Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra & George Lewis - Artificial Life 2007 (3 stars)

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra & George Lewis - Artificial Life 2007

2012 recording of piece by innovative US trombonist

This new version of George Lewis’s Artificial Life 2007 was recorded at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra’s tenth-anniversary festival in 2012. The innovative US trombonist and composer’s score is a set of instructions, presented graphically on a grid, which the musicians respond to as they see fit. When, what and how to play is up to them, unless indicated otherwise. The result is an extremely detailed music, based on textural rather than harmonic or rhythmic development. ‘Part One’ begins with images of jelly being nailed to a wall, and with the rubbery burble of Lewis’s trombone slipping around a prepared-piano squeak. As that falls away, Neil Davidson’s submarine radar guitar ping picks up the susurrous murmurs of Maggie Nicols’ vocals, before impressionistic piano chords prompt Robert Henderson to dab a few smears of Sketches of Spain trumpet. Under Lewis’s generous stewardship, such fleeting moments coalesce into a fascinating, often affecting whole.

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