**2023 repress** Out of print and hotly pursued on the secondary market, we’re thrilled to announce a much needed reissue initiative, dedicated to Ictus’ back catalog, beginning with four LPs, Steve Lacy and Andrea Centazzo’s Clangs, originally issued in 1976, Derek Bailey and Andrea Centazzo’s Drops, originally issued in 1977, Steve Lacy, Andrea Centazzo, and Kent Carter’s Trio Live, also from 1977, and John Zorn, Andrea Centazzo, Eugene Chadbourne, Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo, and Polly Bradfield’s Environment for Sextet, originally issued in 1979. Issued in limited editions of 250 copies, they stand among the most important and sinfully overlooked documents of the movement of global improvisation that unfurled during the 1970s, and can’t be missed.
In the history of free improvised music, there has been arguably no greater advocate for the idiom’s power and potential than the English guitarist Derek Bailey. Fiercely principled, between his emergence during the 1960s and his death is 2005, he cut a wide path, positioning this music at the height of creativity, transpiring in real time, and a means through which people from diverse background could come together, express, and commune. For Bailey, “playing is about playing with other people... Improvisation is a process that gets relationships sorted out.”
Among many great examples of this within Bailey’s sprawling discography, a stand out is his 1977 duo LP Drops - originally issued as the third album on Ictus - recorded with the Italian percussionist / drummer Andrea Centazzo. Capturing the guitarist during one of his most prolific and creatively visionary periods - overflowing with explosive clarity, dialogic energy, and imagination - he clearly found a perfect foil in Centazzo, who recalls of the sessions “The kaleidoscopic quality of 'Drops' was created by this restraint of performing limits, i.e. the choice of instrumental timbres, dynamics and metronome speeds to suit each piece. We explored some aspects of our improvisational art, gleaned the best elements from our baggage of music memories and exposed them clearly and confidently.” Comprising nine individual improvisations, Drops encounters each of its players at their best, finding a strange middle ground between the intuitive logics of their instruments; Bailey’s tones taking on decidedly percussive approaches, while Centazzo’s fractured polyrhythms and beats often veer toward the presence of a notable tonality. Remarkably expressive and diverse in the approach of each piece, Drops presents creative interplay at its most striking and challenging, rethinking the terms of musicality and collaboration every step of the way. Flurries of rattle back and forth, sculpting barbed and pointillistic landscapes of texture, stripped of reference and precedent, and abstract as real time organised sound comes.
Brilliant, highly engaging, fully immersive, Drops is both one of the best and least acknowledged artefacts in Derek Bailey’s incredible body of recorded work from the 1970s. It’s impossible, after decades out on vinyl, to express how grateful we are to have this LP available again.