Tania Chen: objects, toys, violin, piano
Steve Beresford: objects, electronics, toys, trumpet, water
Not to rub it in, but this is a very effective fast-acting selection from two of England's finest sonic alchemists. Applied liberally to the ears, 'Ointment' will both soothe and alarm you. Tania Chen and Steve Beresford coax a galaxy of timbres from toys and unidentified objects to produce a series of astonishing tableaux.
The album commences with the monastic 'Gel', a stinging vesper for rasp and strigil. We are wheeled into the phosphene diorama of 'Lotion', awash with images of giant ants, ducks and a campfire idyll. 'Serum' is administered, seemingly innocuous, but then run through with a desert laser like blue cheese, it scrubs up a storm. The title track is shaken and stirred. Dextrose organs sugar the espionage.
In the aftermath there is 'Balm', an aquatic fanfare with lemon notes and a hint of playdough. 'Liniment' evokes traffic-smeared London. It is essentially a road work. A suburban ballad for mandrill, cricket and toffee guitar. 'Embrocation' steams forth, ideal for the brushing (and flossing) of teeth, it is hygienic and brief. The seasonal downstroke of 'Demulcent' counts the rings around it's carbonated core. Regular music with a soft touch.
The last two squirts of 'Ointment' are live recordings. 'Cerate' begins as a gentle seduction, waxing rustic before stiffening at the conclusion. 'Chrism' puts the funk into unction, it marks time and pierces austerity, the rhythms played out on a leash.
Chen and Beresford are quick-change artists on the fly. 'Ointment' captures them. Side effects for the listener? A sharpening of the senses which may persist for some time after the album has finished.
Notes by Jonathan Bohman
- Gel (5' 20'')
- Lotion (19' 19'')
- Serum (5' 48'')
- Ointment (6' 47'')
- Balm (0' 51'')
- Liniment (9' 05'')
- Embrocation (1' 26'')
- Demulcent (2' 57'')
- Cerate (5' 26'')
- Chrism (4' 03'')
Pieces beginning with 'C' recorded by Tim Fletcher at The Bonnington, Vauxhall, London on December 18 2002. Event organised by Adam and Jonathan Bohman.
All other pieces recorded by Steve Beresford in west London - pieces beginning with 'L' on August 7 2003 and the rest on June 12 2003. All pieces composed by Tania Chen and Steve Beresford. Edited by Steve Beresford in March 2004.