Benedict Taylor & Dirk Serries

Puncture Cycle
New Wave of Jazz nwo/0018

Mahdhira de Saram/Benoît Delbecq


Confront Recordings Core 06

Navigating through a conduit in which various sound tributaries are synthesized are two string-oriented sessions whose antecedents are from Jazz, notated music and advanced rhythmic tropes. Rather than being a Third Stream exemplar however, the music on each CD is pure improvisation, reflecting on the concepts, history and ideas of the duo members. On Puncture Cycle, the harsh, sinewy music is from Benedict Taylor, a British violist who moves between so-called contemporary Classical music and Free Improv. His partner is Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries, equally at home in avant Rock, Free Jazz and Free Music, On Spinnert

British violinist Mahdhira de Saram’s musical specializations are somewhat similar to Taylor’s, while French pianist Benoît Delbecq is known for his Jazz work that reaches from near mainstream to near avant-garde.

Certainly if the echoing stopped plunks that serve as one part of Delbecq’s strategy have any antecedent it’s the arrhythmic vibrations John Tilbury brings to many AMM sessions. Besides these stopped and plucked string are further key vibrations which create the squirming continuum underlying both of the Spinnert duo’s major improvisations that resolve on either side of 30 minutes, Still, Delbecq sometimes reverses course and produces a melodic narrative that widens with expansive glissandi. This is particularly effective on “Lace Weaver”, especially when de Saram counters with whistling vibratos that add pressure to the strings’ upper partials so that her playing becomes louder and more dissonant. By torquing her strings she also manages to mirror Delbecq’s inner piano judders, which are created by bowing or strumming the strings to create distinctive timbres resulting from the movement of implements placed upon the strings. The final sequence suggests a type of broken chord swing which ripens into a climax of exquisite, near delicate violin timbres linked to dynamic keyboard pressure. Exhibiting more pedal-pushing concussions from the piano, “Snowberry Clearwing” matches soundboard extensions with variable rhythmic pushes from de Saram’s four strings. If at times it seems that she’s using the frog to extract a more percussive sound, it doesn’t preclude occasional traditional strategies which decorate a clipped melody the pianist creates. Rolled keyboard syncopation and a multiphonic distribution of timbres from each string stand out. That way this track’s concluding section is narrower and tougher than earlier ones, but also expresses more responsive syncopation.

Spreading their intuitive playing over nine, randomly sequenced improvisation titled with numbers, Taylor and Serries many variations on fiddle string twists and slurred guitar fingering produce tunes that are manually constructed, deconstructed and put back together again. Tracks often posit and resolve singular experiments. For instance, the hard dry swagger of “IV” opens up into a tremolo and spiccato bowed narrative. Swift, repetative slithers from Taylor enliven “IX” as Serries’ guitar strings are crunched and hammered. Once he turns to slurred fingering the contrast with spirited viola glissandi is that much more pronounced. Then there’s “V”, where bottleneck guitar stabs coupled with brief, metallic fiddle strokes create a tightened claustrophobic narrative. “VI” and “VII” may be the most authoritative tracks however. On the former the pressure exerted with string sprawls joins guitar whines and frails for a split tone outer-space hoedown, Later Taylor’s pizzicato banjo-like clanking meets reductionist clanks from Serries that are as attuned to Derek Bailey’s advances as Delbecq’s were to Tilbury’s on the other CD. Yet peeping notes and near silences are also present so that the exposition is reflective as well as rugged.

Upfront is their creations and unafraid to sound dyspeptic as well as amiable timbres, both de Saram-Delbecq and Serries-Taylor have created imaginative discs which synthesize somewhat incompatible influences into unique programs.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Puncture: 1. III 2. II 3. IV 4. V 5. VI 6. VII 7. VIII 8. IX 10. X

Personnel: Puncture: Benedict Taylor (viola) and Dirk Serries (acoustic guitar)

Track Listing: Spinnert: 1. False Widow 2. Lace Weaver 3. Snowberry Clearwing

Personnel: Spinnert: Mandhira de Saram (violin) and Benoît Delbecq (piano)