Solo sax live in Sheffield / As It Is / Dream Enough to See
With all this machine music I listen to – and with my daughter having given up learning the violin – I often forget just how much aural chaos one can create with acoustic instruments. The experience of hearing Paul Dunmall’s bagpipe attack at a recent Hideous Porta show a couple of weeks back was one reminder of the mayhem possible with non-electronic means. The feral attack of Dave Jackson’s solo saxophone work is another.
He’s put three free albums of saxophone improvisations – one recorded live in Sheffield in March and a brace of studio sessions – out this year. Three chunks of snarling, buzzing maelstrom, bristling with explosive energy, with none of the silvery finesse of, say, Evan Parker’s rivers of sound. It’s intense, atonal, blasted, like a firework that’s gone off too early and skids around at ground level.
The beauty of Jackson giving these away on Bandcamp is that he’s under no pressure to think up an angle or a story for these releases.
They do exactly what they say on the tin, no more, no less. Similarly, there’s no lead-in or throat clearing on any of these albums. You’re straight into it as if someone’s flicked a switch.
Occasionally there’s a hint of the blues, Albert Ayler to be precise, with Jackson seemingly threading the Ghosts melody into As It Is on Restless Light.
But, on the whole, this is is aggressively free music, as abstract and structureless as the clouds of an electrical storm.
Jackson’s playing is constantly pushing at edges of what’s possible, both in terms of the straining, grating sound and in the physical effort required to play it.
Part of this constant motion is a dialectical jive between submission and domination. Jackson wants to bend his instrument to his will, force these thorny, unholy sounds from it.
Yet this is a kind of speaking in tongues too, Jackson giving up control to allow these spirit voices to take over and scream out.
Jackson works away at the similar techniques and musical motifs, like a wolf chewing a bone, all through these releases.
The goal of his musical journey is never specified and the destination never announced. He pushes on, leaving his work behind as marks in the sand. Meanwhile we follow behind, baffled and exhilarated.