50 ballets |cs061








































Two drummers were once typical of expanded rock bands (I’m thinking of Allman Brothers Band and the 1974 version of Frank Zappa’s Mothers, with Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson). Two drum sets plus percussion is what Alexander Babel and Nicolas Field play in “50 ballets”, a 13-track CD of improvisations that sound neither filled with testosterone nor bombastic, a vast range of gradations and morphologies appearing rather delicate even in the most beat-prolific passages, only to release the hottest, most intense vapours at the end of the program. Indeed I’d be willing to bet that a good portion of these pieces was played with bare hands, brushes or mallets; I didn’t hear too many wooden sticks around the house, but have no certainty whatsoever. “Civilized neutrality” shows the couple’s tasteful mixture of economy of means and tuned ears, built as it is upon an initial gong-like aura that gets interspersed with swift cymbal touches and sapient tom-based rolling, while “Rubber dust” is a comprehensive demonstration of dynamic sensitivity amalgamated with a keen sense of event placement amidst ample spaces. The only proper thunderous activity is to be found in “1328”, followed by the final “Caudeval by night” exploding in “full metal friction” mode. Shorter tracks like “Private puppetry” act as a temporary division between the paradoxically non-logorrheic discourses of the duo, showing Babel and Field’s attention-catching ability to determine the exact moment in which calmer sections should be inserted, thus enhancing their will of being recognized more as instant composers than just drummers. An appreciable effort by two talented men, “50 ballets” is a rather surprising album that should grant the protagonists a deserved visibility. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Drums and percussion plus drums and percussion equals…a percussive recording and you don’t have to be a genius to imagine the result, but wait, it’s hard to believe how good this record sounds if you haven’t given it the careful listening it requires. I’ve no doubt this’ one of the best Creative Sources releases I’ve heard so far: I love rhythm session but I’m also aware of the fact many percussive duos coming from the impro-jazz area are boring as fuck, well this pair is beautifully assorted and I really enjoyed their way of improvising, the how they play the waiting game and how they go straight to the next intersection. I’ve several “solo percussion” releases in my collection and have heard some more, this one is more “old school” if compared to the free-rock style of drummers like David Shea, but it’s also considerably different from that of Han Bennik, I think this drumming duo has its strong personality and that’s the most fascinating part of it. When dealing with an all percussive recording the risk is to get bored in a split second but Field’s and Babel’s journey bring them through many changes of intensity, dynamics and timber. Their approach to drumming tecniques is elegant but what makes this release more interesting then many other similar works is the attention the duo pays to the track construction: they pass from quiet parts or smoothly played solutions to “free-jazz-rock” eruptions but they work in a really complementary way so to avoid sounding simply chaotic. The recording and the spatialization of the drums helps a lot since as I’ve said they’re able to produce an incredible variety of sounds and sometimes you really feel like you’re standing in the middle of the room where the improvisative dialogue happened. Nice. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)