Bassist Tony Wren has always played in the shadow of other British free improvisers and his work remains under-documented. This CD by his Quatuor Accorde, a string quartet, is thus a worthy document. Angel Gate contains excerpts from two performances, with three short double bass solos acting as introduction ("One"), interlude ("Two"), and conclusion ("Three"). The first half of the CD was recorded at Gateway Studio in July 2000 and features short (under ten minutes) pieces dealing with soft textures. Phil Durrant (violin), Charlotte Hug (viola), Mark Wastell (cello), and Wren create organic creatures with sixteen strings. Bows scrape strings very softly -- the string instrument version of an approach developed on wind instruments in the late 1990s by artists like Axel Dörner, Franz Hautzinger, and John Butcher. The four musicians share musical ideas on a deep level, giving the quartet a very distinct personality. The second performance was recorded live at the St. Michael and All Angels Church three days later. Here the music is more dynamic, as if the players felt the need to fill the entire church with their sounds. The CD culminates with "A Box of Lucifers," a dark piece beginning with what sounds like splitting wood -- a disquieting thing to hear coming from a string quartet. This kind of music is hardly heartwarming or engaging, but the developed textures, almost drone-like, can capture the listener's attention.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture