Talk about wild! This reissue from Cuneiform basically completes the trio of new archival releases from Canterbury stalwarts National Health, Gilgamesh, and now Matching Mole. This band was the baby of former Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt and future Hatfield/National Health guitarist Phil Miller. Joining these two are Dave McRae on electric piano and Bill MacCormick on bass.
Basically the music on Smoke Signals is all over the place, ranging from percussion/piano driven free jazz to Miller’s insane guitar workouts. For a full does of John McLaughlin inspired guitar mayhem, check out Miller’s lethal licks on the scorcher “March Ides I” for some intense, feedback-drenched fury. The band pulls out all the stops on “Smoke Rings”, featuring a wild bass solo from MacCormick, wah-wah guitar, drums galore, and spacey electric piano. Many of the songs here are actually written by keyboard player McRae, and also feature his deft textures. Hints of vintage Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett can be heard on the fusion romps “Brandy As In Benj” or the wonderfully melodic “Smoke Signal.” An interesting song is “Nan True’s Hole” which has a heavy, almost doomy guitar riff, backed by hot fusion lines from the rest of the band. This hot CD finishes up with the nearly twelve –minute “Lything & Gracing”, a strong tune driven by Wyatt’s manic drum fills and MacCormick’s booming lead bass lines, that easily could have come off a National Health album.
My question to Cuneiform-now that you have released all this great music, when are we going to see some archive material from Egg, Khan, Soft Machine, and Hatfield and the North?