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Mats Gustafsson / Christian Marclay: Link [VINYL] (Smalltown Superjazzz / Actions for Free Jazz)

Smalltown Supersound launches a new sublabel called Actions For Free Jazz with this duo of Christian Marclay and Mats Gustafsson, recording in the studio for 7 indescribably wonderful free improvisations using turntable and every inch of Gustafsson's baritone and tenor sax, plus electronics, an exciting album of unpredictable and incredibly skilled sound art. ... Click to View


Toyozumi / Countryman / Tan: Chasing The Sun (ChapChap Records)

Two lives sets at Tago Jazz Cafe in the Philippines in 2018 from the trio of master percussionist Sabu Toyozumi on drums, American ex-pat Rick Countryman on alto saxophone, and Simon Tan on acoustic bass, this their 3rd album of solid free improvisation of extended and masterful discourse, unusual percussive devices, and powerful rhythmic foundation. ... Click to View


Sista Maj (Segel / Tuominin / Axelsson / Wiberg): Localized Pockets of Negative Entropy [VINYL 2 LPs] (Adansonia)

A joyously intense and hypnotic double vinyl album of instrumental improvised rock with a prog/psych orientation from the Swedish Sista Maj quartet of Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven) on guitars, violin, computer things, Mikael Tuominen on bass, Andreas Axelsson on drums, plus Mattias Olson (Anglagard) providing additional percussion and synth. ... Click to View


William Hooker: Cycle Of Restoration (FPE Records)

Longtime leader in New York's downtown jazz scene, drummer William Hooker's trio with Joel Peterson on bass and Mark Kirschenmann on trumpet is perhaps his most experimental, Hooker using heavy cymbals to create a dramatic environment (indexed in 8 sections) that slowly unfolds as the bass and mutated horn cry and extoll, building slowly into cathartic excitement. ... Click to View


Michel Banabila : Uprooted (Tapu Record)

Composer Michel Banabila invited seven musicians to improvise individually, taking recordings from those sessions to create this beautifully structured set of electronic compositions, merging eBow, samplers, synth, guitar and electronics with cello, bass clarinet, viola, violin and double bass in works that display tranquility but hide deep tension below. ... Click to View


Anthony Burr / Charles Curtis: Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman (Important Records)

NY clarinetists Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis present curated compositions from Alvin Lucier and 3 from Morton Feldman, performed by a trans-Atlantic group of performers including Burr & Curtis, Michiko Ogawa (clarinet), Nicolee Kuester (horn), Turkish pianist Ozgur Aydin, and Robin Hayward (tuba); 2 of the Lucier pieces are presented for the first time. ... Click to View


Alvin Lucier: Orpheus Variations (Important Records)

A new composition by Alvin Lucier for solo cello and seven wind instruments, primarily brass and flute, performed by the NY-based S.E.M. Ensemble, with many performers also associated with the Downtown NY scene (John Zorn, Nate Wooley)l "Orpheus Variations" is a mininal work focused on sonority as a waveform produced by physical effect, that merges and interferes in its motion. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.: Hallelujah Mystic Garden Part Two [VINYL][BLACK VERSION] (Important Records)

The 2019 lineup of Japan's psychedelic rock band unleashes the 2nd part of their "Hallelujah Mysic Garden", revisiting the classic "Pink Lady Lemonade" in a disco-esque version that generates a universal groove of guitar riffs and synth swoops; side two adds a groove-heavy new work of kosmiche electronics. Makoto Kawabata soloing, and hallucinatory vocals. ... Click to View


Mopcut (Konig / Desprez / Chen): Accelerated Frames Of Reference [VINYL] (Trost Records)

An album of extreme electronic improvisation using heavy underpinning of rhythm, voice and electronics, from a trio of Viennese, French, and Chinese/American performers--Lukas Konig on drums, synthesizer, Voice, Julien Desprez on guitar, and Audrey Chen on voice & electronics--blurring the lines of sonic art, rock, and inexplicable ritualistic sound. ... Click to View


Zyft (Ziv Taubenfeld / Henk Zwerver / Maya Felixbrodt): Midnight Tea Suite (Creative Sources)

