"Tommy" played a mean pinball, while Brian Protheroe ran out of pale ale when he made his own "Pinball" into a hit record. This Pinball, the debut release from the Australian/French quartet of the same name, has none of the feel of a dingy games arcade, or the odour of pale ale. Instead, it is an intriguing collection of instrumentals which are strong on atmosphere, and notable for their unusual frontline combination of violin and electric guitar.
Pinball was recorded in Paris (which has its own pinball museum), by Australian violinist Melissa Cox and guitarist Alex Stuart and the French rhythm section of Ben Body on bass and Simon Clavel on drums, with Cox's violin taking the lead role across most of these tunes. Body and Clavel form a reliable and flexible rhythm section, although both players, Body in particular, are given few chances to open up and further display their undoubted talents.
Pinball describes its music as "Instrumental rock/post-rock and improvisational journeying." There is certainly none of the influence of classic jazz guitar-violin duos such as Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, or Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Instead, Pinball bears comparison with the work of prog rockers Curved Air, or to David Cross' period in King Crimson; there is not too much swing in evidence, but there is plenty of lyricism and intensity, especially from Cox's violin-playing, which shifts effortlessly from soft-toned melody and fluid lead lines to dynamic bursts of high-energy riffing.
The music ranges from the bucolic sweetness of "The Seventh Spring" to the jagged guitar-led funkiness of "Late Nights." In between, there is the quiet beauty of "Lamington" and "Here In Your Arms," the hypnotic "Skies" and the raucous "Aah." It is an impressive breadth of styles and moods, creating a debut release which establishes Pinball as a talented and ambitious band with a sound which makes it stand apart from the typical jazz quartet.
Aah; Skies; Flight; Here In Your Arms; Pinball; Lamington; Bubbly; Late Nights; The Seventh Spring; Summer
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