Sinister Heights

Sinister Heights

A double CD, with contrbutions from;
Adam Bohman , Steve Noble, Phil Marks , Eardrum ,
David Tucker ,John Edwards,
Sue Lynch ,Caroline Kraabel .
Music composed by David Petts,
Mixed and produced by Adrian Northover/ David Petts
Recorded: London,2008/2009.


Sinister Heights reviews

The Sunday Times
Sept 09

Walking jazz bass; dub depths; squawky brass from the Bristol funk-punk school; Miles Davis’s cosmic electronica; squally free-jazz sax; scratchy guitar recalling King Crimson’s no wave period; and a second CD of precisely arranged horns. This 14-strong British collective’s eighth album — a demanding double — buzzes with apparently incompatible elements. For some, the fact that the Remote Viewers include former members of Rip Rig and Panic, God, the Fall, Morphogenesis and Evan Parker’s trio will be enough. Sinister Heights offers a cram course in much of the music that mattered in the past 40 years.

Stewart Lee


All About Jazz
Sept 09

Reedmen David Petts and Adrian Northover form the crux of The Remote Viewers, a band that gained notoriety via several albums for the largely avant-garde and progressive jazz-based Leo Records. But this double CD release marks the duo's third release as an Indie record label entity. Here, they employ several instrumentalists, including British free-jazz denizens, bassist John Edwards and drummer Steve Noble among others, who span diverse backgrounds such as house music synthesist Darren Tate.

Petts and Northover pose many persuasive propositions, spawned by their familiar woodwind charts, often constructed upon extended note choruses, teeming with counterpoint and odd-metered phrasings. They also impart a layered schema while delving into a neo=Miles Davis Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969) groove during the acoustic-electric maneuvers featured on "Souls and Cities." Variety serves as an underlying framework for the band, where Dave Tucker's funkified wah-wah guitar licks and buoyant drum programming on "Fire Rhythm," anchor the saxophonists' piercing, free-form lines.
The musicians delve into circular motifs and avant spins on Afro-Jazz-Pop settings, while executing regimented and off kilter storylines amid inquisitive moments during "Spring Flood." In other regions of sound, they generate ethereal electronics noise-shaping panoramas with chamber-esque strings and improvisational metrics. Then, on "The Crowd Accuses," the band exhorts a lighthearted and choreographed sax arrangement, spiked by punchy accents and a sense of urgency. It's a divergent set that projects numerous insights into the ever-expanding realm of jazz, in all its multicolored inferences and flavors.

By Glenn Astarita


Jazz Breakfast
Jan 2010

The Remote Viewers: Sinister Heights (RV 6-7)
As the numbers above in brackets suggest, here are CDs number six and seven on their own label from this now 14-strong British collective. The first five were released as one package, called Control Room, and there were another near half dozen before that on the Leo label.

At the heart of the band are saxophonists David Petts and Adrian Northover. For this double disc – the first CD called Time Flats, the second Mirror Meanings – all the music is composed by Petts. The first is moderately funkier and enlivened by drums, the second darker and percussionless. Both rely for their power to entice and intrigue upon long-held woodwind notes, overlapping and continually shifting harmonies. There are electronic hums and throbs, as well as some thrilling double bass playing (from John Edwards).

This is strangely compelling instrumental music sitting in the kind of no man’s land between jazz, contemporary classical, alternative rock and ambient where once upon a time, and in a very different context, there existed the music of Soft Machine and Robert Fripp and Henry Cow. Texture, timbre and harmony rule, especially where rhythm is axed from the equation.

The players can include, variously, Rip Rig and Panic, God, the Fall and Evan Parker’s trio in their CVs. Which makes perfect sense when you listen to Sinister Heights. No huge range of style or mood – more a singular path taken for the length that’s needed. And, although The Remote Viewers have been around for a while longer, given fresh context and connection by the emergence of bands like Led Bib and Get The Blessing, whose multitudinous fans should check the Viewers out.



Featured Artist: The Remote Viewers

CD Title: Sinister Heights

Sinister Heights is the most recent collection of new sounds by the The Remote Viewers. The collection comes on two CDs each entitled Time Flats and Mirror Meanings, respectively. Time Flats contains musical environments that will be familiar to listeners of this avant garde jazz ensemble. The compositions of saxophonist David Petts provided this listener an ingenious soundtrack to a variety of mental images conjured while listening.

Two that stand out include the opening composition “Souls and Cities.” This piece provides a stark almost cold soundscape of various saxophone textures played by Petts and collaborator Adrian Northover dynamically and timbrally contrasted with a velvety low and ethereal sounding flute played by Susan Lynch. The piece “Terminal City” conjures images of being overwhelmed in an unfamiliar environment. The textures of low pitched sustained electronic tones serve as a textural ostinato that contrasts with what may best be described as twisted and wrenched scraping sounds. All make for a delightfully horrific, sound sculpture. The concluding piece on the CD is the appropriately titled “Black Thoughts in a Black Mood.” Again The Remote Viewers using both saxophone and electronic sounds construct an intriguing soundscape that incites one’s imagination with a delightfully provocative starkness of sound and mood. In contrast to the first CD Mirror Meanings takes a direction divergent from the ethereal sounds of Time Flats. The opening piece, “Spring Flood” begins with a driving bass line to which is added a chorus of saxophones playing back ground figurations for John Edwards’ evocative double bass. “Spring Flood” is quite a departure from what this listener has been exposed to before by The Remote Viewers and it is a welcome contrast that is quite fun listening when contrasted with the darker and more serious material of Time Flats. “No More Adventures, No More Perfect Moments,” the third selection on Mirror Meanings confirms a more rhythmic orientation of Mirror Meanings.

The piece is very reminiscent of the work Miles Davis in the early 1970’s with funky rhythmic grooves providing a foundation for adventurous improvisation floating above in the saxophones. The Crowd Accuses is a tasty musical sorbet featuring percussion that shines with a variety of inventive textures and timbres. “And Then The Moors Came” is an interesting piece in that there is an apparent role reversal in that the saxophones are providing a “rhythm section” of consistent rhythm patterns while the drummer improvises freely. “Between Certainties” the final selection on Mirror Meanings returns to more familiar The Remote Viewers territory with another collage of various saxophone and electronic sounds in a sparse and ethereal background to other electronically generated or enhanced scraping and twisting sounds more in the foreground. With their past CD releases, The Remote Viewers have provided this listener with a welcome departure from a mainstream sound palette with thought provoking and cerebrally challenging pieces with which to encounter. Sinister Heights is no less a delightful challenge for the listener and will be welcomed by one seeking new and different sounds and listening adventures.

Tracks: CD 1 (Time Flats): Souls and Cities, Joe Narcissus and the The Girl, Sinister Heights, Fire Rhythm, Terminal City, villages Drowned By the Sea, Vixenville, An Absence of Wndows, Black Thoughts in a Black Mood CD 2 (Mirror Meanings): Spring Flood, Personal Hour, No More Adventures No More Perfect Moments, The Crowd Accuses, Headstone in Love, The Land Of The Blind, And then The Moors Came, The Faint Green of Ice, Between Certainties


Reviewed by: Craig W. Hurst

Copyright© 2009®. All Rights Reserved.


Sinister Heights

Apparently, The Remote Viewers need no less than two CDs to express their, um, views. This time we, as writers, got pretty lucky as the last messages from the band heard in this house were burnt across Control Room’s five (!) discs. Sinister Heights is a much appreciated demonstration of intelligence still existing on the planet of new music. It touches a number of issues with evident compositional competence, advanced musical taste and the right degree of technical difficulty; the result is a highly gratifying, truly brilliant album without weak points or “barely acceptable” stickers. Although the records are titled separately, this release sounds as an absolutely coherent whole.

