Review: Three Duos at Café Oto

Sebastian Lexer and Evan Parker
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

3 Duos: Evan Parker & Sebastian Lexer; David Toop & Daichi Yoshikawa; John Butcher & Seymour Wright
(Café Oto, 15 January 2013; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

Three delightful duets, but not delightful in the conventional sense. Delightfully inventive. Delightfully intense. Delightfully absorbing.

Each of the duos had a life of its own. Evan Parker with Sebastian Lexer, and David Toop with Daichi Yoshikawa performing for the first times together, on the initiative of the younger musicians. John Butcher and Seymour Wright following on from their performance last year at Eddie Prévost’s 70th celebration at the same venue. Prévost is, in some ways, a link that binds these musicians; Wright, Lexer and Yoshikawa are all devoted attendees at his workshops, Parker is a fellow trailblazing contemporary, and Butcher is a more recent collaborator.

Evan Parker literally found a plethora of voices in his soprano sax, contriving a multi-tracked avian discourse of trills and flutters. His unstinting fluency over the keypads was matched by the powerful consistency of circular breathing which propelled an ever-more complex concatenation of alternately joyous and territorially-defensive calls and responses melting into episodes of breathy echoes.

Parker’s masterly, probing exploration of minimalist figures was complemented with great sensitivity by Lexer’s continuing reconfiguration of the pianist’s relationship with the piano. The piano’s entire body was his instrument, its innards very much the nub of his attentions. Lexer formed an articulated interface with his computer-based performance system, to build an atmospheric environment which included disconcerting sampled orchestral interruptions, sharp highlights and rubberised vibrations, electronic sparks to counter his spare diversions on the acoustic keyboard.

David Toop and Daichi Yoshikawa
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Toop and Yoshikawa offered a taut, robust conversation that was continually drawn back to the electronic minefields that evolved through incrementally hand-controlled gestures. Toop detonated Hendrix-like crashing chords as he struck the looped guitar fretboard. Yoshikawa micro-managed the percussive rolls of a vibrating hand-held mic and a coiled metal spring as they became activated within a localised electro-magnetic force field to strike the tiny hand drum in front of him.

Toop’s evocation of the far east with sampled gamelan asides and digressions on a massive bamboo flute also saw the flute’s recruitment as a conduit for breath bubbling in a bucket of water, blending perfectly with a train rushing through Dalston. Harsh unmediated feedback was shared between the two musicians, the mix of industrial with the vernacular lending an edge to their discourse.

John Butcher and Seymour Wright
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

The Butcher/Wright saxophone dialogue was crisp, astutely focussed and infused with a telepathic simultaneity, articulated in flowing passages of Mingus-like precision. Catapulted clicks bounced off piercing whistles. Light fluffing and the sense of gusting wind and forced air was subverted by barren screeches and extreme gull cries.

Wright brought a marble-surfaced gloss to the arena through sharp, toughly punctuated tones, while Butcher dealt with haikus of condensed, splattered notes and rhythmic discoveries. Silence lingered before Butcher gradually adopted a soft, trumpet tone on his soprano, a timely reminder that the event was ultimately about listening and hearing. Then with a deliberately contrary gesture, they blasted out with an ear-splitting, hearing damage barrage, Wright playing only the neck of his alto. Delightful, nonetheless!

Evan Parker: soprano sax
Sebastian Lexer: piano and electronics
David Toop: electronics and miscellaneous instruments
Daichi Yoshikawa: electronics and percussion
John Butcher: tenor and soprano sax
Seymour Wright: alto sax

Categories: miscellaneous

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