UNDERTOW is the latest release from GREEN ROOM , & after an interval of ten years since their highly acclaimed albums on LEO Records' pioneering LEO Lab label - 'Hidden Music' & '(Live) Trajectories' (5-star ratings in the Penguin Book of Modern Jazz).
Originally working as a trio, percussionist David Garrett, along with pianist Chick Lyall and guitarist David Baird forged a musical language which drew from such wide sources as jazz, modern 'classical music' and the radical sonic experiments of John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Conventional instruments such as piano, drums and guitars could be combined with electronic sounds driven by computer as well as newly constructed instruments and found objects.
Since 1998 Chick Lyall and David Garrett have continued to evolve the music of Green Room by means of a combination of live improvisation with prepared computer generated sequences. On UNDERTOW they produce an even wider range of colour than before. Multi timbral explorations are combined with detuned acoustic instruments,flutes,sampling and electronic programming. Composition and improvisation exist simultaneously and the music is somehow arrived at through a dialectic of structure and freedom.
From a recent review of 'Tin Man' & 'Undertow' by Green Room by Martin Longley (Jazz Review, UK) :
"... Lyall is also a composer of mod classical orchestral pieces and a longtime purveyor of electro-acoustic sounds. Less is known about David Garrett but both Scots are dedicated to the transmogrification of acoustic trad instruments by digital processing means. ... Both players are clearly experienced as post-jazz improvisers, but can also enjoy an avant garde classical rigour. There are also strong elements of folkloric exotica, principally from the Far East, and more precisely, the Indonesian gamelan vocabulary of gongs , bells and metallophone shimmers. Often these effects are arrived at by software-jiggling means..."
..."The packaging for both discs is emphatically scientific, but their soundscapes are very organic, caught inside a hugely cavernous space, magnified and enhanced into granular detail.
Mostly abstraction is taken all the way ... It's extremely evocative ... Garrett uses a full kit more openly on 'Undertow', whilst Lyall retains a good amount of purist piano, in the Cecil Taylor-style ... ultimately I'd really recommend that both (these albums) are consumed in tandem, for the complete ambient effect."
From a Green Room Review by Chris Kelsey (All Music Guide):
"... their music falls into that loosest of categories, "electro-acoustic," but aside from that faint appellation, the group is impossible to classify. Suffice it to say that they create formidable music. Green Room utilizes a variety of sound sources, including tape, prepared piano and dulcimer, digital (and perhaps analogue) synthesis, bamboo flute, and something called a rotalodien. The members display a familiarity with 20th century classical forms, including serialism and the electronic experiments of composers such as Stockhausen and Cage. One suspects a free jazz influence, but it's not particularly obvious; Green Room's wholly improvised music is ultimately non-idiomatic. The band has apparently been around a while, and the musicians do indeed exhibit a focus and shared vision that bespeaks a long-term creative commitment to one another. The improvisations are mostly direct and to the point; there's little aimless rambling."
"... really, to single out any one of them for praise is silly; this is the consummate group enterprise. Certainly, working in Glasgow has done little to make them a more visible presence on the world's soapbox-sized free improv stage. Perhaps they should be more famous, but that can be said of hundreds if not thousands of artists. They make compelling art for art's sake, and that's something everyone should appreciate."
Also available on CD Baby:
GREEN ROOM (Chick Lyall~David Garrett) ~ 'TIN MAN'
CHICK LYALL ~ with JOAKIM MILDER, MIKE DUNNING & TOM BANCROFT ~
ROB HALL & CHICK LYALL ~ 'THE BEATEN PATH'