Many of the participants are veterans of British improv while others are less familiar, but all of these performances have much to recommend them. The first trio, Tomlinson/Beresford/Turner, set the pace with kissy trombone sounds and electronic plinks, gradually building in intensity before dropping to near silence. Beresford's electronics are complementary in pitch to the trombone and he acts as a solid middleman between horn and rhythm. John Russell's guitar playing is percussive, rich with harmonics and pendular notepairs while partner Stefan Keune squalls and squeaks like an angry bat on sopranino sax. The violin of Angharad Davies scrapes and growls behind Viv Corringham's sung multiphonics and deep gutterations, a nightmare soundtrack. On The Liver is the Cock's Comb Free Base (Wilkinson, Mattos and Noble) sonically interpret an Arshile Gorky painting with staggering results. The interplay between bass and bari makes this one of the best performances of the set.
Milo Fine and friends investigate the psychology of sound to start the second disc. It has some strong moments but sounds a bit too much like an orchestra warming up until the four musicians begin to really connect. No such problem plagues Butcher and Edwards, two of the scene's finest. Their interactions are exceptionally tight and entertaining from start to finish. IST, the string trio of Davies, Wastell and Fell, is extremely sparse, with barely a dozen notes played in the first couple of minutes. Aside from a few sudden volume jumps it never gets much fuller, and the impact is iffy. The disc closes with a 24-minute improv by Lunge which also takes forever to rise from silence. A couple of minutes in, Mark Sanders' percussion builds and the music takes on a character of progressive evolution. By the nine-minute mark the quartet is rollicking like an alien bebop band. Once again Emanem has drawn some excellent colours from the broad palette of contemporary improvisation.
Alan Tomlinson (trombone); Steve Beresford (electronics, objects); Roger Turner (drum set, percussion); Stefan Keune (sopranino sax); John Russell (guitar); Vic Corringham (voice); Angharad Davies (violin); Alan Wilkinson (alto and baritone sax, voice); Marcio Mattos (double bass); Steve Noble (drum set, percussion); Milo Fine (clarinets, piano, drum set); Hugh Davies (invented instruments); Paul Shearsmith (pocket trumpet, baliphone, hand flute); Tony Wren (double bass); John Butcher (soprano and tenor sax); John Edwards (double bass); Rhodri Davis (harp); Mark Wastell (cello); Simon H. Fell (double bass); Gail Brand (trombone); Phil Durrant (laptop electronics); Mark Sanders (drum set, percussion); Pat Thomas (keyboard electronics)