Kit Downes & Tom Challenger

Vyamanikal is the Slip debut of Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: a collection of transcendent improvisations where the primordial moans and whistles of remote organs meld with gossamer saxophone.

Recorded at 5 Suffolk churches during a 2015 Aldeburgh Music residency, Vyamanikal deftly explores the native nuances and acoustics of 6 organs and their surrounding environment. Downes’ organ playing is alternately delicate and thunderous, teasing out unearthly vibrations from converted harmoniums and mighty, century-old 3 manual organs like Framingham’s ‘Thamar Organ’. Challenger’s sax lines act as a conduit between the instrument and their locale, probing errant pipe tones for interferences, and embellishing distant birdsong.

Named after the ancient Sanskrit term for flying machines – ‘Vaimānika Shāstra’ – the pair’s second release since 2012’s Wedding Music celebrates music-making at its most meditative and transient.

Kit and Tom have performed together at the Royal Festival Hall, Cafe Oto, The London Contemporary Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Swaledale Music Festival, and been broadcasted live on the BBC. Vyamanikal’s forthcoming dates include Aldeburgh Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, and Norway’s Stavanger Organ Day.

Vyamanikal [SLP024] is available on CD and download from 23rd May 2016. It comes packaged with a fold-out A3 poster with photography by Alex Bonney, who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album.

Short Film by Ashley Pegg
Plays on Towards The Margins, BBC R3’s Late Junction
All About Jazz feature by Duncan Hening

“…wondrous…” – Boomkat
“…The saxophone of Tom Challenger almost caresses these rich organ sounds in a way that feels like he is coaxing a mythical beast (of some sort) out into the open!…” – Joe Higham, Free Jazz
“…Listening to the Downes’ understated organ figures is like being borne aloft on clouds, as breathy sax hoots play across them in a hazy, solar beams and subtle touches of electronics ruffle up the smooth surfaces…” – Paul Margree, We Need No Swords
“…switching from delicate and ethereal to driving and bold and back again…” – Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio