Quadraceratops didn’t appear on my radar until this eponymous, seven track, CD arrived in the post: it is deliciously effulgent.
Opening with Dinner With Patrick, there is a vivid vibrato from the alto saxophone of Cath Roberts and Tom Ward, and the variations in pitch, judiciously shadowed by Olly Blackman on drums, cements the primer for what is to follow.
Song for the Worker Bee is quick off the mark, driven incessantly by Blackman and Jason Simpson on double bass, but the excellence of Dave O’Brien on Fender Rhodes and Henry Spencer on trumpet brings the crescendo to mid stream, where the sound spreads out, and takes off.
There is a real sense of discovery with each of the munificent tracks on Quadraceratops, with new ground explored, though never at the expense of an absence of cohesion. The solos, thus, are not in the least onanistic.
A gorgeous sax harmony flirts with O’Brien’s piano in Chair-O-Planes, which me for, in its impressionism and the play with mood and tone, and the tendency of Quadraceratops to strip a tune to almost attenuation, without diluting the overall flavour, before using harmony to inflate the flavour, is the most pleasurable.
As chief composer and arranger, Cath Roberts has several trademarks: she creates a vacuum for her musicians to flourish, incandescently quick or incandescently slow, like the infectious opening to Spiderling, contoured by Magnus Dearness on trombone, but illuminated once gain by the percussive Blackman and O’Brien’s piano.
Calico I kept for the short journey to work by car: soaring horn rambling and meandering across a sound field of piano, abruptly cut by tremulous bass, and then Roberts orchestrates multiple blossomings, both saxophones imploding and exploding until O’Brien’s nursery notes shepherd a trumpet and bass lines into a sudden denouement.
Quadraceratops, in what has been an excellent year for new releases, carves its own niche, with a solidity of sound executed weightlessly. The longest track, at over ten minutes, is the final one, Flying South, a fitting conclusion to a surprise package.