The duo of Parker and Lytton lodges readily under the canopy of other like-minded partnerships in creative improvised music. Think Lyons and Taylor or Cherry and Coleman. In a region of music that is nary a half century old, it’s a special thing for players to span the decades together and have an active union of ideas still survive.
This particular snapshot is rescued from a time early in their association. Spliced into a series of industrial-organic sections and dubbed “an improvised urban psychodrama in eight parts” the suite’s whole isn’t really equal to the sum of its individual parts. Much of the music registers as a difficult listen, with Parker opting for pitch-strained overtones and Lytton answering with analagously oblique harmonics on what sounds like bowed metallic surfaces. “Peradam” is an exception, more closely aligned with the conventional sound properties of their respective instruments, as Parker blows knotted note flurries and Lytton pounds out galloping press rolls. Together in tandem they create quite a racket. Though uncredited, there also appears to be the presence of electronics or at the very least tape manipulation in the final product. Ambient noises approximating oil-deficient heavy machinery and the grinding of partially-stripped gears enter the sound space, suggesting the presence of an independent third party monkeying alongside the principals. Parker makes mention in his brief notes of Bob Woolford, who could be the culprit. But again, this pure speculation on my part.
Resting staunchly at the end of the musical spectrum opposite Easy Listening, this is an album that demands patience and scrutiny on the part of the listener. Musicality under the common rubrics of harmony, melody and rhythm simply doesn’t apply. An intriguing sidebar to the preceedings surfaces in the audible grunts voiced by the pair during more strenuous passages of the suite. The emotive vocal articulations are a rare departure from Parker’s usual stoicism and point perhaps to a vulnerability of prowess that has since been swallowed by his massive technique. Either way this is a welcome reissue and another fine example of the legendary Lytton-Parker telepathy in action.
Psi on the web: www.emanemdisc.com/psi.html
Personnel: Evan Parker- tenor & soprano saxophones; Paul Lytton- percussion &
other instruments unnamed. Recorded: April 15 & 16, 1972.