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by Myele Manzanza

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claudeb101 The insightful liner notes help explain why this album is so compelling. The sequence of track III-VII are especially evocative to me. Favorite track: Focus (Uncut).
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Part I 02:15
Part II 02:22
Part III 02:00
Part IV 01:39
Part V 01:39
Part VI 02:54
Part VII 03:12
Part VIII 01:39
Part IX 07:43


This recording came together as an offset from the Crisis & Opportunity Vol. 3 - Unfold creative development phase. For 4 days in early 2021, Lewis Moody, Benjamin Muralt and I bunkered down in a tiny studio near Finsbury Park, tracking some of the pre-planned ideas (The final productions of Gone Up In Flames, Child & Falling Fast for example) as well as having some open improvised jams with the hope of generating some fresh material (Wasted Time & Drumbella were some of the by-products of these improvisations). There was maybe 5 hours' worth of raw recorded material that for various reasons didn’t make the cut for the album, however, there was a golden 25-minute run that at the time we all came away from thinking ‘holy shit’. I recall Benjamin saying after the performance concluded that ‘this is the kind of music I’ve always wanted to make’ and I was in accord that we had gotten one of those all too rare musical moments where nothing was planned but we collectively fell into the ‘zone’ and made something greater than the sum of its parts.

As the Crisis & Opportunity Vol. 3 - Unfold gradually developed though, there wasn’t really a natural place for this music to fit into it and in the back of my mind I felt that having to cut and edit it down would spoil the magic of the moment. So it stayed sitting in a hard drive, to be more or less forgotten.

Cut to late 2022, for a bit of nostalgia I was having a listen through some of the unused sessions. I happened to be playing some chess online whilst this recording came on and I fell into what could be called the ‘zone’ again, gaining focus and going on perhaps my longest chess-winning streak ever. For the first time, I had a sense that I could naturally ‘see’ or ‘feel’ the patterns over the board rather than needing to fall into the usual slow methodical calculation that’s generally required for a player at my very amateur level to avoid blundering. In any case, I came away feeling elated and I knew that I had to get this music out into the world. (I was initially going to call this recording “Music To Play Chess To” but I came to the realisation that this might have been very corny and maybe the most un-cool album title ever beyond folks in the chess community)

This isn’t a jazz recording, but it is an improvised one. The music you are listening to here was all done in one take warts and all (including the synth & keyboard programming, which does lend this recording to sound a little more ‘produced’ than your average jam session), & aside from a mix on volume levels to make sure the recording sounds balanced, there was zero editing on the musical performance. Also worth noting that beyond setting a tempo for the click track, there was no prior discussion on what we were going to play. We just started playing.

On reflection, I can hear how this mode of playing - the minor key with minimal harmonic movement, the clear dub & electronic music language, the open form slow building evolution of the sound (rather than the more accelerated initiation of musical ideas and melodic lines more common in jazz) - directly draws from early 2000’s New Zealand dub acts like Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Salmonella Dub & early Shapeshifter (more of a stadium smashing live drum & bass outfit, but some of their earlier work was a little more in the ‘liquid’ style that hewed them a little closer to their peers at the time) who were very pivotal influences on me. In saying that, Lewis is from Australia and Benjamin is from Switzerland & would have never really checked those bands out in any real way, and their set of influences would have impacted this music as much as mine did.

So then, let’s call this musical style ‘Improvised Minimalism’.

This process of music-making doesn’t always work as cohesively as this. More often than not there’s a lot of trial and error before it settles into itself. Depending on the musicians it can be very easy to over-play and get too busy, or under-play and get stale, as in a sense there are no real rules to it. However, to play this way successfully requires a lot of musical language, an ability to listen and hold space for others as well as an ability to initiate and fill space with confident musical ideas, and an overall sense of camaraderie with the other musicians you’re playing with. Having the wisdom to know when & how to just stay there, and when to take a leap of faith and jump into the unknown.

All in all, it requires a level of focus. Something I felt the three of us were lucky to achieve across a full 25-minute performance that you’re hearing now, and hopefully this music might be of service to you and perhaps bring a sense of focus to whatever it is you need to do.


released April 21, 2023

Drums - Myele Manzanza
Bass Guitar - Benjamin Muralt
Keys & Synths - Lewis Moody


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Myele Manzanza Wellington, New Zealand

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