Steve Hubback - "Different Groups and Duo's" (Sampler CDR)
From Aural Innovations #18 (January 2002)
Percussion is the oldest form of musical instrument in the world, and hence, percussion music is the oldest of all human music. It's hard to believe that anyone can do something new or innovative with such an ancient sound, yet Steve Hubback manages just that.
Hubback is both a musician and sculptor, and has combined his two arts into one by creating fascinating gong and percussion sculptures that he then plays on his recordings. His use of percussion is also quite innovative. Sometimes, for example, he wears his instruments, allowing his body to use them in totally new and different ways. You might think that this would make for some very bizarre and experimental stuff, but although Hubback doesn't shy away from pushing the limits of sound (especially in the later tracks on the album) some of his music is also quite beautiful and accessible. Different Groups and Duos presents his many sides. As the title suggests, this is a collection of different performances with a varied group of artists.
The first two tracks, Recreator: Ancestral Space and Recreator: Beyond Fire are amongst the most accessible pieces on the album, and feature Theo "Saxaphonist to the Space Rockers" Travis doing what he does best, giving the pieces a mellow, spaced out, and jazzy vibe. Hubback's percussion, as in all the pieces, is quite fascinating, with bells, and hammered and bowed steel harps. Other standouts include the freeform jazz of an untitled track performed with saxophonist and clarinet player Frode Gjerstad, reminiscent in style to Sun Ra, and the three part suite Metal Moves, showcasing percussion as more than just a rhythm instrument; the music is complex and fascinating. Also great is the 14-minute epic, Into the Soil, recorded live in Reykjavik, Iceland with guitarist Egill Johannsson, who puts an intense, distorted, psychedelic twist on things, then slips into a mellow and totally tripped out exploration. A genuine space out.
If you like the more experimental forms of jazz, and especially, if you like looped out, mind bending percussion, Steve Hubback is an artist worth checking out.
Check out Steve Hubback's web site at: http://www.dse.nl/hubgong/.
It has lots of pictures of his fascinating sculptures, and write ups on his philosophies in art and music.
Drums.com also has an interview with the artist at: http://www.drums.com/interviews/steve.cfm.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald