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birchall / smal / webster - drop out (cassette)

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ARTIST // birchall / smal / webster
LABEL // astral spirits (us)
CAT // as042cs


Astral Spirits is proud to present the powerful UK meets Amsterdam trio of David Birchall (guitar), Rogier Smal (drums) & Colin Webster (alto sax). Webster has been a force on the UK scene for some years, having recently celebrated the 5 year anniversary of his incredible Raw Tonk Records label. Check out this brilliant piece on Bandcamp “New Directions in Sax” for a more in-depth read on the man. David Birchall has worked with Webster as a duo, in multiple groups and adhoc improv dates for some time now. Birchall is a fixture of the thriving Manchester UK improv scene (alongside Sam Andreae, Otto Willberg, Andrew Cheetham and many more) as well as playing with folks like Marshall Allen, Phil Minton, Rhys Chatham, Mark Sanders & more. Rogier Smal is based in Amsterdam and has released countless tapes, LP’s and CD’s (including duo recordings with Birchall), he’s played with a pretty heavy list of folks over the years – Dylan Carlson, Eugene Chadbourne, Asuna Arashi, Colin Webster, Pascal Nichols, Cathy Heyden, Ryoko Ono, Lori Goldston, John Dikeman and more! “Drop Out” is the first release from this trio and they waste no time jumping off on side A. Think Borbetomagus meets The Blue Humans (with a hint of Flying Luttenbachers in there too?). It’s nervy and skronky but doesn’t fall into any “free rock” or “noise jazz” cliches. To these ears, the trio sounds more in line with Brotzmann/Bailey/Bennink meetings on record (Brotzmann’s “Nipples”/ICP’s “Groupcomposing”) than a lot of modern sax/guitar/drums groups. This trio might not be the loudest or most intense group out there, but there is something that transcends genre cliches here and allows us to really see this for what it truly is — a brilliant improv record from three amazing and exciting players. The references above may be older, but the music is nothing but forward thinking.