Falkirk FMH CD168-i0706 |****
Glasgow Improvisers' Orchestra (with Barry Guy)
"This is the third in a series of albums from the GIO made with guest artists (the others were with Evan Parker and singer Maggie Nichols). If the first two were valuable documents of large ensemble improvisation, Falkirk with Barry Guy and Maya Homburger represents a coming of age for the orchestra. If the opening and anthemic improvisation were not inspiring enough, the long Barry Guy composition, 'Witch Gong Game II/10', that follows is quite astonishingly brilliant. It opens out with a sax-led section that has the kind of searing intensity rarely found in music such as this. As for singer Nicola MacDonald, her "speaking in tongues" vocal recalls the great Maggie Nichols at her most wonderfully barmy.
It's fabulous and worth the entry price on its own. But the fire power of this band is truly awesome. They grab Guy's ideas like an opportunity so longed-for, that no-one wants to waste this chance. At times haunting and beautiful - there's one section with trumpet, flute and drums and another sotto voce woodwind segment that are both quite lovely - but at others mighty and glorious, this is a completely successful record that deserves to sell by the cartload."
George Burt (guitar) / Raymond MacDonald (saxs)
"Burt and MacDonald dabble in the type of
improvisation that many “specialists” with a
leaking nose will consider surpassed and not consequential enough as opposed to the hieratic gravity of a “performer” listening with firm concentration to buses and police alarms coming from the nearby boulevard, presumably interspersed with various types of toneless fart. But guess what, this stuff is good – very good – and so well recorded that the mere act of enjoying the unfinished frolicsomeness of some of these fragments is sufficient for this scribe.
Specifically, Burt is the kind of player that alternates his interest in upper partials found just everywhere on the neck, electric rashness and classic preparations (alright, those bouncing objects between the strings are a commonplace by now, however in this case there’s a clearly perceivable honesty that saves the day). Clean-toned vibrato à la Frith and arrhythmic accompaniment of nonexistent themes complete the expressive gamut of this perspicacious artist.
MacDonald is perhaps showing a bigger tendency to jazz-oriented phrasing, as heard – for instance – in the first half of “2nd Thoughts”. Yet when the time comes, he changes the approach abruptly and substantially, able to individuate the exact points in which bedlam and presence of mind fuse, allowing the music to reach levels of unexpected intensity enriched by beautifully resonant halos and deliberate melodic reflections (“A Panel Of Experts”). As Pink Floyd used to say, a nice pair."