We had a pretty good idea of what we were doing with Parataxes, incorporating Mike’s short electronic pieces as interludes among longer trio improvisations. Parataxes‘ structure goes from the quieter acoustic tracks early on to the full electric power trio by the end. That’s a duality you hear eloquently expressed in the music of Neil Young, though in our case it was as much like a progress from acoustic Derek Bailey to electric Keiji Haino. Another of our concepts was that we moved between free rhythms, where there’s no such thing as a beat or a time signature, and playing a groove. Up to about 40% of it does rock to a beat. That seems to be more common in free improv nowadays, but at the time felt like we were breaking down barriers. I love the bit on ‘Parataxes 9′ where after nine or so minutes of feedback – a gap opens up in which the cello breaks into a walking bassline and swings, and then a jaunty harmonica enters before the drums kick us up another notch into the album’s electric rock blizzard climax. The night at the Cross, that became tracks six and nine on Parataxes, was on a bill with the saxophone-led Rick Jensen Trio, taking jazz as a starting point and going somewhere beyond, and piano-and-drums duo Scherzanduo, who brought Mussorgsky into the bar and made it rock.After some gigs, and a theatrical collaboration at BATS with the Wellington Word Collective called Speakeasy, we recorded another album in 2004 called Swansong (for the Huia). Here’s the last, epic, track in honour of one of our extinct New Zealand birds. That was the last time we played together for nearly six years. In 2005 Mike and I moved abroad – first to Melbourne, where I discovered Turkish funk, Macedonian gypsy-punk and Aussie hip-hop among other new genres – and then he to South America and I across Asia.
By the time The Winter came back together in 2009 we had absorbed all kinds of new ideas and let them not so much influence as inform our playing. Mike and I are currently both out of the country again and on different continents – however I look forward to further evolution and our next recording sessions and a nationwide tour in maybe 2015? Or 2019? By 2023 we should be onto something!
So, here’s the new album from The Winter, recorded in, and entitled, 2011. It’s all-acoustic, tracks improvised in real-time and presented in the order we played them – not in 2003 but on another year’s cold winter afternoon in Wellington. There’s no cello and I don’t think I played any guitar that day. It wasn’t as windy as this Wellington winter, but remember the snow in ’11?
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