Walt Shaw & Jim Tetlow
Inner Skull Trail
Discus 9004DL
(2023)
Available formats: DL

 

“It is perfect for those who like their music to challenge the status quo and dance outside the box. Inner Skull Trail is an invitation to an unforgettable sonic adventure.” – Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

“Curious bursts of mystifying creativity.” – Peter Thelen, EXPOSÉ

 

Walt Shaw – gongs, frame drums, bowls, bells, hand percussion, chains, springs, home-made instruments, found objects, electronics, voice.

Jim Tetlow – laptop, with virtual instruments, samples and effects.

“Inner Skull Trail” continues the collaboration between Leicester based Jim Tetlow and Derby based Walt Shaw after their debut duo album “Cartography of Dreams” (Discus 139DL, 2022).

On the 8th of October 2023 Walt and Jim met together to do a live recording session to produce “Inner Skull Trail”. The eight tracks were produced in one take in a spontaneous, improvised dialogue, more in a performance mode than a recording session and with minimal subsequent editing.

The playing integrated live percussion, electronics, field recordings and some voice. So, this was a completely different modus operandi to their first album, which was constructed by file sharing. The result produced more visceral elements as well as the more atmospheric and meditative ones.

Both Walt and Jim are visual artists as well as musicians and share a notion of a painterly vision of sound creation and manipulation. This mutual approach undoubtedly helped to achieve the creative exchanges and fusion produced in the October session.

The image is from a drypoint by Walt with manipulations from Jim.

Reviews

This is a fascinating audio expedition crafted by the collaborative talents of Walt Shaw and Jim Tetlow. This album is a sequel to their previous work Cartography of Dreams, for the same record label. Each track is a testament to the duo’s spontaneous improvisational prowess. Recorded in one live session, the music is executed via a raw and unfiltered creative process. It is a production which is as much an auditory experience as a performance art piece, blurring the lines between planned composition and impromptu creation. Walt Shaw brings an eclectic mix of instruments to the table, including gongs, frame drums, bowls, bells, and a variety of hand percussion instruments, along with chains, springs, homemade instruments, and found objects. Complementing Shaw’s acoustic array, Jim Tetlow wields his laptop as an instrument, manipulating virtual instruments, samples, and effects to create an immersive sound landscape. This session stands out for its integration of sound with a strong visual aesthetic, a reflection of both artists’ backgrounds as visual artists. Their approach to music creation is animated, treating sound as a canvas to be layered, textured, and colored. For example, time stands still during the launch of “Foundry Garden Find,” as they venture into an abyss where Tetlow employs a wavy organ sound, complementing Shaw’s use of small objects and percussion implements. Amid some give and take, the duo lowers the temperature with miniscule ethereal tonalities, taking matters into an altered sense of reality. Genre-wise, this outing is an eclectic mix. It comfortably resides in the realms of free jazz, electronic, experimental, and progressive music, yet it defies easy categorization. It is an album which invites listeners to explore the depths of sound and emotion, to experience music as a series of notes and off-centered rhythms, and as a journey through a rich, multi-sensory landscape. “Deep Stone Shine” is a piece which conjures a sensibility of interstellar space noise tracked by a NASA computer system via artful sound-shaping maneuvers. The final track, “The Archaeology of Dreams,” is a literal dreamscape, meshed with the sounds of nature combined with roaring computer-based effects and bizarre musings. So, strap in and prepare for a journey. This is not average background music; it is a full-blown expedition which demands listeners’ attention, imagination and, perhaps, a comfortable chair. It is perfect for those who like their music to challenge the status quo and dance outside the box. Inner Skull Trail is an invitation to an unforgettable sonic adventure. – Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ https://www.allaboutjazz.com/inner-skull-trail-walt-shaw-discus-music

Brace yourself for some strange and interesting sounds coming forth on this purely improvised work. Walt Shaw is a visual artist and experimental percussionist who is a member of several groups, including the Martin Archer Trio, The Deep Tide Quartet, The Skin and Bone Percussion Trio, and Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, as well as the duo at hand. Jim Tetlow is also a visual artist, composer, and musician, a multi-instrumentalist who primarily works in the field of ambient and electronic sound sculptures, though he has been a member of several rock, folk, experimental, and ambient groups in the Leicester area and is probably best known as a member of the trio Endgame along with Alan and Steve Freeman, who have released over a hundred releases since their formation around 1999. This is the second collaborative release between Shaw and Tetlow, the first (from 2022) being The Cartography of Dreams, an album of twelve studio improvisations featuring Shaw on percussion, drums, and electronics, and Tetlow on electronics, voice, guitar, and field recordings. On Inner Skull Trail there are eight tracks using pretty much the same instrumentation (although I don’t hear any guitar), except it was recorded entirely in one live setting on October 8th, 2023; Tetlow is producing his sounds via laptop and virtual instruments and samples; apart from his electronics, Shaw is playing all sorts of gongs, bowls, bells, frame drums, cymbals, chains, springs, and just about anything else that can be hit with hands, wood, metal, or played with a bow or shaken. The major difference this time out is more due to the live setting, the variations and subtleties are more organic and gentle, without too many things going on concurrently, resulting in curious bursts of mystifying creativity. – Peter Thelen, EXPOSÉ

Talking of Walt Shaw, here we have a most interesting release where Walt’s imaginative use of percussion is pitted against the electronics of Jim Tetlow. The first time these two musicians met would have been at Quadelectronic 5 (21 October 2008), after which a number of duo, trio and quartet sets featured both of them. After 2017 it was quite a while until we heard from Walt again. Jim, on the other hand had kept coming to Quadelectronic through to 2023, after which he decided to concentrate on the United Isolation Ensemble that had grown as a stop-gap during Covid lockdowns. After a number of virtual collaborations the 2022 release THE CARTOGRAPHY OF DREAMS was put together from such recordings and, deemed a success, they then decided it was a good idea to meet up and do some proper recordings together. The resulting INNER SKULL TRAIL is kind of as dark and twisted as the title suggests, as both musicians seem to have put themselves into a contemporary avant-garde mode. Recorded entirely during a day’s session on the 8th of October 2023, its spontaneity is clearly evident, as the eight works featured here each amount to a number of battles, fusions, and “trains of thought” that one could never really compose or plan. Such music needs to be spontaneous. Yet, with Jim’s twisted and
contorted electronics, which include a lot of ring modulation, and Walt’s crashes, attacks and responses, it does lack variety. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I guess, is down to the listener. – Alan Freeman AUDION https://audion1.bandcamp.com/album/audion-77-multimedia

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