Tony Oxley

Floating Phantoms

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Many would be tempted to emphasize the cross-generational lineup of Tony Oxley's B.I.M.P. Quartet, the drummer and Phil Wachsmann belonging to a different age scale than Pat Thomas and Matt Wand, but the real "unknown variable" here is the cross-stylistic element the latter represents. This sampler artist is best known for his work in the irreverent experimental electronica duo Stock, Hausen & Walkman. Free improv fans have a right to feel weary of this team-up, but one needs to remember Oxley's long-lasting love for live electronics, dating back to the 1970s (some recordings with Howard Riley and Barry Guy are quite "out there"). Wand manages to tone down his personality without annihilating it, and the fact that both violinist and keyboardist also use electronics draws the sampler's voice deeper into the group's sound. In short, a true effort is being made to incorporate Wand into the group. Nevertheless, the most exciting moment arises when Thomas explodes all over the piano, dragging a feverish Wachsmann and Oxley along with him for the finale of "Stream Line." The odd sampled voices bring a nice touch in "On Line" and in general the group displays enough synergy and textural interplay to make Floating Phantoms a worthy record, but it fails to establish Wand as a strong improviser. Still recommended, if only for the crystal-clear recording of the percussionist's every bang and clang. The performance was recorded live at the 1999 Total Music Meeting and is the first release on FMP's subsidiary, a/l/l.

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