The last AMM release prior to An Unintended Legacy was Title Goes Here (Otoruku, 2015), on which the music dated from the October 2014 week of celebrations to mark Evan Parker's 70th birthday, and featured the saxophonist joining John Tilbury on piano and Eddie Prévost on drums. The years since have been eventful for AMM. Autumn 2015 marked the group's fiftieth anniversary, celebrated with a headline appearance at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. That concert also saw guitarist-electronicist Keith Rowe re-join AMM, after eleven-and-a-half years away. In the year after Huddersfield, the trio played four concerts together — in London (December), Paris (April), Trondheim (June) and Budapest (November); the first three featured on An Unintended Legacy, each having one disc of the 3-CD set to itself. Sadly, as this album was being prepared for release, October 6th 2017 brought news of the death of saxophonist Lou Gare who co-founded AMM with Prevost and Rowe in 1965. He was the first AMM member to die since Cornelius Cardew's demise in December 1981. Fittingly, AMM dedicated this release to Gare, and the seventy-page booklet that accompanies the album devotes eight pages to an article from The Wire1 paying homage to Gare.
The music from the three concerts here fully supports the views of those who were audience members at the actual gigs, namely that the three-member AMM had picked up again where they left off in May 2004, without any need for tentatively getting reacquainted. Anyone wishing to test such views should play the May 2004 AMM set from Apogee (Matchless, 2005) back-to-back with disc one — "London" — of this album. Given the decades that the three have been through and changes that they have seen together, it is unsurprising that their knowledge and understanding of one another remained unshakeable. There is nothing remotely formulaic about their empathy; as ever, it remains true to Cardew's 1960s description of AMM, "We are searching for sounds and for the responses that attach to them, rather than thinking them up, preparing them and producing them."
The members of this AMM have three distinctly different voices that are easily distinguishable and complement each other well, fitting together into a whole that would be radically altered without any one of them. Of course, each of them produces tell-tale sounds that make them instantly identifiable; so, we get to hear Tilbury's economical, spacious use of arpeggios to suggest melodies and create atmosphere as well as his dramatic crashing chords, the sustained ringing of Prévost's bowed cymbals and gong, and even (welcome back!) examples of Rowe's surreal injections of sampled pop music such as excerpts from "Caroline, No" and "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)" by The Beach Boys.
The beauty of listening to three concert recordings made within months of each other is that together they emphasize the variety inherent in AMM music. As with any performers, some of that is due to differences in the performance spaces — "the room" — as well as in the audiences, the atmosphere and in the moods of the players themselves. Over and above such factors, AMM performances never start in any particular way or with one particular player, so literally anything can happen. But whatever transpires, the standard is consistently high, a point re-emphasized by this album. Its title may well be false modesty but, unintended or not, AMM's legacy is a magnificent one that will stand the test of time. This album is definitely one of 2018's best.
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