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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

EP Review

3 out of 5

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Promising, largely improvised contemporary music from these young musicians previously heard with the Beats & Pieces Big Band.

The Hunter/Andreae Quartet or HAQ is a Manchester based group that draws three of it’s four members from the ranks of the recently reviewed Beats & Pieces Big Band. Guitarist Anton Hunter, saxophonist Sam Andreae and drummer Finlay Panter can all be heard on B&PBB’s debut recording and the HAQ line up is completed by bassist Gavin Barrass.

HAQ’s three tune EP was recorded in Manchester in 2009 and like the Beats & Pieces EP appears on the independent Efpi label. The three pieces consist of loose compositional frameworks around which the quartet improvise in discursive fashion, sometimes in an impressionistic manner, at others in more full on mode. I’d hazard a guess that much of the playing is improvised and there certainly appears to be a high degree of interaction between the musicians. 

The simply titled “Tune One” credited to Andreae and Hunter initially falls into the impressionistic category with long mournful sax lines,shimmering guitar and delicately detailed percussion. It gathers momentum as Panter’s drumming becomes more insistent and guitar and sax double up on a more forceful written passage that exudes a certain joyousness. The coda marks a return to the earlier impressionistic approach with Hunter’s eerie looped guitars.

“Tune Two”, also credited to the two leaders is something of an epic going through a number of changes of mood, pace and style during it’s considerable length. Beginning in similar vein to it’s predecessor it passes through a low key, well controlled drum feature from Panter to an improvised passage of interlocking sax, guitar and arco bass lines shadowed by drums and percussion.The eventual emergence of the theme leads into a more full on passage full of squalling tenor, muscular guitar chording and abandoned drumming.

To close Hunter’s “Lament” repositions the group in almost ambient territory, a country of shimmering effects laden guitars and brooding long line saxophone. It’s all strangely beautiful and very different to what has gone before.

Less fully realised than it’s Beats & Pieces companion HAQ’s EP is basically a sketch but it does hint at the potential contained within the group. These young musicians are operating in the challenging area of predominately improvised music and it’s to their credit that they’ve come up with something so coherent with their first recorded attempt. They’ve already demonstrated their chops with Beats & Pieces and HAQ marks an attempt to test themselves by dipping a toe into even deeper waters.

On the whole “EP1” has been well received and the quartet have a number of gigs coming up in the summer, details of which can be found on Sam Andreae’s myspace page. Like their parent group B&PBB we’re likely to hear a lot more of HAQ.

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