SASKATCHEWAN free jazz collective Peace Flag Ensemble, who like to free up a little while keeping it flowing and melodious, are set to release their first venture into long-playing recordings this very Friday, June 18th, on Toronto label We Are Busy Bodies.
In the ensemble’s set-up it’s the piano that lends the starting point for everyone else, and that fluvial improvisation comes courtesy Jon Neher, ably pinned into a deeper sonic pace by the bass work of Travis Packer. It’s Dalton Lam and Paul Guthiel handling the brass – trumpet and sax respectively – bringing both texture and melody; while Michael Scott Dawson moves beyond the faders to mix guitars, electronica and field recordings into proceedings.
“It draws from such influences as Keith Jarrett and Mark Hollis. Peace Flag Ensemble is the sum of its parts. Everyone leaned into their own intuition and inspiration. I think that kept us from limiting possibilities,” says Michael.
“Sometimes that means a saxophone is reduced to just the crackle of a spit valve, sometimes it’s blurred into pastoral ambiance, and sometimes … well, sometimes it’s just a saxophone.”
We published our review of that excellent debut album, Noteland, this Sunday just gone – more of which below; but as the hours count down now until such a time as you can get your mitts on it, why not have a first dabble with the stop-motion narration accompanying “Hilma af Klint in Ab”, named for the seminal Swedish abstract artist; in which a bed of a decayed loop, wobbling and ringing with drone, gathers courage as an anchoring hum under the melody of the brass, the thoughtful meandering of the bass and the judicious, Talk Talk-like chordal interjections from the piano.
The video tells the tale of a coiled and abandoned guitar string, which gains consciousness and embarks on a perigrination of its world, makes it way home and realises it’s truly discarded. Quite a sad and whimsical tale, really, comprised of some 3,067 still photographs, accompanying a great track on an album stuffed with them.
You can read our full review of the album here, a record of which we note: “They wanted to make a pretty, but odd, but actually pretty album; and they’ve succeeded. It surprises you in the way it approaches the jazz and compositional canon with respect and also playfulness. A record that can go on to serve as a trusted companion for your solo meanders across town, yourself as the camera; for a blissful evening. If you’re a fan of Samuel Sharp’s recent Patterns Various, or even Martin Duffy’s Assorted Promenades, you’ll love the mood and the intelligence that Peace Flag Ensemble bring.”
Peace Flag Ensemble’s Noteland will be released digitally and on vinyl by We Are Busy Bodies on June 18th; you can pre-order you copy now over at Bandcamp.