Dave Manington’s Riff Raff - Hullabaloo
(LOOP1015. CD Review by Chris Parker)
This is bassist/composer Dave Manington’s first album as leader since Head Rush in 2007, and reflects the changes he’s instigated in his band since then, chief among them the substitution of tenor player Tom Challenger for Mark Hanslip and the addition of vocalist Brigitte Beraha and electric guitarist Rob Updegraff to the line-up, which retains keyboard player Ivo Neame and drummer Tim Giles.
Beraha’s pure-toned, pleasantly dreamy wordless vocals are a striking feature of the new band’s front line (she sings lyrics in the conventional manner on three tracks), as are Updegraff’s multi-textured guitar contributions (Manington comments: ‘The guitar also “glued” the sound together ... and made it a lot easier to free up over’).
The resultant band sound is thus an unusual one even in ‘default’ mode; when the often tricksy themes have been stated, moreover, the above-mentioned freeing up process takes over, and Challenger and Neame in particular utilise all the experience gained, respectively, in Outhouse/Dice Factory and Phronesis (and Neame’s own bands recently documented by Edition) to transform the pieces into free-ish improvisations that cleverly exploit the idiosyncrasies of Manington’s compositional style.
The songs may have less overt impact than the wordless-vocal features, but their ethereal qualities tellingly complement the grit and tug of the band sound, and the album is an intriguing one which promises much from Riff Raff’s live performances.
Riff Raff launch this album at the Vortex on 28 January.