays heavily on the belly of the listener. One other aspect of the Lovely Honkey plan is to ridicule pop music history to an extreme degree, and the singer’s nightmarish deconstruction of Black Lace’s ‘Superman’ (an easy target if ever there was) on side A here is not something you will forget in a hurry. The cover artworks also contain insights into the warped, visceral humour of this creator – look closely at the front cover to examine the background to this knight in armour, and you may do a small double take. Can’t find out much factual information about Lovely Honkey, although he has performed and recorded with Neil Campbell and may in fact be half of Acrid Lactations; other releases have surfaced since 2008 on Poot Records, Total Vermin, and Chocolate Monk.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Put Me On The Pan

On Human Of Stow (TUTORE BURLATO #05), the irrepressible eccentric Dan Melchior turns in a perplexing two-parter of far-out proportions, using electronic music and voice elements. A lost Creel Pone masterpiece emerges from his gifted hands, and mouth. And the additional contributions of Emily Bobb and Glen-Rodman-Melchoir play a part too. These unsettling analogue synth puffs, combined with wayward drones and errant popping squeals of noise, create a miasma of swamp-like dimensions in short order, causing the innocent wayfarer to lose their way in among the swirls of green fog and seemingly endless roadway, unwinding against an uncertain tilted horizon. We’ve enjoyed this English performer’s highly quirky approach to songwriting, on such albums as Catbirds and Cardinals, but Human Of Stow reveals his talent for abstract art music of a highly labyrinthine nature. I’d almost forgotten he teamed up with Ezio Piermattei, who sent me all these cassettes and probably runs the label too. The results of their collaboration were released as My Dance The Skull MDTS10, noted here in 2015. Great cover painting to this cassette is also by Dan; kind of Paul Klee meets The Beano.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Cracked Barrell

Occupying a not-dissimilar zone of turf to the previous item is the Final Seed / Dylan Nyoukis split cassette (TUTORE BURLATO #08). On the A side by Final Seed, there may be electronic music, keyboard drones, samples and tape manipulation going on in this slow-moving procession of surrealism, and it’s doubtful whether even the creator himself knows for sure. This was recorded in 2015 at Mankato in Minnesota. Strangely beautiful music leaks out, surfacing to the top of confusing swirl of strange, alienating noises and absurdist treatments. I like the way the mood veers from feeling humourous and slightly silly to something verging on the edge of an industrial nightmare, often doing so in the space of seconds. The episodic, drifting nature of this dual-layered suite is really something to savour; a compelling dreamy fugue of stitched-together notions and jottings. Final Seed may be Jameson Sweiger and has released a few obscure cassettes for Fag Tapes, Alien Passengers and Chocolate Monk since 2009.

The side by Dylan Nyoukis has been derived from earlier works, a trilogy of cassette-with-poster limited edition releases from 2014 and 2015 called Encephalon Cracks Volumes 1 to 3, which appeared on his own Chocolate Monk label. For this tape, presumably some form of distillation, cutting-up, reworking or radical reprocessing of the sources has been executed, but I never heard the originals of those highly obscure items, so who knows? While there’s some characteristically unsettling vocal chatter at the start of this tape, for the most part it comprises minimal variations on an electronic drone pattern, to create a mesmerising force-field of blocky anti-energy that draws its listeners into a trance by dint of its fascinating monotony. It’s almost brutally single-minded and machine-like, apparently executed with a blithe indifference to its audience.

The above notes about TUTORE BURLATO #08 are provisional, since my raves may be applying to the wrong sides. In my defence, it’s impossible to tell. The pink cassette is issued with no labels, or any distinguishing marks allowing us to tell Side A from Side B; this is probably the way they like it, since it adds to the general air of disorientation and confusion.

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Drift Studies

Last heard from duo FvRTvR in 2012 with their Gobi Wow record (noted here), and their new vinyl utterance Following Shapes To The Edge Of A Drift (DISCOMBOBULATE BOB009) shows the team of Fritz Welch and Guido Henneböhl are still working their unique furrow of disconnected percussive and electronic noise. As Fritz Welch projects go, I tend to find this one preferable to With Lumps, his side project with Neil Davidson which produces music bordering on the unlistenable, in the best possible way of course. At least FvRTvR sound like they’re having some fun, or a good whole-hearted discussion over a brew or two, rather than contemplating the general deterioration of the universe with crestfallen expressions.

