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Skin & Wire - Pianocircus featuring Bill Bruford play the music of Colin Riley

Review by Gary Hill

This music is hard to describe – jazz is one definition, but it only fits so well. Ambient, RIO, electronica, chamber music – all of these fit different portions of the disc. I guess the best way to put it is, intriguing and a bit odd instrumental music. It’s good stuff, but not all of it works exceedingly well for my personal tastes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at
Track by Track Review
Kit and Caboodle
There is a cool give and take kind of jazzy vibe as this starts. That works through for a bit and then gives way to a false ending. The cut shifts to more of a driving freeform jazz groove from there. It's somewhat off-kilter, but also cool. There is a stop for a weird bit of piano. Then the piece grows outward, building on the earlier section, but working more toward Rock In Opposition territory. The pattern of grow, stop and build out from the earlier point continues as this composition makes its way forward. Around the three and a half minute mark it drops to some seriously spacey electronic sounds. It keeps evolving from there, working back to something a bit more like the earlier stuff. There are definitely some more freeform sections as it continues. I particularly love the jam that ensues around the six minute mark. It's driving and just so tasty. This drops way down at the end.
Pale Corridor
More melodic and pretty, this song, nonetheless, has its drama and passion. It’s a potent cut and in many ways I like it better than the opener. There is some dissonance, but it plays a lesser role than in its predecessor. There are also some spacey elements.
Stalling Between Two Fools
Although in many ways this doesn’t differ a lot from much of Bill Bruford’s solo works, it’s still got its own sound. It’s closer to a good degree to “Pale Corridor” than to “Kit and Caboodle,” but the jazz here doesn’t have the dissonance found in either of its predecessors.
The Still Small Voice
The first half minute or so of this are strictly percussive. From there piano enters and it seems we’re about to be whisked off into the next jazz journey of wonderment. It doesn’t really build far up from there, though. Instead it drops back down to more percussion and that holds it again – nearly unaccompanied. Around the half way mark we get more piano. This time the instrument remains, but the cut is still oddly disjointed and sparse. It’s definitely one of the more unusual numbers on show here. 
Achilles' Feel
Here we have a study in contrast. Parts of this are free-form and sparse with some dissonance. Other parts though include some of the most killer groove oriented music on the set. No matter what you hear or call it, though, this is one of the standouts.
Without A Hand To Hold
They leave the realm of what I consider to be entertaining. This is quite free form and too weird. Of course, I’m not a big fan of RIO. If you are you’re certain to enjoy this more than I.
Squiggle Zipper
Much more melodic and pretty, this is a slow moving piano dominated cut. It’s also quite short.
Ebb Cast
There’s a much more spacey sound on this cut. I like it a lot, strange as it might be. At almost ten minutes in length, this is a massive track, too.
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