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¡NO!: Sediments

Ian Patterson By

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Dublin four-piece ¡NO! is one of the more prolific bands on the improv scene, with Sediments its tenth release in the past three years, a run which has included a digital-only release, numerous EPs and its eponymous debut LP from 2015—a drone and krautrock-influenced psychedelic jam fest that made the Irish music press sit up and take note. With disparate influences that reference electronic minimalism, psychedelia, free-jazz, drone, avant-garde rock, industrial noise and much more besides, it's hardly surprising that no two releases sound exactly the same, and Sediments is indeed a challenging beast to pin down.

The bedrock of underlying drone on the haunting "Lone and Level Sands" stems from Graham Montgomery's keys, with bassist Damien Lennon's spare bass ostinato providing a measured, doomy pulse. Drummer Jamie Davis' painterly cymbal work conjures shifting winds, a sympathetic accompaniment to Fergus Cullen's alternatively plaintive and echo-drenched soprano saxophone and ghostly, wooden flute. Thrumming cable resonator and fuzzy guitar effects add menacing gravitas to this edgy meditation, which to some degree sets the template for the album as a whole.

"Only The Wind's Home" is effectively a continuation and extension of ideas from the opening improvisation, with humming drone, chopping electronic waves and two-note bass motif the canvas against which Cullen effects dreamy, soprano lines. It's a highly cinematic improvisation that comes across as an imaginative remix of Joe Zawinul/Miles Davis's In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969). There's greater rhythmic impetus to "Sinistra," with Davis spacious groove the backbone of an improvisation that weds dub and post-punk vibes with Cullen's psychedelic guitar waves and, also on guitar, Montgomery's fidgety, single-note probing.

At just under thirteen minutes in duration, "Over the Last Skyscraper a Silent Kite" is the album's longest improvisation; Davis' restless, undulating rhythms and punchy percussive accents set a tone of some urgency, with Cullen's elongated soprano phrasing, which enters two thirds of the way through, almost serene by contrast. In the end, the energy abates, leaving just keyboard meandering alone—a plaintive coda to a brooding, provocative album.

In reviewing Miles Davis' In A Silent Way at the time for Rolling Stone magazine, Lester Bangs opined that: "It is part of a transcendental new music which flushes categories away and, while using musical devices from all styles and cultures, is defined mainly by its deep emotion and unaffected originality"—a summation that could serve just as well for Sediments, an impressive creation from improv warriors ¡NO! that may yet prove to be just as timeless.

Track Listing: Lone and Level Sands; Only The Wind’s Home; Sinistra; Over the Last Skyscraper a Silent Kite.

Personnel: Fergus Cullen: saxophones; guitars; voice, keys; synthesizer, clarinet; piano; flutes; Jamie Davis: drums; percussion; saxophone; Damien Lennon: bass; synthesizer; percussion; Graham Montgomery: guitars; keys; synthesizer; Roland Handsonic; mbira; percussion.

Title: Sediments | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Little Gem Records

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