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Liam Noble on a moment that changed everything in his approach.

Liam’s new album ‘The Long Game’ will be released on 7th June featuring Tom Herbert and Seb Rochford. LISTEN


“Power Tools : Strange Meeting” was the first time I heard Bill Frisell, someone I had read about in “The Wire” magazine. His sounds were complex and dense, almost like you could touch them, like sculpture, and like the sounds Monk and Ellington, my heroes then and now, made. Frisell’s use of a loop pedal enabled lines to weave between the trails of melodies already played, then recorded, played backwards or twice the speed. It was an amazing sound, like watching someone dance with a film of their partner. It was the newest thing I’d heard in jazz at that time.

Beneath this was the rhythm section of Melvin Gibbs and Ronald Shannon Jackson on bass and drums. They had this weird, dark mix of rock and funk and jazz, thick heavy grooves but with a free pulse that shifted in and out of the pocket. It felt like Ornette and Cecil Taylor through the lens of an indie rock band. Everyone in the band wrote tunes, which were simple but abstract, catchy but surprising, full of possibilities. That was a lesson in itself.

I realised that to use loops and processing you need a rhythm section who can both leave space around them, but also cut across the sound without too much deference and respect. Seb and Tom have a long playing history with Polar Bear and so have a unique hook up. Often their response to complex texture is to sit on a groove; they invent these things that bring the chaos down to earth. Equally they are both likely to explode in sudden chaotic flourishes of their own, but the gestures are always direct and clear. That clarity is so important.

Seb seems to know when to surge and when to hold back, and it’s always surprising. Tom has this great sound that just warms everything up…he plays just enough to carry the music along.

I don’t think anything we do sounds like “Power Tools”, but I’m certainly influenced by that record a lot. Simple tunes, space to experiment and grooves that come out of nowhere!

Power Tools – Strange Meeting