Click here to [close]

Friday, April 29, 2022

MC3 - Sounds of The City (Phonocene, 2022)

Matt Clark continues to push forward with his combinations of musicians with different takes on jazz music. Sounds of The City is released on 3rd June 2022 on Matt's new label, Phonocene Records. His collaborators on the album are Charlotte Keeffe ( Charlotte Keeffe Quartet, London Improvisers Orchestra, Andrew Woodhead's Pendulum) on trumpet and James Edmunds ( Daisy Chute, Tara Lily) on drums with Matt ( Caaw, Matt Clarke Three) on guitar. Matt explores different soundscapes based on experiences and senses evoked by cityscapes with his trio.

Matt Clarke's previous releases have explored moving through a city during lockdown, and compositions had a sense of wanting to escape, seeking solace during times which were tricky but here Clarke's music has a sense of energy and re-emergence which is prevalent throughout the recording.

'Existentialism For trumpet' opens the album and is a track of wonder and evocative delights, the trumpet's voice dissonant and fierce, the guitar contrastingly laid back and the drums frenetic, frequently altering emphasis and pattern, creating a track that is at once mellifluous and at the same time dynamic and packed with sound. The trumpet sound blares, dies back to the instrument's throat, and then screeches freedom, with the guitar deftly slotting astute phrasing into any gaps. A short but exquisite opening.sound

'Back On North' is a track of contrasts, with subtle guitar over unsubtle trumpet – which works a treat. There is undeniable joy and release as the track weaves between bluesy backdrops and intense, delicately improvised sections.

Conversation #1( Dispatches) is a frolic of improvised delight with the guitar picking the path and laying the keys, over which the trumpet flies and wails its breathy counter melodies. Keeffe's trumpet sounds are tremendous in their range and versatility. The dialogue between the three musicians is at fever pitch in places and quieter, more contemplative in others. The final section sees a to and fro between guitar and trumpet, which is mesmerising.

'Altercations' is seven minutes or so of interweaving voices of guitar, drums, and trumpet, which is both engaging and intriguing, the atmosphere sliding between sleazy, laid-back nonchalance to dynamic, circling improvisation. The drums prove key to the second half of this track, as they switch the tempo up and down, laying down rhythmic patterns, which the other two musicians follow.

Conversation #2 ( In Hari's) is a crazy, laid-back, rolling track with improvised trumpet sighing across the top of well-structured guitar work and intricate trickery from the drums. The trumpet blares, blasts and moans, demonstrating Keeffe's sublime ability to change the mood instantly.

'Autobiography of A Poet' is a journey through different sound experiences, from soft, crazily improvised phrases to solid, melodic motifs, all fitted around the regular guitar from Clark. The middle section is a modular insert of its own as the trumpet and percussion add different elements to the musical pathway along which the trio is leading us towards the final third, where all three musicians are imparting stories and ideas to the listener.

'Traffic' is a track with movement, stops, starts, and forward motion, countered by a rolling gait, which is frequently interrupted, and the rhythmic patterns change. Aptly titled as Keeffe's trumpet sounds at times like a speeding racing car and at others like it is screeching to a halt. The middle section is rhythmic, steady, and feels like the traffic is moving before again, rhythms change, horns sound, and the cacophony of city traffic is felt—a superbly crafted track.

'Conversation #3' (Stray Cats) is short and perfectly titled as the trumpet works itself into a frenzy, sounding just like cats fighting, hissing, spitting, and causing mayhem.

This album is a real lift well suited to the times we are in post-pandemic. The sense of release, freedom and sheer joy in the music is palpable – you can almost feel the delight the three musicians have at being unrestricted and at large to create music that reflects the sense of liberation that most of us have finally found. It is also brave and experimental as if the boundaries have shifted somehow – anything is allowed, and as long as it makes sense – which this album does totally – it is okay.

Good music, superb musicians – what more could you ask?