Essentially a freewheeling expanded rhythm section, Woven Entity cook up a rich, strange brew of psychedelic jazz, electronic explorations, ethnologicalforgeries and unstoppable ritual grooves. The band began life in 2010 after percussionist, DJ and multi-instrumentalist Lascelle Gordon had crossed paths with fellow percussionist Patrick Dawes and with drummer Paul May at various gigs and suggested the three try playing together. Soon the trio were organically evolving a brand of freely improvised music that wasn’t afraid to groove, float or tinkle. With appearances from a regular pool of guests such as Led Bib’s Chris Williams, Snorkel keyboardist Ben Cowen, bassist Peter Marsh, trumpeter Andy Knight and saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, the trio began playing the usual left field East London hotspots on a semi-regular basis. Audiences were enthusiastic, warming to the band’s unpredictable fry-ups of spiritual jazz, free improv, dubby post punk and eccentric ethnological forgeries.Adding Marsh to the core unit in 2012, Dawes, Gordon and May continued gigging, making several memorable appearances improvising live soundtracks to silent films as well as working on what was to become their debut album.
Featuring contributions from guests Alan Wilkinson, Ben Cowen and Julie Kjaer,Woven Entity’s debut is a restless, playful and eclectic record that travels a long way in its 48 short minutes, cheerfully trampling genre divisions in its path. The brief ‘C358X’ opens proceedings; flurries of exotic percussion and a woozy, sourly cosmic synth skirt round each other, much like Sun Ra crashing an Art Ensemble of Chicago session. The following ‘Me=You’ morphs somewhat unexpectedly from a bracing free jazz workout for balafon, bass, drums and bongos into a deep, insistent groove that might just lure the more adventurous listener to shake a tailfeather or two. Julie Kjaer makes her first appearance on the album with some sly, bittersweet flute, steering away from the dancefloor towards darker, more uncertain territory.
‘Naked Eye’ displays May’s uncanny ability to conjure both anarchy and order from the drumkit as he, Dawes and Gordon trade phrases over a lush backdrop of loops and drones; one second he’s coaxing squeals from a cymbal, the next he’s locked in a metronomic groove Jaki Liebezeit would be proud of. ‘This Day Will Come’ also subverts expectations, like much of this album seems to. Birdsong, bass and balafon are joined by percussive eruptions and what sounds like someone building furniture before settling into an extended coda for fizzing electronic noise and a pair of harmonicas, underpinned by the warm thrumming of Marsh’s bass, before dying away suddenly.
Alan Wilkinson turns up on ‘So Black Dada’ with a short but (uncharacteristically) sweet alto solo over a shifting matrix of metals, talking drum and jaws harp that provides one of the album’s most affecting moments. Trisssh’ (dedicated to the late Trish Keenan of Broadcast) blends minimal gamelan- esque percussion, field recordings, wind-up toys and drum machine into a slo-mo avant funk brew.‘Hola’ is powered by a brooding, episodic groove from May’s muted kit, flecked with whistles, saxophone multiphonics, sonar bleeps and duck calls.
‘Earth/Crisis’ is the longest piece by some margin. Beginning with abstract scribbles and stridulations, an off- kilter, loping afro-jazz groove emerges. Kjaer delivers progressively more heated, oblique bursts of alto before the whole shebang implodes into a primitive, ritualistic throb worthy of early 80s experimentalists 23 Skidoo. Kjaer is back on flute for ‘Who’s Who’, a humid slice of poised exotica that comes on like a stoner take on Ra’s ‘Angels and Demons At Play’. Gordon’s spectral electronics hover above the proceedings, while he and Dawes decorate Marsh and May’s locked down groove with intricate percussive exchanges. It’s astonishing how they keep out of each others way yet can apparently act as one organism, negotiating tempo and dynamics on the fly with astonishing fluidity. The album ends with ‘Moors and Orandas’, a luminous, mournful piece which promises to lead somewhere rich and strange, then thinks twice about it. Something for the next journey, perhaps.
Woven Entity’s music is immersive, rhythmically infectious and eclectic to the point of uncategorisablity. All gates are open.
Lascelle (often known as Lascelles Lascelle) began his musical career as a DJ at London’s Wag Club in the 1980s, where his eclectic taste made him a favourite among the punters.After touring as A Certain Ratio’s DJ, he went on to form the Brand New Heavies, one of the biggest bands of the Acid Jazz movement. Leaving the band some five years later he formed Heliocentric World, scoring a hit single for Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label before joining indie rockers and NME darlings Campag Velocet as their drummer. From there, Gordon went on to provide percussion live and in the studio for such diverse acts as Mr Scruff, The Sandals, Beth Orton and Gossip - he’s also worked extensively with producer Trevor Jackson and with Ben Cowen as 7 Hurtz, whose collaborators include Peaches. More recently Lascelle has toured with indie popsters Le Volume Courbe, supporting My Bloody Valentine on their 2013 tour, as well as forming improvising collectives Flight and Vibration Black Finger.
Patrick Dawes has been working for over two decades as a percussionist, beginning his career working alongside DJs in clubs such as the Ministry of Sound. In 1995 he began a four year stint recording and touring with The Herbaliser before joining Groove Armada as their live percussionist for the best part of a decade. As well as working alongside the likes of the legendary Richie Havens as well as co-fronting quirky jazz-popsters Patrick and Eugene and recording two albums with them, Dawes has released two albums for Tummy Touch, Circus Train and in 2013, Raising Stone, a collaborative record featuring contributions from a diverse range of talents from improvising vocalist Maggie Nicols to Acoustic Ladyland saxophonist Pete Wareham and early music specialist William Summers.
Paul May is one of the most respected drummers on the UK improvising circuit. His CV includes work with the likes of Alexander Hawkins, Tim Hodgkinson, Klaus Filip and Matthias Eick, as well as working with bassist Peter Marsh in electro-acoustic improvisers Sonnamble, Elvers (with trumpeter Ian R Watson) and Found Drowned (with guitarist James O’ Sullivan) to name just three. May has enjoyed a long working relationship with pianist Carolyn Hume which has yielded several well received albums on Leo Records and led to the formation of the quartet Fourth Page. May also plays and records regularly with bluesman Duke Garwood as well as songwriter Petra Jean Phillipson.
Marsh has often been heard alongside Paul May in recent years, forming the rhythm section for a bewildering variety of improvising bands from Clang Sayne to Fourth Page to Sonnamble among others. As well as playing a more conventional role backing singer Petra Jean Phillipson, they’ve also worked with a huge range of improvisers from Alan Wilkinson, Martin Siewert to Klaus Filip. They also record as a duo, with a debut album (Falling More Slowly) released in 2013 on Linear Obsessional. Previously Marsh also played in avant fusion band Lob, spent time depping in The Tiger Lillies, has played a lot of folk music (from Brittany to Macedonia) and has worked providing soundtracks to films by artists including Laura Cooper and Sami van Ingen. He has played with many improvisers including Lol Coxhill, Steve Williamson, Paul Rutherford. Robert Dick, Roger Turner and David Toop to name a few.