CD review

Pulled by Magnets – “Rose Golden Doorways”

Pulled by MagnetsRose Golden Doorways
(tak:til/Glitterbeat: GBCD 088. CD review by Graham Spry)

Seb Rochford is a drummer who has never ceased to explore diverse music traditions and to reveal sometimes initially surprising syncretic fusions of his sonic influences. Following Polar Bear’s last album in 2015 and his recent work with Sons of Kemet, Andy Sheppard and Kit Downes, Rochford reconnected with his Anglo-Indian heritage in Lucknow and studied with a master vocal musician in the South Indian city of Mysuru. The result of his sabbatical in India is manifested in the trio Pulled by Magnets, whose music is more outwardly related to grindcore, deathcore and black metal than to Indian music traditions. 

Pulled by Magnets album coverIt is possible that some listeners, who perhaps aren’t especially familiar with the more extreme genres of metal, may at first be wary of the sheer volume of the music on the album, particularly on the first track Nowhere Nothing. This is music best played loudly and, when done so, it pummels the listener into submission as intended. However, the musicianship of the trio still shines through. 

Rochford recorded the album in The Old Church in Stoke Newington with Polar Bear saxophonist Pete Wareham and bassist Neil Charles (who has previously worked with Shabaka Hutchings and Tomorrow’s Warriors). Rochford wanted an “overwhelming, big sound” and has certainly achieved this. Indeed, It is a wonder that this trio can make such a very large sound, particularly given that the album was not recorded in a studio but relies on the sonic properties of the church.

What may be more surprising, given the loudness of the album, is the spiritual nature of the music. Underneath the huge grinding sound that evokes space and open landscapes are songs originally composed on the piano which reflect the meaning of titles such as The Immortal Fire, The Moon of Oduglin and Breath That Sparks. If such titles awaken memories of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra and those bands’ own use of loudness then this is evidence only of an accident of musical convergence. As interviews with Rochford make clear, his inspirations are far more contemporary and go beyond the normal constraints of jazz.

The record sleeve shows symbols that resemble the petroglyphs of the Mojave Desert, whose wide landscape Rochford acknowledges has inspired his musical vision. A symbol is attached to each song and is intended to better invoke the song’s meaning. 

The record label, tak:til, is currently issuing a fascinating range of records that expand on those from across the world that its parent label, Glitterbeat, is most often associated with. Pulled by Magnets share in many ways the musical vision of label-mates Park Jiha and Jon Hassell that confound expectations of what ‘world music’ should be. 

LINK: Buy the album

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