Elton Dean/Mark Hewins - Bar torgue - 2001


When two experimented musicians from the Canterbury school get together for an album, everything can be expected: jazz, rock, improvisations, psychedelic moments but also the unexpected. Sax wizard Elton Dean is best known for his works with Soft Machine, Keith Tippett and Soft Heap, and it was actually with this last band that he and guitarist Mark Hewins got into the same frequency and started playing together on a regular basis.


The fact is that, those who listened to Soft Heap's album "A Veritable Centaur" (a disc in which both musicians perform together), might think this duo is going to follow its path with a highly experimental album… But, surprise! "Bar Torque" has a different approach to music, that of two persons creating atmospheres and communicating through their instruments in a more spiritual way, no free jazz and no cacophony. The purpose of these performances is that of musical improvisation, going from cool jazz to relaxing ambiance's always full of delicacy.

"Bar Torque" (24 minutes) is the piece that opens the album, showing from the beginning the different results of combining a Midi guitar with a brass instrument, a jazzy saxophone that flirts with Hewins personal style going from one synthesiser sound to another. This tendency is also explored on the other tracks: "Sylvain" (13:25) and "Merilyn's Cave" (14:20), where percussion sounds and harmonic guitar provide a strange structure to Dean's lines.

Actually, "Bar Torque" has a very personal approach to music. This album has more than mere interpretations thanks to the musicians' way of adapting to each other's music. I think that even the album cover shows how peaceful the content will be. What would be a shame is not listening carefully to the disc and thinking that it is "just another ambient music CD". It is light indeed, it is extremely relaxing, but it is not cold; there is something especial about the album: it has a life of its own, it reflects the musicians' mood and I believe that the music really expresses what they wanted to say with their instruments.


Listening to "Bar Torque" requires a moment of calm and solitude, an open mind and no external factors that may interrupt. This album has to be enjoyed and admired. I recommend it to those who believe in patience and peace as a complement to their everyday life. There is no way a stressed person looking for energy and heavier music will truly appreciate it.

author - date - rating - label

Enrique Gómez - October 2001 -   - Moonjune Records