The Runcible Quintet

FMR CD 565-0120

New improvised chamber music, the UK players who make up The Runcible Quintet (RQ) brings technical flexibility and heightened dynamics to the control needed for restrained interpretations. Consisting of saxophonist Adrian Northover, flutist Neil Metcalfe, guitarist Daniel Thompson bassist John Edwards and drummer Marcello Magliocchi, all are members in good standing of the UK improv scene having played with the Remote Viewers and London Improvisers Orchestra. Diminishing the number of tracks in each outing, the RQ’s most recent CD consists of one extended improvisation followed by two briefer ones that could be contrasting codas to it. Close interaction of thought and gesture is amply displayed.

Obviously the more than half hour of “One” provides the greatest scope to create a comprehensive narrative. And the five do so as if they were followed a score. With an introduction of squeaky strings, cymbal clatter and faint whistles from the horns, the piece soon works up to idiophone scrapes and spins, resonating bull fiddle thumps and pressurized guitar runs while the flutist ‘s transverse puffs move contrapuntally and the saxophonist expels atom-sized squeaks. With Edwards’ and Thompson’ strings in solo and accompaniment roles, the formerly disintegrating timbral focus begin agglutinating so that duos become trios and then full group output, reaching a crescendo a little past the half-way mark. From that point emphasis such as below the bridge strokes from Thompson or Northover’s squeaking multiphonic spirals diminish the exposition in increments so that individual solos are as present as the tune is completed. Contrasting thicker string textures and thinner horn peeps as Magliocchi’s timed clip-clops create a rhythmic bridge, the balance shifts in the final section as skeletal flute trills, deconstructed reed vibrations and dissected double bass plucks finally convene. The finale has a resemblance to the first section but with enough prickliness to confirm its evolution. Of the two remaining tracks “Three”, though briefer, provides more scope for extended techniques like percussive chording from Thompson, a sequence of thuds from Edwards and gentle fripples from Metcalfe to be displayed.

Although the RQ appears to be limiting its improvisations in each subsequent outing, the fine work here makes awaiting CDs One and Two a confident task.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. One 2. Two 3. Three

Personnel: Adrian Northover (alto and soprano saxophones); Neil Metcalfe (flute); Daniel Thompson (acoustic guitar); John Edwards (bass) and Marcello Magliocchi (drums)