THEN THROUGH NOW
Henry Dagg and Evan Parker
Henry Dagg is a composer, improvisor, sound sculptor and builder of experimental musical instruments who formerly worked as a sound engineer for the BBC. His works include the Sharpsichord, a pin barrel harp commissioned for the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and a pair of steel sculptural musical gates for Rochester Independent College.
“What he’s doing is a very serious body of work. Henry’s not an ordinary commercial artist/musician; he seeks perfection, and he’ll get it at any cost.”
— Brian Pain, Rochester Independent College
Evan Parker improvises on the tenor and soprano saxophone, and has performed live and recorded extensively across the UK and internationally. He has pioneered or substantially expanded an array of extended techniques for the saxophone.
“The UK’s greatest exponent of free jazz.”
— Mike Hobart, Financial Times
“It’s an exhilarating soundscape, showcasing not only the wide range of Parker’s musical abilities, but also the quiet and focussed attention to sound and detail that Dagg brought to both the initial live proceedings and the studio work which followed … A remarkable report back from the world of new and improvised music, beautifully recorded, designed and packaged.”
— International Times, on THEN THROUGH NOW
Henry and Evan improvised together for the first time as part of the Free Range series in Canterbury, Kent, on December 2, 2021. For the performance, Evan played soprano saxophone, and Henry developed a new electronic instrument called the Stage Cage, to both process Evan’s live sound as well as generate its own sounds.
The Stage Cage includes four valve test-oscillators, a pair of ring modulators, frequency shifter, chromatic zither, and a variable tape delay system (consisting of two quarter-inch tape machines, eight feet apart – the first machine records, and the tape runs past moveable playback heads to the second machine, allowing several replays). Henry’s main performance interface is a ‘dynamic router’: a five-key controller, which is the bridge between most of the components of the Stage Cage.
Towards the end of the performance, the tape machines were stopped, their reels reversed and set to play: the improvisation from then on was overlaid by a reverse reproduction of what Henry and Evan had already been performing, with the reverse recording itself also being subjected to various treatments.
The live recording was subsequently developed by Henry for this 56 minute album. Evan notes in the accompanying booklet interview: “I would say it will sound better now, because of the post-production work that Henry’s done, using the live recording as – basically – tracks to be part of a new mix, a new project, which obviously overlaps hugely with what we did in the room, but it should be more detailed and better balanced in certain parts. Some post-production decisions that technology makes possible, where they led to improvements, Henry used those possibilities. It should be better than being at the event …”
For the CD and digital release, the recording has been mastered by Adam Skeaping, and a conversation between Henry, Evan and performance artist Karen Christopher is included in a 20 page booklet. An extract from the conversation can be read here.
“This 56-minute improvisation demonstrates the fearless sonic imagination of both Parker and Dagg, always searching for unchartered territories and with great attention to detail and a totally free and unpredictable spirit, but their own way of suggesting a cohesive and coherent improvisation. Its arresting atmosphere visits abstract musique concrète, otherworldly, deep-space ambient journeys, and a careful but sometimes subversive and kaleidoscopic investigation of the soprano sax tones and overtones, live and processed ones.”
— Salt Peanuts, on THEN THROUGH NOW
” … twists, turns, and rocket-launching noises from Dagg’s hardware confirm its identity, as tongue slaps, strained smears and pennywhistle-like shrills do the same for Parker. … The programmed electrified whizzes and tremolo reed shrilling move closer together by the concluding ‘Surfing The Waveforms’ so that the saxophonist’s final airy breath and the electronic interface of processed squeaks and rubs meld seamlessly for an appropriate finale.”
— Jazzword, on THEN THROUGH NOW
Music by Henry Dagg and Evan Parker
Original recording by RouteStock
Production by Henry Dagg
Mastered by Adam Skeaping
Photographs by RouteStock
Design by David Caines
Gatefold sleeve, with 20 page booklet
Original live recording: Fruitworks/Fond Coffee, Jewry Lane, Canterbury, as part of the Free Range series, December 2, 2021. https://freerangecanterbury.org
Album launch event & benefit for the venue:
The Hot Tin, Faversham: November 20, 2022
CDs ordered from False Walls and Bandcamp are mailed from the UK. Other places where you can find or order False Walls CDs are shown here.
CD/digital release: November 25, 2022
CD and digital purchase also available from Bandcamp, see above.