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.

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.

A singular, enigmatic group, here reduced to its simplest form: the composer and saxophonist David Petts, his long-time friend Adrian Northover on the soprano sax confronted by the tenor of his comrade, and the bassist John Edwards, with his powerful, racy and dark. The music is made of angular themes, falsely repetitive around dissonant intervals that have that color, this indelible mark "Remote Viewers". The title "The Last Man in Europe" refers to George Orwell's 1984 book. Not really jazz, music even if the reference is unavoidable. What counts above all is the particular timing with a shift, a jolt / tiny delay that makes this music wobbly, in permanent imbalance, imbalance that catches up with brief incartades free measured with the cord. The blowers blow their two-note riffs next to the predictable beat, played by the bass. Sometimes we think of the avant-garde Roscoe Mitchell of the Noonah era. The vibrating double bass with a big heart like that inspires the two saxophonists. Just for John Edwards' extraordinary performance of life and simplicity on the double bass, we would keep this album on the shelf of essential curiosities. Moreover, listening to John in the group, we immediately think of the fabulous bassist Malachi Favors of the Art Ensemble Paris period. There are some entirely free rooms, including one at the edge of the silence, where David waves the keys of his tenor and hammers the copper with the back of his nails. Their know-how infuses a playful element that makes the seriousness of their unlikely rhythms completely and endurable. While Remote Viewers have a very unique personal style, their recordings reveal unpredictable moments. A cubist and poetic music to fight against boredom. Without doubt the key-album that will allow you to penetrate deeper into the secret territory of this group like no other. Over previous recordings (November Sky 2015 - RV13 or Nerve Cure 2011 RV9), saxophonists Caroline Kraabel, Sue Lynch, drummer Mark Sanders and pianist Rosa Lynch-Northover had come together alongside the trio. In trio, the diamond sharpens and the music definitely sublimates the 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, whit 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