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 Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Zanshin" CD/LP/Track Review Zanshin
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Sign of the Crow" CD/LP/Track Review Sign of the Crow
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Roma-Rio" CD/LP/Track Review Roma-Rio
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Being Playing" CD/LP/Track Review Being Playing
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Habana Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Habana Dreams
by James Nadal
Published: July 5, 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!