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Best known, at least here, from his trio with Anthony Pateras and David Brown, Sean Baxter offers here two cuts of solo percussion. I assume that the title is indicative of what is played, 'Metal' and 'Flesh', in which perhaps we must understand 'Flesh' as the skin of drums. In 'Metal' things rattle on the metallic objects in the best tradition of someone like Z'EV, and is short and to the point. 'Flesh' is a more jazzy piece for various drum skins and a bit of cymbals. A moody piece of music actually with some great subdued playing. Very short altogether, which is a great pity.. I would have loved to spend a few more minutes with this great improvised music. Next time a 10" please.
Frans de Waard (vitalweekly.net)
These pieces by Australian avant garde percussionist, Sean Baxter, exemplify a long-standing preoccupation with extended technique and acoustically generated noise applied to the conventional drumkit in a freely improvised context. Alongside compatriots like Robbie Avenaim, Tony Buck, Steve Heather, Joe Talia and Will Guthrie, Baxter has been at the forefront of percussive exploration in Australia since the 90s, pushing the bounds of the acoustic drumkit's sonic potential in a wide range of collaborative and solo settings, not least of which includes his acclaimed group with Anthony Pateras and Dave Brown. It is fitting, then, that these recordings are dedicated to those musicians, given the gestation of Baxter's approaches represented on this record in that innovative trio.
The works featured on this Bocian release hail from an expansive session destined for a full release in the future. Recorded by lauded engineer Christopher Lawson in the Melbourne studios of Australia's national broadcaster (the ABC) with innovative audio-visual artist and frequent collaborator, Robin Fox in attendance, the intent of the session was to capture Baxter's novel approach to percussive sound generation in high detail. In a series of concise improvisations, each focusing on the use of unconventional implements to extract unusual timbres from the drumkit itself, the recordings emphasize the possibility of creating a vast and dense sonic world without the use of overdubs or processing. With allusions to avant garde electronic music, Modernist chamber music in the style of Xenakis and Lachenmann, extreme noise and the maximalist spectrum of post-AMM free improv, Baxter's work here illustrates the fluidity and complexity of acoustical percussive frequencies and timbres.
On "Metal", the piercing and jarring sounds of untuned aluminium windchimes (normally a ubiquitous and gentle soundtrack to the Australian rural homestead), flailing against the rims and membranes of the kit in a chaotic flurry, create a barrage of stochastic rhythms and accidental harmonies, exploiting the high frequency ranges of metallic sound. "Flesh", in complete contrast, employs the exclusive use of the body; fingers, hands, fists and elbows strike, coddle and pummel the various components of the drumkit, coercing and coaxing more rounded, but equally uncompromising and slightly uncomfortable bottom-end sounds from the instrument. Together, these pieces are representative of a peculiarly Australian approach avant garde improvisation. Whilst sonically detailed and meticulously recorded, there remains an edginess, and intentional 'dirtiness' to the sound as a whole.