Queensland-based (prepared) pianist Erik Griswold has previously recorded for Room 40, the highlight being the massive and stunning three-hour ‘Wallpaper Music’, as passive as it sounds. Clocked Out is a duo with percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson, who plays toys, found objects and most frequently bowls of water. Foreign Objects expands from Griswold’s Cageian solo work into jazz and post rock structures, among others.
It’s incredible how well the two work together, not just that their instrumental timbres are so well-suited but that their improvisatory approaches frequently gel with all the force of groups like The Necks. That analogy is appropriate to many of the tracks on Foreign Objects, as simple pre-determined patterns slip and slide, rippling out into swathes of new, engaging forms. Track 1 (all the track titles are either untitled or unannounced, as the attractive handmade sleeve contains no information aside from foam objects glued to the cover) is a gorgeous exploration of gamelan textures, calm liquid pools plinking and dripping, sweeping the listener to the lush tropics. Track 2 shudders like the opening of Tortoise’s ‘Djed’, as does Track 5, in which Griswold plays melodica in the spirit of John McEntire. The extended percussive freedom of Track 6 is the album’s longest piece, a pleasant ramble through the sound and spirit of seashells, tin cans and random flotsam, while 8 and 9 return to Cage, Tomlinson decorating Griswold’s percussive piano donks with music-box chimes and resonant gongs. With Foreign Objects, Clocked Out make some very beautiful music.