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October 2005

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble
The Eleventh Hour
ECM Records

Like previous Electro-Acoustic Ensemble efforts, The Eleventh Hour features people credited with "playing" signal-processing instruments, sampling keyboards and computer processors, along with five experimental jazz musicians: soprano saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Agusti Fernandez, bassist Adam Linson, violinist Philipp Wachsmann and percussionist Paul Lytton. The challenge comes in discerning which of the 11 players create what sound at performances recorded over two evenings at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts.

The 17-minute "Shadow Play" opens the disc with Parker's soprano cooing, rumbling and sending short high notes bubbling to the surface, only to have the tones manipulated into a rainstorm of sounds. The rest of the album consists of the title piece, broken into four separate parts with interesting but mixed results. Parker almost acts like an overseer on "The Eleventh Hour," setting the scene and then stepping back to let his comrades take over. The electronics and sampling players create the aura of ghostly instruments filling in the space. This works to a good advantage in Part Two, behind Wachsmann's solo, and in Part Four, where Parker sounds like he has been split into three identical players. But other parts never catch fire-like Fernandez's duet with himself-and the final five minutes get especially painful when high frequency squeals are used.

Originally published in October 2005
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