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Released 2nd July 2021.
Conceived and realised over an 8-month period of intense solitary work, 'Gated' is Alex Ward's most ambitious musical statement to date. The ten pieces employ all of Alex's instrumental resources as a performer, featuring clarinets, saxophones, guitars, keyboards, electric bass and assorted software instruments.
They draw on everything he has learned during his three-decades-plus of activity as a free improviser, composer/bandleader and sideman. The result is a dense and multi-layered array of detailed compositional structures, headlong improvisational flights and deft studio manipulation.
As the conception of the album progressed and Alex resolved to let his ideas develop in a manner unfettered by anything other than his own aspirations and abilities, he strove to create a work which would inhabit a wide-open stylistic and sonic terrain without succumbing to the pitfalls of pastiche. The range of instrumentation and attack deployed throughout the album might at various points suggest any number of strands of avant/experimental rock, AACM-and-beyond traditions of creative music, or post-Darmstadtian chamber rigour; but rather than generic signifiers being employed as decoration or even tribute, in 'Gated' every musical element is mined for the most fertile and least standardised possibilities it can yield. Despite the album's startling diversity of sound and atmosphere, a consistent set of compositional and aesthetic principles underlies its entire contents.
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