lundi 31 mai 2010

John Butcher & Phil Minton - Apples of Gomorrah

Phil Minton: voice
John Butcher: soprano & tenor saxophones

Reviewby François Couture

To state it upfront: Apples of Gomorrah is an excellent album, probably the best one could have hoped for from this duo. But it raises two questions: Why does it take three years to release an album? And why does it need two tape editors other than the artists? Free improv purists will immediately jump on the "record and let it be" case. Tampering with the tapes leads to interrogations regarding the quality of the performance as it happened. On the other hand, the German label Grob has shown in the past its interest in releasing the best album possible, not the most accurate document. In that, Apples of Gomorrah succeeds. Most of this album (the first 12 tracks) was recorded at Gateway Studios in August 1999. To push the set to 45 minutes, one track from a concert at the LMC (recorded in July) and four more from the Red Rose (February) were added. In all tracks, vocals and saxophone dance with each other; sometimes they waltz, sometimes they trash, elsewhere they achieve a Butoh-like purity in stillness ("Wormleaf," powerfully dense in its lack of movement). Phil Minton is as playful as ever, which means he never crosses over to childish play-acting, even though his musical vocabulary would make it easy to do so. No matter how many times you hear Minton sing, the sounds he makes remain amazing and fresh. His sense of improvisation matches John Butcher's ability to keep proceedings on the cutting edge. The main quality of this album resides in the brevity of the tracks. Most last between two and three minutes, enhancing the density of the playing.


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