The Remote Viewers
Last Man in Europe
The peculiar brainchild of tenor saxophonist David Petts, The Remote Viewers have sometimes included six or seven members at a time. Reduced to the key trio of Petts, Adrian Northover on soprano sax and bassist John Edwards, the project sheds the clumsy Harry Partch rhythms and wonky English spy themes of recent albums and returns to its central preoccupation of melding Petts’s dry, precise and austere chamber charts with high wire improvisation. “A Plague of Initials” is a perfect example, with soprano sax and bass transmitting a cryptic semaphore while the tenor rides the razor edge of altissimo. Imagine Roscoe Mitchell in a striped blazer, trapped in Portmeirion.
Daniel Spicer - The Wire

A new album from The Remote Viewers is always a party again. The band always revolves around the saxophones of David Petts (tenor sax) and Adrian Northover (soprano sax), and it's always awaiting who's inviting the two again. Once upon a time, it's a whole companion to saxophonists pulse drummer and bassist, the other time it's a little smaller club, but it's always interesting, what makes Northover and Petts. Last Man in Europe is an album made by David Petts on Tenor Sax, Adrian Northover on Soprano Sax and John Edwards on Acoustic Bass. The music they make is always difficult to describe, and that is the case now. Jazz is not quite, even though it is closest to it. In the past I have mentioned avant-garde chamber music, and there is still a lot of things left.
What I especially like about The Remote Viewers's music is the humor - I always get an indestructible good mood of this music, the energetic interplay, the excited brilliance that is being played and the exciting balance where everything is always held . They can go very well, and create a huge box of poopry, but they can also play beautifully, so that at the end of the album, The Tranquil Life, you almost get your breath. Nice nice.Most compositions are from Petts, four after, written by the trio.
All in one day, mixed and mastering by John Edwards, the cover and the pictures are from Northover. In short - impressive all-knowers, who have delivered a great energetic picture, which I am very happy with.

Last Man in Europe
Remote Viewers RV 15
Stripped down to a trio for its 15th CD since 1999, The Remote Viewers (RV) also appear to have abandoned, along with a formal rhythm section, most of the multi-instrumental detours into Rock and Funk beats and electronics that diluted some of its recent discs. Instead the RV concentrates on exploratory improvisation here. Gone too are the tropes which made some of those earlier sessions appear to be sound tracks for unmade spy thrillers. Happily though, this change in orientation means that three of the UK’s most accomplished players are able to make distinguished musical statements unfettered. Titles of the tunes, mostly composed by tenor saxophonist David Petts, still include some ambiguity though. In fact, one could almost take the CD title as a comment on Brexit.
More germane is the interaction propelled among Petts, the RV’s guiding force; his long-time confederate, soprano saxophonist Adrian Northover, who also plays with the London Improvisers Orchestra and other groups; and newer recruit bassist, John Edwards, whose experience with saxophone innovators includes gigs with Evan Parker, John Butcher and Paul Dunmall. Part of the Free Music continuum that includes those three saxophonists, if a little more conventional players, Petts and Northover strive to harmonize the tension engendered by their harsh, frequently altissimo reed work with the pops or buzzes from Edwards thickened bass strings.
Illuminatingly, when Edwards’ power-pumping sets up the defining title track, it marks a change from the saxophonists’ bravura garnishing of earlier narratives with reed chirp and slurs and introduces more profound sentiments. Along with multiphonic challenges, the reedists also elaborate tandem harmonies to meet the double bass exposition. From that point on, Edwards’ ardent strokes join with flat-line saxophone breaths to reconnect the initial dissonance. By the finale, textural association is as plentiful as atonal turns. Guitar-like twangs, string buzzing and a walking bass line also solidify juddering reed tones into choir-like harmonies which showcase sutures as much as split tones on “The Machines Must Stay”, to pick another example.
While the CD ends with an instance of flat-line blowing and intermittent string scratching with the mordantly titled “The Tranquil Life”, the key to the session is how the horns manage to combine exploratory freedom with Jazz-like rhythms and harmonies on other tracks. Jubilant riffing with Petts using his horn’s bottom register and Northover his highest pitches define “Fragments and Testimony” and that way reveal the tune’s understated swing. While this same high-low strategy is expressed elsewhere, as on “The Gods Take a Holiday”, the concise intensity the saxophonists bring to their sputtering theme elaboration is reminiscent of the hot breaks Jazzes had to shoehorn into so-called sweet tunes recorded in the 78 rpm era. No way retrogressive however, on the same tune, the trio proves its free-form commitment by translating peeping reed polyphony and extended bass techniques into a concentrated essay in layered forward motion.
With its canny meld of exploratory soloing and triple-layered connections, Last Man in Europe proves that bare-bones improvising can offer as many if not more musical thrills than more elaborate productions.
—Ken Waxman

Un groupe singulier, énigmatique, ici réduit à sa plus simple expression : le compositeur et saxophoniste David Petts, son comparse de toujours Adrian Northover au sax soprano confronté au ténor de son camarade , … et le contrebassiste John Edwards, au son puissant, racé et sombre. La musique est faite de thèmes anguleux, faussement répétitifs autour d’intervalles dissonnants qui ont celle couleur, cette marque indélébile « Remote Viewers». Le titre « The Last Man in Europe » fait référence au livre « 1984 » de George Orwell. Pas vraiment jazz, la musique même si la référence est incontournable. Ce qui compte avant tout c’est le timing particulier avec un décalage, un soubresaut/retard infime qui rend cette musique bancale, en déséquilibre permanent, déséquilibre qui se rattrape par de brèves incartades free mesurées au cordeau. Les souffleurs soufflent leurs riffs à deux notes à côté de la pulsation prévisible, jouée par la basse. Parfois on pense au Roscoe Mitchell d’avant-garde de l’époque Noonah. La contrebasse vibrante avec un cœur gros comme çà inspire les deux saxophonistes. Rien que pour la prestation extraordinaire de vie et de simplicité de John Edwards à la contrebasse, on garderait cet album dans l’étagère des curiosités indispensables. D’ailleurs , à l’écoute de John dans le groupe, on pense immédiatement au fabuleux bassiste Malachi Favors de l’Art Ensemble période parisienne. Il y a quelques pièces entièrement libres, dont une au bord du silence où David agite les clés de son ténor et en martelle le cuivre du revers de ses ongles. Leur savoir-faire insuffle un élément ludique qui réjouit complètement et endiable le sérieux de leurs cadences improbables. Si les Remote Viewers ont un style très personnel absolument unique en son genre, leurs enregistrements révèlent des moments imprévisibles. Une musique cubiste et poétique pour lutter contre l’ennui. Sans doute l’album-clé qui vous permettra de pénétrer plus avant dans le territoire secret de ce groupe pas comme les autres. Au fil des enregistrements précédents (November Sky 2015 – RV13 ou Nerve Cure 2011 RV9), on avait croisé, au côté du présent trio, les saxophonistes Caroline Kraabel, Sue Lynch, le batteur Mark Sanders et la pianiste Rosa Lynch-Northover. En trio, le diamant s’aiguise et la musique sublime définitivement le concept.
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

Squids Ear
I wanted to make a special mention about the new The Remote Viewers album, Last Man In Europe, which has been in rotation in my library. This configuration of the band is a unique, dropping the number of saxophonists to just two, with the amazing UK bassist John Edwards the sole accompanist. Tenor saxophonist David Petts handles all the formal compositions, with humorous titles that may or may not abstractly explain the music; the band collectively takes credit for 4 of the recordings. Adrian Northover is the second saxophonist, here on soprano; he's a founding member of the band, from their early Leo Records releases, and he also provides the album cover and inside photo.
I personally find Petts' compositions the most interesting aspect of the band, and it's what first brought me to listen to the band. His writing combines chamber aspects, but also a certain dramatic sensibility that I associate with rock, albeit in the RIO forms, and shades and approaches from creative free jazz. Harmonic dualities are characteristic, the two horns working in unison using unusual combinations of tones, progressing the music and then breaking off in staccato hesitation. Weaving tones between the saxes are often at play, creating a sense of motion much greater than expected. Edwards is the wild card here, plucking and bowing, he provides both support and counterpoint to the sax lines; his presence on recent albums has given The Remote Viewers a solid basis for their compositions, and brought prodigious technique and skill to the band. He also provides the excellent mixing and mastering for the release, which was beautifully recorded with great clarity. Looking back at their first 1999 album, Low Shapes In Dark Heat, a trio album of sax and synth, one can contrast with both the progress the playing and writing has evolved, but also the consistency with which Petts has maintained his signature over the music. Really fine work.