The wealth of reeds characterizes the arrangements quite heavily: besides the project’s prime movers David Petts and Adrian Northover, Sue Lynch, Caroline Kraabel, Ken Butcher and Rachel Bartlett are also featured in different tracks. In Time Flats there’s a stronger rhythmic component at work, and drums – either real or programmed – characterize several exciting pieces such as “Terminal City” (which features Lou Ciccotelli’s percussion ensemble Eardrum) and my own favourite “Souls And Cities”, sort of a cross between Curlew and Muffins with a funky feel enhanced by Dave Tucker’s electric guitar. The majority of the scores calls for complex intersections of uneasy designs and clustery parallelisms in the higher registers, to the point that certain chords - in actuality formed by a multitude of saxophones - almost sound like synthetic presets. This should be intended as a compliment, a hint to the extreme rationality of compositions  that do not admit unjustified poignancy while remaining perfectly decipherable and often remarkably vigorous. A darling track, “Villages Drowned By The Sea”, is distinctly RIO-tinged, anomalous angular figurations highlighting the closeness of the contrapuntal lines in total absence of unwarranted accoutrements and futile sonic bijoux. It is not only reed galore, though. The release’s second half, Mirror Meanings, includes “Headstone In Love”, a marvellous piece for four basses handled – as everywhere else – by John Edwards. Electronic contributions, when present, are provided both by Northover and Darren Tate, a peculiar presence in this Remote area. Another one is Adam Bohman, whose amplified objects define the otherwise "regular" sombreness of “Black Thoughts In A Black Mood”, the first disc's conclusion. But it’s always the stridency generated by the juxtaposition of bunches of saxes that gets noticed best, as shown in the brain  affecting “Spring Flood”. And again: layered mbiras (“The Land Of The Blind”), entrancing vapours of darkness (“Personal Hour”, once more with a splendid Edwards in full low-frequency solemnity), incessant challenging of our sense of mental restfulness. These people won’t let you take a siesta when this thing is spinning.

A mix of mathematic exactitude, dappled swiftness and ingenious turns informed by artistic rigour and tight event management yet sounding completely natural, Sinister Heights belongs among the most satisfying albums I’ve met in recent months, confirming The Remote Viewers as the “logically odd” group to constantly keep an eye on when looking for auditory fulfilment.

Massimo Ricci


The Remote Viewers aneb Saxofonové etudy, temný kabaret a hledání vzdálené hudby

V osmdesátých letech minulého století se v Londýně dali dohromady saxofonista David Petts a kytarista Jon Dobie a jen tak pro zábavu začali natáčet kazety (vždy po třech skladbách) a rozesílali je místním kritikům. Kromě Pettsových vlastních kompozic si vždycky vystřihli i nějakou předělávku, například Solidarity Song od skladatelské dvojice Brecht – Eisler nebo Smile Charlieho Chaplina. Ohlas byl celkem příznivý, a tak se rozhodli založit regulérní kapelu s názvem B. Shops For The Poor (podle Brechtovy Třígrošové opery). V té se z počátku vystřídala celá řada muzikantů, až se sestava ustálila s kontrabasistou Johnem Edwardsem, saxofonistou Stevem Blakem a zpěvačkou a saxofonistkou Louise Petts (tehdejší Daveovou manželkou), jinak zdatnou literátkou, která se postarala i o imaginativní texty. Jejich hudba byla přirovnávána k This Heat, Art Bears, Sun Ra i Johnu Zornovi a škatulkována jako „avant jazz“, „techno jazz“ či „jazz noise punk core“. První dvě zařazení celkem sedí, druhé především díky hojnému využívání programování a automatických bubeníků, třetí snad napovídá cosi o občasných dravých erupcích. Dave Petts byl sice obeznámen s hnutím Rock In Opposition (ostatně pracuje v současnosti pro RéR Chrise Cutlera) a s jeho postuláty se ztotožňuje, vlastní tvorbu však považuje za nezařaditelnou. Přece jen tu ale určité styčné body například s Henry Cow jsou a hlas Louise ve vypjatých polohách trochu připomíná Dagmar Krause. Jinak má ovšem naléhavost Nico a hutnost Annie Lennox, dokáže být sametový i zastřený. Dobie i Petts v minulosti spolupracovali také s věhlasným saxofonistou Peterem Brötzmannem, není tudíž divu, že přijal roli hosta na jejich druhém albu Visions And Blueprints, což pochopitelně souboru dodalo na prestiži. V té době Blakea už nahradil Adrian Northover. Kapela vystupovala po celé Evropě a z turné po Rakousku, Švýcarsku a Maďarsku vydala v roce 1995 živák A Passionate Journey. Snad to bylo tím, že Dobie a Edwards byli příliš zaneprázdněni na londýnské improvizační scéně a zejména tím, že si zbylá trojice chtěla zkusit vystupovat čistě jako saxofonové trio, dny B. Shops For The Poor se v roce 1998 nachýlily, a tak vznikli The Remote Viewers (název je odvozen od pozorovatelů, kteří jsou schopni se na dálku propojit s živými či mrtvými osobami či nahlédnout do vzdálených koutů země a používá se i u CIA). Těch se ujal Leo Feigin z Leo Records a dal jim prostor ve své badatelské edici Laboratory. První opus Low Shapes In Dark Heat nabídl na jedné straně saxofonové etudy a na druhé straně temné písně- nepísně podmalované analogovými syntezátory. Třešničkou na dortu tu pak byla uhrančivá cover-verze legendární skladby Astro Black od Sun Ra. Další CD Obliques Before Pale Skin pokračuje v podobném duchu a obsahuje i zvláště mrazivou předělávku Madonnina hitu Secret. Kritik Richard Cochrane správně poznamenal, že The Remote Viewers svoje covery nepojímají v postmodernistickém ironickém stylu, ale snaží se vyjádřit podstatu originálu po svém. Ve své recenzi mimo jiné dodal, že je to jeden z mála britských avantgardních souborů, který má „look“. Jejich vizuální stylizace do třicátých či čtyřicátých let minulého století je skutečně nezaměnitelná. Následující album Persuasive With Aliens otvírá prazvláštně rozvolněná interpretace původně téměř funkového Bowieho Jump They Say a naopak v All Mine od Portishead jsou The Remote Viewers až překvapivě popově taneční. Žánrová škála je zde ovšem mnohem širší a najdeme tu chao ticky noiseovou (de)kompozici The Destraction Of Elegance či více než desetiminutový úporný minimalismus v titulní skladbě. Na Stranded Depots obohacuje zvuk kapesní theremin a celkově se dílo utápí více ve vesmírných výškách. Speciální kapitolu představuje CD The Minimum Programme Of Humanity, které vzniklo na básně Bertolda Brechta (předtím Louise psala texty až na hotovou hudbu). Tento program hráli koncertně na samém sklonku své ka riéry už B. Shops For The Poor a zde je jen drobně přearanžován. Brechtova poezie vytváří s Pettsovou hudbou dokonalou symbiózu. Je to směs temného kabaretu s noiseovými prvky a místy až goticko- industriální atmosférou, kde jsou saxofony buď zcela eliminovány, nebo výrazně zatlačeny do pozadí. Poté se The Remote Viewers rozhodli vydávat svá díla sami. Hned to první Sudden Rooms In Different Buildings se prosadilo zejména díky dalšímu skvostnému coveru, jímž bylo tentoktát Ghosts z pera Davida Sylviana z období kapely Japan. V roce 2004 se však cesty manželů Pettsových rozešly a bylo potřeba hledat novou cestu. Dave se však nevzdal a začal připravovat opus magnum, který dostal název Control Room, vyšel v limitovaném nákladu 200 kusů a má podobu pětidiskového kompletu. První disk October Rush s jedinou osmatřicetiminutovou skladbou je bohatě členitá koláž nebo jak to nazývá sám autor hudební puzzle. David zde sám nehraje, ale naopak přizval bývalé spoluhráče z B. Shops a elektroniky Glenna Guptu a Davea Tuckera. Další dva disky jsou jakési spojené nádoby. Trojka An Affair Of Cyphers se de facto vrací k saxofonovým etudám v rozsáhlejší stopáži a předchozí The Art Of Empire je zhruba totéž (některé skladby se opakují) doplněno opět elektronikou. Za zmínku stojí, že zvukového gejšlení v kompozici Perspective Weaved Into The Night se ujal Kato Hideki. Saxofonovou sekci tu pak doplňují Sue Lynch a Caroline Kraabel. I zde najdeme bonbónek v podobě Priere od Davidova oblíbence Erika Satieho. Fiction Department je návratem ke klasickým RV s nezaměnitelným vokálem Louise Petts. A disk č. 5 pojmenovaný Situations je vyhrazen čistě Adrianovi Northoverovi a jeho sopránsaxofonovým kreacím. Výjimku zde tvoří podmanivá parafráze What Is This Thing Called Love od Colea Portera, kde je nástroj zdublován. Zatím nejnovější opus Sinister Heights považuje Dave za syntézu obou souborů zejména díky výrazné spoluúčasti Johna Edwardse. Jinak se zde objevují i bubeníci Steve Noble a Phil Marks či perkusionistický soubor Eardrum a hráč na objekty a preparované struny Adam Bohman.

Slabý Petr


Oct 09

Enrico Ramunni 7/10

Non era un compito facile dare un seguito al monumentale
“Control Room”, quintuplo CD uscito poco più di unanno fa,
ma possiamo dire che il collettivo aperto guidato dai sassofonisti Adrian Northover e David Petts ha superato brillantemente la prova, pur accontentandosi di un “normale” doppio album. Il primo volume
(“Time Flats”) alterna vibrazioni avant-rock di un certo spessore ritmico – affidandosi a percussionisti sempre diversi – a brani più pensosi e dilatati, dal carattere interrogativo: il risultato è quanto mai vario e contrastato, spaziando dal groove di “Souls and Cities” e “Sinister Heights”, ai confini del funk, al jazz notturno di “An Absence of Windows”, da noir parigino anni ‘50. Decisamente più dense e claustrofobiche le atmosfere del secondo CD “Mirror Meanings”, dove Petts dà sfogo alla sua tecnica di compositore d’avanguardia per piccole formazioni di fiati, con misurati inserti elettronici.
Prevale una forma di musica da camera fondamentalmente statica, fatta di note lunghe e meditate, ora sospesa nel vuoto cosmico, ora investita da vampe di sommesso ambientnoise o trafitta dallo scintillio di uno xilofono. Anche i pezzi più dinamici intraprendono percorsi segmentati e introversi, orientati alla costruzione di strutture formali e poco propensi ad una risoluzione melodica delle tensioni. Ma questo è il bello dei Remote Viewers, che esplorano scenari
differenti senza scappatoie di comodo, lanciando ogni volta il loro guanto di sfida.


Revue & Corrigee

"Sinister Heights"

Ces "altitudes sinistres" font suite à "Control Room", importante somme en 5 CDs parus en 2008, et qui témoignait des changements survenus au sein des REMOTE VIEWERS, avec le départ de Louise Petts, dont la voix eut un impact fort sur l'identité de la forma­tion.
Réduite désormais à un duo (Adrian Northover et David Petts), elle s'inscrit toujours dans un même univers sonore à travers le jeu des deux saxophonistes (soprano et alto pour le premier, ténor pour le second) et leur emploi de l'élec­tronique. L'esprit derrière les intitulés {de ce double CD comme de la plupart des 18 pièces) reste de même tributaire d'une approche étrange (mais peut-être moins troublante que l'absence de la voix !) et glauque.
Comme sur "Control Room", les invités qui officient aux côtés de deux souffleurs sont nombreux. Outre ceux que l'on a déjà croisé sur les enregistrements pré­cédents (John Edwards, Dave Tucker, Caroline Kraabel, Sue Lynch, Darren Tate), "Sinister Heights" intègre, selon les titres, d'autres saxophonistes (Ken Butcher, Rachel Bartlett), quelques per­cussionnistes (dont Steve Noble, Phil Marks, ou l'ensemble Eardrum), ces der­niers principalement dans le premier volet, "Time Fiat". Cet aspect percussif et une présence plus importante d'invi­tés confèrent à cette première partie une coloration nouvelle à des atmosphères de films noirs, servies par des instrumen­taux complexes et expérimentaux. Le second volet, "Mirror Meanings " pré­sente un travail plus directement ciblé sur les saxophones, un emploi mesuré des effets électroniques, toujours tendu vers la présentation d'un univers lugubre et une déambulation somnambulique, quoique certains sons (celui du mbira par exemple) puissent offrir une respi­ration quelque peu plus chatoyante, par contraste.

Pierre DURR



"Musica Jazz" magazine,
vol. LXV, n. 8-9, August-September 2009,




Bad Alchemy


Monsiur Delire
July 09

I have been a fan of The Remote Viewers for over a decade, ever since I heard the sweet and disquieting voice of Louise Petts for the first time. Things have changed since then, especially lately, as the group has turned away from the song format to focus on complex instrumental compositions. Sinister Heights is a self-released double CDR set featuring David Petts and Adrian Northover, plus a long list of guests (among which are John Edwards, Caroline Kraabel, Darren Tate, and Dave Tucker). Stylisitically, this is very close to October Rush, disc 1 of the Control Room boxset, although the first of the two discs relies more heavily on rhythm. Strong writing blending melodicism, accessibility, and experimentation, with those angular sax lines, all wrapped into the “film noir” aura that is typical to this band (although less strongly since Louise’s departure). If, like me, you have come to terms with the group’s change of direction, this is a very good album with lots of material to be digested slowly. And if you are still expecting dark, moody art songs, well you’ve been warned.

Aug 09

On les avait quittés en 2007 sur une belle gamelle. Etalé sur cinq disques, Control Room relevait d'une tentative de création musicale éprouvante et d’une prétention rare. Les funambules de The Remote Viewers étaient alors bien décidés à fréquenter de nouveaux horizons expérimentaux sans les étonnants vocaux de Louise Petts, qui ajoutait à leur discographie antérieure un vrai magnétisme. Bref, une mauvaise tambouille particulièrement stérile et plombée par la complaisance.

Forcément, dur de ne pas rester sur la défensive avec Sinisters Heights qui constitue pourtant une bonne surprise. Ces Anglais qui triturent le jazz d'avant-garde, comme d’autres leur chewing-gum, ont su tirer les leçons de leur précédente mésaventure et ont engendré cette fois-ci un double album (ouf !) nettement plus convaincant. Tous instrumentaux, les titres parviennent enfin à envoûter de leurs atmosphères inspirées par le cinéma noir et blanc des vieux polars.

