Much-needed reissue of these incredible LPs. Urban Sax's debut LP was issued in 1977 on Cobra, recalling the best Terry Riley, stunningly psychedelic, it’s the perfect combination of hazy, fluttering psychedelia and tough, tactile reed work. Urban Sax was created in 1973. Gilbert Artman, the mastermind behind Lard Free -who has also participated in dozens of recordings by other artists of the French experimental scene that included Delired Chameleon Family, Clear Light, Komintern, etc.- developed an interest in the relation between space and sound. He organised a first experiment that took place in the town of Menton, in the South of France. Artman strategically placed 18 saxophonists, and their sound reverberated through all the village. As time went by the band increased and currently their performances count with up to 34 saxophonists, 1 bass player, 3 percussionists, 2 dancers and 8 vocalists, with a line up that varies depending on each particular project. You can find saxophonists playing over rooftops, or climbing down buildings or arriving in helicopters. It is a fascinating experience that can be hardly translated to vinyl, but through the years they have recorded some of their music and here we are proud to offer vinyl reissues of those works, including one previously released on vinyl format!
It is the soundtrack of Urban Sax first architectural sound shows, but also a splendid work on its own, with a similar sense of musical experimentation and adventure to that of La Monte Young, Phil Niblock, Glenn Branca, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, a.o. Urban Sax's music is constructed over the concept of ""continuous sound", around which build and develop poly-rhythmic loops, modulated and nested in a partition and a principle of "distant sound" allowing to question the listening audience. It is about linking audio and visual performances. The music is semi repetitive, with evolving pieces of different colors. Entire saxophone family is represented: sopranos, altos, tenors and bass baritones..." (Wikipedia).
16 saxophone players gathered to record the 1st Urban Sax LP, after several years of touring festivals and outdoor venues. They were perhaps reluctant to actually record their music events, hence reducing the spatial effects of musicians playing around and above the audience. I assume Gilbert Artman had to make compromizes to re-create the Urban Sax magic in studio, using studio trickeries and sound effects. For example, the extremely low rumbles on track #1 sound like slowed down, processed saxophone recordings. The music is not only live performance, then, but partly composed in the studio. Vocals starting 14:00 on side one add the pseudo-primitive, typical Urban Sax mood. The music gets uncompromizingly repetitive on side two, where a 5 notes loop on soprano saxophone (starting 3:45) is played endlessly to mesmerizing effects, on a background of sustained low notes by the 8 tenor players. The effect is hypnotic, and these enchanting sounds could go on for ever. This is where Urban Sax gets closer to La Monte Young, and have been compared to Rhys Chatham or Glen Branca on saxophones. From continuo.wordpress.com
released April 27, 2020