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Gareth Davis & Machinefabriek - Grower [Sonic Pieces - 2011]

'Grower’ is the follow up album to ‘Drape’ which appeared in 2010 and again features British bass clarinet abuser Gareth Davis together with Dutchman Rutger Zudervelt, also known as Machinefabriek, who on this release concentrates on guitar loop effects. Apparently, both albums are drawn from the same recording session and ‘Grower’ marks the fourth time the two have collaborated.

‘Grower’ consists of two pieces of roughly 16 minutes duration and is a limited edition of 336 copies in a hand made book style cover with booklet insert.

So, what of the music itself? ‘Part One’ begins with a slow unfolding drone, massive in scale yet subtly organic. Davis joins after a couple of minutes with low breathy tones like the arrival of some majestic sea creature slowly moving through the ocean deep. The atmosphere deepens as the guitar becomes slightly more fuzzy, reminding me of Nurse With Wound’s ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’. Davis’s clarinet really sets the tone here as he seems to duet with himself, all the while moving the piece forward, slowly but with great evolution. As the piece moves on I am reminded of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Zeit’ with its long almost imperceptible changes, noticeable only when you realise how far you have travelled from your beginning.

Midway through the piece and things become a little more agitated, the pair seeming to be playing off each other and pushing each other harder. The guitars now become very like sitar drones in nature and the clarinet picks up the pace and becomes more pronounced and plaintive. The final few minutes appear to feature overdubs to give more clarinet tones reminding of ‘Bitches Brew’ and ending with a slow fade.

In contrast, ‘Part Two’ is more restrained, beginning with cello like sounds from Zudervelt, very much in a ‘Zeit’ style over which Davis plays very subtle tones, almost like feedback. The pair appear very much in touch with each other as the piece progresses with each leading the other into changes and developments of tone. As it moves on, the music starts to become more restless, growing in volume and intensity, the clarinet becoming almost aggressive and dissonant. The last few minutes see the intensity begin to peak and it all becomes louder and more intense in an almost power electronics way as the clarinet begins to squawk and protest, very much like Miles Davis’s trumpet in some of his darker moments, finally becoming a maelstrom of frightening noise.

‘Grower’ is very much what it says, an album which grows with each successive listen, rewarding the listener with a journey through a dark sound world of subtly transforming tones and aggressive noise. Recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Dave Biddulph
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