It was King Crimson's Robert Fripp who said: "Discipline is never an end in itself, only a means to an end. The guitarist from Dorset, England would no doubt be intrigued by Create(!), a Californian free-form collective. Here, on A Prospect of Freedom
, two guitarists, a clarinetist and a trumpeter plus rhythm section improvise forty minutes of music without indulging in a single solo. Discipline indeed.
That there is something out of the ordinary about A Prospect of Freedom is hinted at by the album cover, an ambiguous photograph by Adriana L. Schlarb. It could be water, a cascade of hair, molten lava or the grain of wood. And in some ways the cover photography reflects the music within. It is harsh at times, at times soft. It is often beautiful but difficult to define.
Imagine a circus tent, the crowd long since gone into the night. A lone guitarist strums two melancholic chords whilst looking down at the drunken clowns in the ring, fooling with the circus instruments with wild abandon. This is the opening track, "A Prospect of Freedom.
Then there is the beautiful homage "Sonny Sharrock, by guitarist and producer Chris Schlarb. The late guitarist Sonny Sharrock's desire was to merge "sweetness and brutality...beauty and terror, though here the tune holds only sweetness and beauty, as clarinet, trumpet and guitar create gentle eddies around the haunting melody.
Although it may be going too far to suggest that A Prospect Of Freedom is ever in any way brutal or terrifying, it rather depends on one's sensibilities. Children and paranoid types should be steered clear of "Circus Hammer, where Justice Constantine's drum rolls sound like a monsoon rain on a tin roof, whilst the slightly sinister electronic braying is joined by more animalistic screeching and whinnying from clarinet and trumpet, creating a disturbing soundscape.
The music on A Prospect of Freedom ranges from the ballad to the deafening roar, from the sublime to dark and brooding. Shimmering guitar chords sit alongside manic reed and brass in surreal juxtaposition, and untethered improvisation is balanced by serene chill-out ambience. The end result is a curiously intoxicating brew and somehow or other it all works rather beautifully.
Personnel: Justice Constantine: acoustic drums, percussion; Orlando Greenhill: acoustic bass, percussion, voice; Lynn Johnston: clarinet, bass clarinet; Ray Raposa: electric guitar, electronics; Chris Schlarb: electric guitar, electronics; Kris Tiner: trumpet, flugelhorn.