Exposé Online banner

Ex-Wise Heads — Schemata
(Hard World HWCD009, 2011, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-02-09

Schemata Cover art

In the frenzy to keep up with all the new releases that come out every month, it’s still worthwhile to keep an eye and ear out for things that slipped through the cracks and escaped notice when they came out. Ex-Wise Heads is a group I only became acquainted with recently, though they’ve been active since the late 90s. Schemata is their most recent release and dates from 2011. Ex-Wise Heads is the duo of Geoff Leigh and Colin Edwin, and given their histories (Leigh in Henry Cow, Edwin in Porcupine Tree), you might not expect to hear music heavily influenced by styles from Asia, Africa, and places in between, interpreted in a way that blends jazz and electronics. Leigh plays flute and soprano sax along with zither and jaw harp; Edwin is on various kinds of bass (fretless, fretted, and upright) plus keyboards and programming. They are joined throughout by percussionist Rick Edwards, a veteran of sessions with Porcupine Tree, No-Man, and others; Rajan Spolia contributes acoustic guitar to one track. While it can be said that this kind of hybrid world music has been done before, Leigh and Edwin bring their talents and sensibilities to bear for a distinctive result. When Edwin’s fretless bass takes the lead, I’m reminded a bit of Mick Karn’s solo work like The Tooth Mother, but the fat sound of the upright bass adds a different flavor. Leigh’s playing is amazingly fluid in all manner of modes from around the world, with both flute and soprano sax brightening up the music with melodies and improvisations that dance on the ears. From the sound of it, percussion includes occasional kit drums (either real or programmed) plus a variety of African, Latin, and Indian instruments, with some nice tabla work. The electronic touches are handled very nicely to enhance rather than dominate the proceedings. The energy level varies widely, from ambient and atmospheric to grooving nicely, but never dabbles in rock. Ex-Wise Heads are a treasure that deserves wider recognition – superbly conceived and executed music that knows no boudaries.


Filed under: New releases, 2011 releases

Related artist(s): Geoff Leigh, Colin Edwin, Ex-Wise Heads

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Neil Haverstick - If the Earth Was a Woman – Haverstick is a pioneering guitarist, known for his work in microtonal scales. The two previous releases we have reviewed in these pages — Acoustic Stick and Other Worlds — were each the...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues