(Feeling to Thought)
Between the human and the note lies touch. Whether made by hands, feet or mouth, touch is what makes one player sound different to another on exactly the same instrument. This album, the fifth in percussionist/composer Phil Treloar’s major retrospective series, Of Other Narratives, brings together three players of sublime touch: Treloar, guitarist Carl Dewhurst and bassist Steve Elphick.
A decade ago I had the good fortune to attend one of the two recording sessions for this double album of free improvisations, and was struck by the wonder of what was being created. Treloar could use the flimsiest of sticks and yet still extract extraordinarily reverberant sounds. Dewhurst would have the guitar singing whether creating atmospheric clouds or dense knots, and Elphick’s sumptuous double-bass tone has probably never been better recorded.
The splendour of the sounds is matched by a shared capacity for spontaneously developing narrative and structure via trust, daring and instinctive responses to what each player hears. The 12 pieces – some of them divided into suites – add up to free improvising at its most sophisticated and engaging. The participants never tread water, always latching on to a strong current of ideas that carry the music forward, with the listener riding serenely on those stunning sounds. Put this through a decent hi-fi system and it will seem you have had an ear transplant.