Orchestra Entropy: Rituals

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Martin Archer’s Discus label continues to put out some of the most creatively daring music in the British Isles, but still seems to fly well beneath the media radar. Here’s a record that should be more widely appreciated.

Matt London’s Orchestra Entropy perform an extended work for improvising ensemble, based on two hand-drawn panels which provide indeterminate notations, graphical cues and two interpolated trio pieces, “skelf” for guitar, bass, drums, and “antiphon” for violin, viola, double bass.

Entropy is a dangerous metaphor, often misunderstood, certainly overused and not in any way the most lasting impression of this music, which has a quietly determined trajectory, like stages in a pilgrimage or holy office, but with the apparent purpose of allowing each player to find her/his own voice within the collective. Sarah Gail Brand is masterful at this. Every improvisation she puts out conveys a sense of highly collected and purposive playing, but with a freedom that few of her male colleagues ever reach.

Strings are once again a regular and unsurprising feature of improvising groups, in Britain as elsewhere, and Rebecca Raimondi, Benedict Taylor and Seth Bennett have discovered ways of playing that suggest technical mastery but don’t any longer sound like orchestral players slumming. Leader Matt London isn’t widely known as a saxophonist, but has a commanding voice that cuts through when it needs to.

The Discus catalogue is now large and incredibly varied. This is one of its finest moments.

Discography
Rituals: Parts 1 – 9; with skelf, antiphon (46.47)
Discus 85CD