Relay Eight
2:13 CD 011

Easier to describe — or perhaps participate in — then write about, this 22 track CD is an almost 70 minute aural documentary of a three-hour event which rotated 17 musicians in twos and threes through four different London venues.

The idea behind this annual relay, which has taken place during the Stoke Newington Midsummer Street Festival, since 1993, is that the musicians congregate in randomly determined combinations in performance spaces located about five minutes walk from one another. The number playing at each venue must remain constant, though, so that when one arrives, another must leave and so on. The rather odd track titles refer to which of the spaces is being used for that performance.

Heard as something midway between a Dadaist happening and the equivalent of the sound track from what could be home movies of some of Britain's most interesting improv players, the end product exists more as an artifact than an artistic statement. Besides the music you hear children screaming, parents reassuring them, crowds milling about, dogs barking, random street noises and backstage chit chat, gossip and laughter from the musicians themselves and some members of the audience. Tunes range in length from under one minute to 13 minutes plus, with the majority in the three, four and five minute range.

Thus you'll hear some impressive tone melding between, say, soprano saxophonist John Butcher, electronic manipulator Phil Durrant and one of the percussionists on one track, then on others put up with nonsense verses or burlesque riffs from other musicians. You can hear how a hitherto protected child copes with Phil Minton's many vocal tones or listen to Jonathan Bohman putting aside his unprepared object to shave off his moustache with an electric razor. Other impressive bits come from trombonist Gail Brand and one of the string players, perhaps Angharad Davies.

With the disc, organizer and participant guitarist John Bisset has proven that given the proper circumstances acoustic and even electronic improvisations can be accepted and enjoyed by unsuspecting audiences. It should be noted though, that track 22, the longest, which features extended sampling and electronics unrolling at varied speeds, tempos and volume took place in a club confines.

A taste for the usual, especially for found sounds, will help with your appreciation of what happens on here. You'll hear some engaging music all right, just don't expect a formal concert.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Dome 2. Home 3. 2:13 4. Knut 5. Knut 6. Knut 7. Home 8. Home 9. Home 10. Knut 11. Dome 12. Knut 13. Home 14. Dome 15. 2:13 16. Home 17. Home 18. 2:13 19. Knut 20. Dome 21.Home 22. 2:13

Personnel: Gail Brand (trombone); John Butcher (soprano saxophone); Angharad Davies (violin); Ivor Kalin, Charlotte Hug (violas); Mark Wastell (cello); John Bisset (guitar); Rhodri Davies (harp); Pat Thomas (keyboards, electronics); David Leahy (bass); Burkhard Beins (percussion); Phil Minton (voice); Phil Durrant (live electronic manipulation); Jonathan Bohman (unprepared objects); Adam Bohman (objects); Knut Aufermann (sampling and refreshments)