The debut for this acoustic free improvising Amsterdam trio of Ziv Taubenfeld on bass clarinet, Henk Zwerver on guitar, and Maya Felixbrodt on viola, in a set of abstract improvisations of an active nature using unorthodox and extended techniques, with an upbeat sense of excitement and enthusiasm that allows for solo forays amongst great collective discourse. ... Click to View


Jimmy Giuffre 3 (w / Bley / Swallow): Graz Live 1961 (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

After introducing his new trio with pianist Paul Bley and double bassist Steve Swallow in two 1961 albums on Verve, clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre embarked on a tour of Europe, this recently discovered, well-recorded concert in Graf, Austria the perfect example of his unique concepts yielding intensely focused, harmonically challenging, rhythmically abstract, and exquisite chamber jazz. ... Click to View


Franz Koglmann Septet (w / Clark / Arcari / D'Agaro / Turkovic / Pasztor / Herbert): Fruits Of Solitude (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

With an exceptional septet of improvisers versed in contemporary music, trumpeter Franz Koglmann presents sophisticated compositions that interject the concept of "solitude" in the three-part title track, alongside Koglmann compositions and Jimmy Giuffre's "Finger Snapper", through the striking orchestration of trumpet, sax, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, french horn, cello and double bass. ... Click to View


Alex Hendriksen / Fabian Gisler: The Song Is You (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

Drawing on material from Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, Michel Legrand, Harry Warren, and Victor Young, the lyrical duo of saxophonist Alex Hendriksen (Swiss Jazz Orchestra) and double bassist Fabian Gisler (Jurg Wickihalder European Quartet) cite the art form of storytelling as central to their music as they reflect thoughtfully on the American Songbook. ... Click to View


Hildegard Kleeb / Roland Dahinden / Alexandre Babel: Lines (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

The long-running duo since 1987 of spouses, pianist Hildegard Kleeb and trombonist Roland Dahinden, are joined by Swiss-born/ Berlin-based percussionist & vibraphonist Alexandre Babel for an album of interweaving and contrasting instrumental lines, blurring the boundaries between contemporary music and improvisation through exceptional mastery and dialog. ... Click to View


Dark Star Safari (Rohrer / Bang / Honore / Aarse): Dark Star Safari (Arjunamusic)

Percussionist Samuel Rohrer invited Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset to his Berlin studio to record the 10 improvisations that create the basis for these haunting songs, the band taking that material to enhance and shape the material, inspiring Jan Bang to develop the lyrics reminiscent of David Sylvian's recent work, draw together this darkly impressive album. ... Click to View


Dark Star Safari (Rohrer / Bang / Honore / Aarse): Dark Star Safari [VINYL] (Arjunamusic)

Percussionist Samuel Rohrer invited Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset to his Berlin studio to record the 10 improvisations that create the basis for these haunting songs, the band taking that material to enhance and shape the material, inspiring Jan Bang to develop the lyrics reminiscent of David Sylvian's recent work, draw together this darkly impressive album. ... Click to View


Jacob Wick / Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Finding free improvising trumpeter Jacob Wick, a master of lowercase approaches using unorthodox techniques, in a more active setting with Chicago drummer Phil Sudderberg, (Marker with Vanderkmark, Dave Rempis); together they challenge each other in a give and take of skill and solid discussion, leaving room for unusual and sometimes aberrant technique; joyful! ... Click to View


Pierce Warnecke / Louis Laurain: Phonotypic Plasticity [CASSETTE w/DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Pairing electronics with cornet, the duo of French cornetist Louis Laurain and US/Berlin electronicist Pierce Warnecke create an absolutely impressive and frequently frightening confluence of brass and sound, from slow interference tones to fully amplified microscopic elaboration, building environments that shift to surprise, alarm, and entrance their listeners. ... Click to View


Nicolas Caloia / Yves Charuest / Karl Fousek : Maps To Hands [CASSETTE w/DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Extremely active electro on fueled free improvisation from the Montreal trio of Nicolas Caloia on double bass, Yves Charuest on alto saxophone, and Karl Fousek on analog synth, their second album presenting seven quirky and captivating conversations of confident sax and bass work interrupted and played with by Fousek's interventions, like a free improv Pere Ubu. ... Click to View


