CD

At the Unity Theatre

Evan Parker & Paul Lytton

2003

"Three years after Evan Parker and Paul Lytton's recording debut as a duo (Collective Calls, originally released by Incus), At the Unity Theatre captures them in a live setting. The studio album saw them foray into microscopic sounds. This time around the music is overall more feverish and loud, but it loses nothing in subtlety and intelligence. "In the Midst of Laughter and Glee," at 18 minutes long, stands as one of their best improvisations from that period. We are greeted by a low growl, like a long string being scratched; it may be the enigmatic lyttonophone but, in any case, it immediately tells you how unconventional this sax/drums duet was. Closer to the end, Parker squeezes out of his soprano sax the whiny sounds of an oboe or shenai, unfolding a sinuous mourning song that is simply stunning. He also plays a raspier tenor and uses a bullroarer and cassettes of prior performances -- but these are discernible only on very close listen. Lytton spends little time playing thedrum kit in a conventional way. Instead he focuses on objects and scrap metal, but still makes quite a racket. The CD reissue of this album (on Parker's Psi imprint) adds over 22 minutes of previously unissued material in the form of two extra improvisations from the same concert. At 18 minutes,"Through Consensus" was too long to make it on the original LP without sacrificing "In the Midst of Laughter and Glee," which is simply better. Despite some captivating activity, the two musicians drift apart, Parker trying to force the piece into a more powerful direction while Lytton instead moves deeper within his pile of scrap metal. It makes a nice bonus though." -Francois Couture, All Music "