Philip Gibbs

Something Normal

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Looking only at the credits, one could say this trio is simply Paul Dunmall's quartet, as featured on East West North South, minus drummer Mark Sanders. That would be so wrong. The absence of a rhythmic instrument and the fact that this session was not led by the saxophonist changes everything. At the forefront are the two guitarists, John Adams and Philip Gibbs. It is their interplay that grabs the attention for most of this double set. Dunmall often remains happily confined to a supporting role -- he makes his first appearance only after the first two tracks. One can easily imagine him standing in his corner of the studio, simply watching Adams and Gibbs pulling trick after trick out of their giant hats. The latter released an excellent CD with the reedman on Slam (Master Musicians of Mu); that's the starting point for this album, if you need one. The prepared guitars (mostly acoustic, but also electric) and banjos go through close to all possible sounds and styles, from pseudo-Dixie to Derek Bailey-like abstraction. Then again, no tune is ever quoted -- things stay more subtle than that, firmly anchored in uncompromising free improv. In "Come on in the Seats Are Filthy," Gibbs transforms his instrument into the weirdest imaginable koto, inspiring the trio into a 15-minute Oriental improv. Dunmall's best moment comes in "The BoyMan Who Ate a Whole Sweet," where his flute brings the whole session to another level. A couple of tracks creep at the below-average level ("True Phenomenon" for example) and could have been deleted, but there are not enough such moments to justify a single-disc release. Recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:18
2 5:55
3 15:06
4 11:32
5 7:20
6 9:42
7 4:04
8 0:55
9 14:34
10 1:37
11 3:05
12 12:49
13 4:57
14 9:00
15 5:34
16 1:40
blue highlight denotes track pick