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Monday, November 12, 2007

The George Burt/Raymond MacDonald Quintet - Hotel Dilettante (Textile Records, 2005) ****½

Here is another album that is a few years old, but which I came across last week, and it is absolutely wonderful. Hotel Dilletante is a Scottish band consisting of George Burt, guitar; Raymond MacDonald, alto and soprano saxophone; George Lyle, double bass; Nicola MacDonald, voice, melodica, bass; Allan Pendreigh, drums; Lol Coxhill, soprano saxophone; Sushil K. Dade, bass, theremin and drums. This music combines elements of ambient, prog rock and free jazz, and it is as light as it is accessible and emotional. The music is relatively simple in its form, more rock-like, at times reminiscent of the Penguin Café Orchestra or even Laurie Anderson (especially on the second track "The Worthy Constituent"). There is an intimacy here, something naive and direct which is really compelling, like broad abstract strokes on a canvas, led by Burt's guitar, over which Raymond MacDonald draws his extremely beautiful and restrained tones and melodies. Nicola MacDonald's wordless singing on some tracks is like joyful girlish humming on a sunny spring day. In contrast to much of the violence on endless overblowing on many free jazz records, this one is gentle and a welcome variation. Yet it's creative, full of avant-garde try-outs and musical collages, so great work was done in the studio too. Highly recommended.

Listen to
Speed Boat Taxi
The Worthy Constituent