LINDSAY COOPER & CHARLES GRAY Pia Mater (Resurgence)
This is lovely. Lindsay Cooper (ex-Henry Cow and the Feminist Improvising Group) weaves sopranino saxophone and bassoon lines over Charles Grays synthesised and sampled soundscape washes for the best part of forty minutes or so, and, uh, thats it. No art-rock manifestos or heavy agendas (although it should be noted that the title refers to the inner membrane enveloping the brain and the spinal cord, and is also Latin for tender mother), not even any unnecessary distractions such as track titles. "Pia Mater" is minimal enough to function purely as background ambient conditioning, but to relegate it to such a role would do a great disservice to the melodic invention it contains. For me there are definite comparisons to be made with Eno and the Aphex Twin at their most ambient in Charles Grays work, whilst Lindsay Coopers contributions are not dissimilar to Jan Garbareks collaborations with the Hilliard Ensemble. Whatever, "Pia Mater" is an unpretentious gem of an album, sadly probably destined to be heard by only a tiny fraction of the audience that might enjoy it.