Review from Foxy Digitalis

Fiercely beautiful arcs of droning strings and flute swirl with the burning of a desert sun. This is rich and spicy music full of eastern tones and smoke-filled ragas. The fact this collective gather sandstorms from Denmark adds to the mystique. Singing Knives first release of 2009 is a twenty-minute prayer of improvised rolling drones and instrumental tapestries that warrant comparison to Harappian Night Recordings, Tony Conrad and MV & EE’s Medicine Show. The four movements drive a raucous sound with loose percussion, stringed drones and various wind/ brass explorations. Shiggajon are suitably placed on the Singing Knives label, as they express a kinship in expression to Chora, Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides, Hunter Gracchus and the whole UK/EU improv scene (not jazz), which has gathered a powerful momentum over the past two years. The depth of cultural reference shifts in an uncertain limbo, with primitive Anglo and rich Arab heritages. The forms and visuals, which profoundly trickle through ones ears and into your eyes are marred with Technicolor images from Jodorowsky and middle eastern simulacra – something like Rudyard Kipling filtered through mescaline.

The first movement begins with a rising droned string that hovers above flute and various unidentified tones. A heat driven madness permeates, and sets the music deep into your consciousness. This is music you can’t escape from. I find it very consuming and is definitely something that needs to be played loud and clearly. The second piece feels a little lighter, yet a direct intensity is still present. This is a dusk dance that is as hypnotic as it is erotic. The slow pounding percussion sits at a soft distance behind the lead wind. The third piece traverses back to a saturated afternoon. It is once again vehemently engaging. There is a droning raga that whirls with exquisite motion, snakelike, menacing. A bird song tweets ahead, a mercy call over the danger. Finally a low tone, (brass I think), wavers with vocal chanting. Twittering alto appears as an outsider that gets entangled in a hostile gaggle. This is most definitely an ominous record of wonderful realism. The humour and playfulness of much improvised music has been removed; and rather than a soulless cacophony, we are left with an emotional torrent of complexity. This has elements that could be compared to free-jazz players like Ayler and Doyle, yet I feel it sits closer to the traditional playing of eastern street performers, as so eloquently recorded by Deben Bhattacharya.

7/10 — Peter Taylor, 27th May 2009