Of the many collaborators Colin Webster has forged lasting relationships with, his work with visionary turntablist and sound artist Graham Dunning is arguably the most considered. Improvisation is of course still a key component of how they’ve arrived at their sound, but the music they create has consistently side stepped any preconceived notion of how their music behaves and how they react to one another in this context. Rather than duel of two titan musicians, Colin and Graham’s collaborative work is very much a blurring of their individual sounds, focusing on the similarities between textures and sonics to create something unified and by the very nature of their sound sources, original. Oval is a very minimal record and its deep listening properties are what instantly attracted me to releasing it. The moment the recording begins, you a hushed into an attentive and curious silence, ready to focus on the unraveling journey of sound. Oval’s power comes from its subtlety. Colin and Graham could have easily and successfully have hemorrhaged a free-wheeling and brain obliterating recording, but instinctively chose to mine a more detailed and focused palette of sonics, resulting in a far more rewarding listen. It is that instinctiveness that speaks volumes of the power of their on-going collaborative work.
Ranked #94 in The Quietus Albums of the year for 2016
"Free improvisation and electronic drone music are logical artistic partners. Both lie somewhere within the idea of long term development with little structure other than basic thematic progression. On Oval, a new tape off of the Tombed Visions label in Manchester UK, electronic sound artist Graham Dunning and baritone saxophonist Colin Webster trade ideas, each taking their usual genre placement to its very fringe, offering a minimalist piece that inspires intrigue from the very start with ominous silence growing more and more anxious as the tape presses forward. Throughout the project, each musician does well to model their sound off of the musical styling of the other making for a united duet. Perhaps this becomes a bit of a limitation as the second song feels a bit more arduous than the second, the sounds again developing within the same exact sphere, rather than exploring the possibility of juxtaposition. Nonetheless the musicality reigns true, texture becoming an ever-important subject matter.
Opening with surface noise, the project first uses anticipation as a medium for inspiring focus from the observer; breathy saxophone melodies match the static electronic texture with angular bass lines passing underneath. The piece slowly gains more traction with the saxophone finding louder and louder vibrations, building upon the starting point established by the initial breath attacks. Towards the middle of the track the static electronics clear up a bit, a clear drone sound accompanying the distressed saxophone lines instead, providing contrast as the piece presses forward with even more ominous stretches of silence. Clear drones lead the piece out, a dark wall of sound helping to find some level of resolution by the piece’s end. On the second track of the album, some similar developments occur within a slightly different take on aesthetic. Again, breath noises spill out of Webster’s sax, but this time the accompanying electronics attempt to achieve a matching tonality with fluttering sound effects. As this piece moves forward there is a bit more of a dive into emptiness, a considerable amount of time spent dwelling on the clicking of saxophone keys and the popping of electronic noises, ending with final sketches echoing off into the void.
When it comes to constructing a musical relationship, sometimes having too much in common can be a bit of a hindrance, which somewhat comes into play on this project. Rather than providing instances of push and pull, Webster and Dunning spend most of the tape matching each other’s musical conception. This results in an interesting exploration into the textural common ground between extended saxophone techniques and electronic sound effects, but the pair may have been able to create more contrast by emphasizing tension between each other’s sound, thus making the tape a bit more capturing throughout.
As far as development goes, the two are masters. The initial ideas on the project manifest themselves in the large scale thematic points that follow, making for a lot of cohesion. Each sound is earned from long periods of repetition with variations building upon one another amassing tense walls of sound. Overall, the piece works well, perhaps a bit more could be done in terms of contrast, but the tape is certainly worth a listen nonetheless.
The two musicians clearly have a knack for minimalism. A bit more give and take could’ve made the project a bit more interesting, but the end result comes together quite well. 7/10."
-Donovan Burtan, Positively Underground
"assette Label Tombed Visions comes back with a beautifully packaged edition (artwork was Lewis McLean), this time with music from saxophonist Colin Webster and turntable wizard Graham Dunning, two musicians who experiment is paramount and who have worked together regularly. "Oval" is the next proof of the unique combination, the two Britons.
The name Colin Webster can be found on this blog with any regularity. The already releases Tejero / Webster / Serrato / Díaz London based saxophonist alone this year ( Spain Is The Place '), Kodian Trio (' I '), Dikeman / Lisle / Serries / Webster ( " Apparitions ") KTHXBYE ( "details") and David Birchall & Colin Webster ( Gravity Lacks '). Webster often plays baritone or tenor saxophone, but during the concerts Kodian Trio recently released in the Netherlands, he focused on the alto saxophone. To 'Oval' the baritone is dug up again.
Graham Dunning is also next to musician artist, already run both disciplines overlap. Often turntable and vinyl makes the base of plants which are difficult to define Dunning music. Lp can be edited with tape and all sorts of objects, and the effect that these operations bring about as soon as the needle is put on the plate, constitute the music. And that's just one part of Dunnings arts on the turntable. Besides 'Oval of Dunning recently also "Auxon' and 'Down Into Dusk' (along with Tom Wallace) appeared.
Last year the 'CD Bleed ', which Dunning and Webster worked with tuba player Sam Underwood. It is an abstract but exciting plate with mostly short pieces. If not 'Oval', which consists of two long pieces of about fifteen minutes, Oval Oval side a and side b. Exciting is the album for sure, but it is not surprising that some patience to be consoled because the essence and beauty of the music does not let up in one spin.
Side A of the cassette begins with the sound of a creaking vinlyplaat (dubplate) and Webster blows air through his instrument. The scratches serve on the vinyl as an irregular rhythm and although no conventional nut is produced intriguing sounds though. Webster gently blowing a tone. There is a tense calm, which is actually unrest and which does not come to a head or redemption. The sax playing is a little harsher and sharper, but play hard is not there. Besides crackling vinyl comes Dunning sonic experiments. To raise at the end of the first piece Webster knows as its volume.
Soon continue on side B, which Webster restarts blowing pure air, but heavier now, and longer. Almost unnoticed Dunning raises some soft effects in the fight, claiming slowly increasing attention. Webster goes on to play with the valves of the saxophone, still producing pure air but with different blowing techniques. Only after eight minutes fat is to discern a serious tone on the saxophone, but later are smak-, suction and airflow sounds predominate. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish who produces which sound. The scratchy vinyl record is gone and Dunnings sounds are more difficult to define than on a side. On Oval side b musicianship is more economical than a Oval side. The piece is therefore more abstract but also more intimate than the first part.
Webster and Dunning know 'Oval' in half an hour to lay an intriguing landscape of sounds which the listener can go completely. Awakening from the world 'Oval' called, has something cruel; the restrained musicianship that especially made on side b, has a hypnotic effect and it is difficult to loosen it. The music sometimes sounds almost modest, but is mighty pretty."
- Google Translated from Opduvel
released July 6, 2016
Colin Webster - Baritone Saxophone
Graham Dunning - Turntables, Dubplates, Spring Reverb
Recorded 13th November 2015 at Drop Out Studios, London
Mixed by Dirk Serries
Mastered by Fear Falls Burning
Tombed Visions is a Manchester based cassette label specialising in sound art, ambient music, experimental electronics and
improvisation and aims to showcase the fringes of contemporary independent music. All releases are limited edition and packaged with care, combining a love of graphic design, photography, typography with the wondrous sounds released....more