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The Remote Viewers: To The North

Glenn Astarita By

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The ongoing saga of The Remote Viewers entails personnel changes that are neatly fitted into a particular program or stream of consciousness. On To The North, saxophonists Adrian Northover and David Petts extend the band's distinct methodology via a four-sax attack, with marimba and a standard rhythm section. True to form, the musicians pursue off-kilter rhythmic underpinnings, extended note choruses and contrapuntal contrasts.

The group's identity partly resides within its penchant for executing staggered phrasings and semi-structured motifs atop groove-oriented pulses set down by British jazz/free jazz vets, bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders. The progressive jazz and expressionistic attributes are often intertwined with an uncanny sense of attainability.

The saxophonists often jab and spar, but it's largely a coordinated effort and not rigidly austere, but rooted in suspense and shrewdly crafted diversions. With some angst tossed in on occasion, the artists inject unorthodox treatments into the preponderance of these works. Marimbaist Rosa Lynch-Northover frequently takes the edge off, while adding a colorful tonality to the program. The soloists also morph a minimalist mindset during various theme-building jaunts.

"The High Place" is a quirky piece, having a cheery outlook and subtle dynamics atop a fractured pulse. Despite the septet's heady and unique mode of operations, the players intermittently generate an air of innocence. Challenging music is balanced with entertaining attributes, so it's a synchronized approach that encompasses the sax section's layered phrasings, overlaid with dissonant or foreboding vistas.

The closing "The Memorial" is a disfigured dirge, abetted by Sanders' cymbal swashes and the saxophonists' lower register portrayal of a solemn event. With a period of quietude in the bridge, the band conjures up an eerie proposition.

From its beginnings as a three-sax unit in 1997, The Remote Viewers has extended its reach and overall game plan. Northover and Petts prompt a seemingly limitless modus of expanding the original sound into larger frameworks. Cunning and strikingly distinct, The Remote Viewers is an entity that should not be overlooked.

Track Listing: Journey To The Border; The Lure Of Heresy; Saturation Bombing; All The Conspirators; The High Place; To The North; The Memorial.

Personnel: David Petts: tenor sax; Adrian Northover: soprano sax; Sue Lynch: tenor sax; Caroline Kraabel: alto & baritone saxophones; John Edwards: double bass; Mark Sanders: drums; Rosa Lynch-Northover: marimba.

Title: To The North | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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