Benedict Taylor : viola
Anton Mobin : prepared chamber
Recorded on 4 & 5 September 2017 and mixed in 2018 by Anton Mobin at La Ferme Ta Gueule, Olivet, France. Mastered at the Sunny Side Inc. studio, Anderlecht (Belgium).
Sleeve notes : Guy Peters.
Layout : Rutger Zuydervelt
Executive label director : Dirk Serries.
Liner notes by Guy Peters
... and just when you thought you had heard it all, there is this collaboration between Benedict Taylor - a familiar name on the New Wave Of Jazz-label - and Anton Mobin -a kindred spirit from France. The latter has carved out a name for himself as a multi-talent: he is an improviser, instrument builder and sound artist. However, nothing can quite prepare you for the auditory challenges and surprises on Close|Quarters, the follow-up to their first album Stow |Phasing (Raw Tonk,
While Taylor’s instrument of choice, the viola, can still be recognised as such (despite the unconventional treatment and the various techniques used), Mobin’s case is an entirely different matter. I kept notes on what his remarkable contribution made me think of: a carillon, wind chimes, a kalimba, a mechanical horror soundtrack, singing bowls, a stormy wind beating down on a wooden shack, lead pipes, an animal building a nest, industrial creaking and moaning, a down-tuned bass guitar, underwater rumblings, distorted diesel engines, laptop gibberish, a hand trying to find something in a cutlery tray. There I stopped. All in all, quite some
It has often been said that you need to see improvised music, since musicians have become so apt at figuring out new playing techniques to extract sounds and textures from their instruments. Whether that visual component is necessary or a bonus, I will leave up to the listener (there is always something refreshing and challenging about not knowing what is going on exactly), but it might be interesting to note that for the past decade or so, Mobin has been focusing on a self-made instrument called the ‘prepared chamber’, a kind of DIY toolbox, or a personal sewing kit if you like, that enables him to explore an nearly endless
There is a nice irony at play here, when discovering that this dizzying and gently radical album brings together one of the most revered instruments in Western culture (perhaps only the piano is regarded as
the equal of the viola’s smaller sister, the violin) with one that is composed almost exclusively from objects that Mobin found on the street, and has no previous history whatsoever. Imagine a wooden box, about the size of a small orange crate, divided in a few compartments, filled with wooden, metal and plastic obstacles like coiled springs, rubber bands, wires and a bunch of micro sensors. The sum of the parts is a tactile manipulation machine, a limited space in which objects are
brought together, creating an analog compendium of possibilities.
Taylor is an inventive and attentive listener and a proactive interlocutor with a personal approach to composing, improvising and merging the two of them, but here he is forced to be maximally creative (which he succeeds in, just focus on his wildly eclectic playing once you have digested his partner’s presence), so as not to become overwhelmed by Mobin’s eccentric instrument. The end result effortly straddles the lines between free improvisation, musique concrète and minimalist noise music. And even though it might sound unconventional and quite demanding without any visual aid, it is guaranteed to set both your ears
and your imagination on fire.