Tom Jackson & Benedict Taylor – Songs from Badly-Lit Rooms (Squib-Box)

‘Songs from Badly-Lit Rooms’ by Tom Jackson (clarinet) and Benedict Taylor (viola) is a collection of excellent chamber improvisations recorded over two years at various locations.

The variety of sounds torn from the instruments is one of the album’s main qualities: swooping bird calls, the scrabble of claws, violent atonal scrapes, low curling drones; the two somehow mimic, on ‘A Drama Studio of Goldsmiths College’, the screaming feedback of a just-walked-off-stage noise rock band.  The artists’ individual techniques are worthy of mention.  Taylor has a seemingly total command of the sounds capable of being made on a viola; his playing full of jagged noise and abrasion.  Jackson has a great range: flipping from long unfolding lines to dense clotted knots of spluttering scribble.

Each piece has a rapidly fluctuating approach to texture and temperature, sometimes glowing white-hot with shards of sharp intensity and at other times languishing in a cool bed of watery calm.  No halting initial stall-setting seems to occur at any point, Taylor and Jackson launch into what sound like instant compositions, songs that seem to have an incredibly complicated exploded structure, like an “on the fly” set of Serialist frameworks, conceived algorithmically by generative music software.  The playing is absorbingly intuitive, working with, rather than across or against, one another.

Two remarkable musicians of huge talent and ability combine on ‘Songs From Badly-Lit Rooms’ with fascinating alchemy; they swoop and soar in exotic unison around this brilliant collection of turbulent music.

Available from the label at: or in limited hardcopy at live events.

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