Not a single moment on this white vinyl pressing flies by that isn’t filled with unexpected pleasures, and unpredictable aural swoop attacks – particularly from Henneböhl, the German half of the act, who is evidently more kestrel than man, using oscillators for wings. Welch’s task, which he engages with manfully, involves a certain amount of heft and sweat, and is more akin to punching rivets into the side of a hull than conventional “music” as, say, Les Percussions De Strasbourg would define it. A restless and slightly angrified mood abounds for duration of this spiky and turgid album, and you should start to feel itchy and active after just ten mins of spinnage.

The cover art conveys precisely the right degree of sleaze, mystery, and surrealism in equal measures. There is something quite surreal about most of Fritz Welch’s music, as though he seems determined to remould everything we think we understand about life, then tear it apart with his kneading hands, pressing it all together into a large gobbet of insanity. From 7 April 2016.

Necessary Monsters

The American duo of Hollow Deck turn in a peculiar album of songs and sounds with their Hobson’s Choice (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR239 / WEIRD EAR RECORDS WER-011), recorded in Massachusetts. Mia Friedman and Andy Allen are Hollow Deck. Allen has also appeared as Friendship Ceremonies, and is associated with other New England free noise acts, such as Guerilla Toss and Arkm Foam; both players also appeared in Survivors Breakfast, playing on a big-band jazz project of some sort by Anthony Coleman called The End Of Summer.

The present record might be described as a later strain of the “free folk” genre, admittedly a highly loose and contentious definition, but Hollow Deck’s approach is extremely fragmented and off-centred. Friedman will perform a song with the banjo and her angelic soprano voice, but the singing is extremely tentative, the melody purposefully kept vague, the lyrics are unintelligible, and the performance arrives very haltingly. I suppose it’s “folk” in as much as it’s acoustic music, and she plays a banjo, but beyond that I can’t connect the music to any known Appalachian roots, for instance; and genuine American folk singers of the 1930s, full-throated belters such as Darby and Tarlton, Grayson and Whitter, or Charley Poole, would probably be baffled as to why Mia Friedman is so hesitant about delivering her message.

Andy Allen’s contributions shift Hobson’s Choice down an even more avant-garde pathway, and he uses woodwinds, percussion, guitars, electronics and found tapes to create free-noise backdrops which are delicate, imaginative, and in places quite unexpected. On ‘Hurrah’, he uses a drum machine and some electronic pwoops to do all he can to disrupt the expected flow of Mia’s song; it’s like a mashup between Karen Dalton and Erikm. The duo also work together on more extended free-form noise scapes, such as ‘Montana Lite’ or ‘Here Is My Home’, where the emphasis is on generating something as alien as possible, but through simple under-stated means instead of “freaking out” like Egg, Eggs might do. As such, the record reminds me very much of the first two Red Krayola records, veering from delicate songcraft to bizarrely unstructured free sounds. There’s a concerted effort to derail common sense, blind-side the listener.

Some of the songs – or the same titles at any rate – appeared previously on a cassette of the same name from Friendship Tapes in 2014. This, from 8th April 2016.

Them!

Ants, eh…you can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em…at any rate, it’s always these six-legged bastards who show up in pseudo-scientific articles when some nincompoop author is clutching for a metaphor for human society. Perhaps it’s because we suppose these tiny black rogues have organised themselves into a hierarchical system, one with a monarch at its centre, and capable of productive activity on an industrial scale we puny humans can only dream about. Then there’s their elaborate communication system, which involves flopping their pathetic antennae about in some way, to relay signals throughout the entire colony. It’s only a matter of time before some smart alec compares that to “The Internet” and starts to make outlandish claims, for instance that “Ants Invented The World Wide Web” or some such nonsense.

