Tony Oxley

Tony Oxley Quartet

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Recorded in 1992 in Cologne, this edition of the Tony Oxley Quartet includes Derek Bailey on electric guitar, Matt Wand on drum machine and tape switchboard, and Pat Thomas on keyboards and electronics, with Oxley holding down the trap kit and sundry acoustic percussion instruments. The album is comprised of eight selections: three quartets, four duos, and one trio. Oxley is absent from one of the duos and the trio piece. The music here is experimental not only in the improvisational sense of the word, but in the actual practice of putting sounds together, pairing instruments and pulling them together in the context of a group setting. For instance, on the first quartet there are only a few moments out of 16 minutes in which the band is playing together as a whole. The rest is made up of one or two people making sounds across one another's tonal palette. The duos work far better in that they allow each musician to engage the other in a direct way, without the waiting period for voices to develop together. This is especially true of the Oxley/Bailey duet which rages across the entire 13 minutes and is by far the most successful piece on the disc. Elsewhere, the other two quartets drag the proceedings down to a plodding, noodling waffle between the desire to aggressively jump in and the hesitation of waiting to see what develops. For such a powerhouse band, this is a disappointing outing.

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