122CD - Martin Archer & John Jasnoch - Provenance - CD plus download

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Martin Archer and John Jasnoch have a musical relationship which goes all the way back to the early 1980s when they were both a part of jazz-punk pell mellers Bass Tone Trap.  Over the subsequent years they have played and recorded together occassionally, previously as ASK, and now as this no frills improvised music duo which allows both musicians to utilise the full range of their respective instrumentation.  This new work was recorded in the same place at the same time, one day in July 2021.  The conversation continues.


Martin Archer
Sopranino, saxello, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, flute, bass harmonica

John Jasnoch
Electric guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud, ukulele


Don’t download, buy the disc.  Before you get to this gene of music you’ll be holding a cover package, in its own right a quality art artefact consisting of 125 photographs by Tony Kemplen.  They are blocked and juxtaposed in rows without any lettering or explanation.  This is indeed, Provenance.  Now put on the music.  Refracted, abstracted, self possessed duets; music that tips a targeted strike toward pioneers like Derek Bailey and John Russell yet gives off a sound that keeps on building a personal circumference owned entirely by Martin Archer and John Jasnoch. I hear Provenance as a whole, the use of track titles only there to indicate specifics. We’re all intrigued by labels. We live by labels don’t we?   The opening sequence of Mynediad is all popping strings and (to my ears) alto. There’s glissandos pitching into a dense labyrinth of saxophone language.  It immediately marvels technique, breath control and creative content.  The lines tune-through into World Heartbreak/Nuh with acoustic strings drawing modal scales referencing raga.  Senses are spoken to; this is non-verbal dialogue but I’m tempted to answer back.  Like listening in on other people’s conversations and butting-in on stuff that’s too good to miss out on.  The long discourse of Railroad Blues/To The Tiltyard is sax and lap steel guitar.  A sentence that conjures up images of Ry Cooder and Americana interplay – at no point does Provenance go Into The Purple Valley.  Somewhere, deep down in the bone marrow it’s there but so far down it’s become fused into Archer/Jasnoch’s radical stripping down of dialogue.  It would be true to describe the end of this section as “sax riffing over inverted blues” but any thought of Tiltyard being spun out in a Tex/Mex bar room is absurd… making it all the more wonderful. As is the Slide Catch/Lawn Prism sequence that follows.  Here Martin Archer’s flute technique is central.  Unwavering held notes speaking a breath control of high order; more to the point, they balance an exquisite balm into the soundscape.  We’re over half way through when the extended Provenance passage is introduced.  Both musicians are chasing the muse-duet. John Jasnoch’s approach to ‘free improv’ electric guitar is a giant step further on to Derek Bailey, no easy step to achieve.  In a pure sound sense these plugged-in strings are cast close to the ‘jazz’ tradition.  He still snares a rare spare use of sustain and harmonics throughout the mix; it’s a tangled delight.  By the time these two kinetic scientists reach the final seven minutes Jasnoch has switched to plucked banjo turning the old vaudeville on its head in the guise of a kora with metal strings. This leaves Martin Archer breathing an intimate rich headache inside the reed of Adolphe Sax. If you’re listening to improv, you can’t ASK (sic) for more than this?  As the last note dies Archer asks Jasnoch, “Did that get to where you wanted it to go?” One word reply: “Exactly.”  This is an invigorating session that won’t be on the shelf anytime soon.  I’ve got a long road trip this week, Provenance will be soundtracking me.  Some conversations don’t go away.  This is one of them.    - Steve Day, September 2021



JOHN JASNOCH, Jg. 1953, war wie MARTIN AR­CHER ein Bass Tone Trap-per und sie blieben einander seit 1982 verbunden in The Bone Or­chestra und in Ask, und wenn nicht mit Archer, dann frönte er mit Charlie Collins dem Sheffield-Sound, in The Jonathan S. Podmore Method oder The Navigators. Auf Provenance(Discus 122) improvisiert er im Juli 2021 mit Archers Gebläse an Alto-, Tenor- & Baritonsax, Sopranino, Saxello, Quietsch-, Zirp- und Flötflöte und zupft, scharrt, pickt dabei neben E-, 12-string- & Lap-Steel-Guitar noch Mandoline, Banjo, Oud etc. Plinkplonk made in Sheffield? Logo. Schließlich sind Derek Bailey und Tony Oxley dort geboren und haben mit Gavin Bryars, der dort Philosophie studierte, als Joseph Holbrooke so um 1965 rum das freie Gekrabbel und Gerappel ausgebrütet. Provenance – Herkunft – meint also: Von hier, direkt von der Quelle, mit genuinem Zugriff ('Mynediad') als, wenn nicht Manier, so doch als Spirit so alt wie der 'Rudstone Monolith' und ungebrochen übers Mittelalter – 'To the Tiltyard' (Turnierplatz) – in die jüngere Ver­gangenheit bewahrt – 'Railroad Blues'. Jasnoch – Archer spielen wie Bailey – Evan Parker, wie G. F. Fitzgerald – Lol Coxhill mit eigenem Stil und Gusto in jenem Frei- und Eigensinn, in dem paradiesisch- 'primitiv' und Hohe Schule ein und dasselbe sind. Die Insel ist dafür eine gute Brutstätte gewesen, das Copyright liegt jedoch beim Homo ludens. Mein Lieblingsduett hier in diesem drahtharfig beprickelten, beklampften, betwangten Fächer von schnaubendem Bariton bis kirrendem Soprano kommt zuletzt, wenn Archer in Replik auf 'I Know There's A Question' als Wechselspiel von verspon­nenem Tenorsax und spröder Mandoline 'Ground­hog's Answer' mit Bassharmonika murrt und Jas­noch Ukulele klimpert. Das Ganze ist visuell ein­gebettet in – von ein paar modernistisch-brutalis­tischen Hausecken und einer Düsenjägerstaffel abgesehen - kunterbunten Blüten- und Formen­reichtum. Kurz: Martin Archers Scheibenwelt ist einfach göttlich. - Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY