Friday, May 31, 2019
Rhodri Davies & John Butcher – Drunk On Dreams (Cejero, 2019) ****
On their third duo recording, John Butcher (sax and feedback) and Rhodri Davies (concert and electric harp) take their musical journey a step further. This is music in which sounds have their own value and character. Tones happen, not in a premeditated and conceived way, but as an intuitive generation of sonic colors and timbres, coming from within the artist, or in dialogue with the other tones emanating from the other instrument. There is no hurry. Just slow sonic merging and embracing. Shimmering, oscillating, resonating, quivering vibrations of air waves, immaterial and ethereal, yet somehow touching a deep nerve. It is hard to understand how so much can be created with so few notes, and most miraculously, how disciplined the interaction is, maintaining the sparse but constantly evolving sounds within the same level of trembling fragility without disrupting it, and even if at times a voice is raised, it adds contrast rather than conflict.
The title of the second track, "Lithopanie" (sic), reflects the sound, as it is the word for very thin and translucent porcelain that is created as a kind of relief sculpture in three dimensions. You can only see the depicted image by shining a light through the porcelain. Literally it means 'light in stone'. And that's how the music is: paper-thin solidity, an apt paradox.
The explanation of the inexplainable sounds are to be found in the breaking of each instrument's boundaries, and literally physically interacting to create something new - 'merging their physical, acoustic and electrical possibilities. In places, the harp is played by air, the saxophone by physical impact; the harp acts as a resonator for saxophone controlled feedback; the saxophone acts as a filter of the embedded electric harp speaker.'
The recording was originally done for 'A l’Improviste' on Radio France, and broadcasted on the 8th June 2015. That by itself is amazing, that public radio has the level of culture to give airtime to these masters. And it is even better than we can all benefit from it now. The vinyl is pressed in only 300 copies, but it is also available digitally.
Listen and download from Bandcamp.
Ten years later Carliol, dissolved their instruments' boundaries - merging their physical, acoustic and electrical possibilities. In places, the harp is played by air, the saxophone by physical impact; the harp acts as a resonator for saxophone controlled feedback; the saxophone acts as a filter of the embedded electric harp speaker. Routing Lynn, from 2014, is a live duo performance interacting with 4 channel open air recordings made in Northumberland with Chris Watson.