Rhodri Davies/John Butcher Carliol Ftarri
Tender threads mingle in conspiracy. . . Is there any guess work here? It’s almost as though the music of Carliol was formed by some sort of morphic resonance — the placid tones and wavering frequencies following furrows to chaotic attractors, as each disparate sounding is following some entirely natural but unexpected path. These are obviously players with delicate but ferric control. It’s readily apparent, even if you’re not familiar with John Butcher’s extended sax explorations or Rhodri Davies’ harp and ebows. Since their previous recorded duo, Vortices and Angels (on Emanem), they have clearly progressed to something else, something far beyond that recording‘s relatively standard (but quite nice) celestial improv.
Davies and Butcher have developed such oblique yet entreatingly apt constructions on Carliol, that it’s not particularly useful to think of their previous work. I much prefer to the let the naked sibilant coils of saxophone and electric harp to coalesce and reach equilibrium without prior reference. But hell, is that even possible? Is it even desirable to listen without prior reference? References colored this release for me initially. At first, I found it not necessarily bland, but easily acquired, rationalized, squared away in some lineage I find less and less important. But I realized that if initially you might gather nothing but sheen and history, with time it lets you in, reveals more than was first apparent. I need that from music. This music.
I don’t care about the oddity of some of these individual sounds anymore; the extended technique, the scraping resonances of the controlled mistake are in themselves not interesting. What I want is connection to what is created, however obscure. Carliol offers you something. Even if it’s just a pebble you finally notice in your shoe after walking around on it all day. The music expires then expands. Nothing lasts forever here. But it’s not the sound of impatience when, on “ouse poppy,” Davies’ tones waver, split, and are driven into different paths by Butcher’s taps on the keys of his sax. It’s the sound of exploring impermanence and the precious, like when one traces the lines, marks, valleys of a loved one’s face, or chases the creases in the cringe of a joint. On “Garth Heads,” Butcher’s notes ascend over lingering ebowed tones from Davies and you feel something give, an understanding reached, enough of this struggle to coexist, let’s just dance for a while. There’s no rush.
Sure you could mention the beauty of so many of these elements, but I’m not sure if that’s what this is all about. Here. Sitting. Listening to the punctuating mechanisms (Butcher’s “motors”?) light up the space on “Scrog;” metallic teeth chattering like small, synthetic animals in the corner of your room, under that heap of clothes — don’t move it, son, they’ll bite.
It’s balance in Carliol that is key; this is not a duel. One can see that from the mixture of Welsh and English of their song titles, as well. But if anything, you are the third member, finding your own place within it. Often, that quality seems to be missing in recorded music– that place for the listener. The listener who often, like some consollation prom date, gets lost in being talked at, yelled over and ignored. No, Cariol is not like that. It seems to allow, urge… and conspire. It’s a refreshing to take part in once and a while.