85CD - Orchestra Entropy - Rituals
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RITUALS is an extended work for ten improvisers presented on two hand drawn panels. This language score consists of various open notations, graphics plus two trio sub-pieces titled skelf (electric guitar, double bass and drums) and antiphon (violin, viola and double bass) for the performers to decipher. The intention is to sculpt the improvisations so that the music develops and transforms along an ancient elemental journey, with the composer not as a totalitarian figure of authority, instead giving the performers the guidance, the licence to explore and discover who they are within it. - Matt London
Orchestra Entropy is the large ensemble edition of Matt London’s Ensemble Entropy, a dynamic new music ensemble / group / band exploring the space between composed contemporary music and free improvisation.
RITUALS for Orchestra Entropy was shortlisted for a 2018 BASCA British Composer Award in the Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble Category.
As a performer-composer Matt London aspires to create emotive music inspired by free improvisation. With an approach centred around channeling the spirit of the impromptu his main musical influences are drawn from master improvisers and composers such as Paul Dunmall, Barry Guy, Brian Irvine, Irène Schweizer and Wadada Leo Smith to name a few.
With Ensemble Entropy the main vehicle of this endeavour the group have collaborated with many superb guests including; improvisation piano maverick Matthew Bourne, free improvisation giant Mark Sanders [drums] and the fearless avant-garde mezzo Loré Lixenberg.
Matt London - tenor saxophone, director
Georgia Cooke - alto flute
Tom Ward - bass clarinet
Seb Silas - baritone saxophone
Sarah Gail Brand - trombone
Rebecca Raimondi - violin
Benedict Taylor - viola
Seth Bennett - double bass
Moss Freed - electric guitar
Mark Sanders - drums
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. – Brian Morton, JAZZ JOURNAL
On Rituals, composer and saxophonist Matt London expands his new music group Ensemble Entropy into a ten piece improvising orchestra. The musicians are free to interpret London’s language score as they see fit, the intention being to sculpt the improvisations so that the music develops and transforms along an ancient element journey. As powerful as the full ensemble can be, London maximises its impact by breaking it down into smaller groupings via two trio sub-pieces. “skelf” (Scots for splinter) is a scrabble of electric guitar, double bass and drums, while “antiphon” is an elegant interlude for strings. Tom Ward’s inquisitive clarinet and Sarah Gail Brand’s puckering trombone bring the orchestra back in over Mark Sanders’ woodpecker percussion, leading to a stately closing theme reminiscent of Eyvind Kang. – Stewart Smith, THE WIRE
Orchestra Entropy is a ten-piece version of sax player Matt London‘s Ensemble Entropy and here they have taken two hand-drawn panels with graphics for the players to decipher, then play according to their interpretation and allow the players to evolve as translators as the piece itself evolves.
The opening section comes across as a woodland game of hide and seek, the players chasing one another, highlighting what each has to offer and what the different instruments can draw from the others. The bass, guitar and drums scatter random patterns of falling leaves in part two, but the sharp tone of the guitar against the almost translucent texture of the bass is a rather lovely sensation, the spacey textures bringing the two together, whereas the growling and wailing horns of part four collide with the scattered percussion. The bass hijacks this section and brings drama juxtaposed with a subtlety in the quieter passages. The violins are honey sweet in part five, but they have a sense of the siren about them too. Something is just a little off, a meander that is slightly confusing to the listener and tries to draw them into unfamiliar spaces, spaces that almost crowd the players into generating noise before the track is taken away from them.
The clarinet is rude and pressing in part six, harrying the trombone as the percussion tries to keep the peace, and the dark woodland vibe is continued as the flute takes over in part seven. Here, it is sweet yet risky, again a draw to the listener but one that holds a certain danger. The juxtaposition between silence and sound is like a switchback here and the gentle sections swoop like owls chasing mice through the forest. The percussion on this album is sublime, providing exactly what is required and when, but stepping up and pushing to the forefront when a little momentum is needed. Part eight finds the drummer adding lovely textures, skittering and skipping with the dancing saxophone which is caught in the wind, surfing and sailing. The final section almost grinds to a halt with the lightness that has gone before being reduced to a shuffling unfolding, like a slow moving pan around a landscape now bereft of the thrills that were present just a few moments before, and is perhaps the perfect way to see the piece out. - Mr Olivetti, FREQ