The Umbrella Men

Recently heard Daniel Spicer and Paul Khimasia Morgan on the Separtae cassette from Linear Obsessional, and now here they are again with SU:V22 (AURAL DETRITUS audet006), once again using their unique combination of blown instruments (Spicer) and the hollowed-out guitar body with live electronics (Morgan) on this short set of under-stated improvisation, with a snatch of recited poetry at the end from Daniel. The album title here may read like a postcode from Romania or the license plate of the dormer van which the duo use when they set off on their King Crimson-styled road trips, but in fact it refers to the “Strange Umbrellas” series of live events in London curated by Blanca Regina and Steve Beresford, and recorded on this occasion by Pierre Bouvier Patron.

Just under 21 minutes of music here, but the set is a small jewel of concentrated thought and effort. It may not seem on the surface as though either musician is exerting themselves, yet one senses a lot of emotion and intellectual grain being poured into each strained tone and eerie emanation of wafted sound. There is also a lot of warmth and compassion, creating a welcoming space in which the listener feels enabled and empowered, rather than pushed away from some elitist zone of musical expertise and mystification. In exhibiting this very human and companionable attitude, Spicer and Morgan often get to a space similar to that of Noteherder & McCloud, their Brighton compadres, except less ragged and noisy. While I do savour Spicer’s Beefheart-like pipings on the bamboo sax, Morgan is producing some waves of electronic mystery that verge on the uncanny. At times it’s as though they’re trying to create the memory of music, a mental impression, something almost insubstantial, yet still strong enough to leave a very palpable stain on the psyche. The faded cover photo to this release adds some evidence in favour of this fanciful notion of mine. From 3rd December 2019.