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Spring Hill Jack: Treader

Mark Corroto By

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I’ll argue that it is not a stretch to include electronic music into the jazz world. Like all creative endeavors, the DJ, as improviser, chooses his instrument, and makes something new. Spring Hill Jack, masters of drum‘n’bass, release of 68 Million Shades... (Island 1996) caught the attention of jazzbos with their use of strings, hornlines, and electronics. Thereafter free jazz guitarist Derek Bailey admitted to practicing while D’n’B played in the background. His recording Guitar, Drums ‘n’ Bass (Avant 1996) is a must-own for improvisational music and Bailey fans. SHJ’s return on Treader continues the beats, but with a bit more distortion and noise around the edges. The drumming on “More Stuff No One Saw” tends toward found objects more than programmed beats, perhaps a throwback to The Art Of Noise’s "Close (To the Edit)." Horn lines abound, as do guitar licks. These guys are jazz listeners. Just as Miles reconfigured Tin Pan Alley, Coxon and Wales rethink dance music. Their versions of two Roger and Hammerstein classics highlight the improviser as interpreter. John Coltrane deconstructed “My Favorite Things,” so does SHJ. Their version, complete with vinyl groove scratch and sampled pipe organ terrorized by guitar distortion, sounds as if it is the soundtrack material to German surrealist cinema. What jazz fans despise about smooth jazz, the predictable construction of songs, and the easy listening drum machines, is not existent here. SHJ mixes the unexpected instead of the obvious. Fans of Bill Laswell’s projects will dig this disc, as will listeners of the early electronic pioneers, Steve Reich, Jon Hassell, and Brian Eno.

Track List:Is; Winter; Blackwater; Treader; Eyepa; More Stuff No One Saw; Outerlude; Toledo; Pipe; 1st Place For La Monte Young; My Favorite Things; Climb Ev’ry Mountain.


Personnel: John Coxon

Title: Treader | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

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