DISCUS MUSIC 173CD

Faradena Afifi: viola, violin, voice and drum set; Steve Beresford: piano, electronics and toys; Paul Khimasia Morgan: guitar body and electronics

Recorded: November 2022

The recording had its genesis in attempts by Beresford (who needs no introduction as a stalwart of the UK improv scene) and Morgan to duet over Zoom. Always doomed to problems, this process created ways in which lags and distortions could become facets of the music. This gives an idea of the ways in which the electronic effects on these pieces, often quite subtle but nevertheless an essential element, come to make the music wobble around its tonal and rhythmic centres. Calling Afifi into the mix, the newly formed trio recorded this set in a single day.

As always with Afifi, there is a strong commitment to the traditions of her Afghan roots and an equally strong commitment to traditions of unsettling experimentation and dismantling of traditions. It is often difficult to put into words how she manages to sound so strongly in both traditions (and uniquely herself). This ability to be immersed in traditions while finding ways to disrupt them through collaborating with people and music from outside these might be one of the motivations behind her Noisy Women project. The mix of traditions is not only apparent in her vocal gymnastics, but also equally compelling in the violin and viola playing. Across these I could hear the playing of bowed instruments from various folk traditions as well free jazz, particularly the ways in which the blending and bending of notes become more important than their clarity or the ways in which the breaks introduced in playing echo those of players taking breaths.

It is worth repeating the titles of the tunes on this set to get an idea of the story that they collectively unfold: ‘Sad, bedraggled bee lies in a puddle; Move the bee into sunlight; I wonder if Reiki might help?; The bee wiggles its white, furry bottom; Limbs stretch, wings vibrate, flying into sunshine; Waggle dance; Buzzing run’. The set closes with a piece called ‘Flksingr’, and this gives the preceding collection of tunes its modus operandi: Afifi is a folk-singer but in a collection of styles that span the globe (and space and time, given the ways in which the effects that mix her voice sound so much like science fiction). There is also a sense in which the lyrics of this closing piece bring the metaphor of the cycle of tunes between the bee struggling in a puddle and the human condition (or perhaps Afifi’s specific experiences as a busker in Cambridge).