Dunmill, Hanslip, Gibbs, Ricart – Weeping Idols (FMR Records)

‘Weeping Idols’ is the first recorded outing of a quartet consisting of Paul Dunmall (tenor sax), Mark Hanslip (tenor sax), Philip Gibbs (guitar), and Ed Ricart (guitar), and it’s a cracker. 

‘4 Souls, 8 Eyes’ is a great squabbling piece of music.   Weird effects strafe the sound field, providing a rich bed for the occasional super-rapid funk lick; the guitars hold up their end of the group well: sustained arching sighs, sharp clusters of notes.  The saxophones join to form a weird scrabbling hiss like someone sifting through straw; it sounds exploratory, a band searching for something, rifling through your mind.  This is a group in conflict, their sound thick and straining at the edges, running over.  Guitars join in a delicate elongated shudder before sci-fi bloop effects shatter the form and the buzzing saxophones overwhelm and encircle them, building to a scabrous peak.  The constant activity yields plenty of rewards; turbulent and packed with incident.  Subtle interplay of tiny arguing gestures confer, occasionally flare up in disagreement, but always return to a tense standoff.
‘Bhutan’ begins like a gamelan orchestra slowly awakening, clanking metal objects building autonomous action sculptures around watery bass gong strokes.   Creaking rusty scaffolding singing in a vibrating wind, festooned with wind charms of copper disks, clanging and smashing together.  Gripping and fascinating, if the previous piece found the group bickering and oppositional, this finds them in incredibly close union, fibres of noise meshing them together, a bird’s nest of fiercely absorbing sound.
‘Better Than Words’ returns to the approach of the opening track, the sax duo pushing and shoving at one another, the guitars whipping up rapidly collapsing grids, sounding like a profusion of strange animals shoved in a box and shaken until they peck and rip at one another.  Like a drunk orchestra tuning up.
Final piece ‘Weeping Idols’ is a great no-wave freak-out; 5 minutes of brilliant coruscating racket, thrashing 6 string destruction duelling with ferocious skronk.
Read Mark Hanslip’s blog here.
Purchase the album from FMR Records here.

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