Bristol quartet impresses with an ambitious, individual debut collection.
John Eyles 2012-10-15
Once in a blue moon, a debut album makes it obvious the band in question is exceptional. Thirty seconds into Sequoia, the opening track of Lund Quartet, it is clear this is one such album. Immediately, the listener is drawn into an economic soundscape of piano, bass and drums overlaid with sampled trumpets, which help make it a compelling piece.
Lund Quartet is Simon Adcock on piano and theremin, double bassist Rob Childs, drummer Sam Muscat, and Jake Wittlin on turntables. They are from Bristol and have been together five years. In 2010, they rented out an industrial unit in a car mechanic’s yard and built their own studio, using equipment obtained from skips and friends.
Their music is put together in a similar way to that studio – mixing, matching and borrowing from friends and others. Owing much to jazz, particularly the sparseness of Scandinavian jazz, it has as clear a debt to the ambient music of Eno as it does to trip-hop. Despite such roots, the end results are unmistakably the quartet’s own.
The trio of piano, bass and drums lays down a consistently solid foundation propelled by Muscat’s drumming, with occasional piano flourishes but no prolonged solos. As a piano trio, they would be good if unremarkable. The addition of the samples from Wittlin makes the music unpredictable, fresh and varied, transforming it into something more special.
Mostly, those samples are from friends of the group, seven of whom are credited with playing wind instruments or slide guitar. As the credit acknowledges, those friends were “recorded, chopped and scratched”. Whatever the actual process, their instruments are integrated into the music, frequently sounding as if they were playing with the trio in real time.
Just as skilfully, on Love’s Madness a sample of the great South African vocalist Miriam Makeba joins the trio, sounding like she is singing along with them; only the occasional bit of trickery gives the game away. As with any successful recipe, the key is using excellent ingredients and combining them correctly. And Lund Quartet do so perfectly.