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Otoroku label round-up (Decoy with Joe McPhee / Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, John Edwards and John Butcher / Brötzmann, Adasiewicz, Edwards and Noble)

Michael Rodham-Heaps tackles a trio of recorded documents from London’s Café Oto released for wider consumption on the ever-expanding Otoroku label…

Decoy with Joe McPheeSpontaneous Combustion

Decoy with Joe McPhee - Spontaneous CombustionThis one grabs my attention first, the gritty screen-printed abstracts go well with first half of this tasty double, recorded back in twenty eleven. It’s a fragmented fermentation, loose dot-joining limbs avoiding the unusual scuffle cuffs jazzy improv seems to gravitate to. Little strangulations of trumpet here a there, weird auras of percussions taking the ear, then sliding back out on tantalisations on venting, pursed lips.

The Hammond trickling in the background, then foreground chasing. The trumpet crawling over it, full of bicycle bell and cymbal dopplegangers, everything surging in unsteady curving gaits getting more frenetic, scrambled then ((( WOW!!! ))) a dense tarp-thrown pulse kicks out, a noir-panting bracket of malfunctioning machinery. It’s rushing drones, rolling and chopping accompanied by the tapping of a blind man’s cane. The audience yelping approvingly, as hints of double bass carve in and suddenly everything’s yanked into focus, as the hot jamming barbs flow out… Trumpet riding out and over until things unravel again in search of a fresh El Dorado. Loving Joe McPhee‘s trumpet/sax melding with Mr Noble‘s polyethylene skins, things sound wrong but in a good can’t be bothered with boundaries way, filling your ears with flexing theoreticals and rolled convulsions. 24 minutes in it’s a scrumming cavity of sawing rhythmics, reverses and yodeling – a blinding start indeed.

Recorded on the next night, disc two is a monster 78 minutes’ worth, which while it doesn’t live up to the wow factor of the first one, decides to slow the action, steal less of the limelight as the Hammond runs on a shuffling road of drums, trumpet biting up hints of tune and tilts in a slow burning sacrifice like a gooey Thelonious, bumps nicely ironed; then mentally flying off the handle like a flea-infested Ayler. 20 minutes in there’s this twilight of tonal slivers, nocturnes diminishing in w(holes). A swaying alto chased by bees and bendy-legged strings, flatted by an insistent bass-hit incentive. It’s riding away nicely scrawled over in organ glare and bubbling reeds, dipping later in some abstract shape-making. The next set winches almost operatic, plying a chaotic melody abandoned to roam, to riffle. A blubber of Dizzy Gillespie‘s Night In Tunisia, it’s approximation of notes knocked off the page by Noble’s precussive prowess, sliced up in John Edwards random patterations. When it gets dense and hairy it’s the best, overruns in some loony auto-colours, a certain Blakey bedazzle, the Bird‘s shuffling shoes but dyslexically read, all slipping away in a hushed encore.

Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, John Edwards and John Butcher Quintet, Sextet Duos

Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, John Edwards and John Butcher - Quintet, Sextet DuosThis CD adds the abstract guitar of Otomo Yoshihide and pipping no-input stutters of Sachiko M to the mix. It’s a tangled web, loose-limbed. A tracery of suggestives, each picking over the potential, adding to the rewards, fleeting glances of unity here and there. Tony Marsh‘s drums quick footing around it all with impeccable marksmanship, knowing exactly when to retract from the action, breeding a dimensional transfer to the first two tracks. Edwards’ double bass shadowing the squeakingsax brilliantly. I’m quite partial to this type of thing, find all that shifting chemistry fascinating — the quiet chatter, the constricted randomisation, eyes a-glare with the flow of mangled shapes, the sparking colour. All six of the participants flowing together like the typographics of the cover. The sax lying down a chalky keyline, gathering in a glorious hazy of guitar-chiming clock towers; the bounce of double bass cut into by shimmering cymbals, tinnitus sines — some great lyrical exchanges in jumping bean destructives, drone durges and laddering tights of fret; an understated joy compared with the blisters of the Decoy CD.

The last two tracks are pared down to duos, John Butcher moonlighting both melding with Otomo Yoshihide then later Sachiko. The first basks in a frequency surfing, sax-swanning drone, all reflective snaky ribbons and sustained whisper. The sax flying off in a yalla of honk, the guitar scooping out a response in rusty hinges and fist wedged strings, lending to a pip-pang of toy piano-like frets, then what sounds like a trapped pigeon flapping in a chime chimney leading to a smashed frets finale of blaring lorry horns. The last track continues the vibe, a starker, subtle bleed. Eerie sine séances with dronic breaths blur the boundaries between to two parties in a birdcage of saliva-rubbed cylinder and pitch-wheals of machine, slipping away almost unnoticed on nervous teeth.

Brötzmann, Adasiewicz, Edwards and NobleMental Shake

Broetzmann, Adasiewicz, Edwards and Noble - Mental Shake

The last offering is a four pronged beast of Peter Brötzmann, Jason Adasiewicz, (and once again) John Edwards and Steve Noble that blasts into being on a Romanian bite of the taragato. Raucous stuff that seems ridiculously weighty after the stark riches of the Quintet, Sextet Duos. Noble tattoo-hunting that flush of excitement in clattering retorts; Edwards’ bass and Adasiewicz’s vibraphone washed out by Brötzmann’s onslaught. In the calmer moments they offer up a magnetised highway of glimmering metal and supple bass whippets weaving between the peppered falls , something that’s optimised on later when Brötzmann breaks from his Alyer abstracts to bleed a subtle trad jazz sheen for the others to warp and weft nicely through.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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