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Listening to Gricer's arresting debut album, conceived in the main by British guitarist David Maleed, it's easy to be reminded of Steve Reich's "Electric Guitar Phase," from Triple Quartet, Music For A Large Ensemble, Electric Guitar Phase (Nonesuch, '01). Like Reich's piecea snarling assault of near-inchoate power chords and edgy cross-rhythmsmuch of Maleed's music is built on low-slung riffs, off-centre beats, and minimalist repetition. And listening in turn to Reich's work, it's easy to be reminded of Muddy Waters' Chicago psycho blues album Electric Mud.
Like Reich before him, Maleed has moved beyond one possible inspiration to create something original and compelling. On the three tracks most vividly reminiscent of Reich's composition"Trumpet," showcasing trumpeter Jay Phelps, "Folk," and "Land," an uninterrupted triple bill checking in at just under fifteen minuteshe tempers Reich's suspense-laden monolith with the well-judged use of space, melodic interest, and harmonic resolution (less so perhaps on "Trumpet," a roughhouse with flavours of Miles Davis' intense mid-'70s electric thrashes, contemporaneous Jimmy Page, and even a little John Cale).
Elsewhere Gricer moves convincingly into free collective improvisation ("Tiles"), pure sound ("Semiconductor Archive Or Longtone"), elegaic balladry ("Slow," another piece memorably featuring Phelps), and, briefly, even relative sunlight (the upbeat and aptly named "Tonic.")
Likely to appeal most strongly to modern minimalists, Gricer will also ring the bell of those who enjoy contemporary US jazz-infused avant rock and funk. It lacks the baroque expansiveness of either Critters Buggin's Stampede or Benevento/Russo's Best Reason To Buy The Sun, but has enough rough edges to sit cockily enough beside them.
Track Listing: Slow; Staccato; Taut; Trumpet; Folk; Land; Tiles; Beware Of Death; Tonic; Skin And Bones; Semiconductor Archive Or Longtone; The Weight Of The Well-Known Name.
Personnel: David Maleed: electric guitars, Hammond B3 organ, glockenspiel, environmental sounds;
Subs Subassa: bass guitar; Dylan Howe: drums; Jay Phelps: trumpet; Jenny Adejayan: cello;
Philip Bagenal: piano (2); Susan Hope: voice (9).
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.