These days Babel 20 years down the line from its beginnings championing the Shakedown Club and Billy Jenkins is more consistently an out-an-out improv label where its heart somehow always seemed to find itself. But like anything Babel goes through phases, so insightful diversions down the years have involved championing the likes of singer Christine Tobin, Polar Bear, and – even unlikely as it may now seem – Spin Marvel.
Woven Entity are definitely a label discovery and hopefully a band we’ll all get to pick up on more and more. Little known beyond a few gigs before this self-titled release it’s percussion-heavy with Lascelle Gordon, Patrick Dawes, and Paul May rarely resisting the temptation to explore the hinterland between improvised and semi-improvised grooves that bubble around Peter Marsh’s elastic bass and a tinkling coating of electronics. There’s a good deal going on whether it’s the sound of a flute or a whistle emerging, say, or distant lulling steel pan sounds floating to the top through a haze of cymbals and brittle drumming, the brief encounter and f-f-f of controlled feedback say on ‘Naked Eye,’ a crowd of small noises that somehow fit like a rainforest full of little-known species.
And certainly there’s a majestic lost-in-the-overgrowth stillness to the beginning of ‘This Day Will Come,’ stubborn bass among the fracturing percussion whether that happens to be blocks chopping away or weird sawing noises that scythe their way through, the strong pulse of the band making all this unselfconsciously episodic in a more organised and compositional way. ‘Hola’ operates at low intensity, an incredibly controlled manipulation of small complementary sounds building lethargically to inure themselves complemented by tricksy electronic interjections that owe as much to the Radiophonic Workshop as contemporary notions of jazz. ‘Trissh’ has a magical glock ’n’ clock-like lead sound the distant electronically manipulated sounds of cries and laughter in the background a flash of inspiration on what is a highly original and enjoyable album.