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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Earthworks CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.15 | 57 ratings

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4 stars Back in the 1980s, Bill Bruford founded Earthworks, a four-man ensemble which combined electronic drums with mainly acoustic instruments.

For those familiar with the classic Bruford sound, which you will hear on CLOSE TO THE EDGE, RED and even on more recent Earthworks discs (in the late 1990s Bruford discarded his electronic kit) the results may initially be unsettling. The opening bars of 'Thud', the first number on this CD, call up unwanted memories of the echo-laden electro-pop of the 1980s. For a few anxious moments you wonder if this album is going to be all style and no substance. But then the melody takes wing, Django Bates provides a truly bizarre synth solo, Iain Ballamy performs a lovely solo on soprano sax, and Bruford's drum fills sound so characteristic and assured, you realise the master has lost none of his brilliance.

On the second track, 'Making a song and dance', Bruford employs the same technique as on King Crimson's 'Waiting Man', providing a marimba-like pattern over which Ballamy plays a wonderfully dreamy soprano sax melody. By the third track, 'Up North', the listener is captivated. On top of a gentle ostinato pattern provided by Bruford, Ballamy (on sax) and Bates (on e flat 'peck' horn, a trumpet-like instrument) play a melody which sounds gentle and totally delightful. Bates takes a great solo. And so the album goes on. There are no disappointments; the music remains fresh and inspired until the very end.

One of the great things about this first incarnation of Earthworks is that Bruford surrounded himself with such supremely gifted musicians. Bates and Ballamy certainly had more characteristic voices than the musicians who would succeed them at the end of the 1990s. Django Bates is an idiosyncratic keyboard player who sounds as if he would have fitted right in with Hatfield and the North. If you can, check out some of the 'Canterbury'-like albums he recorded under his own name, especially SUMMER FRUITS and WINTER TRUCE!

fuxi | 4/5 |


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