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Casuals

by Clark Sorley

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about

improvised-freeform

We would set up a bunch of instruments in the room, run the tape, and go. No rules. It was 1984 and that kind of just-for-the-fun-of-it indulgence was de-rigeur around the studio. I think the most evocative of the many jam recordings we made then is the free-form material from which this album, titled Casuals, is derived. It has been edited and remastered from an audio cassette which languished in a box for decades, now presented as a suite of sixteen pieces in four parts. So far so prog!

Casuals is unusual and distinctive and not very prog at all. Mainly acoustic (piano, bass, guitar, percussion) with some electric here and there (fretless bass, synth) it combines the soft textures of chill with the anarchic sensibility of punk. Its lack of structure allowed us to go wherever we felt. Responses complemented and clashed. There was a lot of meandering. As such the sound is naturalistic capturing messiness and unpredictability compared to the high order of conventional modes. Although there is discernible tempo and vaguely recognisable key signatures the sonic palette is otherwise absent of ordinary form. It is dissonant and disjointed with an occasional flourish when the instruments come together as if in a written work.

These jams might’ve been transformed into something more ordered by using the improvisations as sketches for further development. Given that all composition has its roots in improv that would not have been untypical. More valuable however was to leave them rough with roots and workings exposed. Using the material as a draft for something “composed” would have rounded the edges thereby losing the vitality of a spontaneous moment.

The results are a mix of shadow and light. The dark bits are seriously so such as in Leviathan - Track 6 - whose textures created with keyboard and sax make Zawinul and Shorter seem easy listening. There are just as many respites often with a return to four in the bar percussion, sometimes in a major key with splashes of pentatonic melody. The odd bit of swing and even latin finds its place too.

The obvious genre for Casuals is free-form but I think “chill-punk” would be a better tag. The music works well played loudly. I picture it blasting away in an artist’s studio with the restless rhythms and constant changing of the colour an aid to the painter as she dashes manically at a canvas. A fanciful notion is that but so were these recordings when they were first laid down almost thirty years ago.

For lateral ears only.

credits

released July 30, 2013

recorded 1984; edited & remastered 2011

produced by CLARK SORLEY
performed with SPIKE, LARRY & HENRY

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about

Clark Sorley UK

CS: Maker of recorded works, veteran studio guy; aka... producer, arranger, songwriter, composer & a total eejit for staying in the music biz too long!!

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