"Pointillist" and "abstract" seem like good words to start with in a description of the Alan Tomlinson Trio's Inside Out, a five-track offering recorded live on January 14, 2018 at Iklectik, a London Venue devoted to experimental music and contemporary art. The trio, led by a veteran of the London improvised music scene, also includes Dave Tucker, who was nurtured in the punk scene, playing for a time with The Fall, and Manchester-based drummer Phillip Marks. Guest bass fiddler John Edwards appears on one track.
"No easy way out" starts off the five-track adventure innocently enough before it grabs you by the throat with urgent snarling, and the next track, "What to do in case of fire," while suggesting a way out, leads you through lots of flames and labyrinthine passages before offering a reprieve when the burning subsides into a quiet drum sequence. Trombone re-enters pleadingly and guitar speaks up with appealing ideas that give birth to further pleasant soothing moments. The exploratory sound thinking of "Invention" gives the piece an orchestral texture, where silence plays a big role and formalism and emotion are beautifully balanced. "Frenzy of Now" is a title that suggests passion and panic, but the piece is in fact a poised love poem with a gentle interplay of voices, Marks making good use of cymbals to intimate rather than blurt out. Trombone rides smoothly along in pianissimo upper and pedal registers, while the guitar lays down some expressive volume play and distortion and other various and sundry effects, in a dance with the trombone and cymbal and rim percussion that scurries through it all, as the feeling gets more and more insistent.
The closing title track begins like a Schoenberg quartet, then goes into a Stockhausen-ian textural phase, with a touch of Ellingtonia suggested by the alto trombone smears and slides and plunger mute effects, but then goes on its merry way, inside out and backwards in real-time compositional exploratory thinking, taking the listener on a 15-minute broad-canvassed journey.
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