Spires That In The Sunset Rise: House Ecstatic [CASSETTE w/DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Hard-edged Chicago/NY free improvisation from the female duo of Kathleen Baird on piano, flute and voice, and Taralie Peterson on saxophne, flute and voice, the two, who have recorded with Michael Zerang, show their powerful chops through skronky conversation recorded in 3 locations from Decatur, IL through Madison, WI to Brooklyn NY. ... Click to View


Caroline Kraabel : Last1 And Last2 (Emanem)

LAST is part of a series by Caroline Kraabel (LIO, Remote Viewers) mixing live improvisation with pre-recorded material provided by Robert Wyatt for this purpose, performed live at Cafe OTO in two versions: first where the 15-piece ensemble has not yet heard the Wyatt interventions, and second where they were familiar with and use his voice to structure what they play. ... Click to View


Stellari String Quartet (Wachsmann / Hug / Mattos / Edwards): Vulcan (Emanem)

The brilliant free improvising group Stellari String Quartet came together more than ten years ago, with members from Brazil, England, Swizerland and Uganda, here in only their 2nd release, using improvisational processes in the 11 pieces of of their live album recorded at St. Mary's Church Stoke Newington and Iklectic Art Lab London 2018. ... Click to View


Dustin Laurenzi : Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The Viking of 5th Avenue, the melodic compositions of eccentric NY composer Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin) are explored through inventive and lyrical arrangements for improvisations in a Chicago octet performing live at the Hungry Brain, brought together by tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, with Jason Stein, Nick Mazzarella, Chad McCullough, two drummers and bass. ... Click to View


Pateras / Baxter / Brown: Bern.Melbourne.Milan (Immediata)

Since 2002 specializing in improvisation using prepared acoustic instruments, the Australian trio of Sean Baxter on drums, David Brown on prepared guitar, and Anthony Pateras on prepared piano release a double CD of archival and live recordings, including their first rehearsal in Princes Hill and their last recorded European concert in Milan; exceptional! ... Click to View


Tony Buck / Massimo Pupillo: Unseen (Trost Records)

Italian composer and bass-player Massimo Pupillo (ZU) and Australian drummer Tony Buck (The Necks) collaborate in a beautifully haunting, absorbing ambient set, taking in electronic abstraction and free improvisation, released in two distinct editions--"Time Being" on vinyl LP and "Unseen" on compact disc, each with two different improvisations. ... Click to View


Tony Buck / Massimo Pupillo: Time Being [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Italian composer and bass-player Massimo Pupillo (ZU) and Australian drummer Tony Buck (The Necks) collaborate in a beautifully haunting, absorbing ambient set, taking in electronic abstraction and free improvisation, released in two distinct editions--"Time Being" on vinyl LP and "Unseen" on compact disc, each with two different improvisations. ... Click to View


Christina Kubisch : Schall und Klang (Fragment Factory)

Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966) was a conductor & champion of 20th-century composers; in 1954 he established an electroacoustic experimental studio, with guests including Iannis Xenakis, Luc Ferrari, Edgar Varese and Luigi Nono; here Christina Kubisch provides a remarkable portrait of Scherchen in sound, merging his recordings, recited texts, and recordings from her own research. ... Click to View


Stefan Roigk : Suffering For The Promised [VINYL] (Fragment Factory)

Multi-disciplinary artist living in Berlin, Stefan Roigk developed "Suffering For The Promised" over a 14 year period, composing this large work of acousmatic music as an atmospherically intense yet utterly fragile piece, combining concrete sounds, field recordings and devotional vocal fragments in an eclectic and highly intimate composition of great depth and detail. ... Click to View


Angelika Niescier (w/ Christopher Tordini / Gerald Cleaver feat Jonathan Finlayson): New York Trio (Intakt)

After last year's release of "The Berline Concert", Cologne-based saxophonist Angelika Niescier returns to New York to record in the studio with the quartet of bassist Christopher Tordini, with whom she's recorded before, plus trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and drummer Gerald Cleaver, the excitement of their playing unmistakable in 8 Niescier compositions. ... Click to View