Adrian Northover et David Petts, qui forment le duo de souffleurs, ont visiblement bossé comme tous bons artistes, en coupant, triant et condensant leur musique pour ne garder que le plus pertinent. Ils ont en outre conféré une chaleur acoustique bienvenue et admirablement mise en valeur par une autoproduction au son claire et naturelle. L’emploi très snob des boîtes à rythme de quatre sous a donc disparu pour laisser place à d'authentiques percussionnistes capables de rendre attentif à l’austérité inquiétante de l’album.

Les deux parties sont néanmoins assez différentes. La première, intitulée Time Flats, joue sur le rythme et la coloration alors que le second, Mirror Meanings, s'avère plus difficile, sinistre et provocant. Chacun prendra selon ses affinités. Certes, les progressions chromatiques monomaniaques des saxophonistes en agaceront plus d’un. Il faut reconnaître toutefois que la formation a su évoluer dans le bon sens en créant un monde polymorphe toujours aussi radical et personnel, à la sensibilité clairement moins arrogante, pour ne pas dire plus accessible. Les amateurs d’expériences jazz pourront y jeter une oreille intéressée.

Christophe Manhès

Note : 7/10

Aug 09

The Remote Viewers sind für diesmal Adrian Northover, s/asax, electr., mbira – David Petts, tsax, electr. / Comp. – Susan Lynch, tsax, fl. Wie schon bei ihrem letzten, im Ausmass kaum auszulotenden Projekt, arbeiten sie auch diesmal mit einer Menge musikalischer Wegbegleiter, die an den Tracks in unterschiedlichem Ausmass beteiligt sind. Der retrofuturistische, düster-urbane Sound dieses Saxophonensembles wird so um unterschiedliche Facetten bereichert oder auch gänzlich abgebogen. FreundInnen von Louise Petts Gesang gehen diesmal leer aus. In fahler Beleuchtung werden akrobatische-kühle Klangkonstruktionen erstellt. Distanziertheit und Strenge gehen aber auch zusammen mit dramatischer Energie und insistierendem Drängen. Freilich, HörerIn werden auch beinah zwei Stunden Musik geboten, die niemals in irgendwelche Authentizitätsfallen zu laufen bereit ist. The Remote Viewers liefern eine akustische Beschreibung der Gegenwart, aber sie vergessen niemals, dass sie dabei den Part auf der Bühne übernommen haben. ZuhörerInnen bleiben draussen und sind gehalten, nach eigenem Ermessen mit den Dingen umzugehen, die ihnen dargeboten werden.
Die Bandbreite ihrer Gäste reicht weit, Darren Tate ist mit Electronics wieder dabei, John Edwards wirkt am Bass bei der guten Hälfte der Stücke mit, Adam Bohmann bedient verstärkte Objekte.
Das Eardrum Percussion Ensemble ist auf einem Track zu hören. Dave Tucker spielt Gitarre und programmiert drums.
Ein Grabstein in Liebe: somnambuler, sardonischer Humor, ein schwarzer Funken in einem akustischen Film noir. Im Spiegel dieser Musik erscheinen wenige schöne Dinge. Wenns gut geht, ist Energie zu spüren, belebt durch afrikanische Rhythmen und den munter mäandernden Klang der Mbira. Meist ertönen aber scharfgeschnittenen Silhouetten der Dystopie, von Bedrängnis und Eile. Fahl und metallisch wird da der Klang der Saxophone, zwischen allen Gewissheiten, ratlos. Somit bekommt mensch bei The Remote Viewers vielleicht die bei allem auch ertönenden Drive ungemütlichste Musik ab, Musik, die um einen Schlund der Entfremdung sich aufbaut und davonmacht. Die ungestüme Fahrt mit Black Dice ist zwar etwas nervig, führt aber immer wieder an vertrautem Gelände vorbei. Mit Spunk befinden wir uns als HörerIn dann in faszinierenden Regionen, wo vieles möglich ist, manches rätselhaft bleibt, aber die mögliche Kraft von Musik stets gegenwärtig ist.



His Voice

Dec 09

The Remote Viewers: Sinister Heights

Britsky soubor The Remote Viewers vznikl v roce 1998 z torza kapely B-Shops For The Poor puvodne jako saxofonove trio, ktere vsak zahy obohatilo svuj instrumentaf o analogove syntezatory a „śtekaci" etudy stfidalo s temnymi pis-nemi-nepfsnemi, jimź dominoval uhranćivy hlas Louise Petts. Ta ovśem v roce 2004 odeślą a cela koncepce se zmenila. To naznaćil jiż petidiskovy komplet Con­tro! Room z roku 2007, kde si ustfedni dvojice David Petts a Adrian Northover pfizvala celou radu hostii a zacala experimentovat s kolażovitymi strukturami a bohatśi elektronikou. Aktualni dvojalbum Sinister Heights pfedstavuje ucele-nejśidilo, provazane leitmotivem kaskadovitych nastupu bohate saxofonove sek-ce (protagonisty tu doplńuje zejmena Susan Lynch). Hudebni spektrum je vśak velmi śiroke a najdeme tu rytmicke pasaże, ktere maji misty aż nadech funky, i lyricke a zadumane polohy. Nechybi tu ani kaleidoskopicky aspekt, ktery jed-notlive kompozice fragmentuje do jakesi homogenni zvukove tfiśte, kiera sice nema pfiliś spolećneho s noise, ale podporuje zvlaśtnf tiżivou industrialni atmo-sferu celeho projektu. Sam Petts poznamenava, że je to urcity navrat k pfedchozi kapele ći prolnuti obou. Tomu odpovida i hostovani Johna Edwardse, nekdejśi-ho ćTena B-Shops a vyhlaśeneho improvizatora na kontrabas. Novym prvkem je zaclenenf żivych bubeniku, ktefi by meli dostat jeśte vetśi prostor pfi koncertnich yystoupenich. Ve skladbe Fire Rhythm tak exceluje dalsi velikan londynskeho improvisingu, Steve Noble, ktery tu sólove obstarava celou prvnf polovinu svym bohatym bubenickym umenim. V titulnf kompozici se zase zaskvi perkusionis-ticky ansambl Eardrum a v neposledni rade tu svou magickou roli v nekolika kouscfch hraji i amplifikovane objekty Adama Bohmana. Prakticky vyhradni autor David Petts rozćlenil cely opus do dvou „kapitol" nazvanych Time Flats a Minor Meanings a osmnacti odstavcu s imaginativnimi nazvy jako Villages Drowned By The Sea ci No More Adveniures, No More Perfect Moments. Vytvofil vśak svym zpusobem koncepćni album, ktere je sice uhneteno z rady zdanli-ve nesourodych substanci, ale skvele drżi pohromade.

Petr Slaby


Blow Up
Nov 09

Rimasto in compagnia del solo Adrian Northover, David Petts dei Remote Viewers riesce tuttavia a mantenersi su livelli eccelsi anche con questo album, disponibile sul sito del gruppo. Il primo dei 2 ed, in parti­colare, approfitta della presenza di alcuni batteristi per ampliare lo spettro ritmico del sound e rendersi un mix sconnesso e incredibile tra Albert Ayler e 23 Skidoo: straordinario. Più oscuro e vicino allo stile classico del gruppo il secondo ed, comun­que apprezzabile. (7/8) biz.


Impro Jazz

Rapide coup d'œil dans le rétroviseur : après cinq albums parus chez Léo Records entre 1999 et 2003, Adrian Northover, Louise et David Petts, les trois saxes de B-Shop for tlie poor réunis sous la bannière de The Remote Viewers, décident de prendre leur destin phonographique en main. S'ensuit un silence qui semblera bien long aux amateurs du groupe, jusqu'en 2007 en fait, année où les trois soufflants et une pléiade d'invités nous livrent la matière de cinq galettes  aussi  comparables  que diverses et publiées en un seul coffret intitulé "Control Room". Synthétiseurs, quatuors de saxes, pop lancinante, cabaret brechtien et boîtes à rythme hypnotiques, les cinq cds, référencés de RV1 à RV5, installent alors un univers doucement pessimiste, vaguement dandy et, pour tout dire, assez fascinant.
2009 : après un accueil critique plutôt mitigé, certains chroniqueurs se demandant si un tel festin ne risque pas de provoquer l'indigestion, Adrian Northover et David Petts renouvellent l'expérience, sans Louise toutefois, certainement accaparée par le duo Tlie Poison Cabinet qu'elle forme avec David, et dans une mesure plus raisonnable puisque "Sinister heights" n'est qu'un double album évidemment référencé RV6 et RV7.
D'emblée, c'est l'accessibilité qui nous frappe dans cette nouvelle mixture où se mêlent pourtant électronique et acoustique, guitares funk et saxes torturés, contrebasse profonde et programmations excentriques. Le duo et ses invités, parmi lesquels on reconnaît bon nombre d'amis investis dans les enregistrements précédents, n'a certes rien perdu de son éclectisme et continue de mixer free jazz, electro, rock et même disco (ah ! les programmations de Dave Tucker et la contrebasse de John Edwards sur le titre éponyme!), mais la sauce n'a besoin, pour prendre, d'aucune aide externe et semble même sécréter son propre liant. Ainsi, le plaisir de l'écoute se suffit également et ne nécessite aucune référence particulière. On passe allègrement d'une fournaise funk aux cymbales frémissantes et à la caisse claire de Steve Noble ("fire rlrythm") et le baryton de Ken Butcher déchire en lambeaux ce nuage de cuivre et de bois qui allait s'épaississant, comme saturé d'inquiétude. On quitte le cri effilé du métal pour le foisonnement de percussions manuelles déclenché par Eardrum cependant que les saxes perpétuent leurs gimmicks radicaux et que l'alto de Petts se consume dans une impro incandescente, telle que Sliepp lui-même ne l'aurait pas reniée ("Terminal city"). On s'abstrait dans des rythmes impairs au son de gamelan quand un piano venu du fond des âges nous arrache à notre torpeur pour nous précipiter dans les limbes d'une mémoire impressionniste à peine esquissée ("Village drowned by tlie sea")... Et l'on s'en va ainsi, chavirés d'un style à l'autre, chamboulés dans nos habitudes et confiants, malgré tout, prisonniers d'un manège infernal dont on sait parfaitement que rien n'a été laissé au hasard.
Au reste, n'est-ce pas la même mélodie qui court tout au long de "Time flats", le premier des deux cds ? Cette alternance modale entre deux notes inlassablement répétées n'est-elle pas elle-même la preuve que l'espace dans lequel nous évoluons a été parfaitement circonscrit, répertorié puis distribué en parcelles définies à défaut d'identiques à chacun des navigateurs engagés dans cette excursion ? Les dés ne sont pas pipés : le danger est réel et les risques pris le sont avec audace, mais en parfaite connaissance de cause. Et c'est pour cela que cette musique, pourtant éclatée comme un continent dérivant, nous semble aussi évidente et que l'on s'y plonge avec un tel délice. De même, si l'auditeur n'a pas besoin de références précises pour apprécier les méandres stylistiques empruntés par Northaver, Petts et Cie, cela ne signifie pas pour autant qu'il n'en existe pas. Si nous sommes loin, cette fois, du cabaret brechtien, les tensions maintenues par l'équivoque des accords installent un suspens constant que la basse d'Edwards, insistant par ses grincements et la gravité de son timbre sur la noirceur des climats, suffit à faire basculer dans le sombre univers du polar. "The mirror meanings', notamment, qui s'étend sur toute la durée du second cd, évoque la bande originale d'un thriller psychologique où les saxes auraient remplacé les cordes et s'attacheraient à décliner tous les dérivés de l'angoisse. D'un point de vue strictement instrumental, également, l'influence d'Evan Parker se reconnaît chez Adrian Northover, mais c'est plus à Braxton et à son travail sur les formes contemporaines que les compositions nous forcent à penser. Textures imbriquées, sonorités coupantes et motifs mélodiques inlassablement répétés, la thématique  des Remote Viewers


The Wire May 2008

Control Room

Between 1999 and 2003 The Remote Viewers released six CDs, most of them on the Leo Lab label. The core group was a saxophone trio of David and Louise Petts, who were the principal composers, and Adrian Northover. Louise Petts also wrote lyrics and sang, and the group made imaginative use of lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and songs by David Sylvian, Portishead and Madonna. As their ideas developed, synthesizers, theremins and electronics assumed as great a role in the music as the saxophones. The group were always eclectic to a fault, and certain stylistic elements of their music seemed perpetually at odds with others: the rather stiff arrangements for saxophone trio sat uneasily with often spooky cabaret-style songs, which sat uneasily with free jazz squalls, which sat uneasily with robotic drums, chilly Techno-pop and electronic soundscapes. What Remote Viewers albums often sounded like was film soundtracks - evocative, atmospheric, and full of stylish touches and dark imaginings but somehow, despite the skill and imagination
that had gone into their making, rather bitty and not wholly satisfying.
After a four year gap, Control Room continues in much the same vein, though there are differences too, the most significant of which is that Louise Petts only appears on the fourth CD, The Fiction Department, which is billed as a follow-up to the group's 2003 CD, Sudden Rooms In Different Buildings. Rather than cram disparate stylistic elements onto a single CD, the strategy here seems to be to give them a CD apiece. But a key question that needs to be asked of any large-scale project such as this is: does all of the work merit inclusion? The Fiction Department, a collection of songs that slink and throb and don't employ standard song structures, is easily the best thing on offer. Abrasive electronics scour the surface of Louise Petts's words on "Those In Darkness", and her deep, velvety voice suits the languorous solemnity of the music. When the saxophones periodically appear, they're well integrated into the structure and texture of the songs, and there's a marvellous solo on "The Unthinking Blade".
The other four CDs contain saxophones aplenty, and the fifth CD, Situations, consists of a solo saxophone set from Adrian Northover. Apart from a Cole Porter tune - "What Is This Thing Called Love?", on which he makes imaginative use of multitracking, echo and delay - the compositions are all his own. It's hard not to hear elements of both Evan Parker and John Butcher in Northover's playing, but he's a technically adept player and, over the length of the disc, his sound and character come through clearly. The pieces hang together well, as do the songs on The Fiction Department, and each in their own way is a success. What they have to do with each other is, however, unfathomable. Giving them a CD apiece was almost certainly the right decision.
The least enjoyable disc is the first, containing "October Rush", a 38 minute instrumental for flutes, saxophones, double bass, guitar and electronics. The music moves from section to section with a postmodern disregard for stylistic consistency, which presumably was Petts's intention. The second and third CDs have points in common, principal among which is the saxophone quartet (Petts, Northover, Lynch and Caroline Kraabel) that plays David Petts's suite-like compositions. CD three, An Affair Of Cyphers, presents the quartet plain and true. On CD two, The Art Of Empire, aspects of Petts's minimal and rather lugubrious compositions are reworked and enhanced to good effect by a series of guest electronicists, Darren Tate, Glenn Gupta and Kato Hideki. This CD works so well it rather puts An Affair Of Cyphers in the shade. At its best, Control Room is superb, but I suspect that only The Remote Viewers' most dedicated fans will enjoy everything it contains.

Brian Marley.


Jazzwise, May 2008

RV1-5 (5 CDs)
Sue Lynch I(flt, ts), John Edwards(b), Jon Dobie (g), Adrian Northover (as, ss, elec, autoharp), Glenn Gupta (elec), Dave Tucker (elec), David Petts (ts, elec), Caroline Kraabel (bs, as), Darren Tate (elec), Kato Hideki (elec) and Louise Petts (voc, as, elec).
Rec. date not given.

After five albums released on Leo Records between 1999 and 2002, The Remote Viewers struck out on their own in 2003, self-releasing Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings. If they've been quiet for the last five years, this new self-release shows they haven't been idle. Here, the core trio of Adrian Northover, David Petts and Louise Petts is joined by collaborators old and new on a five-disc box set that's bursting with ideas. Disc one contains a single 38-minute opus awash with electro-acoustic textures ranging from dreamy ambient interludes to bright, burning cascades of noise.
Bassist John Edwards is a brash presence throughout, his slash and burn attack enlivening proceedings, and guitarist John Dobie lets rip an incendiary solo. Overall, though, the piece is let down by woefully limp drum programmes that get you wondering how much more powerful this might have been if they'd got themselves a genuine sticksman.
The next two discs get round that problem by dispensing with a rhythm section altogether.
Disc three presents a suite of chamber-Prog horn charts that showcase David Petts' compositional palette, while Disc two employs a cadre of electronics gurus to rework those tunes into a dark, ambient landscape that comes on with the foreboding chatter of an approaching cloud of locusts.
Disc four foregrounds Louise Petts' rich, husky vocals in a relatively conventional song setting.
You get the feeling they're striving for some of the damaged intensity of Portishead's glowering torch songs but,
again, it's let down by disappointingly lame drum-machine breaks.
For Disc five it's back to basics with a live solo soprano sax performance from Northover with obvious precedents in the extended Improv techniques of Lol Coxhill. You have to admire their chutzpah but a little quality control might have whittled these five discs down to a much more compelling double album.

Danlel Spicer


Bad Alchemy April 08

Gut 4 Jahre nach dem vermeintlichen Schwanenengesang Sudden Rooms In Different Buildings melden sich David Petts & Adrian Northoverzurück. Als ob sich in der Zwischenzeit - die Trennung von David & Louise Petts Schaffenspause zu nennen, wäre gefrevelt -etwas angestaut hätte, entlädt sich auf Control Room (Selbstverlag, 5 x CD) das ganze Kompositionsspektrum von David Petts, kompromisslos düster und entschieden.
Bei RV1 -October Rush gruppieren sich um Adrian Northover an Alto- & Sopranosax zwei alte B-Shops-For-The-Poor-Weggefährten, der Gitarrero Jon Dobie und der Kontrabassist John Edwards, dazu die Flötistin Sue Lynch, die auch das Coverartwork beisteuerte, und Glenn Gupta & Dave Tucker an Electronics als neue Rekruten.
Petts lieferte die Raumatmosphäre und die rhythmische Grundströmung. Streckenweise erinnert das an Geoff Serles
Sonicphonics, bei denen Northover und Dobie gegroovt hatten,aber hauptsächlich knüpft es an den RV-typischen Wave Noir an, sowohl in seinen von Bläserunisoni getragenen konstruktivistischen wie gothischen Zügen.
Darin verhaken sich Improvisationen von Edwards, der einmal mehr seinem Kontrabass die Peitsche und die Krallen zeigt, und von Dobie, der die Saiten rauchen und glühen lässt.
RV2 -The Art of Empire verwebt Saxophonlinien von Northover, Lynch, Caroline Kraabel und Petts selbst mit der gothischen Atmosphäre, die aus den Electronics von Tate bzw. Gupta, Northover oder Kato Hideki quillt. Neben vier Petts-Tracks mit so sprechenden Titeln wie ‚'Distant Intruder‘ und ‚Silent Weapons For A Quiet War‘ erklingt mit ‚Priere‘ ein Fragment aus den Pages mystiques von Satie. Dieses ‚Gebet‘ tastet mit elektronischen Tentakeln ins rosenkreuzerisch Okkulte, während die Saxophone eine alte Pilgermelodie anstimmen. Wie fauchende, unter Wasser detonierende, quecksilbrige oder metalloid knispelnde, dunkelwolkig eingehüllte Electronicsounds kollidieren und sich vermengen mit düsteren, doch trotz Beklemmung unbeirrten, wenn auch stark überrauschten, fiepigen Bläserchören oder
-kanons, das ist die unvergleichliche RV-Eigenart.Drei der schon in RV2 eingemischten Saxophonquartette tauchen auf
RV3 -An Affair Of Cyphers wieder auf, dazu fünf weitere, pur und streng. Bei ‚Grinding Stones with Eyes‘ scharrt Edwards dazu Bass, während nur Northover auch noch elektronische Fäden spinnt.Der bestreitet auf eigene Rechnung
RV5 -Situations mit sieben extremen, teils mehrspurigen Sopranosolos, die eigenartig zwischen Evan Parker und Lol Cohíll vexieren.
Bleibt noch RV4 - Fiction Department mit seinen neun Songs in der klassischen Besetzung mit Northover und David & Louise Petts. Wenn Louise P., auf elektronische Wolken und Wellen oder virtuelle Piano- und Stringfonds gebettet, in ihrer unverwechselbar dunkel flötenden Manier ‚Green Closing‘ singt oder ‚Narrowed Clue‘, verfällt man wieder rettungslos dem süßen Weh ihrer ‚Melancholy Of Words‘. Oh, wie ihr Gesang aufsteigt bei ‚The Delicate Address‘, um unnahbar mit dem Soprano zu tanzen, und dann eintaucht in die Schattenzone von ‚Into The Hollow Face‘. Durch ‚Those In Darkness‘ fegt ein beißender schwarzer Eissturm, noisiger Wave Noir zu Drummachinebeats, nach dem sich ‚Fatal Surface‘ wie todwund dahin schleppt, zu Saxophonen und Piano in strengem Schwarz, bis ‚The Slow Sea‘ einen noch schlimmeren Sturm entfesselt. ‚The Unthinking Blade‘, lange wortlos, verrät dann, wo die Wunde herrührt - the blade is love, mit einem von Schmerz und Leidenschaft gebeutelten Saxophonsolo. Der Rest ist abgrundtiefe Melancholie.

Rigobert Dittmann


. **(*) Low Shapes in Dark Heat
Leo Lab CD049 Adrian Northover (ss,as); Louise Petts
(as, syn, v); David Petts (ts, syn). 2 & 7/98
***Obliques Before Pale Skin
Leo Lab 061 As above, except add theremins to
instrumentation for Northover, Petts and Petts. 6 &
***(*)Stranded Depots
Leo Lab CD 076 As above. 00
***(*)The Minimum Programme of Humanity
Leo LR 342 As above. 11-12/01

The CIA and NASA still, we understand, takeremote sensing very seriously, but what are we to make of this enigmatic trio? At moments, we might bedealing with a conventional saxophone quartet who, in the absence of the senior and most sensible member,muck about in the studio for a couple of afternoons, but then Louise Petts's remarkable voice and strange,associative lyrics kick in and the spell is cast.This is music of great privacy. Even when afamiliar theme does emerge - and Low Shapes includes a tender version of the theme from television's Callan -the associations are not necessarily shared. The effect is somewhat akin to a session by Bristol'slamented Startled Insects, but produced by and
guesting John Zorn and the sound-crew of The X-Files.The second album opens with a minimally unaccompanied reading of Jimmy Heusen's 'It CouldHappen to You', continues with Madonna's 'Secret' and ends with a gorgeous version of Dmitri Tiomkin's 'Wild is the Wind'. What happens in between defies straightforward description, beyond the fact that itis a richer acoustic mix, with few of the London Saxophone Quartet mannerisms that made the debut so quirkily old-fashioned in places.Surreal and funky, weary with the world but helplessly fascinated by its many strangenesses, the music has wound on through two more sets for Leo(interestingly, the group has moved from the more arcane Leo Lab sector to the main label with albumfour). As they've grown and gone deeper into whateverit is they're doing, The Viewers are now able to impose themselves on source material which might seem like a complete wrong turning; so we get Gordon Jenkins and Satie on Stranded Depots, and texts by Bertolt Brecht on the often very disquieting
The Minimum Programme of Humanity, which makes a greater play with electronics and synthesized percussion.
Points of reference mightbe Annette Peacock, Edith Sitwell and N.E. Simpson,
but we advise adventurous listeners to discover forthemselves.

