ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Rachel Musson / Mark Sanders / Liam Noble
The London label’s pioneering digital-first strategy continues with the release of Tatterdemalion, a free improv release that is unusual in that pianist Liam Noble, best known for his work with singer Christine Tobin and his own Brubeck album, is heard way beyond his usual musical contexts often embedded as they are within the demands of the latest post modern-mainstream idiomatic approach. Saxophonist Musson is a commanding presence on opener ‘May Be a Silken Thread’ (think Paul Dunmall a bit), as Sanders chooses a multi-directional approach at least to get going. Musson also works in a duo with Danish saxophonist Julie Kjaer and is probably best known for her band Skein, which released an album three years ago. The eponymous tatterdemalion is a ragged tramp-like figure and quite a few of the song titles refer to clothing or materials related to clothes as well as the opener although some are less about fashion style and more about process (‘Spinning’), or sensation (‘The Blanket Feels Woolen’).
The cover of Tatterdemalion
Free improv can be a very tactile form and ‘The Blue Man’ has a harsh gritty construction to it that through tone distortion and Sanders’ small cymbal work has a clarity achieved by the end. That stillness continues in ‘Oh My Road’ with hang-like percussion at the beginning and then the demanding and intense ‘Spinning’ where Musson revives once more into an episode approaching some sort of hardcore nihilism. ‘The Blanket Feels Woolen’ recalls the music of Ingrid Laubrock a little, and Noble does much here to develop a subtle narrative behind Musson’s sinuous lines. So, all in all, a revelation for some Liam Noble fans who only know one aspect of this fine musician’s work, but nothing short of a triumph for Rachel Musson, who really should be better known and appreciated. Tatterdemalion is her year zero.