In the Absenta del Raval basement room, Schvarzman’s lurching electronic rhythmic distortions seem to push Chant into more melodic (albeit fragmented) territory than usual. The fragments repeat in layers, slowly accreting until a coherent density emerges.
Sometimes eerie, sometimes harsh, never sweet but definitely an underlying sense of constrained beauty as electric shudders, verbal samples, drones, squeals and squelches mix with the output of lungs and reed.
Not that Chant is immune to a little battery-powered playfulness. At one point, he takes a handheld radio, just out of tune, and induces static and feedback by rubbing the aerial against the saxophone bell. All against a backdrop of theremin-like tones from one of Schvarzman’s many boxes of tricks.
Tom Chant (free improviser and occasional Cinematic Orchestra-tor) and Pablo Schvarzman of Barcelona’s uncategorisable four-piece, Seward (once described as an amalgam of Captain Beefheart, Sigur Ros, Tom Waits, American Music Club and various others). Saxophone and electronics. Analogue and digital. An improvisation across the divide. An experiment in soundmaking. Whatever you wish to call it, it worked. Compelling, unpredictable in both sound and structure, at times haunting, and fun throughout. Hopefully, this partnership will continue…