Colin Edwin is a man of apparently inexhaustible creativity. He’s the bass player in Porcupine Tree, which is achievement enough; but not satisfied with contributing to some of the finest prog known to man, he also finds time for his own projects. That we at ThisIsNotAScene are big fans of Metallic Taste Of Blood is no secret: see the review of their self-titled debut album from a few weeks back. Well, it transpires that Edwin also has another band, Ex-Wise Heads, which he helms with Geoff Leigh, another human creative tour de force, and whose CV includes Henry Cow and Faust. Clearly we’re dealing with something of a super group here.
Both musicians bring a wealth of experience and talent to this album (originally released in 2003, when they were a trio with percussionist Vincent Salzfaas, and one that still stands up remarkably well today). The music is best described as ‘world’ music with very strong North African and folk leanings, and the album features some talented guest musicians.
As multi-instrumentalists, Edwin and Leigh play between them a host of different instruments – bass, guitar, saz, sax, flute, zither, keyboards – the combining and layering of which produces the kind of music that might surprise Porcupine Tree fans, but that will be somewhat more familiar to Metallic Taste Of Blood fans. The elements of folk, African and eastern music sit perfectly together, with each musician clearly having lots of freedom to explore.
The sound is enhanced by percussionist Vincent Salzfaas (at the time a full member of the band) who employs all manner of instruments to create striking sounds and rhythms; guest violinist Peter Knight, whose day job is as a member of folk rock legends Steeleye Span, is melodic and mercurial; the album even features a song produced by Steven Wilson. Despite such a wide collection of instruments, “Time and Emotion Study” is notable for its fluidity of playing as we witness seriously accomplished musicians produce inspiring music: sometimes playful, sometimes almost other-worldly.
Geoff Leigh’s ethereal flute playing on “Diminishing Returns” showcases his considerable abilities, while “…Mended At Play” sees Salzfaas produce an infectious rhythm. “Knight To Castle In The Air”, as well as showing a little of the band’s humour in its title, also features wonderful flute/violin interplay, with Salzfaas once again producing a myriad of percussive sounds. And talking of percussion, the consistently inspiring and inspired bass playing of Colin Edwin underpins all of the songs in a way that makes the instrument so much more than the usual bottom end of the sound: it is integral to both rhythm and melody.
There are so many details on this album, such an eclectic mix of sounds and instruments that it just keeps on getting better with every listen. Don’t like world music? Then you’ve probably never heard “Time And Emotion Study”.