Modern Directions in Australian Percussion
might be the earnest subtitle for this
invigorating disc from the duo Match.
One half of that duo, Daryl Pratt, bears
a good proportion of the disc, and the
Californian-born but long Sydney-based
musician and composer contributes four
recent pieces to the mix.
(2002) sports some angular bop licks,
maybe a reminiscence of Pratt’s West
Coast inheritance, and some fast runs
from the percussionists that might put
one in mind of, say, Bud Powell. To
balance this we have some improvisation
and some strong chordal comping that
sets up a decisive jazz infusion of
the heavily reflective and the lightly
flecked treble run. The ingredients
mix well. A Room In The House was
written for a kind of prepared vibraphone
– and there’s real verve in the projection
of colour and sonority here. His Water
Settings are the ones that give
the disc its title. Light shines through
prism in the first with plenty of chordal
crash of water; a tough, butch setting.
In the second ostinati reign and drumming
tactics to evoke the Waves and there
are plenty of dramatic rock drummer
heroics in the final pages of the final
II rides the bandoneon bandwagon
- when is this milch cow going to die
an honest death? - but once again Pratt
nails his stylistic banners to the mast
with as many jazz licks as Flamenco.
Michael Smetanin contributes
Finger Funk something of a play
on words as the composer instructs the
players to use fingers and thumbs –
no mallets - on the five-octave marimba
for the whole eight minutes. The work
went through many drafts and revisions
and the result has dextrous colour,
a wide range of dynamics – from barely
audible to increasingly rhythmic – and
it takes in bass guitar-like thwacks
(the funk of the title?), and attractive
Andrew Ford was born
in Liverpool but has lived in Australia
for over twenty years. His The Crantock
Gulls, named after the small Cornish
village, were prey to polymetre squawking
seagulls according to Ford and if his
music successfully conveys it – and
I’ve not misunderstood it – it was also
raining like crazy. Or maybe that was
just the Hitchcockian gulls. The arresting
tattoos are increasingly and uncomfortably
fractious. There is some discrepancy
over the year it was written. The notes
say 2003 but in his own note Ford says
it was begun in July 2004 and first
performed in March 2005.
The senior composer
here naturally is Sculthorpe whose oft-reworked
1989 Djilile makes an appearance
in this arrangement for percussion.
It has a gorgeous wash of sound and
its melody is as irresistible as ever.
A lovely envoi.
We owe most of the
pieces here either to Pratt’s own compositions
or to his commissions either singly
or with his equally adept percussion
partner Alison Eddington; Sculthorpe
gave his approval to their arrangement
as well. Percussion lovers will enjoy
the subtle brush strokes here as they
may the more Jackson Pollock moments.
I’m more a Monet man than a Pollock
but there’s no doubt that some controlled
splatter is good for the soul.