Alterations

Voila Enough! 1979-81

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Culled from performances in Bracknell, Tilburg, and Berlin between 1979 and 1981, Voila Enough! is a snapshot of a chaotic and intensely creative quartet featuring Peter Cusack, Terry Day, David Toop, and Steve Beresford (principally on guitar, percussion, flutes, and piano, respectively, but also a bewildering number of instruments, conventional and unconventional). Though all four were open to influences from musics as diverse as 1950s exotica, cheesy doo wop, mainstream pop, Satie, and of course the whole accelerated history of free music itself, Beresford is especially dangerous, able to move from vicious forearm clusters to toytown grade-three ragtime within seconds, and seeing no reason why he shouldn't. Alterations' modus operandi was to throw as many diverse elements into the test tube at the same time, ending up with grotesque genetic mutations that lived brief and colorful lives before self-destructing spectacularly. Not that Beresford is the only culprit; Toop, Day, and Cusack are just as good at spanner in the works (so much so one wonders after a while where the works actually are). It's hilarious stuff but, as Toop writes in his splendid liners: "The constant clash of idioms and personalities had its dark and vengeful side. In a sense it was like a public x-ray of normal social relations: awkward, clumsy, rude, embarrassing, seething with suppressed and overt anger, tender, sentimental, nostalgic, stereotypical, surprising, supportive, undermining, full of bathos and pathos, usually a good laugh but sometimes really f*cking horrible." Alterations' music redefines itself from moment to moment, both in terms of its overall structure and the material used to build it. Nearly a quarter of a century on, its power to captivate, infuriate, and have you falling off your chair in hysterics is entirely undimmed.

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