The Penguin Guide to Jazz


Reviews of Sudden Rooms

francois couture

The Remote Viewers follow-up to The Minimum Programmeof Humanity is a puzzling album -- after a first listen, it is not surprising that it was released onthe Petts' own label General Ear instead of Leo Records. Now, that doesn't mean the album is not good,but it sure requires more effort from the listener.The six pieces consist mostly of electronicsoundscapes. Louise Petts' rapturing voice appears only tointerpret Japan's old song Ghosts -- it never sounded so other-wordly.
As for the saxophones, they too make themselves more discreet. So if you expect the group's usual balance of songs, sax pieces and decadent electronics, you will be disappointed at first. With perseverance, Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings will grow on you. Eroding the Dead Wall is not eroding just that, but also the eardrums as high-pitched wails play hide and seek with one another. External Securement and The Unlistening Vent are sleek and creepy electronic pieces, dark ambient for the anachronically deranged. Inside the Unwanted Bond, the only sax trio of the set, explores rough drones backed by electronics. In The Frontier of Presence, Louise rolls exotic bird calls off her tongue, looped and multitracked to form, with the addition of ambient drones and vocal hums, an overwhelming jungle. Odd? Yes. Surprising? Not that much; The Remote Viewers were ripe for a certain change in direction and this album shows that they can outgrow the formula established in their five previous albums while remaining faithful to their aura of mystery and seduction.


paris transatlantic review

dan warburton

After five albums on Leo, the Remotes have decided to go it alone with Sudden Rooms.. - though Leo Feigin
assures me they haven't left the fold for good - which kicks off with another extraordinary cover version (to
add to the Madonna and Portishead masterpieces on their preceding outings): this time it's David Sylvian's "Ghosts" that gets the Louise Petts treatment, her silky smooth voice accompanied by husband David's weird swoony harmonisations. One imagines that Mr Sylvian, who's now hooked up with such avant heroes as Derek Bailey and Christian Fennesz, will appreciate the homage. Elsewhere, the outlandish microtonal synth work and positively disturbing saxophone arrangements might give you a clue as to why the Remotes opted to release this themselves. Five years on from their Leo debut they're
still one of the most original and as a result under-appreciated outfits around, and it's ironic that they're based in the city with perhaps the liveliest improv scene in the world, London. Unless there are some seismic changes in the world cultural map, The Remote Viewers are rather unlikely to be playing in a venue near you in the foreseeable future, so you'd be
advised to email Mr Petts forthwith and procure yourself a copy of this little treasure.


signal to noise

kurt gottschalk

"Remote Viewing" is a parapsychological state theoretically allowing one to connect with any person, living or dead, or any event or place as if one were actually experiencing it. It's also a rather perplexing band name, frustratingly appropriate for this rather perplexing saxophone trio. If The Remote Viewers (Adrian Northover, Louise Petts and David Petts are all active in the London improvisers scene and all mutate their horns with electronics in this setting) are remote viewing anything, it's German cabarets between the wars. But if remote viewing really works, it doesn't seem to get that good a reception. The group gurgles and simmerscreating fever-dream torch songs. On previous records (released on Leo Records' pay-to-play imprint Leo Lab), that approach had a certain pomo charm. But here the electronics are upped, Ms. Petts' played down, and the result is more than moody; it's downright creepy. Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings is a realised record, and rather a frightening one; a work that would likely make David Lynch feel uneasy.
And lest you think you've got the formula down,
they open with a dark cover of Japan's "Ghosts".
Synth pop from the '80s remote viewed from the 21st.century
by way of the 1930s isn't just a lot of time travel - it's a trip.


duncan heining

I enjoyed the stark, grey cabaret of this group's previous releases - The Minimum Programme of Humanity and Stranded Depots (both on Leo) - but this is a cocktail of minimalism. Essentially, it's a series of electronic soundscapes into which are set occasionalsnatches of voice or piping, keening sax. At its best, it's highly affecting. Opening with Japan's Ghosts, Louise Petts' voice teases out David Sylvian's lyric with a mannered air of quiet distraction as her overdubbed alto tinkers with its tune. Eroding the Dead Wall sounds too much like a child playing with a synthesizer. But by External Securement, it's as if a strange understanding of sound and its manipulation has emerged that is actually quite pleasing. Inside the Unwanted Bond features all three on saxes and is perhaps closest in style to their previous releases,
a structured abstraction, while Unlistening Vent is the sound of industrialism, echoing and threatening. The Frontier of Presence closes as its dream-like, doom-like quality turns from soothing comfort to outright despair. Waking from a nightmare to find the
horror was real, perhaps. The whole has an experimental, unfinished quality - like a diary rather than a complete, constructed narrative or like seeing a number of fragments and trying to piece the whole picture together.



jason bivins

The British trio, The Remote Viewers, has expanded
their saxophone-based free improvisation to include electronics, and it's this approach that's documented here. A fascinating example of this approach is found on the opening Ghosts - not the Albert Ayler tune, but the David Sylvian tune from his old pop band Japan.
It's pretty successful as a simple canon theme, though at times it lags a bit with Louise Petts' slightly worried (though, to her credit, nowhere near asworried as Sylvian's) vocals. I like the spooky
Eroding which is all electronic (someone plays a pinging sound that resembles a koto). On many of these tracks, the players mix lo-fi electronics (vintage sci-fi keyboards) with very contemporary
sounding rumbles, drones, and hisses. External Securement is tonally and texturally in this vein but for the synthesiser beat that strings the music along. Towards the end of the piece, the music transforms
into a kind of slow techno-pop (the sort of thing that might accompany a scene of menace or forbidding in a very stylish action movie). Inside is like a chorus of John Butchers, overtones and circular breathing morphing into a steady rhythmic piece. It's very
nice. Vent is the kind of industrial echo-chamber piece one might hear on a Voice Crack record. The final piece is almost an extension of Vent until some marimba/xylophone samples barge through the eerie
pitch-bending, like Steve Reich on acid. In short, while this group covers an awful lot of ground - and consequently doesn't always have the most distinct musical personality - it's fine stuff.


jazz review

craig w. hurst

Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings by the London
based avant garde improvisatory ensemble The Remote
Viewers, is a collection of music that transcends
musical boundaries, expands the imagination, and
wrings out a range of feelings from peaceful to
painful. Certainly, the name of the group may infer
that the listener is going to experience music
reflecting an altered state of consciousness or some
other musically paranormal experience. Or the group's
name may just be an "inside" bit of whimsy on the part
of the musicians. Comprised of Adrian Northover, and
David and Louise Petts, The Remote Viewers use vocals,
soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, electronics and
pre recorded material to weave a rather other-worldly,
musical landscape that at times sounds much like the
soundtrack to psychological thriller genre film.

