(Emanem)

The two discs contain four improvisations apiece. The trio of Alan Tomlinson, Steve Beresford and Roger Turner travels towards virgin territories where trombone, electronics and percussion lose their unique identity fusing into an acid deranged firecracker of joyous absurdity, with almost no time for reflection. Stephan Keune and John Russell, on sopranino sax and guitar, continue to surprise and amaze with a series of engaging bird-like discourses leaving no doubt on their high-virtuosity immersion in fresh waters of fun. Pure excellence transpires from the Viv Corringham/Angharad Davies duo; violin and voice become one in a piece that’s challenging and disturbing at the same time, very nerve-touching and beautiful. Large doses of powerful interplay come from Free Base (Alan Wilkinson, Marcio Mattos, Steve Noble); their track is the nearest one to the commonly used concept of “improvisation” between jazz-influenced musicians, literally exploding with positive energies. The second CD opens with the most abstract playing of the whole set: Milo Fine, Hugh Davies, Paul Shearsmith and Tony Wren run amock between spontaneous eruptions and subdued shades of pinpoint elucubrations, embracing lots of definitions but endorsing none. Saxophone and double bass duos can’t get better than John Butcher and John Edwards’, especially when they explore the realms of droning resonance and dark-alley polyphony while knotting fingers and tongue in complex marvellous new languages; in that sense their “Spokes” could be the top of this selection. But if you need a mix of silent musical gestures and almost immobile vibration around well chosen plucks of harp and cello strings – PLUS an intramolecular double bass breaching of conventions, look no further than the trio of Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell and Simon H.Fell: their intensity is directly proportional to the lots of spaces they vacuum-clean of any regular timbre. Lunge (Gail Brand, Phil Durrant, Mark Sanders and Pat Thomas) put the final word on these gorgeous recordings, climbing up the hills where the rarefied air of acoustic instruments (trombone and percussion) is easier to be savored when spiced with smart use of keyboards and laptop running scared from repetition and cliches. That said, I’m left gasping for air at the end of this unbelievable gathering of great independent artists.