Hope University, Shaw Street
16th October 2014
Reviewed by Tom Bottle
Thirty years on the road Delta Saxophone Quartet are serious musicians who individually moonlight in the West End and tour with Kylie Minogue. Anyone can see what they do takes impressive discipline and practice but it’s this work ethic that seems to come before the music. Like a maths teacher saying, “Let me see your working out”, DSQ are showing us theirs. It’s getting in the way of the music. Nothing seems to flow. Discordant, abrupt, haphazard. The four sax fight each other preventing harmony breaking out and when it does quickly douse it with a jarring backbeat.
What sounds like anti-music is, in fact, prog-rock influenced, experimental in structure and rhythm with demands most listeners are not prepared to make. Maybe it is harder, too hard, to shift from fixed tastes in pop and rock music to accept something new, unlike say, architecture were buildings with plumbing on the outside are now old hat. Then again buildings are not as personal as songs, are they?
Despite my lack of King Crimson and Soft Machine albums (influences of the Quartet) I slowly find it less irritating then seamlessly found myself inside ‘New York Counterpoint’, an incessant night drive along the repetitive endless freeway where this empty world touches the lonely next.
The Delta Saxophone Quartet play music that makes you listen. A firm, persistent, reflective experience I have since discovered on Spotify weaving over and under, adding and subtracting, dividing the base by the height, leaving all pipework exposed, and I am listening still….maybe for the first time.