Remote Viewers

Nerve Cure
Remote Viewers RV 9

Perhaps the picture of score paper on this CD’s inner sleeve as well as some track titles provides clues to the conceptual thinking behind this session. Two decades along in their partnership, the music from British saxophonists Adrian Northover and David Petts is becoming more tense and formalized.

Except for Adam Bohman’s metallic objects bowed with abrasive abandon on “Long Weekend”, the personnel and instrumentation here is almost identical to the band’s previous outing. Yet a vague sense of unease seems to permeate the performance. Also bassist John Edwards’ use of harp arpeggios and Rosa Lynch-Northover’s marimba bar pops and piano key clinks suggest mid-century, so-called classical music more than the textures from breezier and more aleatoric improvised sounds. Furthermore on “Forgotten Corners” when one of the sax players sounds oboe-like tones to complete a track which previously has been divided between the bassist’s strokes and squeaking reed cries, the idea of accidentally wandering into a New music recital suggests itself again.

Overall, the question raised is how much of the sounds heard were written out by Petts, who composed all the tracks – Northover recorded and mixed the disc – and how much was extemporized? Not that this should matter, but in the sometimes enervating run through of the tunes it often seems as if more percussive and abrasive timbres from other instruments are needed to provide contrast to the harmonized saxes featured on every track. A pointillist buildup of pressurized reed cries helps part this curtain of sameness on “Long Weekend”, as dos some watery bubbling from Caroline Kraabel’s baritone saxophone on “Grids”. But even field recordings of a thunderstorm and bird calls, coupled with oscillating sax split tone and plucked bass lines don’t seem to dissipate the ennui.

Agreeable enough sonically for what it is, the CD program lacks the toughness that goes into the creation of first-class work. Perhaps long-time Viewers aficionados will rate it more highly. The rest will hope that medication, ECT or some other prod can help the band members get over this case of nerves so that the programs from the Remote Viewers won’t become even more remote.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Full Universe 2. Intricate with Spires 3. Hive Mind 4. Long Weekend+ 5. Forgotten Corners 6. War with the Outer Countries 7. Grids* 8. Nerve Cure

Personnel: Adrian Northover (soprano and alto saxophones); David Petts (tenor saxophone); Sue Lynch (tenor saxophone and flute); Caroline Kraabel (baritone saxophone)*; John Edwards (bass and harp); Adam Bohman (bowed objects) + and Rosa Lynch-Northover (piano and percussion)