"The Spring Heel Jack duo of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist John Coxon and keyboard & electronics player Ashley Wale are joined by UK improvising masters Pat Thomas on synth, keyboard & theremin, Steve Noble on drums, and US legend Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, for a six "Scene" album of staggeringly intense improvisation over rich soundscapes; superb"
The album is forty odd minutes across six discrete tracks, labeled “Scene I-VI,” but flows as well as if it was one set despite being recorded across eight months in 2016. Coxon (on electric guitar, pedal steel guitar, National Trojan, kalimba, harmonica, piano, percussion, and samples), Wales (on samples, loops, electronics, and percussion), and Thomas (on piano, synthesizer, and theremin) frequently take the role of creating an environment or setting that facilitates and interplays with the dialogue or monologues of Smith (trumpet) and Noble (drums, percussion). Like Spring Heel Jack’s last two Thirsty Ear recordings, these are highly edited, highly emotive, atmospheric pieces that develop highly cinematic passages: In “Scene II,” Wales loops a violin sample under Noble’s shimmering cymbals and Coxon’s lazy, twangy, bent notes while Smith soulfully solos, with the whole scene recalling “Dereks” from Songs & Themes; or, in “Scene VI,” a multi-layered drone syncs with a piano’s broken lullaby from Thomas while Smith plays a mournful tune, reminiscent of “Track One” from The Sweetness of the Water.
(Keith Prosk, 2018)