Alan Davie / Tony Oxley

The Alan Davie Music Workshop

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Recorded live and in the studio in 1974-1975, this LP had been long out of print when a/l/l reissued it on CD in early 2003 with two bonus tracks. It is a pleasure to rediscover. Alan Davie and Tony Oxley were highly compatible improvisors. Davie was a multi-instrumentalist skilled at playing the piano, the cello, the bass clarinet, the sopranino sax and mallet percussion (there is not an ounce of amateurism hiding behind this long enumeration). Each instrument is a variation in shape and modus operandi of the same outlet for expression. Oxley was focused on the drums set, but he was expanding it through the use of crude electronics (ring modulator, octave splitter, compressor) allowing him to shapeshift his sound and adapt to Davie's multiple personalities. The ten pieces on this album are all three to six minutes long. For each of them the improvisors had agreed on limitations in instrumentation and gestures to explore only specific aspects of their music. In "Cavern of the Snail," Oxley answers Davie's cello drones with ring modulated cymbal rolls. In "Bird Trap" he even picks up a violin -- with questionable results. His drums are cavernous and menacing in "Song for the Little Dog," rumbling under the saxophone. "On the Seashore" (one of the extra tracks) and "Fish Fascinator" contain the strangest sounds, thanks to Oxley's electronic manipulations. The latter piece has not aged well and it amounts to piles of oversaturating noise. But everything else remains fresh and challenging.

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