Counteraction is Partikel's fourth album to date and their follow-up to 2015's String Theory. Without wishing to wrap this review up in a couple of sentences, it's probably their best to date and adopts their customary deployment of heterogeneous instrumentationstrings and reeds notablyand characteristically unorthodox structures.
"Land And Sea" begins tentatively but soon leads into a short saxophone melody and onto a strident ensemble vamp redolent of King Crimson. "Scenes And Sounds" opens with a brief melee of sound reverting to a calmer melody introduced by Duncan Eagles on tenor saxophone. Ant Law contributes a lithe, fluid solo, meticulously avoiding running the customary gamut of guitar clichés.
The blending of jazz and classical elements throughout Counteraction is pervasive and subtleas an exemplar of this just listen to "Lanterns" but as if to emphasise the duality of Partikel's influences Benet McLean's violin on the title track is stunning. His playing often evokes that of Dominique Pifarély's in his contributions to Mike Westbrook's seminal On Duke's Birthday and later on The Orchestra of Smith's Academy.
Early on in "The Blood Of The Pharoah" the listener is treated to a short swanee whistle type evocation of The Clangers, followed by some lugubrious cello near-quotes from "Hearts And Flowers" both of which reflect the cornucopia of disparate moods captured in each of the pieces. McLean's violin positively effervesces with energy and continues to astound with his virtuosity and imaginative extemporisation, as witnessed on the final track, "Bolden Days," a lively paean to the innovative legendary cornetist, Buddy Bolden.
Whilst it would be churlish (and wrong) to suggest that Counteraction borders on chamber jazz at times, this could be an easy misapprehension to make. But the music is much more mercurial than that. Imbued with a kaleidoscopically changing palette of sonic colours and tempos this is an album of brave and imaginative compositions enhanced by bravura performances.
Land and Sea #1; Scenes and Sounds #2; Lanterns #3; Counteraction #4; Moving
Fields #5; Introduction to the Blood of the Pharoah #6; Blood of the Pharoah #7;
Bolden Days #8;
Duncan Eagles #1; Saxophone
Max Luthert #2; Bass
Eric Ford #3; Drums
Ant Law #4; Guitar
Benet McLean #5; Violin
Anna Cooper #6; Baritone Sax and Flute
Sisi Lu #7; Electronics
Matthew Sharp #7; Cello
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