Fans of John Surman will certainly not be disappointed by his latest solo work Saltash bells. All the trademark colours and tones are there, with some fascinating electronic sounds in support of the horns. If you like "Road to ST Ives" then this is for you.
Saltash Bells was recorded in Oslo in 2009. The ten tracks feature just one musician: John Surman. The ten tunes are composed by just one person: John Surman. John Surman is now renowned for producing solo albums, all with a similar "etherial" feel. I think that it is music to be totally absorbed by or completely dismiss. Not everyone's cup of tea. For me I admire what John does, I admire his playing and musicianship but only need his music in small quantities. John is principally a saxophonist, and here plays soprano, tenor and baritones. In addition he plays alto, bass and contrabass clarinets. Much of this album involves multitracking so that John can accompany himself using other wind instruments, syntheser or harmonica. Ever since tape recording we have had multi-recording; Bill Evan's "Conversations with myself" must have been one of the earliest recordings. John is now an expert. The music has an intellectual quality, and could only have been recorded by ECM. I am tempted to drop one star simply because John is treading what is for him a well trod path, but he does it so well I won't.