Leverton Fox was formed in 2007 by Alex Bonney, Tim Giles and Matt Groom, the latter being replaced in 2009 by Sam Britton of leftfield electronica duo Icarus, here trading as Isambard Khroustaliov.
Their label, Not Applicable, report that a 2010 tour supporting Humcrush, the improv duo of Thomas Strønen and Ståle Storløkken, “catalysed a new direction for the group,” and set its blueprint for improvisation with percussion + electronics.
Still, despite the Norwegian ‘future jazz’ and evident krautrock influences, Leverton Fox have a distinctly British sound, and it’s no surprise that they also cite 2-Step UK garage as an influence.
Usually working as a Jazz drummer, Giles maintains a pretty busy and eclectic schedule, with recurring commitments including Twelves, the James Allsopp Quartet, and Golden Age of Steam, in which he plays alongside Bonney. The latter, among other engagements, issued a solo, primarily electronic recording, Excavations and Demolitions, earlier in the year, co-leads the electro-acoustic Splice, and live-processes Michael Janisch’s Paradigm Shift.
Britton’s Icarus began as a left-field drum ‘n’ bass outfit, but mostly surface in London in live improv collaborations with the pigeonhole-averse likes of Black Top and Matthew Bourne (who also plays alongside Bonney, in the excellent Human). Arthurs and Britton have a new duo album, Vaucanson’s Muse (vinyl and digital only), released alongside Velcro Bird on Not Applicable.
Leverton Fox is its own thing.
After a radiophonic ambient intro (“Annika”), “Onglet” kicks off with an irruptive jumble of primitive synth throb, electronic abstractions, backmasking and bass-boom percussion rumpus, before steadying into a pulsing organism. There’s a real frisson here, a charged atmosphere created by an ongoing push-pull tension between overtly ‘live’ kit drumming and the electronic elements – a symbiosis in frictions.
“Horse Finger”, by contrast, is focused on synth textures. A tad more pacific but equally restless, its surface synth shimmers mirror an electrically-charged aurural display while subterranean rumblings keep other aspects of the mix resolutely obfusc.
After that, the crisp, driving kit drumming and return to throbbing synths on the longest (12:09) cut “Salon Selecta” set a firmer, more propulsive course, with Bonney’s processed cornet nicely smeared over the Krautrock groove, rather like Toshinori Kondo’s trumpet in Paul Schutze’s late 90’s supergroup Phantom City.
The album’s title track is a low-pressure system of muzzy synth sustains and burnoff, with bleepy and twittering synth sounds flickering through the gloaming while Giles embellishes a muffled, initially irregularly booming pulse with brushed drumheads and part-processed cymbal shimmer.
Despite being kinda gauzy, “Velcro Bird” reaches its terminus implacably, with little overt fuss, and, despite being recorded and mixed over a two year period, the whole album hangs together just as remarkably well.
Most of what remains is an interconnected, fifteen-minute suite: “Racoon Coat” Parts I-III. The beats are more cleanly synthesized and sequenced on “Part I (Duffle)”, and, with trace vocal elements in the mix, this is the closest Leverton Fox come to either song or ‘artificially intelligent’ IDM in the ‘classic’ sense. Segue to “Part II (Parka)”, and any trace voices remain only as elements in a muzzy evanescence that bleeds into “Part III (Trench)”, where semaphore electronic bleeps and beats pierce an aureole of lazy glitching, setting up an afterglow with woodwind-like fluting that suggests a tropical field recording.
That leaves only the sub-minute “Rice” to loop back and reconnect with “Annika”, inviting repeat play and further immersion. You may well be tempted.
Alex Bonney electronics, cornet; Tim Giles drums, electronics; Sam Britton electronics.
Buy Velcro Bird direct from Not Applicable Recordings.