The ethereal nature of the music and the titles of
some of the pieces on Sudden Rooms in Different
Buildings certainly brings to mind a soundtrack for
warped subconscious images or as accompaniment to the
distortions that can occur during nightmares. This
music is not about catchy melodies or rhythms. This
music is an exploitation of different timbres and
musical textures that when woven together form a sonic
mosaic that, depending on the individual listener
could conjure in the mind different scenes or mental
pictures that could range from the macabre or painful
to simply bizarre and weird.

Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings will not be a
recording that will match the tastes of many
listeners. Upon initial exposure, many will dismiss
the recording as "more avant garde electronic noise"
and painful listening. There will be those detractors
that will insist that this is not music at all, but
rather some attempt at sonic chaos passed off as
modern art. The CD certainly did not match the
expectations of this listener-initially. However, just
as people enjoy viewing motion pictures that elicit
strong emotions because the subject matter deals with
horror or distorted images as a result of a
character's mental state, so too it was found on
repeated listening that this listener began to enjoy
the mental scenes conjured as influenced by the music
of The Remote Viewers' Sudden Rooms in Different


jazz review

comglenn astarita

Hailing from England, this trio is noted for its
cleverly articulated and irrefutably unique line of
tactics, spanning avant-garde jazz, and clever
employment of electronics. Aided by
saxophonist/synthesist Louise Petts' angelic vocals,
the trio generally covers at least one well-known pop
tune on each recording. Yet, the musicians
collectively explore the road less traveled so to speak,
witnessed here, on this independently produced set.
They open with a rather ominous reading of prog-rock
artist, David Sylvian's piece titled "Ghosts,"
featuring high-pitched synth sounds weaving among the
saxophonists' concisely stated lines and Ms. Petts
waiflike vocals. With that, Adrian Northover, along
with Louise and David Petts experiment a bit more with
electronics throughout this production.

The trio conjures up peculiar vibes amid a hodgepodge
of delicately shifting patterns. A thought of
implanting a computer chip into a human brain comes to
mind, amid the rather freaky connotations of these
darkly ambient dreamscapes. They portray an eclectic
and at times, dour state of being, but the success
factor emanates from the artists' pleasingly twisted
viewpoints. The totality of this curiously interesting
endeavor might be akin to a passageway, or a labyrinth
that lacks a clearly defined endpoint. Whereas the
listener succumbs to the rather ethereal sound
sculptures set forth by these clever artisans.



jim chokey

This is the sixth CD by The Remote Viewers, a British
avant-garde trio. The disk begins with a jazzy cover
of Japan's Ghosts, featuring sultry torch-singer
vocals by Louise Petts. Just a few seconds in,
however, the smoky-lounge mood is suddenly
deconstructed by the introduction of dark, minimalist
alto sax and an incessant buzz of atonal and arhythmic
electronic oscillations produced by fellow 'viewer'
David Petts. These electronics, which sound like a
cross between a hearing-test tone generator and a
swarm of electrified gnats nesting in your ear, do not
complement the sax and vocal lines, but clash
jarringly with them. That seems to be the point
though. This song - and indeed the whole album -
seems to be an exercise in the juxtaposition of a
'traditional' model of music (as something that has
melody and rhythm) alongside a post-Cage conception of
music (as any arrangement of sounds). The latter
approach dominates, and at least two of the tracks
wholly abandon tonality, rhythm, etc. for noisy
sound-scapes of pseudo-industrial churnings,
unidentifiable plunkings, eardrum-aching sax squonks,
and still more of those annoying insectoid electronic
oscillations. The most compelling tracks are Inside
the Unwanted Bond and The Frontier of Presence which
achieve a kind of uneasy coexistence between these two
musical poles, resulting in a dark, musical minimalism
that sounds a bit like Univers Zero's Heresie, but
with extended bursts of loud, grating, noise. This is
a memorable and intriguing album, but it will probably
be enjoyed only by the sonically adventurous.


Review of Low Shapes


walter horn

The "best of show" award goes to a trio called THE
REMOTE VIEWERS (Adrian Northover, ss, as; Louise
Petts, as, vcl, synth; David Petts, ts, synth) for
their very fine entry, LOW SHAPES IN DARK HEAT (Leo
Lab 049). Except for four covers, including ethereal
versions of Sun Ra's Astro Black and Ervin Drake's It
Was a Very Good Year, all the music is by David Petts.
He's a real talent. His eight tunes are understated,
elegantly constructed nightmares. Petts' seamless
transitions from glacial chordal movement to complex
counterpoint and back again is wonderful - kind of
like what you'd expect if Ligeti and Rova got together
in Eastern Europe for the purpose of of putting
together a concert for Count Dracula. Perhaps the
centerpiece of the disk, the eight-minute One Thousand
Unnamed Flowers is like a graveside elegy for
madman-with-saxophone and a slowly-moving synth and
wind chorale. It's in the Unanswered Question
tradition, and it deserves to be mentioned in the same
sentence with Ives' gem. The synth sounds utilized on
the disk tend to the analog whoosh and hiss, but a
couple of velvety organ patches and string pads are
also expertly used. Louise Petts' husky, senza vibrato
incantations are very unsettling. I think she might be
a siren from the undead, but it's hard not to want to
follow her. What makes this album so good? Partly it's
the expert use of repetition. Everwhere this technique
is depended on - as at the beginning of The Gap's
Defence - the drama is always heightened and never
stymied by its use. Petts never relies on ostinati
simply as a crutch or as a way of getting out of some
uncomfortable corner he's painted himself into. But,
of course, that's only one necessary condition for the
creation of excellence in music. As always, there are
no formulas or magic words for capturing the
beautiful. No precise quotients of abstraction,
concreteness, complexity, or simplicity are any
guarantee. What's needed is talent, devotion, and


Review of Minimum Programme

tower records

art lange

spoken word of the week

In his informative liner notes for the latest CD by
the British trio the REMOTE VIEWERS ('THE MINIMUM
PROGRAMME OF HUMANITY,' Leo Records, out now), Dan
Warburton reasonably frets over how the band might be
categorized -- name-dropping Xenakis, Cabaret
Voltaire, and Portishead in the process.

Though there are saxophones -- and a few intense
improvised sax solos -- in the mix, it isn't exactly
jazz; and despite the heavy emphasis on slow-moving
electronic textures it's neither trance nor ambient.
The music doesn't swing, and it doesn't trigger
techno-dance rhythms. Rather, it takes a refreshing
re-view of old school compositional procedures and
low-tech electronics, while creating a sonic
environment for Louise Petts' sparse vocalization of
Bertolt Brecht poems.

Flipping the usual relationship inside out, the music
doesn't illustrate the text, instead the words (chosen
from Brecht's "least political poetry") seem to
illuminate the sometimes ominous and often melancholy
musical terrain. This leads to melodramatic moments of
pounding percussion and synthesized strings ("The
Leavetaking"), dense multitracked voices and layered
distortions (Brecht's "Gothic Tale"), and occasional
lumpy horn fanfares ("Travelling in a Comfortable
Car") -- but also episodes of thoughtfully crafted
soundscapes, like the exquisitely modulated static
electronic contours and colors of "Changing the Wheel"
and the more complex arrangement, including allusions
to Xenakis and free jazz, behind "Once."

And if the prevalent mood mirrors the ruthless reality
and romantic pessimism of Brecht's poetry, is that
necessarily a bad thing?