Music Review: NeWt

Guitarist Graeme Stephen, one-third of NeWt. Picture: contributed

Guitarist Graeme Stephen, one-third of NeWt. Picture: contributed

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With drummer Chris Wallace back from his native Canada to rejoin Edinburgh guitarist Graeme Stephen and Edinburgh-based Australian trombonist Chris Greive in their unusually-configured trio for a Celtic Connections gig tomorrow night, this was a chance to catch this barnstorming live act back on their old stamping ground. With Wallace’s industrious drumming and Stephen and Grieve sharing between them a veritable conjurer’s trunk of tricksy electronics, NeWt can work up a fearsome, improv-meets-metal dynamic, as in their ominously toned opening number, with its preliminary cymbal crashes and guitar clamour before settling into unison guitar/trombone runs and hard riffing, Greive’s trombone wired to double as a bass, all of it over constantly shifting tempi.

The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh ****

In contrast, Lighthouse, from their Shetland inspired NeWt North project, was more pensive, with chiming bells and trombone murmurs, while Cydonia 19.5 was reminiscent of the kind of vivid soundscapes Stephen regularly composes to accompany creepy German Expressionist films, although with its wonderfully gurgly trombone voicings and guitar howls, there were times when you weren’t quite sure whether it was Count Orlok or Donald Duck who was creeping up on you, before the ’ bone’ bass shifted things into a bluesy groove.

Plenty of relentless propulsion, too, in Red Hill while their penultimate number, Rover, was more of a melancholy meander with drums cutting loose from the plodding tempo, before further fireworks with snarling guitar and wah-wah trombone brought things to a characteristically muscular close.

JIM GILCHRIST

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