AuB – AuB
(Edition Records EDN1155. Review by Jon Carvell)
There is virtuosity in all four corners of AuB, a new quartet formed at the confluence of two formidably talented young tenor players, Tom Barford and Alex Hitchcock, with rhythm section heavyweights James Maddren (drums) and Fergus Ireland (bass).
Doggerland has an immediate crispness, with Maddren and Ireland providing horsepower, whilst Barford and Hitchcock weave a unison melody that unfolds with natural musicality. An effects-laden tenor solo then shifts things up a gear, powering through space-age reverb and overdrive, before we’re snapped back into purely acoustic territory. The quality of the writing and playing impresses with a sound that feels contemporary and uncompromising, but still speaks directly to the listener.
Calvados starts out sounding like Doggerland’s close relative, but the melody works through rhythmical intricacies to a point of grungy synth-drenched schism, which is less warming brandy and more dirty pint. In the midst of Maddren’s skulking rock beat and Ireland’s distorted bass, some of the tenor lines are nothing short of extraordinary – phrasing that floats in from another atmosphere altogether.
Maddren shines on Ice Man with glitching cross-beat playing and on the album’s opener Not Jazz which fades out to a series of glittering fills. Dual Reality on the other hand showcases Barford and Hitchcock in intricate counterpoint without rhythm section support. It’s a short tune but demonstrates the technical rigour of their approach, often feeling like many more voices than two, and advancing a convincing musical argument despite being so pared back.
AuB’s compositions are tight and authentic, never self-indulgent, and when the synths are deployed they add weight rather than covering up for a lack of invention. There’s freshness and originality here; an auspicious debut from the London-based ensemble.
LINK: AuB on video