Here's an opposite of the sampler album. Three groups, two of them relatively ad hoc and one of long-standing, perform three freely improvised pieces and the results are a byword for how diverse that approach to music-making can be.
The quartet of Tom Chant, Ross Lambert, Sebastian Lexer and Matt Milton produce music that's unassumingly lithe and seemingly intrinsically aware of the interface between acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic idioms. The negation of instrumental identity is of such an order that Tom Chant's tenor and soprano saxophones emerge only very intermittently, as if a predetermined element of the music was the collective agreement upon reaching for previously uncharted vistas.
At first it seems as though Coleman, Wastell and Wright are in thrall to the previous grouping's approach, but then differences start to emerge, not the least of them being Seymour Wright's alto sax. His playing is purged to the point of emaciation and beyond, adrift on the sea of small but sustained tones that mark Wastell coaxes from his Indian harmonium. Jamie Coleman's trumpet has the effect of commenting on a dialog, the level of engagement between the three musicians suggesting something profoundly Beckettian in a fashion that's not without precedent in this area.
Now comprising pianist John Tilbury and percussionist Eddie Prevost, as such we are now in the second period of AMM's existence as a duo and it's a measure of how rarefied AMM music has become that the piece here could hardly have come from any other quarter. Tilbury's approach to the piano could be regarded as the antithesis of all that's florid or showy, but that in no way conveys its sheer reductionism; every note is made to resound through means other than the rhetorical, whilst Prevost seems, at times, almost engaged with silence in a kind of dialog-within-a-dialog. The kind of refinement this implies is anything but common and the music, at times, seems to merge with the background in a manner profoundly different from anything that the term ambient might imply.
Personnel: Tom Chant: soprano and tenor saxes (1) Ross Lambert: guitar (1) Sebastian Lever: piano and laptop (1) Matt Milton: violin (1) Jamie Coleman: trumpet (2) Mark Wastell: Indian harmonium (2) Seymour Wright: alto sax (2) John Tilbury: piano (3) Eddie Prevost: percussion (3).