“Motion” reviewed at Free Jazz Blog

By Joe, published 24th February 2014

N.E.W. equals Steve Noble, John Edwards and Alex Ward. I thought this was their debut release, but if you look at the comments section (below) you’ll notice this their 4th release. Anyhow, “Motion” is one killing album. Firstly, just to clear up and any misunderstandings, Alex Ward, normally known as a clarinettist, is playing guitar on this record. Steve Noble – drums, has played with Rip Rig and Panic, Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Peter Brötzmann and about everybody (whose anybody) on the UK free-jazz scene. John Edwards, whom you’ll find liberally throughout this blog, is one of the UK’s top bass players on the improv’ scene. Add those elements together and that means that this is a free-jazz-rock-thrash-metal-noise-swing-impro trio, what more can you want?

Right from the very start the trio launches straight into hard hitting improvised rock. There’s no gentle introduction to this trio, they fire off all guns immediately and then don’t stop until the end of the album 5 tracks later. For anyone familiar with those great improvised sections in King Crimson’s music, then this could be (sort of) the next step in the musical process. The guitar playing of Alex Ward reminds me of the style that Fripp used back in those early Crimson days, although here Alex gets a chance to push boundaries in other directions.

The music focuses around Ward’s guitar which points the trio in the different directions. He winds his way through hard rock and even jazzy ideas on “Betting on Now” (tk1). Here Noble and Edwards support him with swinging drums and walking bass lines. In “Tall & True”(tk3) Steve Noble and John Edwards jump in with some manic rhythms, leaving Alex to gradually creep in with chunky riffing power chords to ‘rock’ the group.

“4th and Three” (tk4), the longest piece on the album (10 minutes) builds from a tremolo idea. The band spends plenty of time exploring space and rhythm, but as the music progresses the guitar gradually steels in with some slide (?) playing, squealing into high registers, whilst the bass and drums rock away – reminding me of some of Rip, Rig and Panic’s musical outings. On “Motion” (tk5), the group bring many of the ideas heard on previous pieces together – silent sections, powerful guitar sounds, hard hitting drums and bass. What makes it all so listen-able is the way they develop the ideas ‘tonally’, and although there’s plenty of sonic probing they always use rhythm or melody as a focal point – if you call distorted bashed chords melodic?

Lastly I should mention the label Dancing Wayang. They produce a very small amount of releases and this is a 300 limited edition LP, as are all their records. Anna (Tjan), the founder of the label tells me that the first 100 copies include a bonus 3″ CDR of the band live, so if you’re interested, don’t hang about!

Highly recommended – could be a good one for all those who like air-guitar also!

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