MAT MARTIN | Looking for Gustav – Making ‘Gustav Lost’ with Chris Cundy

13 November, 2016 | Blog · Music · Playing · Recording

Bass player on Chris Cundy’s new album ‘Gustav Lost’ – Dominic Lash – had the foresight to put together this little ‘Looking for Gustav’ film from the sessions at Wincraft Studios in Bourton-on-the-Water last year. Chris’s album comes out in December 2016, and can be ordered via his Bandcamp page. He’s written a nice accompanying piece to the release over at his site:

Rather than blurring lines I want to see how a coexistence between composition and improvisation can bring out eccentricities in the music, where they interrupt each other, and how this throws things into high relief. For a number of years I have worked with songwriters, in popular music, and theatre. Rather than keeping my interests separate I wanted to combine some of these elements. To some extent this project follows on from Gannets – the tea dance gone wrong band, which also features Fyfe Dangerfield and Dominic Lash as well as myself. The aim with Gustav Lost was to keep the spontaneity we had enjoyed in that group but to combine it with some rather different energies and structures. The joy of doing this is that I can create segments of music which sustain cyclical moods but also enter sudden changes of direction. It was important that compositions work as fully formed ideas that can exist in their own right. I’m not interested in composing music that attempts to mimic the complexities at the heart of improvisation. In many ways I want to respect the improvisations that we as musicians have made together and are still in the process of making. This music should be given its own space in which it can breathe, surprise, express a madness of its own, or whatever it is that liberates that part of our psyche. I wanted an aspect of music-in-the-making, a playfulness of it being toppled, and of it being picked up again in these recordings.

Each musicians’ contribution enhances the writing and arranging I put into place in ways I wouldn’t have imagined at the outset. Hannah Marshall is an experienced improviser with a flare for the cello that goes far beyond its wood panelled historicity. Mat Martin is a multi-instrumental string player and although we have worked together previously, this is the first time we have explored anything using partly improvised elements. Mat had a lot to offer the group in terms of temperament and lyrical expression. I have worked with Fyfe Dangerfield in many different guises, initially in a hip hop outfit we called The Executive Caveman and later as an additional member of his indie-pop group Guillemots. I have garnered a great deal from working with Fyfe over the years, leading to my own desire in striking a balance between popular and experimental music. Dominic Lash is a multi-faceted bass player with an ability to absorb a wide range of traditions and techniques yet his own playing remains vibrant and entirely his own. My first exposure to Mark Sanders was seeing him with the saxophonist Evan Parker, and this sparked a desire to discover the ecstatic possibilities of free improvisation on my own terms. Mark’s drumming on these recordings remains brilliantly relaxed yet he offers a sharp ability to corner the compositional lines exactly where and when it matters. Stuart Wilding offers some additional textures using a rarified assortment of junk yard instruments and percussion.