Crowther / Franklin / Marsh — Amherst Dislodged
(SLAMCD 263, 2005, CD)
by Sean McFee, Published 2007-03-01
Here’s an album by the British trio of Tim Crowther (guitar, guitar synth), Steve Franklin (keyboards), and Tony Marsh (drums). Everything here is improvised, with nine tracks tending towards the episodic (three minutes or so) or the extended (12-15 minutes) with little middle ground. The material tends to be frenetic, with a full band sound predominating, and reminds me more of free jazz than any other style of music. The chief differentiating factor between Amherst Dislodged and the majority of free jazz is the different instrumental palette; no acoustic bass, no horns, saxes, and little piano. The keys and guitar synth can simulate certain timbres (I hear horn-like qualities at times) but it’s not frequent; this is its own thing. Meters seem free to me throughout, although the rollicking organ-guitar duel in “Four Life Skills Missing” hints at some sort of polymetric riddle I can’t deduce. The standout is the 15-minute title track, quite free (of course), with rock-style drums in free meter and processed guitar and key textures alternating with piano, not dissimilar to 90s King Crimson improv in places. In fact if one insisted on comparing Amherst Dislodged with any “prog” (is anyone?), you could get some mileage out of a comparison to THRaKaTTaK. But again, this is its own thing. With the drums and guitar often competing for the lead, the keys are as likely to provide vamping or soundscape textures as to compete with the others. An excellent album. Where have they been all my life?
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