218

Fred Frith: Clearing Customs

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Frith: Clearing Customs Over the decades of his solo career, Fred Frith's music has grown more reflective of the range of his musical interests. As well as being an improviser of significance he has also shown an interest in a diversity of folk musics, with initial signs showing up already, in his work of the late 1970s.

Clearing Customs might, in a sense, be a culmination of the process started back then. An unusual instrumentation enhances the singularity of the single hour-long title piece, and the deployment is something else. The eruption of sound at the 3:24 mark has the effect of disrupting the previously tranquil mood, but the discontinuity this implies is no issue in light of the overarching concept. The trio of guzheng, uncredited female vocalist (or electronics), and guitar is, by contrast, a sober but somehow uneasy affair, which could be the consequence of a balance precariously struck.

It could be argued that Tillman Muller's trumpet plays a role similar to Miles Davis' in the early-to-mid-1970s, but the comparison takes something away from the singularity of this music, especially as it's shot through with a very different strain of poise to that shown by Davis' groups at that time. During the lengthy passages when Tillman is silent, there's a kind of tranquility about the proceedings which, given Frith's way, prove only to be a kind of punctuation point. The stagnation which occurs at around the 13:30 mark has an ambient air about it, although the rhythmic repetition is offset by Frith's guitar and, eventually, Tillman's trumpet. Operating outside of the tempered realm, the electronics have the effect of subverting the known, particularly as all the musicians are skilled at avoiding the obvious. The proceedings get a little elegiac around 19 minutes, followed by neutered funk and a very different strain of lyricism.

Frith has always maintained an interest in longer forms, despite the brevity shown by much of his music on record. Clearing Customs summarizes this interest, but for him—and indeed his fellow performers on this record—the journey continues.


Track Listing: Clearing Customs.

Personnel: Fred Frith: guitar, homemade instruments; Tillman Muller: trumpet; Wu Fei: guzheng; Anantha Krishnan: mridangam, tablas; Marque Gilmore: drums, electronics; Patrice Scanlon: electronics; Daniela Cattivelli; electronics.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Intakt Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Unity" CD/LP/Track Review Unity
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Stick Men + David Cross: Midori" CD/LP/Track Review Stick Men + David Cross: Midori
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: November 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!