Boomkat Product Review:
Horn behemoth Evan Parker links up with percussionist Paul Lytton, later a member of the infamous Evan Parker Trio, on this furious plate - a high water mark for British free improv.
Recorded in London in 1972 and released by Derek Bailey's Incus Records label that same year, 'Collective Calls (Urban) (Two Microphones)' is billed as "an improvised urban psychodrama in eight parts" and that description still bears up to scrutiny. Parker plays soprano and tenor, with homemade instruments and a tape deck, while Lytton works on live electronics and effects generators, as well as drums. And from beginning to end, there's a feeling that the duo are attempting not only to fray the edges of jazz, but represent the noisy chaos of '70s London on wax.
Parker's signature skronk is conspicuously absent on 'Cat's Flux', replaced by high-pitched wails and alien resonances that Lytton meets with electronic warbles and strangled concrète elements. And on the lengthy 'Shaker', a couple of minutes of near silence is followed by pained kettle squeaks and Lytton's earthy rumbles, before the piece pays off in the final third, exploding in a clattering cacophony. Each side of the record ends with a short drone piece, and the second side is interrupted by the alien 'Voice Fragment', 28 seconds of haunted whispering that'd chill John Carpenter's bones.
But it's the big, bolshy recordings that have enshrined 'Collective Calls...' in British improv history. 'Lytton Perdu' is an angular workout that captures two players at their wonked best - Lytton particularly exhibits a level of fluidity and skill that's still magnetic. And 'Some Mother Blues' shows us exactly why Thurston Moore came knocking a few decades later.