These previously unreleased tracks by veteran British drummer Tony Oxley contain sounds that not only expand improvised music history, but also reveal early adaptations of today’s electroacoustic interactions. Newly edited and mastered, the tracks from 1974 and 1981 find Oxley using percussion crashes and sweeps to cinch the rhythm at the same time as his processed pings, cackles and buzzes add a contrasting dimension to the other instrumentalists’ work. Considering that those challenged extensions include the output of other master improvisers such as trombonist Paul Rutherford’s lowing snarls, trumpeter Dave Holdsworth’s portamento flutters and pianist Howard Riley’s rambles and sweeps, is it surprising that a two-part ensemble piece ends with a literal waving fanfare?
More dazzling though is Frame from a few years later with a different band. Here the electronics’ irregular jiggling timbres and equivalent live drum processing easily make common cause with the spectacular spiccato jumps and sprawling glissandi from violinist Phil Wachsmann. Dominant, while accompanied by Larry Stabbins’ rugged sax smears and Riley’s pounding piano rumbles, the fiddle-drums intersection projects commanding irregular textures at supersonic speeds, but not without revealing an ever-widening spectrum of sonic colours.
Remastered with full-spectrum, 21st-century sound, these heirlooms of an earlier era easily justify their unearthing and prominent display.