David Petts (saxophones, synth, theremin) and Louise Petts (saxophones, voice, synth, theremin) among London's best-kept secrets. They gig rarely, as their music crosses categories of new composition, rock, jazz and free improv, although it isn't really any of those things, and the electronics they use can make playing tiny club nights a headache. Yet what they do is perfectly unique, and they continue to stubbornly plough their furrow despite the obvious difficulties it presents.
With fellow saxophonist Adrian Northover, they form The Remote Viewers, for whom this is the second release on Leo. A very assured piece of work it is too, with covers of songs by Van Heusen, Tiomkin and Madonna sitting alongside David Petts's trademark compositions. These latter are hard to get at first; they seem deliberately ugly, atavistically complicated and lumpy at the same time. But that, in a way, is what he's after, a music which is built on a severe and distinctly un-cuddly framework.
"Isolation In Compartment C"
There are moments of sheer beauty as well as the angular compositions for which David Petts is known (and ought to be better-known; this writer likes to think of someone doing a jazz album of Petts tunes, but they're tricky, for sure). "Creatures of Distance" is a lovely piece composed of dissonant, drifting synth chords with saxophones thickening the texture, moving gradually into simultaneous soloing of the sort that this trio do extremely well. Although hard to describe, the music these people make is easy to recommend. - Richard Cochrane
Audio: "Isolation in Compartment C"
Music by David Petts; lyrics Louise Petts
Published and © 1999 Alissa Music; used by permission