Shatner’s Bassoon – Aquatic Ape Privilege
(Wasp Millionaire Records. WM001. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Admirers of one of TV’s most intelligent and wittily subversive programme makers, Chris Morris (it’s the Jesuit education), will immediately recognise the source of this Leeds-based band’s name, and mention of the great Yorkshire city will trigger off associations with other products of the experimental scene there: Trio VD, Dominic J. Marshall, Roller Trio and Matthew Bourne.
All these links are clues to the band’s approach: ‘controlled pandemonium’, ‘a maelstrom of sound’ are a couple of phrases that have been recently applied to their roiling, dense, hard-biting music, but their intense, free-ish passages utilising all the textures and dynamic variations available from the keyboards of Johnny Richards, the electronics and bass playing of Mick Bardon, the saxophones of Ollie Dover, the electronics and guitar of Craig Scott and the drums of Andrew Lisle are tellingly interspersed with quieter moments (there’s even a brief samba in one piece), snatches of spoken word and soft washes of ambient noise.
There are also passages where they sound like a slightly more abrasive Led Bib, or even a good old-fashioned prog-rock band such as King Crimson; in short the only constant in their music is a degree of restlessness and an openness to all manner of influences that bring to mind one of their clearest influences, John Zorn. This said, the opening sentence of their press release – ‘Shatner’s Bassoon sound like nothing you have ever heard before’ – is (unusually) no exaggeration.