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Thursday, March 8, 2018

John Edwards, Mark Sanders, John Wall - FGBH (Entr'Acte, 2017) ****

By Sammy Stein

In 2009 John Edwards, Mark Sanders ( Double bass, Drums respectively) were recorded by Paul Richardson at the Welsh Chapel, London. Now the recordings have been released as a CD, reworked and edited by John Wall.

The collaboration of musicians and a skilled computer editor means the listener gets the complete sounds distilled into around 20 minutes of music. The improvised music was originally 8 pieces A to H but the release comprises just four -F, G, B and H

'F' is intense, with the driving bass of John Edwards coupling very nicely with the percussive instrumentation of Mark Sanders, the electronic enhancement of the resonance giving the music a different and high energy life. At one stage the little pops and tinkles which feel introduced over and under the percussion seem out of place but suddenly, they make sense, challenging the ears just when the repetitive nature of the bass and drums was easing you into a sense of expectation – the timing is right and the overall impact is interesting and effective.

'G' begins with electronic rustles and is quickly joined by the percussive delights produced both by the body and strings of the bass and drums. John Edwards is well known for his full usage of every possible tone from the bass and here he excels with Mark Sanders picking the perfect antidotal percussive sounds. Adjusted and re-worked by the computerisation, this track is neither music nor noise in any sense of normality – an interesting track. The driving middle section where the strings thrum over a repeated drumming is particularly effective and tempered by a sudden quietness into which various sounds are pitched and thrown, creating and ever changing musical narrative.

'B' begins with a quietude which is misleading. The ticks and tocks from the percussion are over ridden soon enough by powerful and intricate electronic sounds, at one time travelling across from one side to the other, through the speakers like a wave, that wave carrying the listener towards a soundscape strange and yet engaging. There is stimulation into overload here and some complex painting is created by Mark Sander’s percussive decisions. This number is so textured, it feels physically alive – the electronics picking out and placing sounds into every conceivable space.

'H' again feels close up and personal, the musicians could be in front of you. It begins with heavy, grinding strings and echoes form deep within the body of the bass, electronic enhancements and additions increase the intense energy and high pitched bells sounds occasionally come to the fore – in a slightly irritating way. It feels as if the electronics literally surround the instruments here and it is a joyful moment when the drums and bass can be clearly heard. John Edwards has a lovely, resinous , graty style at times and uses the bass to create some ethereal and unusual sounds. Couple with Mark Sanders own dialect with the drums, these two make for a formidable pairing of improvisers. The track grows in texture and depth.

I have seen Mark Sanders perform and John Edwards has long been a musician whose work I enjoy. He came and played at the London Jazz Platform which I curated in London last June and whether solo or in a group he is always interesting.

This CD demonstrates the synergy between electronic sounds and those produced by actual instruments and with the careful use of the electronics so as not to distort or overwhelm they add rather than detract form the quality of the music. The commonality of the language of expressive sounds unites the three composers, whether they are handling something physically tangible or investigation sounds which can be created and added on a computer. There is a balance here which I perhaps was not expecting and I was glad to hear how electronics and musicians can work together to create sounds which are engaging and intriguing. In many ways the experimental and investigative quality of the electronics makes a great ally to the music of these improvisers because they are doing the same. This is surprising, inventive and engaging music with a power behind it that has nothing to do with electronics.

Personnel : Mark Sanders – percussion
John Edwards – Double bass
John Hall – Laptop
Mastered by Jacque Beliol