LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: Horses of Instruction; Kick; Beat the Retreat; Principia,
PERFORMER: Steve Martland Band
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1033
Steve Martland’s music crosses so many of the supposedly absolute boundaries between different musical worlds that it is impossible to categorise. The most significant of his teachers was Louis Andriessen, and the hard instrumental edges, clean-cut harmony, abrupt transitions and driving rhythms of the Dutch composer’s style provide the foundation of Martland’s works, heard in its purest form on this disc, perhaps, in the impressive Purcell homage of 1995, Beat the Retreat.
But there is much more besides – the riffs and the melodic tags of rock and dance music, the skirls of folk tunes, the syncopations and chord voicings of jazz. Like Andriessen, Martland has always taken his music to as wide an audience as possible, and never been afraid of adapting his language accordingly. If the lengthy and highly compartmentalised Horses of Instruction and the mysterious Eternal Delight are the most complex works here, then The Thistle of Scotland, written for an education project, is a beautifully conceived and lucid miniature. Terminal started life as a collaboration with the rock band Spiritualized and Re-Mix is an inescapably catchy march of ever increasing wildness that surely is directly descended from Weill and Eisler. Andrew Clements