Tuesday 11 August 2009

Skin & Wire

Skin and Wire: pianocircus featuring Bill Bruford play the music of Colin Riley, the last album of new music with Bruford given his retirement earlier this year, has just been released and is available at Bill Bruford's online store before a general release on 7 Sep. I interviewed Colin Riley about the project last year: you can read that interview here. I've not got the album yet, but I've been looking forward to this release since seeing the ensemble's first and only live outing in 2007.

The show was poorly advertised, possibly deliberately for what Riley described as an open rehearsal and Bruford as "under-rehearsed". The venue, upstairs at a private club, was swish. Yumi Hawa Cawkwell was taking photos. I keep bumping into Yumi at numerous Yes-related gigs around London, but she's also a great musician in her own right and has worked with pianocircus before, as well as Hugh Hopper and David Cross.

pianocircus did an opening set of a couple of minimalist pieces, before Bruford and Riley came on to a cramped stage. The music was... well, hard to describe, which isn't very helpful for you, dear reader! Fortunately, there are audio samples on both the collaboration's and the album's MySpace pages. The music was often marked by contrasts. Much seemed composed, but there were also clearly passages where Bruford could improvise. Parts were quite industrial, vaguely reminiscent of later King Crimson, but by and large the material was as far from, say, Yes or Earthworks as those two are from each other. This was Bruford coming into Riley's world rather than being much like anything he has done before. And not always doing so successfully: parts of the evening didn't work for me, and yet the whole was a fascinating experiment. Around the time of the show, Bruford (then aged 58) did an interview in which he asked, "Has anyone over 60, outside maybe of Picasso, really offered fresh directions?" Here was a fresh direction for his own career, in its early stages, but exciting. So I'm looking forward to hearing what happened next now the project has matured into an album release, and also saddened that the project has now been curtailed by Bruford's retirement.

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