Monday, February 18, 2013

Svarc Trio - "Touch" review

To some, the very sight of a band line up that includes guitar loops, makes the heart beat faster. The sound of Nik Svarc teasing loops from acoustic and electric guitars, Garry Jackson on basses, Dave Walsh on percussion and featuring on the lengthy “Chainsaw Snore”, Russell Van Den Berg on saxophone and Matthew Bourne on Fender Rhodes, is in no way a disappointment. Leeds based Svarc Trio’s album “Touch”, released through Bandcamp, is a treasure trove of influences and styles that requires repeated attentive engagement. In an age where album cover art may be sadly neglected as an art form in itself, one of the striking elements of the Svarc Trio’s album “Touch” is the image on the cover. Featuring two hands conjoined at the wrist laid across the top of a parcel, the surreal nature of the image may help to set the mood for the sharp music within.
“Nothing Serious” opens reflectively and modestly, allowing the listener access to intimate lines on guitar buoyed along with brisk percussion and bass. Moods change progressively throughout, as passages layer upon each other, until, some eight minutes in, the pace swiftly gains momentum and the playing turbulent. Listening to a lengthy piece such as this, the listener may consider how enthralling this music could be in a live setting. The shorter “Imprints Part 1” is a lilting interlude of gently shifting textures underpinned with melancholy bass lines. This soundscape approach is reminiscent in some ways of Robert Fripp’s sound sculptures. At eighteen minutes and opening with commanding guitar motifs and unearthly atmospheres, “Chainsaw Snore” is one moment savage improvisation, one minute motorik beat driven Krautrock, one minute funk, one minute musique concrete, before unexpectedly touching into areas of Sun Ra influenced space jazz. If any of these styling’s appeal to the reader, then “Touch”, as a whole will be a delight. “2 Troubled Magnets” is a seductive shift through solemn bass lines and splashing cymbals whilst leaving the listener aware that in the background sinister sounds are being produced from some inexplicable instrument. The guitar lines may be influenced by the work of Bill Frisell at times and informed by the phrases of John Schofield at others.
The collection closes with “Imprints Part 2”, which meanders initially, before bringing “Touch” to a close with majestic riffs and phrases. As the final few lines gently melt away and the album ends there is a sense that a number of influences have been shrewdly engaged to bring a cohesive finished product that, hopefully, will be suggestive of future releases.

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