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Plymouth: Plymouth

Improv veterans’ blow-out tests the nerves and the patience.

Late of Slobber Pup, improv veterans Jamie Saft and Joe Morris (keyboards and guitar respectively), lock horns this time within a bustling and blustery quintet for three big-scale blowouts. Gerald Cleaver’s drums scuttle between Chris Lightcap’s scampering bass and the terse and quick-fire interjections between Morris and Brooklyn-based avant-guitarist, Mary Halvorson.

Her grungy chord work and harmonic blips detonate against volatile beats and erratic pulses. There are long sections which sound more like a by-product of five individuals charging forward in separate directions than a result of careful collective endeavour. Not a problem when players of this calibre are present, but as they search for a rallying point from which to aim their considerable firepower, patience is required. (The title track meanders for over half its 13-minute length before they eventually hit the target.)

Saft’s omnipresent Hammond organ summons up fiery, pervasive chords and the group is driven by a sulphurous fury. The musical language here is clipped, and often coarse to the point of brutality, but their unerring sense of self-belief carries the day.

Sid Smith
Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.