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SLW: Fifteen point nine grams (2009)

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SLW: Fifteen point nine grams No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Recorded live in France in July 2007, this is the second release from SLW, the follow-up to its debut, SLW (Formed, 2008), recorded live in October 2006. The quartet, with its line-up of Burkhard Beins, Lucio Capece, Rhodri Davies and Toshimaru Nakamura, merits the title "super group"; however outmoded and gauche that phrase may seem, it does describe the conglomeration of improvising talent on display here.

SLW is short for "sounds like water," and its debut lived up to that billing; originally intended to be recorded in a disused swimming pool, its music was restrained as well as swirling, flowing and other watery characteristics. This time out, SLW cleverly avoids an action replay of that debut. So, Fifteen point nine grams (the title apparently refers to the weight of a CD) is a more energized and garrulous performance, in which all four players contribute to a vibrant and overlapping panorama of sounds.

As before, it would be difficult to detect that the line-up includes percussion, harp, soprano saxophone or bass clarinet. Instead, led by Nakamura's no-input mixing board, the quartet creates an electronic soundscape that fizzes with energy. The contributions of individual instruments do occasionally surface and linger long enough to make an impression before being subsumed once again by the electronic sound storm surrounding them. The boundaries between electronic and acoustic sounds are blurred. Notably, Capece's sustained reed notes could easily pass as electronic tones; only their timbral qualities subtly betraying their true origins. The overall effect occasionally resembles listening to a shortwave radio through static, an effect heightened by fleeting interjections of Morse code—yes, these four do have a sense of humor,

As good as its debut was, this album indicates that SLW is on an upward trajectory. Its next album should be worth waiting for. Meanwhile, there is plenty here to engage, satisfy and encourage returning for more.

Track Listing: Fifteen point nine grams.

Personnel: Burkhard Beins: selected percussion, objects; Lucio Capece: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, preparations; Rhodri Davies: electric harp, electro acoustic devices; Toshimaru Nakamura: no-input mixing board.

Record Label: Organised music from Thessaloniki

Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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