Mention the idea of the "garden city" to the good people of Britain and the likeliest (polite) response will be "Welwyn" or perhaps "Letchworth." Bristol, home to Eyebrow, isn't such a settlement but Garden City is the name the duo has given to its fourth album release.
Pete Judge and Paul Wigens formed Eyebrow in 2009. The pair have extensive experience in jazz, punk and folk musicJudge is a member of Bristol jazzers Get The Blessing and has played with Noel Gallagher, Jim Moray and Super Furry Animals: Wigens has worked with Gary Lucas, Damo Suzuki and Natacha Atlas. As Eyebrow, the pair have developed a signature sound that mixes acoustic instruments with electronics to create strongly atmospheric, often ambient, soundscapes.
While Judge's trumpet and Wigens' drums are at Eyebrow's acoustic heart, it's Judge's electronics that give the music much of its atmosphere. This is most obvious on the album's centerpiece, the lengthy "Thaw." Wigens' drumming is the driving forcecontrolled yet tense, threatening to explode but refraining from making good on that threat. Over the top of Wigens' percussion Judge sets up a haunting electronic wash of sound while his trumpet, at first sedate and melancholy, slowly builds in intensity and strength.
The exception to the acoustic-plus-electronic rule is "Lustre." It opens with Wigens' drums then Judge enters with a muted trumpet phrase reminiscent of Miles Davis playing "Summertime." Free of electronics, this brief tune represents the duo at its most affecting-the tune grabs the attention from the off and retains it until the final note.
Jim Barr, another Get The Blessing member, fills up the duo's sound with baritone guitar (on the brooding "Blind Summit") and bass guitar and pedals (on the only-slightly-less-brooding "Scrim"). Barr's contributions add depth to the music but he's relatively unobtrusive, eschewing solos in favor of absorption into the overall shape of each tune. A welcome addition, but on the evidence of the rest of Garden City Eyebrow's perfectly capable of creating fascinating music without outside assistance.
Blind Summit; The Golden Road; Lustre; Mr Choppy; Thaw; Scrim; Pinch Point.
Pete Judge: trumpet, electronics, tuba; Paul Wigens: drums, percussion, violin; Jim Barr: baritone guitar (1), bass guitar, bass pedals (6).
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