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Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble Memory/Vision Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

The third ECM album from saxophonist Evan Parker's EAE.

Peter Marsh 2002

ECM (and in particular producer Steve Lake) are to be congratulated for their commitment to British free improv. Though they might not be the stalwart chronicler of the scene that Emanem are for example, their usual high standards of recording and presentation gives the music a high profile it doesn't normally get, and this album is no exception.

Evan Parker's EAE are the result of the saxophonist's long held interest in electracoustic processing. Alongside Parker's usual trio (augmented with piano and violin), there are no less than four people engaged in capturing and treating the realtime playing with all manner of digital trickery. Parker avoids the unholy mess this could have become by structuring Memory/Vision as a series of solos and small scale groupings.

The acoustic instruments are ghosted into new shapes by filtering, looping and pitchshifting. Barry Guy's bass plucks bounce back as tiny high register blips; Philipp Wachsmann's violin is looped into long melodic curls, while Evan's soprano flutterings peel off into wisps of sour melody. Parker also evokes the title by including taped fragments of previous group recordings, though to be honest you'd be hard pushed to spot where this happens.

The results range from cool,pastoral ambience to episodes of slightly mournful abstract twittering. This is music that hangs in the air, sometimes vaporous, sometimes almost sculptural in its weight. Parker's structures make this a rewarding (and repeatable) experience, and the spacious, pristine production gives each sound room to breathe. Luscious, alien stuff, and utterly beautiful.

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