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Monday, January 14, 2013

John Coxon/Evan Parker/Eddie Prévost: Cinema (Fataka, 2012) ****½

By Martin Schray

If Cecil Taylor is right and “the composition starts with the selection of the players” then this combination arouses great expectations. The re-teaming up of Evan Parker (tenor sax) and John Coxon (electric guitar and prepared piano) brings back memories of Spring Heel Jack, one of  the best bands in the twilight zone between alternative/psychedelic rock and free jazz, and Parker and Eddie Prévost (percussion) have known each other since the labor pains of British free music in the 1960s.

Indeed, “Cinema” fulfills a lot of desires, the whole album is like an acoustic film noir. Although it consists of a single 54-minute-track, it is divided into four parts. The piece blends in and immediately you are immersed in a tight, but spooky atmosphere. Nasty high sounds, guitar feedbacks, creepy bowed percussion noises and deep single guitar notes are buzzing around and Parker is floating over them. Something is going on here but we do not really know what. Coxon, who is a very unusual guitarist, can make his instrument sound like a toy clock or the zither in “The Third Man”, together with Parker’s elaborate sax techniques and Prévost’s almost unbearable high-pitched bowed sounds these sound splinters create an uncomfortable world, as if a man was on the run, afraid of something horrible.

A spacy psychedelic bridge with Parker favoring short, curtailed loops and  sustained notes instead of his more forceful breath gymnastics leads to the second part, a small symphony intermezzo with a restless Coxon, modifying his electric guitar with effect pedals to create bell-like tones and wah-wah madness, fighting with Prévost’s extreme cinematic shivers and Parker’s dynamic circular breathing. It is a chaos of twittering, short licks, jolting, gurgling, sawing, heavy thuds, and electronic noise, it seems the whole track is disintegrating. Then Prévost saves it with a bowed percussion solo, while Parker takes a break, obviously listening to see which direction to take.

Surprisingly, the third part is a rather meditative one with Coxon concentrating on just one string, modulating his tones with effects while Parker and Prévost are dancing around it. It is like a past utopia, a reminiscence of the days when rock and free jazz were close, when AMM were touring with Pink Floyd in the late 1960s. Here Parker is the consistent element, the connector, when Coxon’s wah-wah-atonality and Prévost’s percussion tune in and drop out. And just when you think that this is all the sheer magic this track has in it, the two of them stop, leaving Parker alone who gives us a stunning motherfucker of a circular breathing solo. But the solo has a purpose, it prepares us for the last part, a long exhale of bowed tones, flageolets and shivering long sax tones before the whole thing comes to an end.

I listened to “Cinema” watching a black-and-white movie (I turned down the volume and used the subtitles), the music really works as a soundtrack – but also as a piece of great art.

You can buy the album from 


Paolo said...

It's a great pleasure to start the week with the perspective of an everyday bite of Evan Parker. Thanks for this great review Martin and for the whole project!
May I ask you which B&W movie you were watching while listening to this album?

Ed Pettersen said...

Anyone know where the album can be purchased?

Ed Pettersen said...

Nevermind, I found where to buy:

Martin Schray said...

Of course you may ask, Paolo. I watched Leonard Kastle's The Honeymoon Killers (1969.
I bought the album directly from Fataka Records as well.