Some people, it seems, can hear their eyes move. Whether this is a terrible affliction or simply a benign curiosity I can not say. What is certain, though, is that Noise In Your Eye is a very appropriate title for a music project by a pair of musicians steeped in the visual arts.
Daniel Pennie’s Art background lends a unique perspective to the Noise in Your Eye project including ongoing developments in Painting and Collage as well as explorations in Cross-Platform Medias such as Photography, Film, Sound & Installation Art. An experienced improviser he uses the Electric Guitar as a source creating soundscapes through Loops, Layers & Treatments. Using ‘prepared guitar’ he pushes the instrument beyond it’s physical limitations and creates a kaleidoscopic textural ‘colour’ that squeezes out electronic nuances like paint from a tube.
Adrian Chivers is a Producer and Musician, it is his vast knowledge of constructing sounds and orchestrating the spaces between them that compliments Noise in Your Eye music so well. He lends innovation to the music as well as being the glue that holds all the elements in place. His close association with Peter Gabriel’s Realworld and Womad has resulted in numerous collaborations with a multitude of acclaimed worldwide Artists, he has always been attracted to the idea of a music that is free from a specific cultural reference point.
Crotchety Man heard about these Noises through a pre-order offer on Burning Shed. What took his eye was the list of guest musicians. The first three were Keith Tippett, Michael Giles and Nick Mason – famous names from jazz and prog circles and big favourites in these pages. With eyes peeled and ears pricked an excited blogger went off in search of the sounds themselves and, surprisingly, found them online somewhere (Soundcloud, I think) a week or so before the official release date.
I soon found the music wrenching my attention away from the rest of the morning’s emails. It filtered in through the ears, lit up the eyes, infused a ruddy complexion in the cheeks and curled the lips into a series of broad smiles. “What fearsome magic is this?”, said a tremulous voice in my inner ear. And the head of the Noise Analysis Department offered a stuttering reply: “It is definitely jazz. And Art (with a capital ‘A’). Experimental, too. But with classical roots. And World Music influences.” It was an accurate assessment, but it wasn’t a satisfactory answer to the question.
For the first time in his life Crotchety Man pre-ordered the album. The release date was Friday, 4th April; the CD package arrived, miraculously, on Monday, the 6th. The Burning Shed despatch department had managed to deliver my order as if the Coronavirus had never happened and I was full of admiration for them. Until I opened the package. Inside was a shrink-wrapped digipak of the self-titled debut album by Noise In Your Eye that was perfect in every way except one – the actual CD was missing!
This was, of course, disappointing, but Crotchety Man didn’t panic. Having fired off a polite message to Burning Shed’s support department he found the NIYE album on Spotify and consoled himself with a stream of Noisey tracks. It took just 20 minutes for Burning Shed’s Chloe to offer an apology and promise to send a replacement disc. And with that my faith in my favourite supplier was fully restored.
Now, the only way to answer the “What magic?” question (from three paragraphs ago) is to listen for yourself. So try this YouTube video for starters; it’s the most accessible and the most melodic of the tracks on the album.
Isn’t that good? In Scent we can sniff out sweet tinkling piano and succulent saxophones within the crisp tangy shell of cello strings. It reminds me of the equally pleasing Penguin Café track, Cantorum, that I featured here three years ago. Both tunes have the feel of an ambient orchestral piece arranged for a mixed jazz and classical ensemble. They bring a soothing fragrance to the ears.
There are several more tunes that wander around fairly aimlessly at the intersection of ambient and jazz on the NIYE album. And then there are some tracks that stride out with a more obvious purpose. The opening salvo of The Dark Spot, for example, makes the band’s intentions clear with jazz horns and menacing strings. “This is not just music”, it says, “this is Art”. And in Zombie Johnson our startled eyes hear some typically terrifying Tippett tinklings duelling with free jazz horns reminiscent of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks.
Then, again, there’s the infectious jazz groove of Pink Neon captured perfectly in this remember-the-sixties video:
On Noise In Your Eye some of the finest musicians in the business have taken live improvisations, emphasised the melodic lines and assembled an album of rare quality. It’s an unusual, perhaps unique, approach that has crafted a flawless piece of musical art. It may be a little challenging at times but the noise is quite beautiful in the eye of this beholder.
I can’t wait to receive the replacement CD.