Ex-Wise Heads — Schemata
(Hard World HWCD009, 2011, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-02-09
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.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more