Paul Lytton / Evan Parker

Collective Calls

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Recorded over two days in April 1972 and first released as an Incus LP later that year, Collective Calls is the first album by the Evan Parker/Paul Lytton duo. Subtitled "An improvised urban psychodrama in eight parts," it was filled with amazing sounds that remain puzzling to this day and used the LP format in unusual ways. First, it is anything but a sax-and-drums session. Of course, Parker is already developing the avant-gardist techniques that will turn him into one of the best-known figures of the British free improv scene. But here he also plays wooden flutes and maybe some other instruments (bird calls? mouthpieces alone?). Lytton's drum set includes a lot of scrap metal and junk objects. The pair explores the very quiet and very loud, unveiling new sounds and textures in every track. "Peradam" opens the proceedings with something pretty close to what someone familiar with the duo's work in the '80s and '90s might expect. "Cat's Flux 2" includes flutes and strange bowed sounds (maybe an amplified long string). "Shaker" and "Lytton Perdu," both 13 minutes long, move into the very quiet and textural, extremely adventurous by 1972 standards and still cutting-edge when the album was reissued on CD in 2002. What's most striking, though, is how the tracks have been organized. They form a succession of sharp contrasts, with each side of the original LP ending with a short drone piece that leaves the listener clueless. Decades after the fact, Collective Calls still packs an artistic punch.

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