I for one have never trusted the ant, and regard these crawling devils with the same suspicious eye as I do most of the smaller creatures who share the earth with us. They’re up to something, and I don’t like it. One interesting trend for many years has been the cultivation of a so-called “ant farm”, which I believe involves creating a mini-colony of these unpleasant monsters inside a glass box filled with sand or porous earth, allowing us to observe the ants plotting their nefarious schemes. These ant farms have proven especially popular among American school children, who proudly exhibit them as “science projects” when they wish to earn points in entomology. The truth is far more sinister, of course…any given ant farm is just a way of proving the inevitability of capitalism, perpetuating the exploitation of labour, and the “need” for a caste system that keeps us all oppressed; and where better to indoctrinate children with this poisonous ideology than at secondary school. It’s all there, in among the ants.

Some of my justifiable paranoia and bile has, I like to think, informed the record we have in front of us – titled Ant Farm (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR241) and credited to the players Elliott Schwartz and Big Blood. It’s a slightly creepy and weird slab of sound art and music, not without its frequently beautiful moments, but mostly issued as a warning against the rise of the ants. The music was originally the soundtrack for an art exhibit, also called Ant Farm, an event which was held in Maine to showcase the work of The Ant Girls, a visual art group including Colleen Kinsella and Dorothy Schwartz. Right there you’ve got a strong thread of “ant-ness” detectable in the genesis of this particular record. I shouldn’t be surprised if The Ant Girls knew more than they were letting on.

Colleen Kinsella is also one half of Big Blood, along with Caleb Mulkerin, and they’ve been making records since 2006, many of them issued as CDRs on their own Don’t Trust The Ruin label. Weirdly, they’re actually a four-piece but only have two members. They probably came under the influence of the ants to arrive at that point. Elliott Schwartz is a veteran American composer whose modernistic (I assume) escapades date back to the 1960s, although he also made a remarkable record with Marion Brown called Soundways, issued in 1973 by the Bowdoin College Music Press. It’s remarkable for its combination of electronic keyboard music with free jazz sax blowing, a combination which always works for me. Schwartz has no traceable connection to the world of ants, and is just guesting.

The Ant Farm record will draw you in at first by dint of its unusual sound – lo-fi, crackly, misted-up recordings as if heard through a layer of aural fog. From these gentle rumbles and purrs, there will emerge strange tunes and eerie keyboard fugues, some of them played on gamelan instruments such as the Baliphone, or other hammered instruments like the Dulcimer. There’s more atmospheric home-brew electronics than you could fit in a shopping bag, and Schwartz plays his heart out when called upon, offering near-classical tunes of intricate delicacy, many of which have a narrative vibe very fitted to telling the stories of these darn ants. For instance, ‘The Queen’s Egg’ or ‘Winged Pile’ or ‘Swarm’. All of these uncanny musical elements – plus some occasional whispery breathy songs on side two – are blended into a seamless suite of gentle, vaguely sinister music of a supreme oddness, leading the listener through that evil maze-like warren that is the tunnel system of the ants. To top it all off, it’s packaged in some gorgeous sleeve art and inners, featuring paintings of – guess what! – ants at work. These images are uncredited on the release but are possibly provided by one of the Ant Girls. Great! From 17 May 2016.

Rendition of Source

Laurent Perrier’s 2016 album is the follow-up to Plateforme #1, noted here in 2014. On Plateforme #2 (BASKARU KARU:39) it’s more of the same method, Perrier producing lengthy sound-essays based on materials supplied to him by other famed sound artistes. It’s an ongoing plan, and a very disciplined one. Perrier elects to work only with whatever he is sent, no matter what it may be or how long it is. He’s almost signing a blank cheque for his repurposing services, but I do like the idea of setting yourself some restrictions or framework for the music to happen in, or it might become just another “remix” mail-art thing of which we had a surfeit in the 1990s.

Perrier assumes that the material that arrives on the USB stick is wholly representative of his collaborator’s personal style, or to use his own expression, their “usual soundworld”. His challenge then is to make sure that he preserves that distinctive fingerprint, so that no matter how much he processes and reprocesses, the finished results are identifiable as the work of someone else. First name to pass through the benign mill of digital mixage is Francisco López, the prolific Spanish maestro of rich field recordings, currently riding the high wind of his ecological concerns and illustrating the plight of planet Earth through the recomposed contents of his hard drive. Perrier offers us a more compressed and slightly more fast-moving vision of the López world; as if 18 hours of video were being watched by a channel-hopper with a fast-forward button. López never sounded as “processed” as this, but we do get to the essence of the original through this Perrier rendition.

