Henry Dagg & Evan Parker Then Through Now

False Walls
2nd May 2023

Format Info


Henry Dagg is a composer, improvisor, sound sculptor and builder of experimental musical instruments who formerly worked as a sound engineer for the BBC. His works include the Sharpsichord, a pin barrel harp commissioned for the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and a pair of steel sculptural musical gates for Rochester Independent College.

“What he’s doing is a very serious body of work. Henry’s not an ordinary commercial artist/musician; he seeks perfection, and he’ll get it at any cost.”
— Brian Pain, Rochester Independent College

Evan Parker improvises on the tenor and soprano saxophone, and has performed live and recorded extensively across the UK and internationally. He has pioneered or substantially expanded an array of extended techniques for the saxophone.

“The UK’s greatest exponent of free jazz.”
— Mike Hobart, Financial Times


Henry and Evan improvised together for the first time as part of the Free Range series in Canterbury, Kent, on December 2, 2021. For the performance, Evan played soprano saxophone, and Henry developed a new electronic instrument called the Stage Cage, to both process Evan’s live sound as well as generate its own sounds.

The Stage Cage includes four valve test-oscillators, a pair of ring modulators, frequency shifter, chromatic zither, and a variable tape delay system (consisting of two quarter-inch tape machines, eight feet apart – the first machine records, and the tape runs past moveable playback heads to the second machine, allowing several replays). Henry’s main performance interface is a ‘dynamic router’: a five-key controller, which is the bridge between most of the components of the Stage Cage.

Towards the end of the performance, the tape machines were stopped, their reels reversed and set to play: the improvisation from then on was overlaid by a reverse reproduction of what Henry and Evan had already been performing, with the reverse recording itself also being subjected to various treatments.

The live recording was subsequently developed by Henry for this 56 minute album. Evan notes in the accompanying booklet interview: “I would say it will sound better now, because of the post-production work that Henry’s done, using the live recording as – basically – tracks to be part of a new mix, a new project, which obviously overlaps hugely with what we did in the room, but it should be more detailed and better balanced in certain parts. Some post-production decisions that technology makes possible, where they led to improvements, Henry used those possibilities. It should be better than being at the event …”

For the CD and digital release, the recording has been mastered by Adam Skeaping, and a conversation between Henry, Evan and performance artist Karen Christopher is included in a 20 page booklet.


“This 56-minute improvisation demonstrates the fearless sonic imagination of both Parker and Dagg, always searching for unchartered territories and with great attention to detail and a totally free and unpredictable spirit, but their own way of suggesting a cohesive and coherent improvisation. Its arresting atmosphere visits abstract musique concrète, otherworldly, deep-space ambient journeys, and a careful but sometimes subversive and kaleidoscopic investigation of the soprano sax tones and overtones, live and processed ones.”
— Salt Peanuts, on THEN THROUGH NOW