The Spontaneous Music Ensemble consisted of a shifting cast of characters centered around the late lamented percussionist John Stevens; here he's joined by violinist Nigel Coombes, cellist Colin Wood (on two tracks), and guitarist Roger Smith (on one track). Thus all of these tracks are interplays of strings of various textures with percussion. Most of this is quiet music, with sudden convergences and divergences, and little thematic continuity. Yet at the same time there is an inescapable cumulative effect and a range of minute, intricate moments of subtle drama.
The center of the disc is the thirty-one minute "The Only Geezer an American Soldier Shot Was Anton Webern," which is played by the trio of Stevens, Coombes, and Wood. Here the string players range through classical effects, percussive motifs, Ornetteian sturm und drang, and much more, while Stevens deftly shades their broods and wails with skitters and tweaks of percussion. There is a great deal to this piece worth savoring.
When Smith joins the fray for the twenty-three minute "Low Profile," the crisp and often bell-like sound of his guitar tends to anchor and root the music at a somewhat more earthy level. And the combinations of the violin and guitar are often extraordinarily lush and inviting, as each in turn plays a percussive or droning role while the other takes center stage - or their solos simply intertwine.
A fascinating disc.
John Stevens, perc, cnt (#'s 2, 4), vcl (#2); Nigel Coombes, vln; Colin Wood, cel (#1-2); Roger Smith, g, amplified g (#3).
Track listing: Immediate Past Fragment / The Only Geezer an American Soldier Shot was Anton Webern / Low Profile / Kitless with Elbow.