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Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband

Tor & Vale

Review by Gary Hill
If you like freeform experimental music, you will probably love this. It has a real Rock in Opposition flair to it, but is based strictly on piano and guitar with just some “soundscapes” added to the mix. Mark Wingfield is the man responsible for those and the guitar, and he’s a well-known jazz (mostly) musician. Gary Husband provides the piano here. He’s probably best known for his work with both Level 42 and Soft Machine Legacy, but he’s played with a wide range of acts. He’s also played piano, keyboards and drums, depending on the project. While this type of freeform instrumental music is difficult to cover track by track, that’s how we do CD reviews at Music Street Journal, so here we are.  

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Kittiwake
Weird jazz brings this into being with a sort of demented vibe to it. Piano and guitar create freeform lines of sound that paint a strange abstract picture. Further down the road the piano takes command and creates some killer jazz passages. It’s a pretty insane journey with a lot of classical music built into it. The guitar eventually rises back upward after a time. The guitar takes things into more trippy, spacey territory before it’s over.
The Golden Thread
While there are still some weird angles to this, it is more of a mainstream fusion styled piece. It has a lot of drama built into it, though. Both the piano and the guitar really shine. Each instrument takes center stage at different times. This is a dynamic and diverse exploration. It’s only mainstream in comparison to the opener, though, being quite “out there” on its own. The closing movement is quite spacey.
Night Song
Rising up with a sonic exploration that seems to hint at a weird fog-laden landscape, this works gradually outward from there. This gets quite trippy as the freeform exploration continues. I like the contrast between mellower and more powered up movements.
Tor & Vale
At nearly 16-and-a-half minutes long, the title track is also the epic of the set. It comes in atmospheric and gradually makes its way across a diverse sonic tapestry. This is quite freeform and it gets into some decidedly strange territory. While it’s quite dynamic, in some ways it doesn’t feel like it because the changes are slower than on some of the other pieces, most likely because there is enough space to really stretch the changes out in time. Some almost artificial, electronic texture comes in as part of the backdrop near the end of the piece.
Shape Of Light
This is slower moving, and in some ways stranger, than anything else on this set. It’s an almost soundtrack like piece, but a soundtrack to a very strange film. This is quite atmospheric. It’s also over ten-and-a-half minutes long.
Tryfan
More mainstream fusion is on display here, but the cut is not really all that like anything else. It’s just relative to a lot of the sounds here. This is still very experimental and freeform. There is some particularly inspired piano work on this thing.
Silver Sky
More freeform exploration is on display here. This is spacey and trippy and quite intriguing. Somehow, odd as this is, it seems more compelling to me than some of the others here are.  There are a number of changes and different movements along this road. It does get a bit more into fusion territory at times, while landing more atmospheric at others.
Vaquita
The usual weirdness is on display on the closing piece. It’s a bit more energized than some of the others. It’s no less strange or freeform, though.
 
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