thu 03/12/2020

CD: Andy Milne & Dapp Theory - Forward In All Directions | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Andy Milne & Dapp Theory - Forward In All Directions

CD: Andy Milne & Dapp Theory - Forward In All Directions

Engrossingly multi-faceted experimental pieces reveal an unexpected degree of lyrical charm

Dapp Theory = the avant-garde + charm school

Andy Milne cut his teeth in the 1990s playing with the influential saxophonist and musical theorist Steve Coleman, whose structurally experimental improvised music was so strongly opposed to any kind of commercial influence he became virtually an underground artist. Fortunately for the listener, Milne has absorbed Coleman’s restlessly broad horizons and determination to forge something new, alongside a willingness to charm, intrigue and beguile.

Andy Milne cut his teeth in the 1990s playing with the influential saxophonist and musical theorist Steve Coleman, whose structurally experimental improvised music was so strongly opposed to any kind of commercial influence he became virtually an underground artist. Fortunately for the listener, Milne has absorbed Coleman’s restlessly broad horizons and determination to forge something new, alongside a willingness to charm, intrigue and beguile.

Though Dapp Theory was formed in 1998, this is only their third album. The years of concentrated creative thought come through in the diamond-like density, polish and kaleidoscopic brilliance of the playing. Milne, on keys, is the man with the plan, but the dominant sound is Aaron Kruziki’s reeds (two saxes, two clarinets and a douduk), his wistful, questioning tone quite unlike the blustering machismo of more straightahead playing. There’s a lot of funk in the Dapp DNA, with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea definite musical ancestors, but this is too diverse and original to be pinned down to even a genre, let alone a single player. Three tracks feature John Moon’s narration - “vocal poetics”, according to the track listing - a kind of cerebral blend of rap and performance poetry; there are vocals of a more traditional kind on “Katharsis”, with a translucently beautiful duet between Gretchen Parlato and Kruziki’s clarinet.

The determination to pack so much in can leave some tracks sounding a little earnestly conceptual, especially if you listen to the words. Subtly self-aware titles such as “Headache in Residence” suggest, perhaps, that Milne is aware of this. (In many ways it's the stand-out, its ecstatic conversation between piano, guitar and saxophone an example of how skilfully acoustic and electronic playing are blended on this album.) On the repeated listening these pieces demand, the many layers of invention reveal themselves like a musical burlesque show. At first, “Forward In All Directions” sounded at like a piece of gnomic indulgence, but soon you understand.

On repeated listening, the many layers of invention reveal themselves like a musical burlesque show

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters