Relay is an annual event of improvisational music curated by the 2:13 Club and record label. For the eighth edition (June 11, 2000), the 17 participating musicians were invited to wander among four scenes over a three-hour period. One scene was set outdoors in a public park, another at the club, and a third in a private living room (no audience there). For these three very different settings, a maximum of three musicians were allowed at all times; if another arrived, one had to leave and head elsewhere. There was also a fourth spot, called Knut's Refreshment Table, in the club's entrance lobby. Here one musician could perform a duet with Knut Aufermann's real-time sampling; he also provided refreshments. Invited musicians were mostly from the London free improv scene -- mostly young people, half of them involved in the London Improvisers Orchestra (John Bisset, Charlotte Hug, Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell, Pat Thomas). Bigger names included John Butcher, Phil Durrant, Adam Bohman, and vocalist extraordinaire Phil Minton. Relay Eight is a patchwork of 22 untitled and uncredited tracks culled from all four scenes. The sound quality and ambient noise vary a lot, with the park recordings being the worst -- at least they document the conditions in which the musicians had to perform: barking dogs, children, even loud music from a car or boombox. This CD should not be approached as a free improv album (even though it is) but as an aural document. More than the music itself, what it transmits is the fun (there was quite some fooling around going on), the coalescence of akin minds, and the experience that was this event.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture