Ghikas and Walshe: Good Teeth (CD review)


The first release on the Migro label sees composer-improvisers Panos Ghikas and Jennifer Walshe in typically genre-bending style. The catch on Good Teeth, an album of duo improvisations for vocals, trumpet, sampler, drums and viola is improvisations on the live instruments and voice are recorded, broken down in fragments, and reassigned to sampler. Those samples are then played through an e-drum kit (by Ghikas), while Walshe reacts and improvises in real time to the sampled and replayed material.

You can get an idea of how this works from this short video, recorded at Good Teeth’s launch party:

On the album’s first track ‘The Pig Sleep’ the natural energy of Walshe’s live vocals is balanced by the rough fluidity around the edges of her sound; the digitally-crisp rhythms of Ghikas’s sampler by their sonic trace as recorded, ‘dead’ matter. Dialogues of that type, around what is ‘live’ about a live sound, around different ways to energise a noise act, run through the album. The introduction of Ghikas’s violin on track 4, ‘Oh! naturel’ (those puns …) keeps it fresh. Most of the tracks are compact blasts, coming in at under 4 minutes each; endings seem to have caught everyone by surprise, yet still sound assured. Only on the final, seventh track, ‘Toy Adonis’, do Ghikas and Walshe set their sights on a more distant horizon 13 minutes away. The result feels strangely more ‘composed’, as though aware of a larger structural framework. Meticulous pacing substitutes for seat-of-the-pants euphoria.

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