Canadian percussionist (the term is particularly reductive) Chris Dadge runs a smart label – Bug Incision - that releases micro-editions of honest, unpretentious improvisation which sounds positively energetic and frisky, but in a sort of “concentrated” manner. He sent a packet of nice things – needless to say, a good while ago - that only now I managed to enjoy. This notwithstanding, I warmly recommend you to take a look to what these people have to offer as they’re quite unique in their unassuming poverty of means, and the music is often excellent. Here’s what we’ve been able to listen to this week.
CHRIS DADGE – I’d Drive Your Ass Across The World, If I Had To
Wonderful title indeed. A 30-minute set of “solo drumset improvisations with subtle and occasional amplification", which at a first glance I compared to the studio-generated, Edgard Varese-influenced tiny percussive outbursts found in many and one records by Frank Zappa. Those accelerated rolls and minuscule, apparently disheveled structures are played by Dadge in real time without any external contribution, making us appreciate his unsparing attitude towards the instrument. He’s also intelligent enough to leave space for consideration, avoiding deplorable free-for-alls and pseudo-intrepid attempts ending in utter tediousness typical of the large part of percussion-only improvisational efforts. Half a hour is a correct length for my ears in this case, and the almost perfect balance between skin, wood and metal-derived timbres is definitely cherished.
BENT SPOON TRIO – Lost In A Chinese Attic
Chris Dadge (violin, percussion, amplification), David Laing (alto sax, “Laingdon”, percussion), Danny Meichel (tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet), Scott Munro (trombone, viola, electronics, vocals). That’s right – it’s a quartet, not a trio, but OK just the same. Recording of a spontaneous concert played in a tunnel in Calgary at midnight, an event that apparently occurs every summer in this particular place. Quick-tempered if smilingly fragile playing from all parties, chemical-free elucubrations that appear as diverging as your little brother surprised dressed with mum’s clothes in front of a mirror, dancing and singing. Degraded timbres enriched by the environmental reverberation, devil-may-care dialogues that nevertheless show articulated coherence and lucidity throughout, a pinch of calm rumination every once in a while, beautiful minimal juxtapositions that leave room for relief. Very nice.
CHRIS DADGE & RACHAEL WADHAM – 100 Silk Buttons From The Room Upstairs
You’ve got to love girls who are interested in “broken instruments, rusted objects and old songs”. Pianist and junk player Wadham and percussionist-cum-violin Dadge recorded these ten tracks in Vancouver in 2006 after a fruitful series of live collaborations. Disobedient analysis of the space in and around the instruments with some vague similarities (Greg Goodman, anyone?) and a gallimaufry of dynamic alterations that don’t concede more than ten seconds of respite before abruptly channeling the intensity and the energies somewhere else, often even further than expected. Discerning scrutiny of percussive colors without a hint of exaggeration – everything strictly in check, not an ounce of noodling to be found – and a few instants of anecdotal portrayals. A pictorial representation of egomaniacal modesty, 42 highly enjoyable minutes of never-exasperating questions designed to remain unanswered. Great stuff.
THE MUSK CUP – Tinned Mind, Tinned Breath
The Musk Cup are Chris Dadge, Danny Meichel and Scott Munro. The sense of camaraderie heard since the beginning of this acerbically jangling trio set – “the first-ever session from this long-in-the-pipeline Calgary improve supergroup”, as per the press release’s presentation – delineates a comprehensive translation of the multiform possibilities of instrumental employment. And the timbres to choose from are indeed many: the little orchestra comprises in fact drums, saxes, clarinets, flutes, trombone, basses, voices, noises, objects “and a bunch of other stuff”. The general sound is somehow associable to several projects related to Bryan Day’s Public Eyesore imprint: erratic turns and hasty reports from the galaxy of dirty overtones often making room for quite a few moments of deadpan expurgation of noise, a never-overfastidious rationalization of an otherwise extremely unmanageable creative flux. Lively, attractive but at the same time even-handed music, suitable for different utilizations. A lovely disc.