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Cath Roberts / Tullis Rennie - Blurts/Growls Rating: 3-5 out of 5 The live environment remains the best place to appreciate improvised music of this nature but “Blurts/Growls” still offers plenty for the adventurous home listener to enjoy.

Cath Roberts / Tullis Rennie

“Blurts/Growls”

(Luminous Records)

“Blurts/Growls” is a series of improvisations featuring Cath Roberts on baritone saxophone and Tullis Rennie on trombone.

The limited edition CD was released to coincide with the recent LUME Festival, a two day celebration of jazz, improvised and experimental music held at the Iklectik Art Lab venue in Waterloo, London. The CD or an unlimited download version of the album can be purchased at
https://blurtsgrowls.bandcamp.com/releases

Together with fellow saxophonist Dee Byrne Roberts is the founder of the LUME organisation which does so much to support jazz, improvised and experimental music in London and beyond. More information on Roberts and the history of LUME can be read in my review of the recent fund raising compilation CD “Live at LUME Vol. 3”
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/live-at-lume-vol.-3/

Although I’ve written extensively about LUME and the solo projects of both Roberts and Byrne I have to admit that Tullis Rennie is a new name to me. Now based in London he studied electro-acoustic composition at Manchester University and at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is currently Lecturer in Music at City, University of London.

Besides performing as a trombonist Rennie is also an electronic musician, field recordist, remix artist and DJ. He is heavily involved in London’s experimental music scene in a variety of capacities and as a trombonist has played with the Cath Roberts Large Ensemble, the big band LUMEkestra and in groups led by guitarist Anton Hunter. He has also contributed electronics to Manchester’s Beats & Pieces Big Band. Rennie also presents his own one man show featuring trombone and electronics.

Rennie is part of the Barcelona based multi-media performance collective Insectotropics and also collaborates with the London based visual artist Laurie Nouchka under the collective name Walls on Walls.

“Blurts/Growls” was recorded over the course of two live performances during 2016 at Café Oto in London and Free Range in Canterbury. The album title is descriptive of the glorious low register sounds the combination of trombone and baritone sax is able to conjure up.

Many of the individual titles of the nine improvisations are similarly descriptive such as the opening “Sneeze” with as Roberts’ baritone honks and squawks above the cushioning backdrop of Rennie’s long, breathy, multiphonic trombone lines. A semblance of melody emerges and the overall effect is absorbing rather then bludgeoning. The live audience certainly seems to like it.

“Inhale” represents a more garrulous conversation but it’s an intelligent debate between equals as Roberts and Rennie exchange ideas and phrases. It’s short, and ends rather abruptly, perhaps having been edited down from a longer improvisation, a view encouraged by the absence of audience applause.

The pair pick things up again on “Gruff” as they continue their dialogue. The sounds of the instruments are still relatively conventional and overall the piece is less abrasive than the title might suggest.

Instead it’s “Pelican” that takes the duo deeper into the territory of extended technique with its mix of saxophone multiphonics and vocalised trombone rasps steering the music into the realms of the “blurts and growls” of the album title.

“Uh?” is a brief vocal exchange between the pair complete with audience noise that precedes “Teacup”, a piece that incorporates percussive sounds, presumably generated by the keys of Roberts’ baritone sax. Otherwise the piece consists of tightly controlled, vaguely unsettling multiphonics,  building up and expanding from a near whisper.

“Cold One” is a more spirited discussion with the duo particularly animated and garrulous in their exchanges.

Roberts and Rennie have previously worked together in conjunction with Zero Wave, the duo consisting of electronic musician and sound artist Bobby Barry and percussionist Emily Mary Barnett. Zero Wave incorporate the sounds of found objects, including kitchen appliances, into their music and it’s possibly their influence behind the title of the track “White Goods”, not to mention Roberts’ album artwork.

Zero Wave” have recently issued the cassette only release “Noon;22nd Century”, a live recording featuring contributions from Roberts, Rennie and saxophonist Colin Webster. I intend to take a look at this in due course.

