Sunday, December 15, 2002


Derek Bailey, Guitar, Drums ‘n’ Bass (Avant – Koch, 1997)

Mention guitar music and a few names instantly stand out – Segovia, Wes Montgomery, Hendrix. In his own way Derek Bailey, now implausibly in his seventies, has had just as dramatic and important an impact on the guitar landscape of the twentieth century as any of those ‘greats’. That his endeavours have taken place largely in the obscure world of free and improvised music explains his relative anonymity. His output has been varied and prodigious, however.

Of his many recordings Guitar Drums’n’Bass most readily achieves the status of pure fun. With running titles like N/JZ/BM [Remix], Re-Re-Re [Upmix], DNJBB [Cake Mix], Concrete [Cement Mix], Ninja [De Mix] and Pie [Amatosis mix], Bailey’s warped, off-kilter and violently eerie electric sound blends and competes with the critical beats of DJ Ninja. This is joyously discordant, disarming, danceable and deranged music.

If you are unfamiliar with Bailey’s sonic universe and want a CD to wreck the office Christmas party sound system, annoy the hell out of boorish metalheadz ("Oi, turn that bleedin' noise dahn mate!") or drive crotchety old Aunty Vera to an early grave, here is a glorious opportunity, dear reader. Indeed it must be the joys of the Season that called this little aural classic to mind after five years unworthy languishing in the attic.

Incidentally, the European Free Improvisation Derek Bailey page has up-to-date information, clips, concert news and resources. A one-off pioneer in new and avant garde music. "And is it jazz?" We can safely leave that one to the police....

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