plenty of sonic wonderment to keep the intrepid listener's ears firmly pricked...
Peter Marsh 2002-11-20
More hardcore improvised abstraction from Konk Pack, whose Big Deep was one of the more impressive improv discs of last year. While that album was recorded live on tour, Warp Out finds Thomas Lehn, Tim Hodgkinson and Roger Turner in the studio, though this is very much a raw, live and (in)direct recording, as you might expect. It's a less full on experience as a result, with much use being made of lengthy passages of well...not very much, alternated with occasional hyperspeed dialogue.
Turner is still the pivotal figure in the group; describing him as a drummer is well short of the mark. Using an arsenal of springs, tools and the kind of stuff you'd find left over from the average car boot sale (plus a tiny 'proper' kit), Turner extracts weirdly funked up beats, skewed African rhythms and occasional depth charge kick drum accents which consistently tickle the ear, while simultaneously sounding like a man methodically dismantling his kit rather than playing it.
Thomas Lehn's analogue synth is all shortwave blips, sawtoothed bursts and alien chattering that sometimes recall the gleeful oscillator fests found on early Faust records. His constant timbral changes spur Turner into quicksilver dialogue, particularly on the closing "Sach". Though Hodgkinson is better known as a reeds player and keyboardist through both his improv work and his tenure with avant rockers Henry Cow and the Work, he's taken to the guitar in the last few years (played flat). His playing is more austere than on Big Deep, rattling off scrapes and stunted scrabbles with occasional distended, detuned bass action. He's most effective on "White Jem", where his heavily effected avant rockisms recall his old sparring partner Fred Frith's work in Massacre.
What makes Konk Pack special is their ability to generate densely impacted material which doesn't sound like a mess; though the more restrained passages sometimes seem unfocussed, there's plenty of sonic wonderment to keep the intrepid listener's ears firmly pricked.