It’s not very often that you hear making a record likened to the writing of a novel. Usually painting or sculpture or sometimes dance (or in the case of Ran Blake, film noir) are evinced as parallel. But Adam Parry-Dixon and Patrick Case began experimenting when students at Birmingham Conservatoire, assembling a body of sound material that they redrafted and revised, augmented with new sound characters (hence the large body of guest players), until they had come up with something that seemed to cohere in the way they wanted.
They liken what they have done to the prism-triangle formed by Birmingham, Bristol and London, through which the white light of a few basic ideas is thrown into a spectrum of new sound. As Gershwin begat Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-a-Ning, so it has in turn thrown up Prism-A-Ning, a richly textured musical adventure that explores polytonality, pure sound texture, song-like lines and at times arrangements that seem to be nudging towards the orchestral.
It’s utterly original music, and so offers very few useful analogies for the reviewer. That being so, the best thing is simply to absorb yourself in the sound. The two key tracks are Heading West, which seems to be subtitled Prism-A-Ning, and its companion Splitting The Beam. It’s worth noting that all three cities involved reach out across the sea to New York where the duo developed further ideas for a time. That connection connects the music both to jazz and to elements of contemporary hip-hop (or Bristolian trip-hop). There’s nothing else around quite like this railway journey for the soul, but one hopes it’s the start of an even longer journey.
An Early Train South; Bringing Fusion; Controlling The Line; Goin’ Off; Lilypad Railway; Heading West; Splitting The Beam; Feet Off The Seat; Hackney Downs; Garden; Arrival (73.31)
Adam Parry-Davies (p, elp, MIDI kyb); Patrick Case (g, prog); with Gary Alesbrook ( t, flh on 4, 6, 7, 9); Mike Rodriguez (t on 5 – 7); James Morton (as on 4, 6, 7, 10, 13); Sam Shotaka (ts on 1 – 3); James Carter (ts on 4, 7); Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (ts on 6, 8, 9); Otto Hashmi (elb on 2); Adam King (b on 5). Birmingham and Bristol, September 2018 – July 2019.
Losen Records LOS 230-2