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The Remote Viewers: This Strange Place

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The Remote Viewers: This Strange Place
South London group The Remote Viewers first came together as a three-sax unit in 1997 when it comprised Adrian Northover, David Petts and Louisa Petts, who all played saxophones, with both Petts playing synths, and Louisa singing. Their first album, Low Shapes in Dark Heat (Leo Lab, 1998) was studio-recorded by the Petts. Of its twelve tracks, nine were Petts compositions, the others were by Sun Ra, Armando Sciascia, and Ervin Drake. Subsequent albums included compositions by David Bowie, Portishead, David Sylvian, Gordon Jenkins and Erik Satie, but it was not long until all tracks were being composed by group members.

By 2007 Louisa Petts had left the group, and bassist John Edwards plus saxophonists Caroline Kraabel and Sue Lynch had joined. Ever since, the lineup of Northover, David Petts, Edwards, Kraabel and Lynch has been the core of the group, occasionally joined by other players such as drummer Mark Sanders or pianist Rosa Theodora. Edwards, Kraabel, Lynch and Northover are all established improvisers, having been influential members of the London Improvisers Orchestra.

This Strange Place is a first-rate album to mark the group's twentieth album release and its twenty-fifth anniversary. It only features the five core members. None of the ten tracks exceeds the opener's 5'42" and they total just under forty-three minutes. Most of the album's tracks are Petts compositions, the sole exception being the closer, "Lost Again," which he co-wrote with Northover. The album was studio-recorded between January and September 2022. While Northover's main instruments are saxophones, he is also credited with orchestration, mixing and mastering, which probably explains the occasional sounds of drums, percussion or piano in addition to bass and saxophones.

Unsurprisingly, Edwards' bass is a solid foundation subtly underpinning each of the tracks. With four saxophone players, it is inevitable that they command attention for the vast majority of the time. Although all four are playing for much of the time, they do not take it in turns to play a series of solos but criss-cross and overlap. They never get in each other's way, perhaps because of the way the pieces were written. Their playing is a pleasure to listen to throughout. Even when all four play together, their contributions fit together like pieces of a jigsaw. All five players sound as if they have been playing together for years and know each other inside out. Altogether This Strange Place is highly recommended.

Track Listing

The Threat; Ella’s Stare; Substance D; Paper Flowers in Water; Lost, in a Lost Land; Warpaint; After Midnight; This Strange Place; The Canvas Prison; Lost Again.

Personnel

Adrian Northover
saxophone, alto
Sue Lynch
saxophone, tenor
David Petts
saxophone, tenor
John Edwards
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

Adrian Northover: soprano saxophone; Sue Lynch: clarinet; Caroline Kraabel: alto saxophone.

Album information

Title: This Strange Place | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced


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