Nick Fraser: Is Life Long?

Mark Corroto By

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There is a pulse, maybe better stated a pace, drummer Nick Fraser is partial to on his recording Is Life Long?. His quartet, originally named Towns And Villages, is assembled around a concept. It is a two string (bass and cello), saxophone, and drum outfit. The music trawls an insouciant path through six original compositions. Being that it is the quartet's fourth recording, they must be doing something right.

Where another drummer might be eager to display labor-intensive feats of athleticism, Fraser chooses to be a colorist. The opening track "Quicksand" begins with long droning notes applied in parallel. Andrew Downing's cello and Rob Clutton's bass lay down bowed parts, Tony Malaby breathes a tribulation as Fraser scatters sticks across his kit. The 12-minute piece eventually opens into a conversation with all the players voicing seemingly different opinions. By the time a pulse is established there is a coherence about this composition, albeit a slippery and ambiguous one.

Fraser's galumph is infectious. "Disclosure" is a factory of sound with a mammoth engine that allows for Malaby to toss angular notes at the beast. Fraser makes fine use of the two stringed instruments. Both are either bowed, plucked, or a combination of techniques creating a cinematic sound. "Skeleton" delivers a sly melody, which midway through the disc has lured you into the quartet's world. Fraser, with momentum on his side, pushes "Arachnid," a piece brimming with energy as the players make the music into a four way confabulation.

Track Listing: Quicksand; Disclosure; Empathy; Skeleton; Arachnid; The Predictor.

Personnel: Nick Fraser: drums; Tony Malaby: saxophones; Andrew Downing: cello; Rob Clutton: bass.

Title: Is Life Long? | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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