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SIAPIAU – PI (Discus Music) (2023) and CHRIS SEARLE – TALKING THE GROOVE- JAZZ WORDS FROM THE MORNING STAR (2024)

I take the unusual step here of reviewing and album at the same time as a book just released on Jazz in Britain books with a 2 x CD compilation (I am planning to get the book so more on that later perhaps). Not many books have survived my domestic downsize, but as my eyes stray across the room, I see that CHRIS SEARLE’s book from 2008 is still present. It was called “Forward Groove” and comes highly recommended. There is an astute and on the whole complementary review of “Talking the Groove” in the latest issue of JAZZWISE magazine. The reason I include this is because the venerable Mr Searle has reviewed “Pi” - this can be read on the group’s Discus Bandcamp page.


To Siapiau: This is a Welsh word for shapes and we are told that the music is inspired by sounds all around us like in the air outside or around the house as in bathroom pipes. ‘Music for Hands’ for example sounds like a speeded-up game of table tennis. The album has been variously described by others as silly, weird and charming but not in a derogatory way.


I will pick out a few tracks to start with for I would say that the album is most engaging in manageable doses. Consider absorbing these first before listening as a whole: ‘Approximately Diagonal’ with its choppy, tacky piano and scat singing (Maggie Nicols), trebly bass (Fran Bass, of course) and free form drums and percussion (Richard Harrison), and let’s not forget the sterling sax work (Phil Hargreaves who also plays some flute), is impressive. I also enjoyed the narration of Dada poet Kurt Schwitter’s ‘I Favour Nonsense’ and the music created around it for more than 10 minutes and ‘October Butterflies’ which devotes its four minutes or so entirely to vocal harmonisation. We were promised some music to dance to and it duly arrives on ‘Hamadryad’ which manages to get into a fine groove. I would say most of the rest of the music goes beyond the parameters of the likes of HENRY COW or SLAPP HAPPY but that, overall, there is something strangely strange but oddly normal about it; it’s definitely worth exploring in some depth for musical free thinkers and would have made a jolly good live performance musical play, I think.

 

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