forebrace, steeped

Catalogue ref.: Relative Pitch Records RPR1052 Release date: September 30th 2016.

“a monster of a group that embraces hard hitting predecessors like Last Exit and the textures of early fusion in an avant-garde metal approach.” – Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Blog.

“Steeped” is the second album by FOREBRACE, a quartet led by Alex Ward and featuring Roberto Sassi (Vole, Cardosanto, Snorkel), Santiago Horro (Nøught, Luke Barlow Band), and Jem Doulton (Dead Days Beyond Help, Mr. Ron Jetson/Fusebox City). By contrast with their 2013 debut album “Bad Folds” (which was constructed by Alex from a range of material recorded over the course of two intense studio days), “Steeped” captures the group in the heat of live performance. Full-throttle ensemble interaction, evocative atmospherics and paranoiac funk co-exist side by side over the album’s 45-minute length, in which compositions by Ward and collective improvisations flow together in a continuous torrent. While some immediate reference points for Forebrace’s music might be the raging electric violence of Last Exit, the dense contrapuntal babble of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time ensembles, or even the pummelling immersiveness of Swans, “Steeped” also ventures into more abstract and unclassifiable realms drawing on the extended sonic vocabularies of all four musicians, and in particular Sassi and Horro’s astute and disorientating deployment of a wide range of electronic treatments. While in the past Ward’s clarinet playing may have been primarily associated with the free-chamber intricacy of his work with such musicians as Derek Bailey, Simon Fell and Joe Morris, here he pushes the instrument into areas more typical of his guitar playing (as heard in the acclaimed trio N.E.W. with Steve Noble and John Edwards, as well as his own band Predicate), at times putting the clarinet through a dangerously overdriven amplifier to match the electric tumult of his colleagues. The strength of understanding and rapport between the members of the quartet can be seen to have its roots in their involvements and prior collaborations in both the London improvised music and avant-rock scenes (including Ward and Doulton’s ongoing 10-year partnership as the duo Dead Days Beyond Help); and “Steeped” bears witness to the distinctly original ensemble identity they have created by drawing on both worlds.

Track listing:
1. Hive (7:07)
2. Planetesimals (5:35) 3. Stalks (7:56)
4. Crest (6:17)
5. Grains (8:01)
6. Home Stretch (4:30)
7. Bolt (5:23) (Total time – 44:49)

ALEX WARD: clarinet and amplifier
ROBERTO SASSI: electric guitar
SANTIAGO HORRO: electric bass

Tracks 1, 3, 5 & 7 written by Alex Ward (PRS); tracks 2, 4 & 6 by Doulton/Horro/Sassi/Ward (PRS)

Recorded live at Cafe Oto, London on February 8th, 2016, except track 7 and portions of track 4 recorded live at the Vortex Jazz Club, London on July 1st, 2014.


“a first-rate debut album which suggests that Forebrace will be an exciting group for some time to come” – John Eyles, All About Jazz.

“The sheer audacity of the sound leaves a gorgeous auditory residue lingering long after listening. This is one to seek out.” – Paul Acquaro, The Free
Jazz Blog.

“With ‘Bad Folds’ Alex Ward continues to solder together improvisation, free-jazz, and the outer limits of rock in fine fashion, highlighting the essential qualities of all and melting them together to form a sound both alchemical and vital. ‘Bad Folds’ packs the exploration, fire, and insistent violence of all three approaches into one multi-faceted explosion” – Michael Holland, Ears For Eyes.
Forebrace contact/bookings:

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