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Album Review

Phil Minton / Pat Thomas / Dave Tucker / Roger Turner: Scatter: On A Clear Day Like This


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Phil Minton / Pat Thomas / Dave Tucker / Roger Turner: Scatter: On A Clear Day Like This
Recorded on the first night of a Pat Thomas residency at north London's Cafe Oto, On A Clear Day Like This by the collective Scatter demonstrates the breadth of the pianist's artistry, following as it did an opening set of Duke Ellington tunes. Aside from Thomas, who founded the group in 1992 and performs on piano and electronics, the outfit comprises three further luminaries in Phil Minton on voice (he does so much more than the term vocalist would suggest), Dave Tucker on electric and acoustic guitars and Roger Turner on drums. With a discography consisting only of their eponymous studio debut from 2007, the release of this session from July 2017 constitutes a much-needed update.

From the volatile start onwards the chemistry on display more than justifies this reunion. They deal in quick-fire exchanges of largely, but not exclusively, non-standard textures. Thomas plays as much inside the piano or on electronics as on the keys, the better to avoid his instrument's tempered nature from imposing on the taut tonal balance. Tucker's plugged-in manipulations and effects often blend with Turner's scrapes and abrasions, which might have the listener suspecting electronic influence in any case, though the drummer's crashes and bangs also crisply punctuate proceedings.

However Minton's gymnastic wordless vocals remain the band's most distinctive attribute. He extracts worlds of expression from a litany of groans, gasps and whispers. He merges into the ensemble without exerting an excessive pull on the ear, to the benefit of the interplay, which veers unpredictably from dense sound to near silence. Sudden pauses are evidence of an almost telepathic unity and a hair-trigger responsiveness. Dashing episodes vie with droney stasis, but in a graphic illustration of the lightness of mood, what could be a repurposed heavy metal riff ends up being accompanied by Minton's whistling. Such endeavor is typical. Nothing outstays its welcome.

Scatter's singular sound palette provides an outstanding example of the British improv scene.

Track Listing

On A Clear Day; Like This.


Phil Minton: voice / vocals; Pat Thomas: piano; Dave Tucker: guitar, electric; Roger Turner: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Phil Minton: voice; Pat Thomas: electronics; Dave Tucker: electric & acoustic guitars.

Album information

Title: Scatter: On A Clear Day Like This | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: 577 Records

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