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Conveniens: Clear (reissue)

This album was originally released on transparent vinyl in 1987 and became a bit of a collectors item apparently. The duo of John Maz (drums) and Dave Sterling Smith (keys) have now rerecorded the album with the addition of guest musicians on accordion, sax and flute on certain tracks and released it on CD (not a transparent one unfortunately). The music has been described as "hard core new age jazz" but that may imply a heavy handed approach which is not really fair for the 11 short but intriguing tracks. "Mazman", as you might expect, showcases John Maz with some intricate drumming followed around by a firefly synth. The track builds cleverly to an explosive crescendo and exit. The evocative "Night Caution" which follows features a desolate mood created by heavy use of semitones on twin piano tracks with gentle cymbal washes and the use of tape loops and eerie electronic vocal cries.

The pair are eloquent in their compositional skills creating varied moods and textures and the softer mood is described on the gentle, tension and release style of the piano solo "Efiltsitra". By contrast "Da Da Ack" with the added accordion is a modern sounding synth-pop construction although I don't think you'd ever hear it on the radio due to its odd polyrhythms and strange squeaky accordion element. A honking sax appears on the following piece "Rowte 66" supported by a bass track laid down over the original drums and atmospheric synth. "Death by Poetry" has a rather plodding drum figure with a chugging accordion and cartoon like vocal sounds (reminds me of the farmer in the only TV programme I like, Sean the Sheep OK you have to live in England to understand that one!). Has a very catchy, walking beat which grabs you as it builds in the middle section before chaotically disintegrating at the end. A cleverly worked composition.

The short "Ball park song" sees Sterling Smith switch to organ on a crunchy circular composition before the fascinating, near 10 minute, "Electroflux" is presented. A rhythmic, percussion led piece, the work has a multifaceted structure with interludes of synth and hand-held percussive instruments, sudden sharp keyboard incisions and even an electric shaver! Midway, distant grunts and screams can be heard in a quite potty improvised melee. Meters go to the four winds in the later stages of the track with the drum working hard to change and recover the structure despite the unruly synth and keyboard parts going off on various tangents.

The simple and tasteful flute and piano piece "Cadmium Red" allows you to relax after this epic song. "Rolling", which ended the original vinyl album, starts with an aggressive drum intro and traditional jazz sax style of playing and is perhaps as mainstream as the album ever gets. Finally a bonus track is added of a studio jam session. Overall, an interesting, very left-field, jazz album which deserves some attention from the avant-garde jazz scene.

Track Listing
1. Mazman
2. Night Caution
3. Efiltsitra
4. Da Da Ack
5. Rowte 66
6. Death by Poetry
7. Ball park song
8. Electroflux
9. Cadmium Red
10. Rolling
11. Epilogue (bonus track)

Added: August 21st 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 2491
Language: english

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