Robert Wood ‘Sonabular’


01 Inspiration (3:25)
02 Edwige (5:18)
03 Words For A Tunisian Song (9:51)
04 Woodlands (7:56)
05 Shades Of Mu (11:40)

Total time 38:00
LP released by Edici, France, 1973

Robert Wood: vibraphone
Gilbert Artman: drums

In 1971-72, English vibraphonist Robert Wood was a member of French band Lard Free, the band Gilbert Artman led before Urban Sax. Wood later asked Artman to play drums on his own second LP, ‘Sonanbular’, while Artman included vibraphone on the first Lard Free official LP (1973), as well as the Clear Light Symphony LP (1975) and Urban Sax. The ‘Sonanbular’ front cover (the industrial devices pictured above) was used for Dominique Grimaud’s epochial book on French 1970s avant-rock ‘Un Certain Rock Français’ volume 1 (1977). Half of the tracks on ‘Sonabular’ are vibes+drums duos where the drums are recorded from a distance, as if from next room (tr.# 1, 4 & 5). But their dialogue is perfectly matched as the drummer adjusts to the vibe player’s bravado. On #4 especially, Wood sounds like a Cecil Taylor on vibraphones. Other tracks, especially the longest ones, arise from mutli-tracked vibraphones (tr.# 3) allowing Wood to build nuanced soundscapes from mostly soft, tiny sounds from 3 different instruments. His techniques includes stereo panning, perspective soundboard mixing and extended vibraphone technique. Woods is not afraid of ugly sounds, sometimes hitting the wooden frame or creating nasty metallic sounds with his mallets. In trying to extend the vibraphone sonic possibilities he sometimes favors the non-resonant sounds of the instrument. Unlike any other vibes player I’ve heard, Wood’s vibraphone playing is unique and owes nothing to Lionel Hampton or the Modern Jazz Quartet.


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Robert Wood discography
1972 Tarot LP , Edici ED 6.102
1973 Sonabular LP, Edici ED 6.103
1976 Vibrarock LP, Polydor 2393 137
1977 Tombiac Vibe LP, Polydor 2393 150


4 Responses to “Robert Wood ‘Sonabular’”

  1. 1 malletdiction March 10, 2009 at 1:32 am

    I’m a big fan of the vibes … this one sounds great. I look forward to hearing it.

    For my stuff I could only afford a steel pan… (also cool – particularly the non-tonal parts of the pan), but the resonance of the vibes opens up more possibilities.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. 2 continuo March 10, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hope you’ll enjoy the subtle resonances on this one. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. 3 malletdiction March 11, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I listened to this at work today.

    It is nice and I agree it has no MJQ or Hampton in it. The other vibe player that can make that claim, imo, is Gary Burton (e.g., “Ring” from ’74 or so).

  4. 4 dz gast October 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    He plays in a manner similar to Walt Dickerson

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