Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Joseph Shabason - Aytche, album review

Soothed and Invaded

This is generally, though not entirely, a calming smoothed-out ambience of programmed and played saxophone. I don’t understand the technology and don’t need to, but with the looping and effects and other programmed sound – some rhythmic; some ethereal – there is a wonderful wash of repeating resonances that calm in their programmed control.

I presume much of the ‘conventional’ sound is recorded and played back, so piano chords are struck within the programming, though the horn on title track Aytche is played/recorded by JP Carter.

I said ‘calming’ though not ‘entirely’: fourth track Smokestack is scorched by an electronic invasion of noise [Nic Bragg on guitar], this nearly obliterating the much slower underscore of an ambient tune on repeat. It is relentless and brilliant. Closer Belching Smoke returns with the exact same intensity in case any listener had forgotten what a musical onslaught sounds like, having been caressed into forgetfulness across the intervening numbers.

There are drips and scratches and definitely much breathing – sax breaths – that have been programmed into the mix; echoes/looping too; the brush on drums. Horn sounds arrive like night-time trains, Doppler-drifting away in Long Swim, a sudden New Orleans peel diverting at an invisible junction. Key taps on penultimate Chopping Wood are like fluttering butterflies passing a mic, and someone with an industrial stapler is in the background pinning the occasional caught wing to the walls but otherwise regularly missing with each punch.

A beautiful noise throughout.

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