Updated: Feb 7, 2021
Work Money Death
The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknown Resides, Can Be The Space From Which Creation Arises
5 February 2021
Album Rating 5 / 5
Solo Performances 5 / 5
The debut record from Leeds group Work Money Death is a breathtaking album; The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknown Resides, Can Be The Space From Which Creation Arises is a deeply transcendental and spiritual piece of music, and the feeling of joy overcomes you through the record.
Work Money Death is the group that backed fellow ATA Records artist Tony Burkill on his 2017 debut record of the same name, featuring Burkill himself on tenor sax. A stalwart of the Leeds music scene for the best part of three decades, Burkill had maintained a low profile nationally, choosing to favour continued study and development on the instrument over the attainment of success or recognition within the music industry.
The new LP was conceived and recorded by Burkill and bassist Neil Innes during the spring/summer of 2020. Comprising of members of The Sorcerers, The Lewis Express and Nat Birchall's band, they've created long-form, improvised pieces inspired by the work of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane.
Burkill and Innes wrote the music through a series of extended improvisations similar to the extended meditation sessions that both musicians practice. These sessions enabled a state of flow through which Tony’s compositional approach to improvisation produced melodic fragments that were worked on. Due to coronavirus restrictions in the UK, each musician would arrive and record their part separately as one continuous performance in the studio.
They reacted to the performances of each previous musician in an evolving way, developing the sound constantly. It was in the midst of this process that the title was chosen, as a reflection of their exploration in creating new processes to make music. The product is two long tracks named 'Dusk' and 'Dawn' splitting up the record.
Tanpura trickles out in the intro of 'Dusk', with Burkill's saxophone blowing long strokes as his recurring theme allows Adam Fairhall's piano the space to chime out different improvisations that are backed by Innes' bass notes. Burkill's talent for gutsy improvisation is heard towards the end of this track as he knocks out some magnificent movements that are equally responded to by the rest of the rhythm section with power and intensity. The collective sound is fierce and enormous.
The B-side 'Dawn' is uplifting and evokes the feeling of being woken up by to a bright, beautiful day with sunbeams shining through into your body, and casting a warm feeling over you to start your day. Burkill's saxophone takes big deep breaths as he softly bellows in the introductory improvisation before the main groove breaks in with The Headingley Hand Choir clapping to the rhythm. The melody is sensational, and the gentler feel contrasts nicely to the end of 'Dusk', especially when Fairhall's piano solo comes in and exhilarates in taking the gaze away from Burkill's saxophone for a few moments.
The anticipation of Burkill arriving back into the song is thrilling and blows you away, as the French horn, flute and bass clarinet add texture with the percussion of bells, drums, bamboo xylophones and woodblocks underpinning the main theme.
The vocals of 'Love is all I give to you' draw the track to a close over the last four minutes of the song. The last moments are dazzling and make a gorgeous song even more entrancing. There aren't enough words that do justice to explain the feeling of excitement and happiness that 'Dawn' brings, and credit must be given to Burkill, Innes and the Work Money Death collective for providing such positive music in a time of dark lockdowns casting a big shadow over our lives.
The musical mantras of the record charm you, and Work Money Death certainly have released one of the most empowering records I have heard in a long time.
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