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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grey Ghost - Broad Oration (Self-published, 2010) ****

By Joe Higham

If you enjoy Faust, Can, 23 Skidoo and the likes, then here's one for you!

Grey Ghost (Aram Shelton sax/max/msp and drummer Johnathan Crawford) play music that has (at the same time) blissfully peaceful minimalist grooves, linked into hypnotic soundscapes and add to that some wild screeching sax solos, in fact something for all the family! Is this possible? Well yes, the music on this CD is constantly challenging whilst remaining accessible, in fact I found myself sitting hypnotised by the mix of percussion and live and manipulated sounds. As I mentioned already this could be something from the 70's Kraut rock experimental stable, but with the use of max/msp the music is certainly straight from the '00s.

And the music? Well, you're taken on a trip around a universe of grooves and sounds. From the opening dark drum rhythms of 'Circle' that add electro-acoustic elements like snowflakes of manipulated sound, or the heavy drum groove and sonic sax (attack), on 'Sustained Room of Sun', the music constantly weaves in and out of expected places, sometimes free jazz and at others minimalist music. Examples such as 'Anthem for the Fox' , 'Wage Irony' could come straight from the world of Pierre Schaeffer or the group Faust as the music rocks and sways almost like a vinyl spiral groove(*). Other tracks such as 'The Phoenix', 'Brief' and 'Fever' involve mixtures of hypnotic manipulated sounds mixed with free jazz sax playing.

Tags for this excellent album could be : 23 Skidoo, Faust, Pierre Schaeffer, John Lurie's Men with Sticks, Holgay Czukay, Roedelius, Ornette, Mantana Roberts, 21st century. What can you say to that?

Only for "Free Jazz Blog" readers : available for free.

(*) For all those who never had the chance to own an LP (or Vinyl), a spiral groove is the 'groove' placed at the end of a record - side 1 and 2. When the music finished the needle continued into the spiral groove. If you didn't have an automatic stop system your pick-up (or needle) turned in this groove until stopped manually, creating a sort of hypnotic swirl and clicking sound.


Richard said...

OK, I give up. What does sax/max/msp mean?


joesh said...

Sorry, I should have explained. Max/MSP is a computer program used by electro-acoustic musicians for manipulating sounds. It's been developed over the years and is now very much linked in with such other programs such as Ableton Live, much used originally by pop artists for making loops (grooves) to improvise over.

Here's a list of wiki links which will explain what these are .... if you're that interested. However it's now become (Max/Msp) a basis for all 'sound' manipulation whn using computers.

I hope that clarifies (a bit) what Max/Msp is. Of course a Sax is a Saxophone!!!!!

ru_galochkin said...

Thank you!

Their first album is pretty cool too.

Richard said...

Thanks for the info, and a free download is a great surprise. I really liked this on first listen. The electronics works nicely here in the duo setting. There is also a very good straight sax/drums duo (the second piece) which I went back and listened to several times.

Also, people should check out the website Looks like lots of interesting stuff for readers of this website.