Hey! Manchester presents Group Listening
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PRAH Recordings is pleased to announce the first new music from meditative heavy hitters Group Listening who have been working on a follow up to their stunning debut.
While their first record was put together over an intense three-day period in a studio, Vol. 2 saw the pair of Stephen Black and Paul Jones take over the latter’s living room and gradually put its ten tracks together between September 2020 until March 2021. They would record one or two songs over a couple of days then pause for the week, building and ruminating on ideas; it allowed the music to take on a more ambitious nature but also allowed in bits of chat, traffic noise and other creaks and squeaks associated with home recording. ‘I feel that’s part of the album’s essential character; recorded on and off throughout the pandemic in a domestic environment out of necessity; a testament to how it was possible to work at that time,’ says Jones.
As a result the overall tone is thought provoking and engagingly unique, retaining an air of abstraction that permits the mind to wander, wonder and dream. The pieces are presented as points of stimulus, ports from which to embark on a journey towards other musical landscapes.
The pair are constantly seeking to subvert the minimalism of their sonic palette, creating a subtle but constant tension that every now and then catalyses’ the music to somewhere unexpected. Take their bright arrangement of Laraaji’s All Of A Sudden, and the addition of a drum machine that adds a sprightly propulsive edge; or their take of Niger synth pioneer Mamman Sani’s 500 Miles, which brings into focus the original’s psychedelic queasiness through the use of old answerphone messages and environmental noises, even as the instrumentation behind it is stripped right down.
It’s in the way that Group Listening are able to prod, probe and contort the self-defined parameters that they’ve set themselves that makes Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol.2 such an intriguing listen – and it’s the love and care they’ve taken over it that makes these versions entirely their own.