From the moment I heard that this trio had spent a day in a London studio I have been anticipating the results. Three distinctive musical minds and voices: each familiar, never before together.
Jan Bang’s sound environments are deeply affecting, created with an Akai sampler and interwoven with the work of collaborators in both studio and live remix situations. There’s a sensitivity and respect in David Toop’s sound-making borne from his insatiable curiosity about the evolution of music in cultures across the world. Mark Wastell’s use of acoustic percussion and his explorations into the potential of simple instruments result in nothing short of a spiritual communion with sound.
No parameters were set for the sessions. Three improvisations of around thirty minutes duration were recorded. Afterwards, every sound played in those performances was brought together to create a unified whole.
There are moments where each player’s voice is distinct: the resonance of Wastell’s tam-tam caresses, the bursts and trills of Toop’s woodwind, the pitch-altered looping of Bang’s manipulated samples. But the triumph of this collaboration is the sound world of their combined creation.
There’s an openness in the mix that allows each expression to breathe. It’s like being encircled by some elaborate gossamer sculpture, flashes of colour and light glinting through as it catches the breeze.
The trio’s music creates a strong sense of place, yet you can’t quite put your finger on the exact location. There are crescendos that remind me of the vibrant frenzy once experienced in the Amazonian rainforest. Jan Bang injects into the mix both snippets of his co-creators’ performances and samples collected over time for deployment in just the right context. We hear faint orchestral swells and then voices, both spoken and sung, the recordings degraded so far as to be barely recognisable. These add a strange authenticity to this imagined territory, the acoustic purity of Toop and Wastell’s instruments providing a counterpoint that expands the stage.
Deep listening reveals some beautiful passages where all else subsides but for the elegance of a simple motif. None is more perfect than the gentle melody that emerges to bring resolution in the final moments.
A Compound Full of Bones, Translucent Thousands has an eloquence that transcends both the circumstances of its creation in a small London studio and the finely-honed technique of each individual artist. Expressive, alluring: music with which to share your time and imagination.
released December 11, 2021
Jan Bang - live sampling, samples
David Toop - lapsteel guitar, flutes, whistles, small percussion, harmonica, elastic, paper
Mark Wastell - Paiste 32” tam tam, gongs, beaters, brushes, sticks, bow, autoharp
Recorded by Shaun Crook, London, 22 November 2019
Compositional structure by Mark Wastell
Mixed and mastered by Rupert Clervaux
Cover image by Crimson Wastell
Liner notes by David Nibloe
Design by Matthew Brandi