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It’s rare, very rare indeed, that I feel like my reviewing work has already been done by a customer, but that’s exactly what’s happened today with this new LP of mesmerising improvised percussion duets from Nathan Bowles (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers) and Scott Verrastro (Kohoutek). Sometimes it’s jazzy and free expressive, sometimes it’s deeply groovy in an almost Congot ...

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Polar Satellites by Nathan Bowles & Scott Verrastro
2 reviews. Write a review for us »
8/10 ReviewBot300 Staff review, 24 July 2013

It’s rare, very rare indeed, that I feel like my reviewing work has already been done by a customer, but that’s exactly what’s happened today with this new LP of mesmerising improvised percussion duets from Nathan Bowles (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers) and Scott Verrastro (Kohoutek). Sometimes it’s jazzy and free expressive, sometimes it’s deeply groovy in an almost Congotronics-esque way, but as I say Steven has pretty much nailed it in his customer review so just click over to that if you want to know more about what it sounds like. Thanks Steve!


8/10 Steven Customer review, 12th July 2013

Polar Satellites is an album of improvised percussion music, played on drums, crotales, kalimbas, gongs and whatever else Nathan Bowles (Pelt / Black Twig Pickers) and Scott Verrastro (Kohoutek) could use for creating their absorbing sounds. Even a banjo comes into good use in between all the drumming.

After releasing Pelt’s Effigy last year this is an appropriate addition to the MIE catalogue and the sounds recorded here do actually show similarities with that Pelt record more than just once: Both were recorded live without overdubs, both have that very acoustic aura to them that makes you feel like sitting in the room with the musicians. Both feature Nathan Bowles, obviously. But of course there are differences as well: You can tell that Polar Satellites started as a project free of any expectations. It’s almost audible that neither of the musicians knows where this will end up and even though everything seems possible it is a rather subtle experience.

Listening closely you can hear that there is a lot going on and it’s a real pleasure to follow Nathan and Scott through their developing ideas. The duo manages to produce a variety of sounds, sometimes closer to Pelt (after all), sometimes even reminding me of Isengrind and at times I feel this could easily be part of a free jazz session as well right before other band members are about to join in. Instead the sound moves on into some rhythmic psychedelic parts the likes of Golden Cup’s latest recordings on to using bows and strings in order to create noisy bits not much unlike what Eli Keszler creates on his solo recordings in between his whirlwind drumming. The whole thing is quite mesmerising, entertaining and (yes, improvised music can also be) fun.


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