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Binker and Moses
Feeding the Machine Alec Holt , February 22nd, 2022 08:19

Alec Holt has his mind subtly bent backwards by the ouroboric sax and bounding rhythms of Binker and Moses

If an early December gig in the boxy Peckham Audio was intended as a road-test for their new material, Binker (Golding) and Moses (Boyd) must have come away from that positively feral ovation flushed with fresh confidence. Still, it was a rather curious atmosphere they engineered. Though far from a pedestrian set – Binker’s ouroboric circular breathing on soprano sax almost immediately coiled my senses into a giddy muddle – but somehow the beatific electronic drone with which the show ebbed away made for a palatable segue into Sunday Evening Melancholia.

That same drone, if my memory serves, divinely backdrops a highlight from their new LP, ‘After The Machine Settles’, emerging from a sandstorm of spliced instrumental specks like the colouring rim of an evening horizon or the glowing backing strings of Eberhard Weber’s ECM staples. After a couple of minutes Moses’s drums bound in to haul us up into the heavens, and as moments go it’s really quite ecstatic – a triumph of the new dynamics furnished by the addition of Max Luthert on “electronic effects”. Rather than a flail towards novelty (they’re far too talented for that), these synth-y imbrications mark a considered embrace of the studio context they’d eschewed for going on five years.

On opener ‘Asynchronous Intervals’ Golding puffs with controlled brawn atop a bed of looped minimalist flutters, reminiscent of recent work by Patrick Shiroishi and Bendik Giske. ‘Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord’ then lunges into mixing-board miscreance, dubbing out smoky Black Lodge-appropriate tenor sax lisps into fizzing delayed static while Boyd’s snare hits bottleneck into a growl. This is the tech impingement at its most thrilling and effective, a mischievous scrambling of what we thought we knew about the duo which recalls the cyborg dalliances of the Peter Evans Quintet on 2011’s Ghosts.

The central two of the six tracks are a bit of a cruise by comparison, not quite capturing either the impressive dusky visions of the album at large or the avant disposition which gave live recordings like 2018’s Alive in the East? their particular galvanising flair; bigger fans of astral outfits like The Comet Is Coming than me will probably find more to love at this point, on the thumping ‘Accelerometer Overdose’ especially. Machine-fed streaks of looping refrains and rippling electronics make for a pleasing melange, no doubt, but it’s the surrounding four tracks which really vindicate the horizon-opening technocultural paradigm which apparently informed the album’s concept. As ‘Because Because’ closes things out with a tempest of wheeling soprano brilliance from Binker, however, it’s hard to feel that this duo could misapply their talents to whatever paths they might bend.