(Provocateur PVC1042. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Composer/pianist Colin Towns spent two years assembling the sextet that appears on this album, and the extraordinarily rich and wide-ranging nature of the music they play fully vindicates his patience and care.
Drummer Benny Greb, indeed, puts it thus: ‘my structured German mind tries to put [the music] into boxes, but it doesn’t succeed’; percussionist Stephan Maass simply comments: ‘it’s optical music, it takes you on a trip … the challenge of this band is to play without fear’.
Completed by guitarist Chris Montague (Troyka), reeds player Mark Lockheart (Perfect Houseplants, Polar Bear etc.) and bassist Edward Maclean, Blue Touch Paper are as at home with the relatively straightforward deep-groove fusion of Miles Davis in his Tutu period as with the late trumpeter’s seething-cauldron sounds captured on the likes of Bitches Brew and Agartha; rousing Zappa-esque complexity spearheaded by deliciously multi-textured guitar work; deceptively gentle, almost Andy Sheppard-like wafts; climactic, no-holds-barred jazz/rock: as anyone who’s followed Towns’s gloriously multifarious output since 1992’s Mask Orchestra will attest, he is an astonishingly fertile and open-minded composer, adept at incorporating his many musical predelictions into pieces that intrigue, absorb and – most important – uplift the listener.
As the album’s title suggests, all you have to do to experience the full power of this album is light the blue touch paper and stand well back.
2012 UK Tour Dates
UK, LONDON, KINGS PLACE 10-03-2012 (UK DEBUT)
UK, SOUTHAMPTON, TURNER SIMS 16-05-2012
UK, MOLD, CLWYD THEATR CYMRU 17-05-2012
UK, EDINBURGH, THE QUEENS HALL 18-05-2012
UK, LEEDS, THE WARDROBE 21-05-2012
UK, LONDON, 606 CLUB 22-05-2012
UK, NOTTINGHAM, LAKESIDE ARTS CENTRE 23-05-2012