Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band – One
This 1973 LP on the Los Angeles Nocturne label has something a lot of recordings of group improvisations tend to lack – ambience and atmospherics. The liner notes sum up the group’s approach:
“The GAEB had its beginnings in the late 60’s. It emerged as a music ensemble simultaneously with the experimental sculptural instrumental creations of designer Richard Waters…this may be the first time a complete sound journey has been taken (during which time many of the instruments may be heard simultaneously) and played by foundation members of the GAEB.”
“The Instruments: Diatonic Sound Generator, Bazooki, Pipe Drums, Aeolian Space Horn, Synthesizer, waterphones, mytar, saws, bass violin, horizontal and upright phoniums, bird calls, microtonal revolving sound generator, sgourd, superball mallets, watergong drums, log drums, springs, keyboards, assorted gourds, princess oil can, and others”
The electronics are kept to a minimum and the record maintains a meditative and exploratory mood throughout with tinges of Gamelan running through a few of the pieces. Unlike the incoherent mush that these kinds of things can often turn into, the instruments ring clear in different combinations as each set piece morphs into the next. Obvious points of comparison for me are Mauricio Kagel’s Der Schalle & Jac Berrocal’s Musiq Musik, where ensemble members’ switching between multiple instruments generates a lot of sonic variety. The recording is clear yet atmospheric enough to make even the quietest of notes count, and most importantly the playing is not just in service of some lofty concept but actually generates a mood.
Richard Waters has a website at www.richardawaters.com