277

Spin Marvel: Spin Marvel 2: The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
It's elephant in the room time. Though no-one likes to mention it, experience shows that it's wise to approach any band led by a drummer with a degree of caution. Drummers are primarily involved with rhythm—a crucial component in music, but only one of several. Unless, like Art Blakey or Chico Hamilton, a drummer/bandleader has an empathetic composer/arranger to hand, the broader musical picture, including melody and harmonic structure, will inevitably suffer. Well, almost inevitably. But for every Paul Motian there are at least a dozen Billy Cobhams.

British drummer Martin France, leading his Anglo/Norwegian band Spin Marvel, is another exception to the rule. On Spin Marvel (Babel, 2007), and its follow-up, Spin Marvel 2: The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James, France has avoided direct engagement with melody and harmony and concentrated instead on what he does best, employing his band mates primarily as colorists or creators of atmosphere. The resulting music is rich enough to suggest melody and harmony without necessarily stating it explicitly.

Since his emergence as a member of Django Bates' Loose Tubes in the 1980s, France has acquired plenty of A-list collaborators he can call on for Spin Marvel. Both the band's albums feature guitarist John Parricelli, bassist Tim Harries and percussionist/electronicist Terje Evensen, and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer is added to the lineup on The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James.

Molvaer, firmly featured in his ambient-musing comfort zone, adds a marginally greater degree of melody to Spin Marvel's sophomore album, but the major difference between it and its predecessor lies in France's approach to rhythm itself. Gone, largely, are the thick waves of groove which periodically anchored Spin Marvel. Instead, France has focused more on free- time and rhythmic displacement—still approaching his kit with powerhouse energy, but eschewing the certainties of motor rhythms. He's a more than adequately inventive improviser to carry this off, and throughout the album's 36-minute playing time he is quite spellbindingly compelling.

France has been keen to emphasize the collaborative nature of Spin Marvel. He says that during the three year gestation of The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James, the mixes passed through the hands of all the musicians, in some cases several times. With a lineup of this stature, that's to be expected. But the considerable success of the album is very largely down to his own playing.

Track Listing: The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James; Basildon Gangster Ghost; Black Dog Company; Reconciled Rotation; Trilling Scars; Two Metalled Tendril/Ten Stairs Stretching Before; Dust In Eyebeam.

Personnel: Martin France: drums; Nils Petter Molvaer: trumpet; John Parricelli: guitar; Tim Harries: bass; Terje Evensen: percussion, sound-audio editor.

Title: Spin Marvel 2: The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Edition Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play...
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by John Sharpe
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Ida Y Vuelta" CD/LP/Track Review Ida Y Vuelta
by James Nadal
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "Landing" CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 4, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.