Live Music

Eyebrow & Run Logan Run at St James Wine Vaults, Bath

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Posted on 19th November 2016

Eyebrow / Run Logan Run / Interflug

St James Wine Vaults, Bath

Friday, 18 November, 2016

 

RMT Music Productions presented another terrific event, the perfect combination of similar, yet different bands; not only was the music great, but the juxtaposition of these bands was thought-provoking. It was a bit Beauty and the Beast - but, remember, Beast was the hero.

Each was a duo, instrumentalist with acoustic drummer. The opening band, Interflug, was clearly a work in progress, an idea that hadn’t fully formed: a Kraftwerk-influenced keyboardist with a basic rock drummer. It was a pairing that didn’t quite gel, but it did serve a purpose as contrast to the seamless rapport of the two following bands.

Run Logan Run is saxophonist Andrew Neil Hayes and drummer Dan Johnson, Andrew playing alto and tenor sax through a pedalboard of loopers, delays and harmonisers. There are very few saxophonists delving to this degree into electronica, a field [previously] dominated by trumpet, an instrument more suitable to the minimalist sensibility that has attached to electronica. Andrew has found a voice for the sax in this environment, in part by sidestepping minimalism. 

Run Logan Run builds amazingly full, multi-textured compositions with recurring motifs, a huge sense of composition, and a symphonic breadth of sound. Their music ranges from quiet, bird-like noises to huge monolithic blocks of sound with strains of free jazz sax bubbling up in a Wagnerian landscape. It turns out the saxophone, with its wide array of textures, is a terrific electronica sound source.

Dan Johnson’s drumming has tribal roots, lots of polyrhythmic use of toms, but is almost subdued, very integrated into the music. He has astonishingly quick hands; the driving force and the dynamics he brings make him as central to this duo as Andrew, a true collaboration.

The Run Logan Run set seemed to leave the largely Eyebrow audience deeply impressed, hopefully bringing them more visibility in 2017. They certainly merit it.

Eyebrow – trumpeter Pete Judge and drummer Paul Wigens – are the grand masters of this electronica-jazz genre; as Pete pointed out, they are now working on their fifth album (he also pointed out that he will be calling his instrument an ‘extended cornet’ – he can’t bring himself to use the ‘trump’ syllable any more). Though inhabiting the same genre and with the same conformation of horn and drums, Eyebrow and RLR are quite different. Eyebrow lives and breathes simplicity and economy; not quite, but close to minimalism. Paul Wigens’ approach to drumming is indeed minimalist with always a groove, the opposite of most jazz drumming. He is very good at it. His timing is rock solid, his use of kick drum is a thing of awe, and his occasional small deviations in the precise groove are expertly placed to have maximum effect. I could listen to him all night. 

Pete’s playing has grown and grown and his increased capability has made for a fuller sound, not just in his playing but in the layered construction of this loop-driven music. In his heart he is still a minimalist, though, and you will never hear a wasted, inessential note.
Eyebrow compositions are beautiful. Part may be the inherent beauty of the ‘extended cornet,’ but it is primarily the players’ aesthetic: considered and contemplative, finding a path through rather than expressing chaos. 

Charley Dunlap

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