Explosive opening salvo from Cafe OTO’s in-house imprint.
Spencer Grady 2012
Since opening in Dalston, London in April 2008, Cafe OTO has provided the capital with its very own epicentre of musical experimentation. For venturesome thrill-seekers it’s been the go-to space for those needing a quick fix of sonic abstraction, with a programme embracing all aspects of the avant-garde from fiery free jazz to fey folk reductions.
Now the venue has launched OTO roku, its own vinyl-only label, beginning with this blistering set pairing the indomitable lungs of Peter Brötzmann (reeds) with one of the UK’s hottest rhythm sections, John Edwards (double bass) and Steve Noble (drums).
These two extended improvisations, recorded in January 2010 during Brötzmann’s first residency at OTO, finds the group attaining near-telepathic modes of interconnectedness, despite this being the trio’s first outing together. From the off, Brötzmann’s gills are gurning, throwing up torrents of molten roar, while Noble’s mule-kicking at the traps reels out ride hits like a baby sporting a bonnet of bees.
Edwards begins by bowing an arcing drone to provide a little ballast, but quickly gives up the ghost, throwing in his lot with the other two, delivering a series of fleet-fingered runs. The first side barely breaks for breath – raw and impressive throughout.
The ruckus is more restrained on the flip, as Brötzmann initially allows Edwards and Noble some space to rumble, fidget and fumble. But from the near-distance comes an eerie whine, followed by a bestial holler that disturbs the duo’s negotiations: it seems there’s an old wolf loose in the ceremonial gardens. The arrival of Brötzmann shifts the mood of the piece dramatically, from near restful to decidedly restless.
Edwards responds to the fiendish presence by momentarily aping the incidental music from a vintage horror B-movie, an inspired reference that enhances the music’s distinctive narrative. It also provides the signal for the trio’s final fiery flurry, as they make their exits in a burst of kinetic burble and snare snap, finally ebbing away on the vaporous trail of Edward’s dusky drone.