“I just wanted all of the restraints to be removed. In a pre-determined world where most things are decided for us, it’s filled with raw, exciting attitude and enticing imperfections.” Daryl Tattoo, an Essex based musician and producer has been involved in a variety of musical projects in the last decade, such as new-wave alternative rock band, FUTUREAGES, the experimental jazz trio The Ears of Xeno Group and an evolving project alongside singer Beckie Margaret.
“I’ve been involved in many projects in the past,” Daryl recounts. “But I’ve never been a part of a group that has absolutely zero preconceptions.” No Data Improvisation Orchestra (or NDIO for short) fits this bill entirely. Born out of an idea to bring a mix of musicians together under one roof without rehearsal, planning or prior collaboration, NDIO is a window into what is possible when musical expression and emotion is liberated from the constraints of rehearsal sheets and pre-recorded loops.
“wow, ok, so this actually kinda worked. Sweet!”
Daryl further explained his goal of achieving complete separation from modern day processes, both in music and society. “Today, most things are decided for us – wether it be through advertising and promotion, algorithms, religion, demographics or social conformity. I just wanted to get away from all of that.”
Beginning in May of 2018, Daryl assembled a rag-tag group of musicians plucked from across Essex and London, bringing together interests ranging from rock to funk and new-wave to jazz. “Every member is an equal entity, with total freedom of musical expression and influence.” Something critical to the concept.
“I just wanted all of the restraints to be removed. In a pre-determined world where most things are decided for us, it’s filled with raw, exciting attitude and enticing imperfections.”
Several of the members have worked together through the vibrant and evolving music scene in Southend-on-Sea, Essex (including former Ears of Xeno members Marshall and George), alongside others, such as keyboardist Lewis Olley, who was brought into the mix alongside his own musical projects. “A mutual friend of mine and Daryl’s gave me a call and told me, ‘so I think this will be up your street.’ He couldn’t have been more correct! I met and played with most of the guys for the first time on event 1, and it was a blast!”
Being rooted in, and being a fan of jazz, Lewis has found himself at home amongst the improvisational freedom and heady mix of beats, signatures and key changes. Despite the lack of planning, his warm synths and keys are layered delicately, ebbing and flowing behind prominent saxophone and bass guitar pieces. There is no strict genre as such, no end goal apart from the simple enjoyment of creating music as a collective. “That’s the great thing about improv – it’s just you, no right or wrong!”
Event 1 or, ‘The Initiation’, held in Southend at the SS2 recording studio was the first time that the group had met and played together, not even discussing the key, musical direction or direct influences, but nerves and rust were notably absent across the three hours or so of recording, resulting in a 74 minute mix drenched in soulful saxophone, mesmerising synths and guitar and intoxicating bass riffs, transcending genres, defining the project in its uniqueness
“It was fun, challenging and it’s a surprising process that no one has control over once the lights are up,” Daryl recalls of event 1. “I think the feeling we all had after the first take was ‘wow, ok, so this actually kinda worked. Sweet!’ Lewis says, echoing Daryl’s thoughts.
“The music may be impressive, the talent obvious, but perhaps what makes NDIO so endearing is the group’s attitude, or lack of it.”
The groups social media channels showcase just how positive the response has been. Since then, the projects first mix has been released via Cool Thing Records and with a second live event scheduled for November 10th, the future looks bright for NDIO.
The music scene of Southend-on-sea is a vibrant and well known one, and its many music venues and recording studios are popular and well-established haunts of musicians and groups hoping to make the leap into the big time. One such venue, and location of NDIO’s upcoming second live event is the Railway Hotel, which hosts a busy live music schedule within its victorian walls, and counts Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood fame as a regular patron. “It’s such a great venue,” Daryl says. “It really is a hub for Southend musicians, artists and all kinds of creatives.” Run by the Dulakes, musicians themselves, The Railway has been an influential supporter of local talent for some time, becoming somewhat of an institution for new and established musicians alike.
Whilst certainly not the first, nor the only improv group to exist, NDIO certainly has a unique feel to it. Its members equally talented, influential and important. There is an air of relaxation around the process, from its inception to the run up to the first live event. No pressure, no expectations, no drama or egos. The music may be impressive, the talent obvious, but perhaps what makes NDIO so endearing is the group’s attitude, or lack of it. Their relaxed approach to making music is a world apart from the hectic non-stop world of booking shows, rushing for rehearsal or late night recordings. Most simply perhaps, it is because it is fun.
All Images and video produced by Dave Williams, used with permission.