Top Twenty of 2013. Number 3 – The Alvaret Ensemble – S/t

I LOVE this record. I mean LOVE.

Greg Haines was always an artist I admired.  A brilliant composer and pianist I had followed his work for a while and had the pleasure of a conversation piece with him for the blog earlier this year.  We discussed this record a bit with particular focus on the improvised nature of this work.  Improv is something quite exciting. It’s an approach that Matt Collings and I adopted, along with Talvihorros for the making of Graveyard Tapes album two – not all improvised but the session of improv we did generated some of the tracks on the record.  The fact that the whole of S/t is improv though is quite remarkable.  Even more remarkable is that it has spoken word elements, something I normally hate through my music.  This is different though.  The delivery of the spoken word is not over the top, overly dramatic nor does it interfere with the music, flitting in and out beautifully and adding to the wonderful tension of this sparse, delicate and exciting piece of music.  Maybe the delivery is helped by being hushed, almost whispered and also being in Dutch.  I don’t know.  I just know that this is a brilliant record and I really do hope this lot get together again in the future, when their various schedules allow, to produce another record.  In the meantime we can enjoy the work of them as individuals but this is sublime and a triumph.

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