Founding LAFMS member Tom Recchion will never be accused of flooding the market with too many records, and we haven’t heard him here since 2012’s Proscenium for the Elevator Bath label, a record which wasn’t a core release by any means and more a by-product of some incidental stage music for an Edgar Allen Poe production. Even so, I always associate Recchion with a palpable atmosphere of his own, and admire the effortless technique by which he achieves his unusual compositions. Laurent Perrier somehow manages to miss both the atmosphere, and the economy; I can barely recognise Tom Recchion in amongst these polished but faceless digital sweeps and drones.

Third and final name steps forward to the podium. Christian Zanési is a French composer who studied under Schaeffer and Guy Reibel and was director of Ina GRM for nearly 10 years. It’s to my discredit that I haven’t ever heard his music, and I intend to try and find a copy of Stop! L’Horizon as soon as I can 1; it compiles three of his 1980s compositions and looks like a good place to start. If it’s anything like this track as repurposed by Laurent Perrier, it looks like I’m in for a great time. Although this piece is still blighted with the rather glib use of super-fast digital edits and the use of one too many filters (a charge we could level at the whole album), these 24 minutes have a stern purpose and darkened sense of focus which is less evident on the rest of Plateforme #2. As such, this piece alone might be worth the price of admission. From 15 June 2016.

  1. Not an easy task, as it turns out.

Conference of the Birds

Maurice Louca
Salute The Parrot
UK NAWA RECORDINGS NAWA002CD CD (2014)

I recently heeded the Economist’s warning us of “New Arab Awakening Coming” and in light (and darkness) of recent tragedies in Syria, the headline could, sadly, be read in more than one way. Of more favourable portent however, the middle-eastern music scene is now wide awake; its doors of perception pried open by the mercurial Maurice Louca. Opening with a title like ‘The Golden Age’, Salute The Parrot fulfills the headline’s potential optimism: this pounding 4/4 anthem, charged with a fireworks display of keyboard arpeggios and more feather-fingered improvisation, proclaims the current state of chaos as the Best of All Possible Worlds; an marked determination that Louca and co see through to the (less than) bitter end: one piece of polished, party pop perfection after another; so long as we’re talking about a party at the end of the world.

Louca’s polarity-inverting wizardry first came to our attention owing to his involvement in the pan-Arabic ‘supergroup’ Alif earlier this year: his ‘space-inducing’ textures adding dizzying depth to the group’s Arabic flavoured psych-rock overtones, though it’s group affiliation made difficult by the fact that the members all live in different countries. In the meantime he has recorded and toured with Alan Bishop and Sam Shalaabi as The Dwarfs of East Agouza (both of whom do spot work here, incidentally) alongside numerous other signs of his ill-disposition towards sleep.

Salute The Parrot sees Louca running a tighter ship; an autocrat’s whip-hand shaping his musical cohort’s output into something far more focused than any of his more democratic liaisons: eight songs running at just under 40 minutes with levels of action and detail that really push one’s attention through its paces, even after countless listens. Grounded in the Egyptian shaabi style, they are, broadly speaking, distinguished by heavy dance rhythms that shelter strata of intricate hand drum patterns, accompanied by bursts of anthemic poetry and blurs of microtonal syncopation: a proto-nuclear mass of ornamented protest song exploding with the joys and frustrations of street-level Egypt, and the confrontational energy it deals with.

Keeping with its policy of social democracy, there is space here for those with and without attention span, which is to say you can take or leave the social politics or the visual statements about media appropriation of images and simply enjoy the music. Indeed, were popular culture still not so obsessed with preserving mediocrity, Salute the Parrot would be a true pop album of the people. At the same time, it’s not unlike the more occidentally oriented musical melange of the Secret Chiefs 3 – who share top shelf musicianship and the idiosyncratic syncretism of innumerable ideas and influences. One senses beneath all of the clamour and energy a philosophical stance that demands nothing less than a broad musical palette such as this, yet while imposing so little obligation on the listener. Not for nothing then is this album not titled Salute The Magpie: its expansive, multi-coloured hue is as natural a wonder as an iridescent plumage, at the seams with seamlessly blended stylistic motifs that effectively reject the insatiable cravings of vain and wanton eclecticism.