IMPROVISATIONS FOR QUICKLY PREPARED PIANO
Mike Adcock is a pianist and accordionist who studied composition with Gavin Bryars and was a founder member of the entertaining Accordions Go Crazy, whose repertoire included Blondie cover versions, original compositions and obscure drinking songs. His new solo album is subtitled “improvisations for quickly prepared piano”, and achieves a gentle, unpretentious ambience in a series of recordings each of whose titles contains the word “whom”. There’s a sense of eavesdropping on Adcock as he explores the sonic properties of the pianos in St Stephen’s Church Hall and the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. The preparation methods appear to be as spontaneous as the playing – the objects jammed against the piano strings include bells, tambourines and his old raincoat. Sometimes the sounds are muted to extremes of unpitched quietness; at other times he produces a jangling explosion of fractured plinks and plonks. There’s usually a trace of melody, framed by an arranger’s sense of timbre and drama: it’s not a virtuoso album or a jazz album. With Whom produces something like a Jaco Pastorius fretless bass sound from the low strings of piano; Against Whom makes play with jerkily syncopated rhythms; Without Whom employs a slow, thoughtful mode, reminiscent of one of Satie’s Gnossiennes that ends with a rapid, rattling study-like piece. On the final track, For Whom, the isolated chords are interrupted by the sound of a church bell. Adcock lets his final chord decay and the album ends with the bell alone.
John L Walters – The Guardian
“Moment of Discovery offers a timely opportunity to hear more of the music of Mike Adcock. His collection of nine prepared piano solos is mostly but not exclusively contemplative, as he makes creative use of the tension between allusiveness and singularity. His prepared piano is not so much the compact percussion ensemble envisaged by John Cage as a chest filled with sounds familiar, half remembered or strange, which are unpacked with each improvisation.”
Julian Cowley – The Wire