Cary Grace - The Uffculme Variations - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cary Grace - The Uffculme Variations

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2016-10-31

We loved Grace’s previous effort, last year’s Tygerland album and are excited about this live recording, featuring material from that and several other albums, along with numerous new live improvisations that were recorded at this year’s Kozfest, the little psych fest that could, which took place in Devon, near Uffculme on 29-31 July. ‘Orange Sky’ soars majestically into the warm summer air on the back of Grace’s emotionally uplifting vocals and her vintage EMS “Putney” and Graham Clark’s weeping violin. Guitar histrionics from Steffe Sharpstrings highlight ‘Trouble’, and the throbbing, epic krautrocker ‘Ksozmik Eye’ manages to amaze and enthrall, sidestepping all the potential pitfalls of dropping a 15-minute improv into the middle of a set that the heads have barely had time to settle into (it’s a variation of ‘Eye’ from her 2008 Projections release, which is even longer!) Sharpstrings lives up to his name, with honey-drippin’ nimble-fingered solos bouncing around your head, swerving over, under, and around Grace’s angelic pronouncements.

The title track is a tight improv with all participants firing on all cylinders, feeding off the jazzy foundation laid down by rhythm section Andy Budge and David Payne, with Grace’s playful soloing particularly exciting to hear (and presumably, a joy to behold if you were in attendance). ‘Cassiopeia 2016’ updates the 1572 version from 2009’s Perpetual Motion, with Clark outperforming his original studio violin playing with vibrant jigs, zigs, and zags, sinuously sneaking around Sharpstrings’ flights of fancy that even out-jawdrop John Garden’s original studio pyrotechnics. The live version also ups the ante by lifting the track from its lazily spun, dreaming studio trappings for an appropriately jammin’ recitation.

The set closes with the eerie, psychy hard rockin’ ‘The Grand Theme of Things’ which settles us down to ponder the amazing set of proggy, jazzy krautrockin’ funk that we’ve experienced. Grace and band are performing at Saturday’s (26 November) Glastonbury Frost Fayre outside The King Arthur on Benedict Street. Plan on dropping by to hear some amazing music!

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