Sabine - "Sabine"
(Wurlitzer Jukebox 1998, #50)
From Aural Innovations #5 (January 1999)
Here's one of those finds I sometimes make when I'm just flipping through mass quantities of bargain-priced discs, and a particular item just catches my eye for some unknown reason. And when it just has that 'look' to it, you know, I just buy the thing. Many turn out to be awful duds, but this one was a pleasant surprise. The liner notes are just about barren of anything informative (which added to the mystery of the purchase), but what I can tell you that Sabine is an all-instrumental trio (from Washington, DC apparently) of C. Porter (Guitar, Keys), C. Molter (Bass), and R.S. Kelly (Drums). Their label, based in Warwickshire, England, is also a mystery to me, though I've discovered they also feature the drone-rock bands Soundsmith and Flowchart, whoever they might be.
This is a mid-length CD, 40 minutes of psychedelic improvisational material divided into only four separate tracks. The opener, "Perada," is perhaps the best of the lot, its high-pitched ethereal guitar runs making this one the closest to classic spacerock, or even moreso in the vein of early Guru Guru freakout jams. "Jemaa el Fna" (that's the way it's spelled...don't ask me to pronounce it) is an amalgam of crazy Eastern-flavored screeching, blanga-bass noodling, and some dark, regimented beat passages not unlike Magma. Throw in some synth-whirring going up, down, and all-around, and you've got some real chaos going on this one...perhaps a little too much for my tastes. The bass gets funkier in "Chinese Poems with English Translations," and the jangly high-end guitar produces a 'chime-like' kind of effect - pretty cool. Finally, "All is Pre-Set" kicks in with a syncopated drum rhythm, then the Entwistle-style chunky bassline takes over, and then the mid-range drone guitar tops off the layered sonic pyramid scheme. The track changes gears several times, quickening and backing off, until we end up with spacey atmospherics atop a rumbly bass riff to close out the album in excellent fashion.
All of the music is very experimental, but it's also still rock music; I'm glad they haven't forgotten that for the sake of being different. I'd liken their approach to that of Vas Deferens Organization or Djam Karet, who have proceeded in a similar fashion...to steal from the latter, absolutely No Commercial Potential. We'd all agree that's a good thing, eh?, or you wouldn't be reading this, would you?
Contact: Sabine, P.O. Box 21685, Washington, DC 20009; Wurlitzer Jukebox, 50 Queensway, Hurley, Atherstone, Warks. CV9 2ND England.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson