GEARBOX RECORDS 25th February 2022
A new album from Binker & Moses is really exciting. With only four albums already available, more is welcome. The Free Jazz duo shifted from their improvised duo set-up on their debut to a tripling up of the instruments on the next to their two live albums that switch in tone, despite being from the same 2017 gig. As a live act, they are pure sound, just sax, just drums, and the effect is mesmerising in its intensity. Of course, since those early days, both have worked with other musicians, Binker Golding has put out a sweet-toned, lyrical sax album, and Moses Boyd has made and toured an album with dance-influences.
The cross-pollination has resulted in a radical departure, yet the music is still embedded in the Free Jazz spirit of the duo. The album backs off on the heavy riffing sax of the early work and moves into electronics and experimental dance territory. Ever averse to cliché, the set is devoid of booming sub-bass and repetitive beats. Instead we get the acoustic instruments looped and fed back though the electronics of honorary third member, Max Luthert. This means we get squawking sax solos, inventive drumming, but also a filling in of all sorts of other sounds and atmospheres. Despite quiet moments, such as the opening minutes of the album, the effect is busier and has a thicker background texture that will please some, annoy others. Me, I love the pure duo but without the duo’s inventiveness and exploratory spirit things would get old quickly and a continual forward movement is just what is needed. I mean, you wouldn’t have wanted to be the one booing when Miles Davis turned on the electrics and supported Neil Young at The Fillmore, would you?
The whole is still fresh and new; recorded in a couple of days. Moses Boyd says, “When the opportunity came up to record it was quite last minute. We had no material planned but just a concept. Really, we took a huge leap of faith and went in the studio empty-handed. The only concept I had was this idea of feeding our improvisation through these different machines / configurations in the studio.” Binker Golding adds, “Most of what you hear coming from the modular is actually a re-ordering of acoustic sax and drums.”
The opener, “Asynchronous Intervals,” is an eleven minute slow burner, with Max Luthert providing a floating intro before Golding quietly comes out of the stage wings and Moses appears later still and triggers a fiery workout from the sax and the whole builds from there. “Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord” struggles a bit with a messy whorl of a few too many sounds but the juxtaposition of “Feed Infinite” and “After The Machine Settles” shows what is gained from the approach. The former is a more typical Binker and Moses sound, illustrated by electronics, while the latter is a true trio and the electronics are truly integral; the collapsing sounds, synthey glossed passage and fractured sax part integrate and inspire the other two players into a balletic madness.
Binker describes the album as lonely but I’m not hearing that myself. I hear a sparse yet cluttered new space that is likely to grow into my head as I listen more and more. The only certainty is that, if they make any more albums, they’ll be different again – long live change!