Barnyard Drama I'm a Navvy

If anyone wanted a snapshot of improvisational music in Canada at its best, here it is. Long-time duo turned quartet, with the addition of guitarists Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise, Barnyard Drama is the gold standard of new improvisation in this country, and probably elsewhere, as well, if we Canadians weren’t so darned modest. Not only do they create soundscapes of profound breadth and depth, they imbue them with sonic and conceptual drama that subverts the group’s self-effacing name. Their tunes are dramatic with a capital D. Vocalist Christine Duncan defies vocal categorisation; she’s an instrumentalist who holds her own in the most abstract of improv settings. And the dual guitarists draw her formidable skills out, from lip-fiddling to throat yodelling, in ways that elude verbalisation. And isn’t this the point of music — to transcend the verbal? Drummer Jean Martin is capable of making music happen in the most unlikely ways. Yet, here, he is organically connected to the goings-on in a way that draws out his innate playfulness. And Martin’s deft production expertise has rendered the whole proceedings haunting and ethereal. Barnyard Drama have taken a bold step away from their duo inception. But the move looks super-good on them. The guitars bring out in the innate "bluesiness” of a group that could be mistaken for a neu-improv anomaly. Highly recommended. (Range Life)