“White Goods”, the track, features fly like buzzing and eerie multiphonics on the album’s most atmospheric piece. It’s certainly the one that’s gained the most attention with Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame allegedly tweeting “she buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio”, a singularly apposite description.

The album concludes with “Exhale”, which begins with a vigorous exchange between pecked sax and brassy trombone before drifting off into something darker and more atmospheric. There’s a brief reprise of the spirited opening dialogue just prior to the close and the piece receives an enthusiastic reaction from the live audience.

As its title suggests “Blurts/Growls” is at the more experimental end of the LUME spectrum and it won’t be an album for everybody. It’s less accessible than the recent “Live at LUME Vol. 3” compilation but still offers much to engage the curious listener.

The nine improvisations are very much equal conversations and one can hear the ways in which Roberts and Rennie react to one another’s playing. These are mature musical debates, the duo don’t set out to dazzle their audiences with technique or bludgeon them into submission.

The live environment remains the best place to appreciate improvised music of this nature but “Blurts/Growls” still offers plenty for the adventurous home listener to enjoy. 

COMMENTS;

Shortly after this review was posted Cath Roberts got in touch to offer her observations on the “Blurts/Growls” album. Thanks, Cath.

She says;

“The set that Tullis and I played with Far Rainbow for Bobby’s cassette happened at the same gig (at Free Range in Canterbury) as some of the tracks on Blurts/Growls, so there’s a connection between the two releases which is nice.

For Blurts/Growls we decided to cut up two gig recordings (Canterbury plus a set from the Cafe Oto Project Space) and assemble them into an album of short excerpts/vignettes, so in a way it’s more of a ‘studio’ project, although it’s made up of live recordings. We were also interested in the incidental sounds made by the audience (see the track names….) so we decided to bring this element of the live recording situation into the foreground. Hopefully it retains a sense of the rooms we were in and the listeners who were present!

Incidentally, that quote ‘she buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio’ is actually a Radiohead lyric slightly tweaked by Tullis as a joke! Sadly Thom Yorke didn’t tweet about our album…”

Blurts/Growls

Cath Roberts / Tullis Rennie

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Blurts/Growls

The live environment remains the best place to appreciate improvised music of this nature but “Blurts/Growls” still offers plenty for the adventurous home listener to enjoy.

Cath Roberts / Tullis Rennie

“Blurts/Growls”

(Luminous Records)

“Blurts/Growls” is a series of improvisations featuring Cath Roberts on baritone saxophone and Tullis Rennie on trombone.

The limited edition CD was released to coincide with the recent LUME Festival, a two day celebration of jazz, improvised and experimental music held at the Iklectik Art Lab venue in Waterloo, London. The CD or an unlimited download version of the album can be purchased at
https://blurtsgrowls.bandcamp.com/releases

Together with fellow saxophonist Dee Byrne Roberts is the founder of the LUME organisation which does so much to support jazz, improvised and experimental music in London and beyond. More information on Roberts and the history of LUME can be read in my review of the recent fund raising compilation CD “Live at LUME Vol. 3”
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/live-at-lume-vol.-3/

Although I’ve written extensively about LUME and the solo projects of both Roberts and Byrne I have to admit that Tullis Rennie is a new name to me. Now based in London he studied electro-acoustic composition at Manchester University and at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is currently Lecturer in Music at City, University of London.

Besides performing as a trombonist Rennie is also an electronic musician, field recordist, remix artist and DJ. He is heavily involved in London’s experimental music scene in a variety of capacities and as a trombonist has played with the Cath Roberts Large Ensemble, the big band LUMEkestra and in groups led by guitarist Anton Hunter. He has also contributed electronics to Manchester’s Beats & Pieces Big Band. Rennie also presents his own one man show featuring trombone and electronics.

Rennie is part of the Barcelona based multi-media performance collective Insectotropics and also collaborates with the London based visual artist Laurie Nouchka under the collective name Walls on Walls.

“Blurts/Growls” was recorded over the course of two live performances during 2016 at Café Oto in London and Free Range in Canterbury. The album title is descriptive of the glorious low register sounds the combination of trombone and baritone sax is able to conjure up.