The Remote Viewers started in 1997 as a sax-trio of Louise Petts, David Petts and Adrian Northover.This initiative proved to be a very stable and fruitful one over the years. In their 20 years existence,The Remote Viewers produced about 14 CDs in various line-ups, and as far as I know them, all of a constant high quality. On their newest release Louise Petts as well as other key members are absent.Only David Petts and Adrian Northover are involved in this new statement. They know each other from B-Shops of the Poor, a group that ceased to exist around 1997. Key member of this group however was also John Edwards, who joins the Remote Viewers-party every now and then. So we are speaking of a trio this time with Edwards playing acoustic bass, and a reunion of musicians who know each other from the old days. They play eleven pieces. Seven of them are composed by Petts. The other ones were shaped through collective improvisation. Everything was recorded on one day at Red Shed Studios. Saxes and bass make a strong unit. Not surprising as these musicians have a history with one other. It is a joy to listen to the playing and interventions by Edwards. He does a nice solo for example in the title piece. The music has a clear sound spectrum and is to a high degree composed along strict lines.The playing is disciplined and focused, delivering intense moments. As ever The Remote Viewers have their unique balance between jazz and composed chamber music. Over the years they developed a very recognizable aesthetic, what makes them a relevant and consistent voice in the world of contemporary music. With ‘Last Man in Europe’ as the latest proof. (DM)

Last Man In Europe
Remote Viewers, CD, RV15 - 2017
Ce dernier enregis-trement de la forma¬tion de David Petts est-il une parenthese ou l'indice d'une nouvelle etape ? De¬puis quelques an-nees en effet. The Remote Viewers semblaient s'etre stabilises en un sextet. Et voici que Last Man in Europe nous propose un trio : les deux saxophonistes de la forma¬tion depuis son origine, David Petts et Adrian Northover, ont garde a leurs cotes le contre-bassiste John Edwards. En meme temps, on peut se poser la question d'une actualite concernant George Orwell et son 1984, dont le titre initial fut justement The last Man in Europe : affichant le meme titre, une nouvelle due a Dennis Glover parue cet ete, et une piece posthume du compositeur Zbigniew Karkowski parue en 2016, quoique enregis-tree en 2013... D'un autre cote,
l'imagerie induite par l'oeuvre de George Orwell ne pou¬vait que rencontrer l'ambiance sonore des Remote Viewers, meme si ces dernieres an-nees, le propos s'etait quelque peu humanise en s'eloignant de l'esprit des polars. Si David Petts (au saxophone tenor) reste le principal compositeur, il en partage l'ecriture avec ses deux partenaires sur quatre titres. Le trio ap-parait ici dans
l'ensemble plus sec, plus ner-veux voire plus tourmente (« The gods take a holiday »), riffs obsedants declines par la contrebasse (en dehors de « The tranquil life » qui clot l'album), convulsions sonores (« The Machines Must Stay ») - rendant son ecoute quelque peu perturbante.



Now reduced to a trio, the RVs nevertheless continue their warped adventures. Still present and correct in David Petts’ compositions are the sinuous chords, customary dissonances, contortions of breath, reed battles, frank ruptures, phrases resembling as many assassinated echoes, the strangeness of harmonics, imprudent amalgams, splenetic (malicious) counterpoints, golden strangulations, vengeful cackles. Although they are in the minority, we also find here four short improvisations with supple harmonies, propelled by the pizzicato bass of John Edwards… which elsewhere has its bones removed by the brass in a thick fog.
Now we understand - we have not heard the last from the Remote Viewers.

