Photo from worldserviceproject.co.uk/
Match & Fuse: Schnellertollermeier and Led Bib plus World Service Project
Rich Mix, 12 November 2017. EFG LJF. Review by Dan Bergsagel)
It’s not unusual to see British military uniforms on Remembrance Sunday. One could almost say, Remembrance Sunday is THE day to see British military uniforms. So there is really no more fitting day for World Service Project – a quintet outfitted in military dress from many different era – to open the evening at Rich Mix for Match & Fuse’s energetic rock/jazz LJF bonanza.
WSP are a high energy affair that go from zero to epic in three seconds. Nattily dressed in old military clothing their silly on-stage persona belies a more serious musical context, somewhere between Yes and Zappa. Dave Morecroft, the founder of Match & Fuse, held much of the attention of the audience with his nervous energy, political digressions and Gene Simmons-style tongue action on the keytar. But the combination of Raph Clarkson on trombone and Tim Ower on tenor, both busy distorting their sounds with an array of pedals while shredding away, provided the engaging power to the band.
Mr Giggles, WSP’s horror-masked alter ego who stomps amongst the crowd and stalks the stage, gave way to the more subdued Schnellertollermeier. Or at least on the face of it more subdued. They are the definition of patience, building slowly from minimal melodies hypnotically growing into mesmerising all encompassing beats. Improvisation is not the order of the day with this trio, Manuel Troller leading from the front with neat riffs. It is hard to notice when they transition from controlled interplay to raucous rock and descending in to noise. When they started it felt like a calming intermission, but bass player Andi Schnellman’s face said it all – this is intense and raw music, but all about slow progress: zero to epic in seven minutes.
Led Bib fall somewhere in between these two camps, flitting between high energy epic stomps and hypnotic sensitive progressions. As new stable mates of WSP at Rare Noise Records, their undefined genre is no surprise. They are rock, free jazz and introspective prog, and this heady mix comes together again on their new release Umbrella Weather. While the Led Bib back-line continue to power through, pinned on the endearing Mark Holub, it is still the two altos up front that provided that unique mystique. Pete Grogan and Chris Williams are playing two different instruments, but at times you’d be hard pushed to separate the instruments as they swap dominance and interweave melodies. This ponderous ambiguity coupled with the busy bass-lines from Liran Donin leave Led Bib sitting in a triumphant middle ground: going from zero to epic in a well-timed two minute stint to provide enough time to whet a jazzy appetite, but not too long to need a sit down to muster strength.
I last wrote about Match & Fuse in Autumn 2015 (HERE). Needless to say, since then much has changed; their cross-European collaborative goals have now become more important then ever. This evening was only a snippet of what M&F offers, a valuable reminder that London is a pulsating centre of contemporary jazz. But a centre that thrives off cross-pollination with Europe and beyond. However idiosyncratic and British some of this music might seem, it is deeply rooted in the music of our neighbours. I hope they keep it up.