ENSEMBLE 1 – “Guitar, Bass & Drums” Review

We journey now to Brighton, UK for an act that balances simplicity with complexity.  ENSEMBLE 1 brings us Guitar, Bass & Drums, their latest release.  The album contains three tracks for around 48 minutes.  Their Bandcamp states that “Ensemble 1 combine minimalist composition methods with speed, volume and intricate percussion techniques to create gargantuan soundscapes.”

One of the things that is interesting about ENSEMBLE 1 is their aforementioned balance of simplicity with complexity.  For example, consider the name of the band, the album and the songs, “Guitar, Bass & Drums” Parts 1 and 2 and “GBD I Delay Loops.”  Even some of the patterns they use in the tracks are simplistic.  But when ENSEMBLE 1 builds upon their strengths which are layering and experimenting with pacing, the end results are anything but simplistic.  It’s obvious that the majority of this recording is experimental but at the same time, it’s highly hypnotic due to some of the repetition.  But then you have moments, for example in places like in “GBD Pt 2” where ENSEMBLE 1 goes from quiet to bombastic.

The album is a work of structure vs. experimentation, a study in complexity from simplicity and intensely thought out piece of work.  Just when you think you’re expecting the patterns to repeat, ENSEMBLE 1 breaks in a surprise to throw you off.  It can be in the form of a key change or like above, a quick shift from quiet to loud. 

The thing is, this album is virtually impossible to be categorized stylistically.  Some of it actually sounds like a Rage Against The Machine rehearsal session gone nuts.  There seems to be elements of jazz fusion although I’m not convinced that was intentional.  Perhaps it’s the fretless bass sound. 

The third track, “GBD I Delay Loops” contains a pattern that’s almost like that of The Who’s track, “Eminence Front.’ But then the track shifts to more fuzzy guitar tones, still employing the act of building complexity upon simple structures. 

There’s some pretty interesting stuff in this recording.  Check it out if you are into…. well, interesting music as this simply can’t be placed in a category box.  But that’s a good thing.  I’ll be interested to see where ENSEMBLE 1 takes us on their next adventure. 



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