Luc Bouquet

Blowup magazine
As punctual as Christmas here is the only release for this last year from Davis Petts’ remote viewers. On this occasion the group seems to be reduced to its organic essence, since only his most faithful collaborator accompany the leader: John Edwards on acoustic bass and Adrian Northover on soprano sax, while Petts sticks to the tenor. Making a virtue of necessity, the Viewers cut their sound right back, thus reducing it to its essential fascination with rawness - a few sparse notes without harmonic support, in pieces that are fairly concise and avoid complex structures. The title track is the most elaborate, lasting seven and a half minutes, and is indeed excellent. They have put out a very listenable record, without excessive ambitions, but always on the razor’s edge, full of insinuations and seductive whisperings. This is among the best recent releases.
(7/8) Bizarre

The Remote Viewers 'Last Man In Europe'

Crudo, conciso, color osso di seppia, uno strato di polveri sottili ad impiastricciar il bianco stinto calcificato.
Per l'occasione David Petts (sax tenore), contrae di brutto e resta in compagnia sol dei fidi John Edwards al contrabbasso e Adrian Northover al soprano.
La formula minimal/modulare ottenuta, suggerisce con persuasiva insistenza, tra figure cameristiche screziate di urbana nevrosi e soluzioni post-Henry Cow, dalle giacche umide e gocciolanti di determinata attitudine diy, sulla frontiera di un livore da apparato industriale in progressivo, malinconico disfacimento.
In pratica, oltre a qualche distesa di notturni stridori ritual/ornitologici e un legnar di corde in circolo, tra gelidi sciancamenti funk e fasi d'archetto con denti di sega, l'essenza stessa dei Remote Viewers.
Uno dei loro album migliori.
Non conoscono (o ben accolgono) ruggine.

Aggiunto: March 18th 2018
Recensore: Marco Carcasi

Last Man In Europe
Remote Viewers RV15
Adrian Northover (ss), David Petts (ts) and John Edwards (b). Rec. July 2017
London-based improv ensemble The Remote Viewers have previously created music with dystopian undercurrents, which given that free improv ordinarily flirts with the utopian ideal of fashioning something new each time, has represented an intriguing spin on business as usual. Their 2013 album City of Nets involved drum pre-sets and samples of urban bleakness - and a much larger gathering than this two saxophone and bass incarnation of the group. David Petts leads from behind his tenor saxophone and you can't help but wonder whether their title implies that the dystopian fears of previous albums have now come to pass: we're turning inwards as a nation and have failed to learn from history. Musically, though, the album revisits techniques and tics familiar from previous excursions. Petts has a knack for creating tightly structured, note-specific charts that establish
a context and atmosphere around which improvisers can operate. 'The Machines Must Stay' finds John Edwards circling around cycles of notes as the saxophones punctuate with composed motor-rhythms and pockets of free play. Fine music, in both conception and execution.
Philip Clark - Jazzwise

Last Man in Europe is the 16th album from this British avant jazz three-piece. The CD album brings together eleven examples of searing–to-wonderfully angular jazz- that moves from forceful & jarring, onto soured & slurred, through to twitching & nervy.The Remote Viewers formed in1997, releasing their first album Low Shapes In Dark Heat in 1998. And since then they’ve steady released a fairly
impressive body of work- with the album releases like the five-CD box set 2007’s Control Room, and the double CD album 2009’s Sinister Heights. I’d certainly heard The Remote Viewers name in passing, but the Last Man In Europe is my first taste of their work and must say I was most impressed by its blend of tension, angular atmospheric, and often searingly sinister mood.
For this album, the line-up consists of Bandleader & Tenor Sax Player David Petts, John Edwards on Acoustic bass, and Adrian Northover on Soprano Sax. Each of the eleven tracks run between just under a minute, and over the seven & a half minute mark- with a sweet spot total album run time of
forty-six minutes. We move from the Jantingly-angular horn work & throbbing bass slap ‘n’ buzz of the opening track “The Noise Of History”. Onto the nervy uncoiling sax honk & twanging bass uneasy of “The Night Before The Journey”. Through to the violent bass slap 'n' prod meets seesawing-to-boiling sax play of the seven & a half minute title track. Onto the carefully picked uneasy of the outro track “The Tranquil Life”- which is all loose galloping bass picks 'n' creaks, blended with sudden darting squiggles of horn wail & moody bay. One of the true joys, pleasures & privileges of reviewing for M[m] is when one gets something unexpected & surprising sent through, which simple bowls you over, and that’s exactly what the Last Man in Europe did for me. If you’re a fan of angular, taut, yet bleakly moody avant jazz- you really need to check this album out.