Yves Theiler Trio (w/ Luca Sisera / Lukas Mantel): WE (Intakt)

Swiss pianist and composer Yves Theiler's Trio with bassist Luca Sisear and Lukas Mantel in a lyrical and upbeat album of contemporary jazz, balancing free playing with optimistic melodic arrangements leaving himself and his players plenty of room for expression, their association since 2012 bringing a nearly telepathic rapport in their enthusiastic interaction. ... Click to View


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  Speak Easy 
  The Loft Concert [DVD]  
  (Panrec) 

   review by Dave Madden
  2009-11-04
Speak Easy: The Loft Concert [DVD] (Panrec)

To appreciate and embrace musical experiments rooted in cultural discomfort, you're best to remember the lessons from the early 1970's television series Kung Fu. During flashbacks to Caine's (the protagonist) youth in a Shaolin Temple, you see both his struggles with the masters' parables and how he slowly overcomes mental hurdles with epiphanous comprehension of their teachings and insight. With earned experience, Caine is able to hone his senses to notice finite details of nature's song ("Do you hear the grasshopper?"), walk without leaving a mark on rice paper, predict flight trajectories of thrown spears and bow staves as they hurtle towards his head and acquire other tactics he will one day use for revenge. The ultimate test, though, comes after he "graduates" by snatching a pebble from Master Kan's hand: approaching the back door, Caine must lift, then place (to activate the secret lock), an immense cauldron filled with incendiary coals with his forearms, the sides of which scar tattoos of a tiger and a dragon into his flesh.

In other words, wading through displeasure, confusion and fear is the road to understanding? Read on.

This Cologne-based 2008 concert is the same breed of odyssey — for the musicians as well as the audience. In the accompanying interview, band leader and percussionist Martin Blume explains that the group's aesthetic stems from a bi-annual art exhibit, The Message, at Museum Bochum: "The Message is dedicated to mentally ill persons who are influenced (or pretending to be influenced) by supernatural beings and paint pictures...this project should take place in the context of this exhibition...it (has) something to do with voice, since these people hear voices." (For instance, Hilma af Klimt, a featured artist, claimed her "automatic drawing" method was a clairvoyant revelation from spirits to "paint on the Astral Plane".)

Following this occult-ish muse, the humble ensemble of Blume, vocalists Ute Wasserman and Phil Minton and EMS Synthi adept Thomas Lehn fill the stage with an ardent sonic palette for a fervid 88 minutes (some of the performance appears on the group's CD, Backchats). Building and breaking down a series of tone clouds, each member contributes from a disparate yet integral side of his/her square. Staring at a fixed point, Wasserman busily chirps, intones, employs birdcalls, hums multiphonics, hisses and adopts multiple personalities, wandering in and out of the mix with an alien grace. With Lehn, the attraction is equal parts "what he does" and "how he does it": visually, he's flailing his arms, furrowing his brow, rapidly twisting knobs and patching pegs to feed his machine; but his output is a subtle digest of simple blurts, drones, smeary rumbles, crackles and the occasional scream. Likewise, Blume's ability to effortlessly juggle a full drum kit with various sticks, gongs, wood blocks, bowls, bells, bows and a host of genres gives the impression of several busy octopi at work.

However, it is Minton that all eyes are either on or avoiding. Watching his seizure-esque approach to vocalism, the spittle flying as he eagerly shakes his cheeks, sticks out his tongue, forces belches, quivers, squints with wide-open eye sockets (?), whines like a starving toddler, channels demons and saints, sways uncontrollably (even while mute) and pulls mutant rabbits from his proverbial hat, is the burning pot to send the unprepared running back to the monastery. So to speak.

However, off-putting and startling gradually turn to inviting, fascinating and in the same way that birth and death are cruel, chaotic and beautiful, a sacred event. If allowed its due, this resonant mélange washes over your faculties like an overwhelming meditation you refuse to shake; fortunately, you don't have to shave your head, take a vow of celibacy/silence, survive on rice and wander for years in a desert to enjoy it.



Speak Easy: The Loft Concert [DVD]
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