Now Then magazine review of Roman Nose lp
As with much free improvisation, the ethos of Roman Nose, a Sheffield-based collective of avant-garde skronk virtuosi and Access Space regulars, is one of creative destruction. The fascinating, pan-cultural collection of instruments displayed on their debut – with drums and double bass accompanying harmonium, tulum, sheng and others – are divorced from cultural context and proper technique, played with brutality and rendered interchangeable. The result is music that transcends culture, capturing sounds that are universal.
‘Brekekekex Koax Koax’ is one of the more comprehensible tracks. Opening with a chorus of reed and electronic drones recalling ceremonial Japanese gagaku, its bass ostinato is the closest thing the record has to a steady rhythm. But the track transforms and degrades. Bass and percussion combine in a whirring, roaring cacophony, and the mass of drones births distorted screams, as though it were a ceremony for the summoning of a demon. Meanwhile, ‘A Skin Container’, with its humanistic gurgling and gnashing, more resembles a hideous resurrection. The abrupt, dissonant harmonies struck by the bass and reeds capture the spine-chilling quality of a Ligeti string quartet.
Cathartic closer ‘Zydeco Derriere’ is the record at its most brutal and frenetic. Drums and bass combine in an arrhythmic thrum around Yoko Ono-esque screeching. A reed instrument projects an insistent two-note cry into the chaos, like a cuckoo taunting the record in its final throes of madness. While other tracks fade out smoothly, this one deflates comically, as though the whole record was just a protracted Dadaist joke.
Andrew Trayford, November 2018