Pact Lunch

Seth Cooke / Dominic Lash
GERMANY 1000füssler 025 3″CD (2014)

Dominic Lash is in the enviable position of having played with most if not all of the cream of UK improv. Plus, he has been known to turn his hand to good old-fashioned jazz when required. Not on PACT. Here, he and fellow Bristolian cohort Seth Cooke are in full-on extended technique mode which I personally think is the way Lash works best. Cooke, on the other hand, is as far away from jazz as you can get; his work is often engaged in process –based endeavours with percussion sometimes as his source (reflecting his previous life as a kit drummer with the groups Defribrillators and Hunting Lodge) but often alternatively utilising electronics or his own conspicuous sink waste disposal unit. At the time of writing, I’ve also just acquired a copy of Canary, their new full-length duo release on Louie Rice’s Hideous Replica imprint, so it’s good to see that their friendship is bearing more fruit.

‘PA’, the first of the two pieces presented on this little disc, consists of what might be some small motors perhaps, pitted against Lash’s formidable contrabass technique. This develops into a slightly more recognisable sound of Cooke activating the surface of his signature waste disposal unit (if indeed that is what he is using here – there’s no info on sleeve – wait, I’ve just checked the website and the waste disposal is used here by Cooke, along with electronics and “pile of crap”. Not literally, I hope.) Nevertheless it sounds like heavy industry grinding away back there. This relatively benign soundfield then gives way to furious scraping, followed by snatches of radio or prerecorded song rendered unrecognisable by unnatural methods. Next, some Laurie Spiegel-style microtonal tone manipulation, during which things come to an abrupt halt. Not your usual jazz duo, hey?

The second track ‘CT’ is more restrained than ‘PA’ initially, with Lash’s bowed lower register taking precedence, but then as Cooke’s high end information joins in, the piece gets into a fairly solid drone as it goes on. In a way, it reminded me of what Nos Phillipe were doing back in 2007 with bowed cymbals, cracked electronics and table-top guitars, but with a harder edge and a wider frequency palette. ‘CT’ ends with a shortish sequence with both players producing feedback; one pulsing, one shrieking. The overall effect of the whole piece allows the two pals to get a large-scale, detailed, grey canvas. An auditory equivalent of Wayne Gonzales’ monochrome crowd paintings.

Released in an edition of only 60 units. On the 1000füssler website, Seth Cooke has provided some of the most comprehensive production notes I’ve ever come across, in the form of a table depicting data from live performances of the duo around the time PACT was recorded, including mileage between their homes and concert venues and how much time out of the whole event was allotted to the duo expressed as a percentage. Helpfully, there’s also a couple of links to videos of the performances. For those curious to have a chance to analyse this information, go here.