There's no risk of hyperbole in stating that The Wrong Object come of age over the course of these two discs. Platform One is the earlier of the two and it finds the band in febrile form in the company of esteemed guests trombonist Annie Whitehead and trumpeter Harry Beckett, two players whose efforts have over the years lifted countless British jazz albums onto another plain. In light of this, Stories From The Shed is perhaps a set of greater cohesiveness, but what unites the two albums is their shared attempt to stake out fusion territory that lies well beyond the norm.
The Wrong Object
The predominantly live Platform One documents the band in incendiary form, and as is their custom unselfconsciously avoiding every fusion cliche in the book. On something like "Honeypump Riff" an almost tensile restlessness is generated by the rhythm section and it's to the credit of all the soloists that they manage to ride the crest of its wave with such aplomb.
Frank Zappa's "Filthy Habits"a title Zappa must have come up with cognizant of the fact that it would be referred to as suchbrings out the cod-sinister aspect of the band's work, whilst in solo Michel Delville's guitar is every bit as idiosyncratic as the composer's ever was.
Harry Beckett's fusion credentials might never have been the most obvious aspect of his work, but here his "Scarlet Mine" is right in keeping with the overall mood and in his solo (on flugelhorn) all his highly individual hallmarks are to the fore.
The same and more can be said for Whitehead's "Platform One," with more in this instance referring to her unaccompanied intro, where she shows how there's a place for bawdy lyricism even in a relatively frenetic setting.
The Wrong Object
Stories From The Shed
If anything Stories From The Shed somewhat ups the ante, especially in terms of dynamic range. Even the crunching riff of "Lifting Belly" is anything but an end in itself and the balance between soloists and rhythm section is distinctly fashioned in the best sense; never is this music of empty gestures.
Neither is it in thrall to masturbatory soloing. "Malign Siesta" is anything but what its title might imply, despite the restless energy that's an integral part of the band's musical expression. Both trumpeter Jean-Paul Estienvenart and Fred Delplancq on tenor saxophone offer hints of reflective vistas and such is the band's rhythmic sensibility even in the oddest time signatures that the spirit of the British band Hatfield And The North is gleefully evoked, albeit with a harder, perhaps less whimsical edge.
Although brevity is a mark of the music here it doesn't provoke the feeling that ideas are simply not given the time to develop. If anything, the speed at which ideas are customarily executed is best served by the band's evident collective tendency not to indulge itself and thus dilute the music's impact; we need look no further than Michel Delville's "Strangler Fig" for evidence of this, especially when it's followed up by the positively reflective "Waves And Radiations" wherein the mood is one of other-worldly melancholia.
So, if indeed a band does come of age on record, we listeners should be only too grateful. There can never be too many times when the fusion genre is taken out of the hands of the technocrats and utilized in the service of greater, less superficial ends.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Intruth; Honeypump Riff; Big Swifty; Platform 1 Intro; Platform 1; Filthy Habits; This Affects That; Wet Weather Wet; Scarlet Mine; Tinseltown; Hello Max.
Personnel: Harry Beckett: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jean-Paul Estienvenart: trumpet; Annie Whitehead: trombone; Yves Dellicour: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Fred Delplancq: tenor saxophone; Michel Delville: guitar, guitar-synth, electronics; Damien Polard: bass, electronics; Laurent Delchambre: drums, assorted percussion; Frank van der Kooij: baritone sax (11).
Stories From The Shed
Tracks: Sonic Riot At The Holy Palate; 15/05; Sheepwrecked; Acquiring The Taste; Lifting Belly; Malign Siesta; Theresa's Dress; Rippling Stones; Theresa's Dress (Reprise); Strangler Fig; Waves And Radiations; Saturn; The Unbelievable Truth Part I; The Unbelievable Truth Part II.
Personnel: Jean-Paul Estienvenart: trumpet, flugelhorn; Fred Delplancq: tenor saxophone; Michel Delville: guitar, guitar-synth, electronics; Damien Polard: bass guitar, electronics; Laurent Delchambre: drums, assorted percussion, samples.