Colin Riley was the Associate Composer for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the mid 1990’s and is a driving force in Britain’s contemporary classical impetus, but incorporates various modes and stylizations into his vernacular. Featuring revered prog-rock, jazz drummer Bill Bruford, along with the six-piano group known as Pianocircus, Riley’s music is embraced via a budding, cohesive and exploratory acoustic-electric format. The composer also contributes programming here, amid electric bassist Julian Crampton's beefy bottom-end.
Bruford announced his retirement from touring in 2008, around the time of the release of his colorful and informative autobiography, Bill Bruford: The Autobiography ISBN: 9781906002237. Nonetheless, this project intimates a polytonal muse due to the keyboardists' balanced attack, comprised of acoustic and digital piano parts along with synths, and the drummer’s textural use of small percussion instruments. With Bruford’s customary execution of odd-metered backbeats and straight-four rock pulses, the program casts a kaleidoscopic string of events.
There is not one particular genre represented here. In turn, this session outlines and touches upon avant-garde, electronica, progressive-rock, and nouveau classical implementations. The musicians generate a few quirky deviations and subtle dreamscapes as the keyboardists’ often interweave the acoustic and electric element, abetted by a sense of buoyancy throughout several works.
On "The Still Small Voice," the artists perpetuate a rather haunting scope of notions, colorized by Bruford’s percussion-based tints. It’s a study in contrapuntal exercises amid a changeable journey, indeed. And the final piece "Ebb Cast," is a quaint, and subdued contempo classical piano excursion, marked by weaving and circular phrasings, that sparks notions of entering the other side. Overall, variety and a consortium of appealing surprises denote the perimeter of this engaging album that provides an antithesis to those musical worlds frequently traversed.