Siapiau
Pi
Discus 161CD
(2023)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“The album is balanced on the edge of sounds. Yet the more sounds that are created, the less on the edge they become and soon the listener realises they are mainstream human — heard in the street, in the air, around the house, in the weather, in the bathroom pipes, car sounds on the road outside, birdsong and insect sounds from the bushes and trees. Siapiau tell us that all these sounds are ours, are human, consciously or subconsciously heard and absorbed by us, and felt, seen and heard by all of us, becoming a part of their worlds too.” – Chris Searle, MORNING STAR

“I found this disc to be immensely charming, silly at times and even quite weird at times yet still fun. In some ways, this sounds to me like music for children with the fun & games vibe at the center. It does make me feel good to be alive.” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC

 

Fran Bass – electric bass, voice, little instruments
Phil Hargreaves – tenor/soprano sax, flute, voice, little instruments
Richard Harrison – drums/percussion, voice, little instruments
Maggie Nicols – voice, keyboard, little instruments

Siapiau is Welsh for ‘Shapes’, as the four members of the band create shapes in the air out of apparently nothing. The beauty of improvisation is that, at its best, it creates something perfectly fitted to the moment it was created in.

Siapiau is a new project from four improvisers who have been playing together in different formats for over twenty years. It’s a band who aren’t afraid of the experimental, but aren’t afraid of a good groove either. It’s improvised music that you could, at times, dance to. The line-up is Maggie Nicols on voice and keyboard, Fran Bass on electric bass, Richard Harrison on Drums and percussion and Phil Hargreaves on tenor/soprano sax and flute. Although Maggie is the main vocalist, we all sing. As does everybody, of course.

It started in September 2021, when after the annual Grand Gathering for improvising musicians at Melin Dolwion in South Wales, me, Fran and Maggie did an online Gathering. After a week of playing together we had a fine understanding, and I emailed Maggie to say that all we needed was to add a drummer, and there was a very good band. She agreed, and so it went…

But then, maybe it started in 2012, when me and Maggie began work on our duo album, ‘Human’. Or maybe it started in 2006 with the band Mesmerise, with Maggie and Fran. Or maybe in 2001, when Richard played on my improvising big band/poetry project ‘The Dislocation Sermons’. Or was it 1999 when I first met Maggie, working with the Frakture Big Band. Let’s just say, that we have history, both together and separately. – Phil Hargreaves

The album is balanced on the edge of sounds. Yet the more sounds that are created, the less on the edge they become and soon the listener realises they are mainstream human — heard in the street, in the air, around the house, in the weather, in the bathroom pipes, car sounds on the road outside, birdsong and insect sounds from the bushes and trees. Siapiau tell us that all these sounds are ours, are human, consciously or subconsciously heard and absorbed by us, and felt, seen and heard by all of us, becoming a part of their worlds too. Through this creation, as Nicols tells us in October Butterflies, it is music and musicians that “lead us to beauty.” – Chris Searle, MORNING STAR

Siapiau, is Welsh for “shapes” as the four members of the band attempt to create shapes in the air out of apparently nothing. And so weave their improvisational spell so to speak.
The band came together in September 2021, at a gathering for improvisation musicians in South Wales. Hence the Welsh name. Phil Hargreaves had known Maggie Nicols for a few years but it was the Welsh connection that cemented the idea for this project. All members of the band have a vocal credit on the album. So we could be confident in describing it as linguistically driven ( there’s poetry in it ). The band are Maggie Nicols, Voice, Keyboard, Phil hargreaves Tenor Sax, Flute, voice Richard Harrison, Drums / Percussion, Voice Fran, Bass, you guessed it voice. All play little instruments but we are unfortunately left to ponder what they might be. The album that’s presented within, has distinct neo dada connentations. With titles like Approximately Diagonal; and feasting with Panthers The vocal presentations by Maggie Nicols have a distinct nod and a wink to the dada poetry of Kurt Schwitters. The first track “In Eternam” begins in a poetic manner, with a serious free jazz intervention by Phil hargreaves after the first few minutes. This, though, adds to the sense of musical play on the album. And from that. moving the recording away from just another free jazz excursion. I feel, listening to this recording, I’m miraculously taken back in time. To 1973, rather than 2023. The music produced by Siapiau transports you to a different musical world. That of the experimental seventies. A time of political rock or jazz. The music produced by some at this time would be a hotchpotch of poetry, jazz and music concrete. – Rob Harrison, https://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/reviews/siapiau-pi-161cd-2023/

Siapiau (pronounced sha’-pea-eye) is Welsh for “shapes” which is what Maggie Nicols claims this band does, making shapes from nothing. Legendary British free-form vocalist, Maggie Nicols, has been part of the UK free scene in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s and has worked with founding members: Keith & Julie Tippetts (in Centipede & Tapestry), John Stevens, the Dedication & Glasgow Improvising Orchestras and recent duo with Mark Wastell. Phil Hargreaves can be found on around a half dozen discs from other obscure players like Caroline Kraabel & Barry Chabala. Equally obscure is Richard Harrison who was once a member of the Honkies, along with the aforementioned Caroline Kraabel. Mr. Hargreaves wrote a couple of the pieces, as well as the poetry throughout except for one piece by dadaist Kurt Schwitters. Ms. Nicols plays a quirky, magical electric (casio?)keyboard on “Approximately Diagonal”, with Mr. Hargreaves on some fine soprano sax. “Music for Hands” features hand clapping and tap dancing and it is quite charming and odd. “Hamadryad” features an infectious funky groove bass with some sly electric piano. I found this disc to be immensely charming, silly at times and even quite weird at times yet still fun. In some ways, this sounds to me like music for children with the fun & games vibe at the center. It does make me feel good to be alive. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC

SIAPIAU [Form] fand zusammen durch den Spaß, den der Liverpooler Saxer & Flötist Phil Hargreaves mit Maggie Nicols geteilt hat in der Frakture Big Band 1999, bei ihrem Duett „Human“ 2012 und im Spiel mit noch Fran Bass am E-Bass 2021 bei Nichols’ Improv-„Ga­thering“ in Drefach Felindre – daher der walisische Name. Und durch seine Vertrautheit, seit The Dislocation Sermon 2001, mit Richard Harrison, Drummer bei The Honkies, Spaceheads, Stereolab und ihren aktuellen Trios Bloodcog und Malchamech. Pi (Discus 161 CD) ist ihr Lobgesang auf die göttliche 3,14…, mit der sich Eckiges ins Rollen bringen und allzu Quadratschädliges auf den Kopf stellen lässt. Im Tanz mit Dionysos, mit Reiß­zähnen (‘Feasting with Panthers’). Mit Schwitters ziehen sie den Unsinn vor, nicht ohne überkandidelt eingesponnener Lebensweisheit. Nicols wechselt als spleenige Mum zwi­schen Sprechgesang, Glossolalie und Katzenpfotenkeys, Hargreaves zwischen Flöte, Soprano, übersprudelndem Tenorsax, die Tracks zwischen 1:02 und 10:12, groovy, ver­träumt oder durchgeknallt. Mit ‘Music for Hands’ als geklatschtem, geklopftem Dada, im orgeligen Schwof mit Baumnymphen (‘Hamadryad’). Nicht bloß im Zwischenspiel (‘Anyer­liwt’), sondern durchwegs bespielen die vier das Feld zwischen Non und Sense. A cappella und schönheitstrunken besingen sie den Tanz mit ‘October Butterflies’, als letzte ihrer Art. Wer hilft, den knittrigen Horizont als Saite zu spannen, so dass er wieder klingt? – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY [BA 121 rbd]

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