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John Tilbury, John Lely, Dirar Kalash, Christian Wolff: Seaside

John Eyles By

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Bearing catalogue number at100, Seaside marks another important milestone for Another Timbre—the one hundredth release on the label's main imprint, some nine years after its first releases. To mark the event, Simon Reynell has issued music of which he is particularly proud, played by John Tilbury, John Lely on electronics and the Palestine-born, Hague resident Dirar Kalash on oud. The recording is the very first to feature Tilbury on his clavichord (which he acquired in late 2015) rather than his customary piano. For this reason, the recordings were made at Tilbury's home in Deal, Kent, in July and October 2016.

Fittingly, the music epitomises the Another Timbre ethos, straddling the boundary between composition and improvisation. Alongside four trio improvisations are two different versions of a Lely composition "Line"—the first featuring Tilbury alone, while on the second he is accompanied by Lely on electronics—and two Christian Wolff pieces written especially for Tilbury—"Tilbury 2" and "Tilbury 4"—here arranged by him for solo clavichord.

Together, the three solo pieces showcase the clavichord to good effect, allowing its distinctive plucked metallic sounds to be clearly heard, thanks to Reynell's first-rate recordings. While the instrument requires Tilbury to play very differently to his usual style on piano, his impeccable timing and phrasing shine through. Clavichords are notoriously quiet and need to be carefully recorded in order for every note to be heard, particularly when other instruments are present. As the duo with Lely demonstrates, Reynell gets the balance just right here, allowing the clavichord and electronics to co-exist as equals that complement one another.

The same is true of the four trio improvisations; the clavichord and the (considerably louder) oud could have been problematic together, but the recording ensures that never becomes an issue so that the two work well together, their similar qualities making them sound like a natural pairing, certainly one that succeeds. The improvisations and compositions are so well integrated together across the album that the distinction between the two pales into insignificance and the listener can just go with the flow, enjoying both equally.

Tilbury even manages to subtly slip some political comment in, as the four improvisations are all titled with the names of former Palestinian villages near where Dirar was born, villages that were depopulated or destroyed when the state of Israel was created in 1948. And, rather than a photograph of the seaside town of Deal, the album sleeve bears a photograph of the Palestine coast at Jaffa in 1900. On all counts, Seaside is a great success, a fitting album for an important landmark release for Another Timbre. Here's to the next hundred releases...

Track Listing: John Lely – Line (2016); Biyar ‘Adas; Saqiya; Christian Wolff – Tilbury 2 (1969); Jarisha; Christian Wolff – Tilbury 4 (1970); Al-Safirriya; John Lely – Line with Accompaniment (2016).

Personnel: John Tilbury: clavichord; John Lely: electronics (2-3, 5, 7-8); Dirar Kalash: oud (2-3, 5, 7).

Title: Seaside | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Another Timbre

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