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Tabua-Harrison & Espadrille launches Annandale

  • Johnston Street Jazz 81 Johnston Street Annandale, NSW, 2038 Australia (map)

Thursday 9 August Johnston Street Jazz, Annandale
Saturday 11 Junction 142, Katoomba.
Saturday 18 August, UTAS Conservatorium of Music, Hobart

Psychopyjama records is ecstatic to announce a series of gigs to launch two new albums of improvised music.

Tabua-Harrison makes music that is both completely improvised and absolutely accessible, with the visceral energy of rock, metal and funk and the intricacy and surprise of contemporary art music. Resident Psychopyjama artwork maestro Ryszard Dabek says of their debut album, Scout, “at times the duo’s work recalls other high-wire improv pairings such as John Coltrane and Rashied Ali on Interstellar Space as much as the restless creativity of Battles and the post-rock guitar stylings of Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker.”

Drummer Holly Harrison is one of Australia’s foremost young composers. Her work has been commissioned and performed by ensembles across Australia, Europe, the US and Asia. Her phenomenal drumming really has to be seen to be believed. Guitarist Joseph Tabua pursues fusions of his rock history and Fijian heritage with minimalism and aleatoric music as heard on his recent solo album Half Ocean Half Sky. In Tabua-Harrison, the electric guitar and pedal board fuse as a palette of oceanic and volcanic possibilities.

Espadrille works in a space where improvisation is unscripted and yet no musical style is off-limits. Previous recordings have ranged from relatively ambient to monstrous off-centre grooves. Tinderbox is the third Espadrille album after First Wave (2010) and Seconds (2015) but the first work the trio has produced from a score. It is recommended for fans of The Necks and Art Ensemble of Chicago. Tinderbox was composed by guitarist John Encarnacao as an aleatoric score for the play of the same name written by Alana Valentine and directed by Zoe Carides for Darlinghurst Theatre. 

Elongated instrumental textures drift free of pulse and tempo, the players suspended in the granular detail of timbral play. The album is a showcase for the three members of Espadrille, and perhaps particularly for saxophonist Brendan Smyly, whose timbres range from sweetly floating notes with microtonal inflections made eternal with self-administered delay, to free jazz overblowing. Composer/guitarist John Encarnacao wields his instrument as both lightning rod and spectral presence, playing more timbrally than melodically and eschewing the standard tropes of guitar virtuosity. For these shows, drummer Holly Harrison completes the trio and promises to bring her close listening and talent for timbral detail to the piece.