[Picture of Basquait Strings' album sleeve]This self-named album from Cellist Ben Davis is sublime.  Basquiat Strings came out in 2007, but its quite new to me, despite loving Seb Rochford‘s stuff (Polar Bear, etc), and seeing the Mercury Nomination performance back when.

The Basquiat Strings are an innovative hybrid of classical string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) and a jazz rhythm section (double bass and drums), and with composer Ben Davis, comprises Emma Smith, Vicky Fifield, Jennymay Logan, Richard Pryce and Seb Rochford.

[Picture of the band line up for basquiat Strings]I am struck at times with how King Crimson Starless & Bible Black it can be. Other times, I can get a Jean-Luc Ponty feel — which is forgiveable to the point of being a compliment.

Read reviews and listen to previews here at Amazon. Folk have mentioned Surfjan Stevens and even Sigur Rós!

It ranges from trippy to dreamy, to driving along apace with a light heart and a slight trance.  Wonderful stuff. Remarkable that it manages to sit so well into several seriously complicated genres. Expect pizzicato, but also expect very yiddish violin moods too.

The whole album is  a well conceived and constructed project worthy of any collection. It will expand your mind!

Ben Davis has a website — They’re on Myspace too.

I like it because it takes me back in memory to my prog rock days — King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd — and the other strands, such as Bruford, UK, and even Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant.  But then, I like odd time signatures, key changes, long instrumentals and the creation of a really cool aural environment — a mood, a different vibe.

[Embedded video of Double Dares by Basquiat Strings at Mercury Prize 2007 on YouTube]


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