Blue Touch Paper – Drawing Breath
(Provocateur Records PVC 1043. CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘Catchy hooks, knotty rhythms and moodscapes’ was Mojo’s description of Blue Touch Paper’s first album, Stand Well Back; its successor, with its promiscuous mix of deep grooves, Zappa-esque prog-rock chatter, tight funk and occasional bursts of spacy abstraction, covers similar ground, adding in the odd (in both senses) tango, spooky carousel-in-the-distance effect, or dramatic, carefully constructed climax.
Colin Towns reportedly took two years to assemble this band – bassist Edward Maclean, drummer Benny Greb, percussionist Stephan Maass, guitarist Chris Montague and saxophonist Mark Lockheart -– and it is perfectly suited to his rich and multifarious music: Lockheart, for instance, excels at providing taut, snaking soprano (‘Suddenly a Tango’) or suggesting braying laughter in his tenor contribution to ‘The Joke’ as well as eloquent, punchy solos where required; Montague (along with the ever resourceful percussionist/electronics operator Maass) not only helps establish the various textures that make this such a consistently intriguing album but can also play a blistering electric solo when called upon.
Towns himself plays unshowy piano and keyboards, setting the tone here, subtly embellishing there, and the result is another absorbing, often viscerally exciting album from him, some music from which can be sampled here – Michael Tang’s animated film accompanying ‘Fair is Foul’, in particular, is well worth seeking out there.