Most people use language lazily, in pre-fabricated modules, whether speaking or writing. Musicians can also be snared, regurgitating pre-digested patterns, whether composing or improvising. Rare ones devise the actual language: its syntax, vocabulary and potential for expressing the new. This is what drummer Simon Barker does on the first two volumes of a trilogy called Urgency! (a reference to those island nations facing catastrophic climate change).
With his mastery of the languages of jazz and Korean traditional drumming in place, Barker here steps outside of genre into language he calls “coiling”, in which the development of rhythmic motifs creates by-products of melodic contour and variations in colour, density, energy and excitement. Barker subtitles Volume 1 Drum Chants for Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, and “chants” is the perfect word for drumming that is so singable and is founded upon repetition. The music on the second volume, New Rivers, is sparser and more meditative, Barker again rebooting preconceptions of how solo drum music sounds.