Many of the individual titles of the nine improvisations are similarly descriptive such as the opening “Sneeze” with as Roberts’ baritone honks and squawks above the cushioning backdrop of Rennie’s long, breathy, multiphonic trombone lines. A semblance of melody emerges and the overall effect is absorbing rather then bludgeoning. The live audience certainly seems to like it.

“Inhale” represents a more garrulous conversation but it’s an intelligent debate between equals as Roberts and Rennie exchange ideas and phrases. It’s short, and ends rather abruptly, perhaps having been edited down from a longer improvisation, a view encouraged by the absence of audience applause.

The pair pick things up again on “Gruff” as they continue their dialogue. The sounds of the instruments are still relatively conventional and overall the piece is less abrasive than the title might suggest.

Instead it’s “Pelican” that takes the duo deeper into the territory of extended technique with its mix of saxophone multiphonics and vocalised trombone rasps steering the music into the realms of the “blurts and growls” of the album title.

“Uh?” is a brief vocal exchange between the pair complete with audience noise that precedes “Teacup”, a piece that incorporates percussive sounds, presumably generated by the keys of Roberts’ baritone sax. Otherwise the piece consists of tightly controlled, vaguely unsettling multiphonics,  building up and expanding from a near whisper.

“Cold One” is a more spirited discussion with the duo particularly animated and garrulous in their exchanges.

Roberts and Rennie have previously worked together in conjunction with Zero Wave, the duo consisting of electronic musician and sound artist Bobby Barry and percussionist Emily Mary Barnett. Zero Wave incorporate the sounds of found objects, including kitchen appliances, into their music and it’s possibly their influence behind the title of the track “White Goods”, not to mention Roberts’ album artwork.

Zero Wave” have recently issued the cassette only release “Noon;22nd Century”, a live recording featuring contributions from Roberts, Rennie and saxophonist Colin Webster. I intend to take a look at this in due course.

“White Goods”, the track, features fly like buzzing and eerie multiphonics on the album’s most atmospheric piece. It’s certainly the one that’s gained the most attention with Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame allegedly tweeting “she buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio”, a singularly apposite description.

The album concludes with “Exhale”, which begins with a vigorous exchange between pecked sax and brassy trombone before drifting off into something darker and more atmospheric. There’s a brief reprise of the spirited opening dialogue just prior to the close and the piece receives an enthusiastic reaction from the live audience.

As its title suggests “Blurts/Growls” is at the more experimental end of the LUME spectrum and it won’t be an album for everybody. It’s less accessible than the recent “Live at LUME Vol. 3” compilation but still offers much to engage the curious listener.

The nine improvisations are very much equal conversations and one can hear the ways in which Roberts and Rennie react to one another’s playing. These are mature musical debates, the duo don’t set out to dazzle their audiences with technique or bludgeon them into submission.

The live environment remains the best place to appreciate improvised music of this nature but “Blurts/Growls” still offers plenty for the adventurous home listener to enjoy. 

COMMENTS;

Shortly after this review was posted Cath Roberts got in touch to offer her observations on the “Blurts/Growls” album. Thanks, Cath.

She says;

“The set that Tullis and I played with Far Rainbow for Bobby’s cassette happened at the same gig (at Free Range in Canterbury) as some of the tracks on Blurts/Growls, so there’s a connection between the two releases which is nice.

For Blurts/Growls we decided to cut up two gig recordings (Canterbury plus a set from the Cafe Oto Project Space) and assemble them into an album of short excerpts/vignettes, so in a way it’s more of a ‘studio’ project, although it’s made up of live recordings. We were also interested in the incidental sounds made by the audience (see the track names….) so we decided to bring this element of the live recording situation into the foreground. Hopefully it retains a sense of the rooms we were in and the listeners who were present!

Incidentally, that quote ‘she buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio’ is actually a Radiohead lyric slightly tweaked by Tullis as a joke! Sadly Thom Yorke didn’t tweet about our album…”


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