CD REVIEW: Ant Law – Life I Know



Ant Law – Life I Know
(Edition. EDN1119. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)


Life I Know is the first album in a while from guitarist Ant Law: as one third of Trio HLK and a regular member of Tim Garland's band, he's had a lot to keep him busy elsewhere. Law describes Life I Know as gathering together different aspects of his life, and it certainly feels like a very personal record: each track could tell a story; as the first track is Movies and the last Credits, perhaps they are scenes from a film.

Law is helped by some very accomplished musicians on the album. James Maddren on drums is lively, exciting – and very precise. Ivo Neame contributes some enticing piano playing throughout, and Tom Farmer and Mike Chillingworth are excellent on bass and alto saxophone respectively. They sound very much like a band, tight and bound together in delivering Law's music.

They are joined by a couple of guests, with Tim Garland playing saxophone on a couple of tracks and Asaf Sirkis, who plays percussion in Garland's band, providing the intricate konnakol, rhythmic vocalisation from south Asian karnatic music, to the energetic Laurvin Glaslowe.

The album is balanced around a solo guitar piece, Pure Imagination, the song from the film of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the lyrics of which provide the album's title. Law abstracts the tune, leaving just the simplest form, the notes resounding warmly, spacious and romantic.

Elsewhere the music is full-on modern jazz fusion. The band's playing is lyrical and melodic, Maddren and Farmer providing lively rhythmic impetus. Neame's piano and Chillingworth's alto are sometimes reflective – the whole mood of the short Searching, which Law says was inspired by the North Sea seen from the train south from Edinburgh.

Aquilinus, featuring Garland, is more forthright. Named for the eagle, the saxophone soars on Law's writing, pushed higher by the rhythm section. Laurvin Glaslowe is another full-on piece. Sirkis' konnakol, backed by a drone, leads into a rhythmically complex number, testing the band to the full. The Act Itself is the longest track on the album and is almost suite-like as it explores different avenues. Chillingworth excels in the track, with a couple of life-affirming solos.

The album naturally revolves around Law's writing. By turns intricate and complex or stripped-back and gentle, there is a warmth to his tunes and guitar work. The personal touch shines through it all.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield

Life I Know is released on Friday 9 November.

The Ant Law Quartet play Soho Pizza Express on Monday 19 November (1.30pm) and the Archduke on Saturday 24 November (10pm.

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