As well as a program of EP releases, Trestle Records, a London-based label dedicated to new instrumental music, host ‘One Day Band’ sessions in which musicians, some of whom haven’t met before, are invited to make a record in a single day. Coming from all walks of life and differing musical styles, the artists are either selected by the label or invited to curate a session themselves. It’s all about an improvised approach, a blending of two distinct sounds, and it stretches a musician’s capabilities and creativity. The session is then released on the label’s website where it can be listened to in its entirety for free, which helps to develop an archive, promote the music, and reach a greater audience.
This One Day Band collaboration – the 17th in the series – brings together solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and electronic musician Roly Porter for twenty intense minutes of music. The final result is a record of restraint and patience in spite of its self-imposed time limit. Instead of a rush to produce something within the course of a day, the constraint has only helped to focus the artists, and the result is a clear music. The countdown could force some to rush the record, but that doesn’t happen here.
The session took place during the summer of 2018 at Holy Mountain studios in Hackney. Evelyn brought a generous percussive selection into the recording session, infusing the record with many differing flavours, including the use of timpani drums, a Waterphone, music boxes, Tibetan singing bowls, and cymbals. The set acts as a series of improvisations, but the music passes through a dark channel. The two spent time discussing instrumental choice and how it would later factor into the session, but the music evolves in a natural, spontaneous way. With Evelyn’s loose percussion taking the initiative, Roly Porter’s electronics stay low, snaking along the ground, releasing insidious undercurrents.
As a result of the pairing, a dark tunnel of sound emerges. The ominous atmosphere, the shudders and stomps of something seismic, and the metallic scraping sounds all converge on the listener, giving light to something that should have remained behind a shroud. Quieter sections bring a great deal of space to the forefront, but they also resemble a lurking threat that never fully materialises – until those electronic bombs are dropped, at least. Bringing paranoia into a shaky mind, the record is concise, but there’s enough development and movement to fit a full-length LP.
After the session, Roly Porter rerecorded parts of Evelyn’s playing. He amplified them through guitar amps and fed sections through a chain of pedals, conjuring the whiplash of distortion. He also dealt with post-production duties, processing and arranging the instrumental work into a series of blinking and contracting chapters, a detailed, textured world of sound in the midst of an ongoing evolution. Towards the end, the percussion ratchets up, smashing against the bars of its enclosure, but its occasional thumps are only glints of an erupting violence; for the most part, the record’s incisive, balanced tone never needs to raise its voice.