• Ed Lawes - 14 Tracks/Pieces

    Reviewed by WOEBOT (WOEBOT)

    <b> Ed Lawes </b> - 14 Tracks/Pieces

    This is a set of great integrity, the product of three years dedicated programming. Lawes aesthetic lies in the netherspace between Gil Evans, Ingram Marshall, and Pierre Henry. However it's this ease with which the listener can pinpoint antecedents that slightly dogs the record. Many of the themes have a nagging similarity to music you're sure you heard once somewhere, indeed occasionally it can feel like an index of Avant-Garde dabbling. This would be a greater problem if Lawes wasn't so convinced by his project. Care is taken to explore every sonic nuance: the limping saxa-tones of "More Time Honoured", the Tibetan gongs of "F/S Bowl/ Fourths and Fiths", and the 1mph string quartet on "Obstacles" are all wrung for their timbral minutiae.

    The bucolic, near-serial tuning used consistently across a broad range of instrumental set-ups lends the suite a cohesive feel. As the attack is so even-paced, so gentle, the experience is akin to hearing quite a traditional jazz record filtered or denatured. Again the question of artistic originality is an issue here. The release, issued on Mike Paradinas's Planet Mu imprint, is evidently following an escape-route out of Techno laid down by Autechre, even if the oldest track on the record "Actually Real" is the only one with a hint of linear/programmed beats. Though it seems to be struggling slightly with its origin, there are promising signs that Lawes may yet reach terminal velocity.

    Compared in the cold light of day to some of the music of his antecedents, most notably that of the historic avant-garde, and particularly the luminaries clustered around Pierre Schaeffer whom Lawes seems to beg closest comparison, it's impossible but to remark that the tone of "14 tracks/Pieces" may not be tart enough. On the other hand it's worth recalling that some of the pioneers of Musique Concrete (Jacques Lejeune etc) also worked in this comfort-zone where Jazz is bequeathed a deeper hue by merit of its inflection in the prism of electronics. It may well be that the collection's method of composition, hard-disk editing, is a red herring in the appreciation of an excellent "cool" jazz record.

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