Tip! LP reissue of Collective Calls, the first duo LP from Evan Parker and percussionist Paul Lytton. Mythically alluded to as ‘An Improvised Urban Psychodrama In Eight Parts”, Collective Calls utilises electronics, pre-records and homemade instruments to wryly in/act self investigation. Having just recorded the cliff jumping Music Improvisation Company with Derek Bailey, Christine Jeffrey, Hugh Davies and Jamie Muir, Parker was at the point where [he] was thinking, ‘what’s the next thing?’ On Collective Calls, only the 5th release to appear on the newly minted Incus label, percussionist Paul Lytton arrives with an arsenal of sound making sources to push Parker into ever new territory.
Recorded in the loft of The Standard Essenco Co on Southwark Street by Bob Woolford (Topography of the Lungs, AMM The Crypt), Collective Calls has more in common with noise or music concrete than with jazz; sitting comfortably alongside Italian messrs Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza or the husband-wife duo of Anima Sound. According to Martin Davidson, it was a Folkways record called Sounds of the Junkyard that Lytton was obsessed with around the time of this release - its track titles like “Steel Saw Cutting Channel Iron in Two Places” working to give you a good idea of the atmosphere of Collective Calls.
Paul Lytton had encountered the use of electronics in music in 1968 when he was invited to play drums on the recording of An Electric Storm by White Noise (along with David Vorhaus, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson). He had seen Hugh Davies using contact mics in the Music Improvisation Company, and soon set about assembling a Dexion frame akin to drummer John Stevens’, except that his own was armed with several single-coil electric guitar pickups, long wires and strings with connected foot-pedals to modulate pitch. Influenced as much by Stockhausen, Cage and David Tudor as he was by Max Roach and Milford Graves, Lytton’s percussion is abstract, expressionist and at times totally mutant. Sometimes rolling extremely fast, then screeching almost backwards over feedback, Lytton gives Parker room to play some of his weirdest work. Parker is listed as performing both saxophones, his own homemade contraptions, and cassette recorder - regularly thickening the already murky brew by playing back previous recordings of the duo.
Imagining their set up in a 70s loft, it’s an assemblage more akin to what today's free ears might see at a Sholto Dobie show, spread out on the floor of the Hundred Years Gallery, the shadow of Penultimate Press lurking in a corner. It’s a testament to Parker’s shape shifting sound - the ever present link to birdsong being at its most warped here - terrifically free and unfussy, wild and loose from any of the dogma that might come in later Brit-prov years.