Monday, 13 January 2014

Dylan Howe -Subterraneans


How does art hit you in the solar plexus and immediately become part of your musical life a friend forever. 

When it offers some thing you have always wanted to hear that you had a latent ambition for and it offers it with a mixture of intelligence, knowing musical authority and most important of all it communicates to you emotionally

The first piece opens with a great atmospheric chord (the opening chord of CTTE me thinks) and then panther like a sexy lugubrious double bass figure stalks the music urging all the other music to flirt with the motif.  If you think of all those jazz chanteuse offering deep smoky voices this is the instrumental equivalent. Dylan is fantastically sympathetic through out. It is the anthesis of prog rock doodling.

Weeping Wall starts off sounding like a rehearsal and then gets all formal with vibes playing the melody and great “random piano playing”.  The tune emerges with another late night sophisticated feel and develops a shuffling semi improvised feel. Everyone ticking along,  never losing sight of the great tune their playing.

All Saints begins with the stand up bass asking all sorts of questions of the melody whilst again Dylan ridiculously understated joins in the conversation. This is music for the mind that lingers long enough to draw you in and now a twist in comes the melody stated as a riff on a synthesiser followed by a lovely musical surprise and they charge off in a playful run where the Tenor (Coltrane) Horn leads, my emotional response is I am intrigued, stretched and delighted. The piece takes this schizophrenic path twice more with the piano featured the second time ad the bass closely followed by the tenor and piano a third time. A classic piece of construction, a real achievement.

I will avoid a simple linear account of what is on offer but the theme is set with great sympathetic interpretations of Bowies melodies recast into jazz ensemble arrangements always offering surprises and straightforward payoffs in equally measure.  Like all the classic music projects it has width and vision but it is incredibly focused they know what this music is all about what territory they are operating in.

Warszawa opens with the most expansive and ambition electronics and then Dylan strokes the drums through another highly atmospheric piece.

At this stage in the proceedings you begin to think where are the main contributions coming from and my conclusion is this is a group effort. The Horn playing is arguably the most distinct solo contribution but it’s the sense of cooperation between the keys, drums and bass which are so sympathetically offered that defines the feeling of the music.

So a wonderful adult set of music played with the right amount of flare, and invention from a highly co-operative viewpoint where everyone fails to dominate.  But like the best art a surprise and right at the end.

Moss Garden is a collective musical meditation. The piano player sets up the musical boundaries with a repeated figure of 10/11 notes and then a wash of keyboards tinkling every so genteelly usher in the drums and the ensemble including Mr S Howe evolve a gentle musical conversation where the space between the notes is as important as the notes played. The keyboards flirts with what sounds like a Koto back and forth. This is warm communicative magical music where economy is everything. It is also a wonderfully visual piece I imagine Dylan in the centre coaxing responses out of all the players.                  
Dylan should be delighted with this work. There is so much music contained therein that it defines who he is as a musician. He never tries to hard or becomes unclear about where he is taking this project and as a result the music and the players flourish offering up some thing intriguing, compelling and highly communicative all at the same time.