Roger Batty

They formed as a trio in 1997 and since then they have mutated in several formations, releasing 15 CD’s with "Last Man In Europe", in which David Petts plays tenor saxophone, Adrian Northover on soprano sax (both original members).
John Edwards joins in acoustic bass - who also was part of The Remote Viewers. The music of the trio displays a jazz proposal that borders on contemporary music, with moments of great intensity along with the saxophone’s high registers, improvisation and structured and focused lines. The acoustic bass makes counterpoint with rhythmic swings and twisted sounds. On "The Gods Take a Holiday" there is an outrage dialogue between saxophones that borders on chaos. "The Tranquil Life" that close the album, along with pulsations of underground bass lines allow strenuous saxophone whispering to emerge. "Last Man In Europe" shows a good balance between improvisation and structure.

Guillermo Escudero
January 2018

THE REMOTE VIEWERS Last Man in Europe (The Remote Viewers, RV15): Halbwegs zwischen Last Man Standing und Last Man on Earth, brennt die Erinnerung an die Briten, von David Petts exemplarisch verkörpert, wohl noch eine Weile über Mitteleuropa nach. Diesmal ist um den Tenorsaxophonisten eine Resttruppe zusammengerückt aus nur noch Adrian Northover am Soprano und John Edwards am Kontrabass. Nach den Netzen, Nachtschatten und Labyrinthen ihrer Noirphase, mit der Paranoia, die von den Maulwürfen im Secret Service und ihrem doppelten Spiel im 'Shadow War' herrührt, stand bei "November Sky" eine 'Fictioned Future' zur Debatte. Nun wird 'The Trouble with Fiction' (von "No Voice From The Hall") übertönt von noch größerem Trouble und 'The Noise of History'. Was Petts' Artistik auszeichnet, ist ihre Sensibilität für Schatten und Verunklarung. Daher rührt ihre Widerständigkeit, ihr schneidiger, auch zweischneidiger Doppelcharakter aus Schmerz und chirurgischer Dezision. Als ob da 'Verhaltenslehren der Kälte' zur Anwendung kämen, wie sie die Neue Sachlichkeit in der Zwischenkriegszeit erprobte. Eine Handvoll kollektiver Improvisationen übt sich derart in disziplinarischem Knowhow, eine weitere Handvoll gehorcht Petts'scher Choreographie, um in superheldenhafter Wendigkeit durch Sperrnetze aus Laserstrahlen zu manövrieren. Mit eckigen Zügen der Saxophone zu grummeliger Rückendeckung des Basses und synchronen Tanzschritten durch vortizistische Winkel. Wobei sich auch der Bass mit Bogenstrichen als dünner Blaseton tarnen kann. Auffallend viele Spuren werden unisono gezogen, teils vorsichtiger und zager als gewohnt. Aber auch in langen rauen Furchen, flankiert von mathematischen Figuren. Die Freispiele variieren solche Strategie als freihändigen Dreh, der sich selbstironisch seiner Masche bewusst ist, den zickig-lyrisch Kontrasten, der kernigen Eloquenz des Pizzikatos. 'Windblown' malt sich lautmalerisch selbst und frischt zum Kanon auf. Allerdings sollte ich das Programmatisch-Narrative nicht überstrapazieren, es gibt hier genug Poesie per se, saxophonistische Luftakrobatik und Edwards'sche Sonorität, kleinlaute Introspektion, ostinates Kreisen, Spitzentänzelei, rabiate Panik in durchdringendem Altissimo. 'The Gods Take a Holiday' klingt wie eine ironische, zudem heidnische Volte von Leon Bloys „Dieu se retire“. Allerdings zeigt 'The Tranquil Life' die Folge davon, nämlich Beinahestillstand auf einer von vielen guten Geistern verlassenen Insel. [rbd]