Posted on Sep 4th 2012 01:39 am
Monotype Records 2012
04 Tracks. 64mins58secs
For over twenty years, Tony Buck has provided, with bassist Lloyd Swanton, the rhythmic backbone of Australian improv trio The Necks, but he has been involved in many other collaborative works since, the latest of which, with Berlin-based experimental pianist Magda Mayas, comes under the name of Spill. Earlier this year, Mayas and Buck released a first album, Stockholm Syndrome, on Beirut-based imprint Al Maslakh, quickly followed by this second opus, Fluoresce, on Monotype. Mayas is herself an accomplished performer in the fields of improvisation and composition, and has played with a great number of musicians from all over the world.
To Buck’s regular panoply of drums, gongs, bells and other percussive devices, Mayas ads prepared piano, clavinet, tiger organ, Harmonium and objects. The album opens with a clatter of miniature percussions, woodblocks and bells which spills over the entirety of Steel Tide, becoming progressively more intense, whilst short bursts of piano, growing more dissonant as the piece gains density, are scattered throughout, until eventually, delicate crystalline high notes swirl around Buck’s delicately fluttering bells and cymbals. The epic Coalesce, which follows, starts with the ominous hum of an electric organ which continues to hover insistently for some time as the pair build a series of discordant sequences. Past the half way mark, everything appeared stripped down for a while, but then the two embark on a much groovier section of the piece, Mayas leading on organ and, later on clavinet, whilst Buck provides a rigid rhythmic backdrop, until everything disintegrates into a chaotic last few minutes.
Chaos also feeds into much of Galleon as the pair layers increasingly dissonant and piercing metallic tones and create a somewhat impressive and dense sonic maelstrom. Although, past a certain point, it doesn’t appear to gain any more intensity, it spreads uncomfortably over the best part of its duration. The last piece, Sermon, is in comparison more orderly, but expands greatly from the delicate fragmented percussions and sporadic distortions of the opening moments to the developing melody and cosmic groove which follow, until, just after the half-way mark, the two progressively untangle their sonic ball to lay it more openly. Mayas and Buck continue to carve intricate motifs for a while until the strips of distorted organ dissipate, leaving hectic clusters of increasingly delicate percussions to unravel.
Those familiar with Buck’s work will undoubtedly appreciate his extensive style and approach here. This collaboration with Magda Mayas can at times prove challenging, but this is exactly what gives this record its undeniable edge and its particular impact.