198

Bark!: Contraption

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Bark!: Contraption Recorded in 2004, this is only the second album from Bark! even though they have been around since 1991 [Their first album was Swing (Matchless, 1999)]. Guitarist Rex Casswell used to be in Stock, Hausen & Walkman, and there are plenty of points on this album that echo SH&W's absurdist humor. The guitar is not deployed to produce recognizable guitar sounds, but more as a source of electronic sounds that are frequently indistinguishable from Paul Obermeyer's sound samples.

Sometimes the hints of humor are triggered by surreal samples from Obermeyer (who is also, rather incestuously, a member of Psi stablemates Furt). "Gyre" is particularly noteworthy for encompassing a range of suggestive sounds. None are specifically identifiable, but many could pass as sound effects from a Looney Tunes cartoon, giving the piece its own distinctive sense of drama. There is a reason that Bark! ends with that exclamation mark.

The trio is completed by Phillip Marks, whose percussion work shapes everything and holds it together. His drumming drives the music along and gives it its pulse—enough indeed for the Psi publicity to describe it as "James Brown meets the spirit of Modernism!," not a phrase often attributed to improvised music. On "Below Zero," Marks is particularly prominent, combining with low frequency electric pulses to produce a complex but compelling rhythm pattern. Even on a track such as "Mr Pointy," where Casswell and Obermeyer combine to produce a maelstrom of sound, Marks gives the piece real momentum.

The musical conversation between the three players is intense and highly concentrated. The end result has an architectural sense of structure to it as well as being great fun to listen to.


Track Listing: Polaris; It's A Life; Gyre; Snout; The Diver; Below Zero; Spanners; Mr Pointy; Decompression.

Personnel: Rex Casswell: electric guitar; Phillip Marks: percussion; Paul Obermayer: sampler.

Title: Contraption | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Psi


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "14.11.2016" CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "All Terrain Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review All Terrain Guitar
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Open Air" CD/LP/Track Review Open Air
by John Kelman
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Walk Against Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Walk Against Wind
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival / Matt Savage: Piano Voyages" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions" CD/LP/Track Review Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter...
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 26, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.