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28 August 2011

Coxhill/Miller Miller/Coxhill (Virgin)

Of course I (like everyone) thought this would be 'Fly Like and Eagle' Steve Miller, but sadly (or happily?) I was wrong - this Steve Miller has some connection to Hatfield and the North, I think. This record invites two titles and two entrances, eschewing the side A/side B malarkey that has plagued records for so long. I chose Miller/Coxhill first and it's a sneaky beginning - 'Chocolate Field', a somber piano piece that Lol comes in on at the end. Coxhill doesn't appear on the lengthy second track, 'One For You', but we get Phil Miller, Pip Pyle and Richard Sinclair, making this a solidly Canterbury track, as you can imagine. It sounds pretty good though - composed by Miller, it's clearly built around his piano, but with some lovely, ripping guitar notes from the other Miller. It's definitely that rolling, brainy yet easy limey prog vibe, and while a forgettable track, it sets the vibe for Coxhill's re-entry on 'Portland Bill'. Instead of a a full drum kit, this has frantic cymbal playing from Laurie Allen and Lol and Miller finally start to open up a bit, like a catamaran traveling through a cloudy tunnel. The cymbals give the piece more velocity and nervousness than I think a full drum kit could do; Lol is much more sidewinder than tunesmith here, and it serves the group dynamic very well. But then flip it over, and holy christ does it get nuts. 'Will my thirst play me tricks?/The ant about to be crushed ponders not the where withal of bootleather' is some outer limits madness, where our eponymous band leaders play 'Wurlitzer percussion', which I guess means bashing on a Wurlitzer. This sounds like nothing I've ever heard from the genre of Bumpy Rambling Bashing; it's nervous and driving, and it blends seamlessly into 'Maggots', where some 'messy phones' are played and then we finally get to 'Bath '72' which is a warm, wet solo Coxhill piece with 'children, tapes and motors' (though these elements are merely a gurgling presence in the background). This is the most adventurous side of vinyl yet from Coxhill, and there's hardly any trace of his music hall leanings -- yet it carries through the joy found on Ear of Beholder, coupled with innovative exploration. Exciting stuff, for sure. The last two tracks, 'Wimbledon Baths' and "Gog ma Gog' take things down a notch, but this somber, moody ending is kinda nice after the highs heard before. The end result of this meeting is something inconsistent, and hardly unified enough to stand as the double-titled dual-entry record it's presented as, but the gems shine bright.

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