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Toh-Kichi (Satoko Fujii / Tatsuya Yoshida): Baikamo (Libra)

The duo of Japanese improvisers, pianist Satoko Fujii and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, continue their collaborations which includes many albums with the Satoko Fujii Quartet, their duo "Erans" record on Tzadik, and the original "Toh-Kichi" album on Victo, here in a new studio album of intricate, energetic and ebullient improvised dialogs, named for the aquatic flower "Baikamo". ... Click to View


exclusiveOr (Peter Evans / Wooley / Muncy / Olencki / Karre / Cimini / Young / Snyder / Pluta): Modules (Carrier Records)

The NY electronics duo exclusiveOr (Sam Pluta and Jeff Synder) join forces with the International Contemporary Ensemble and Architeuthis Walks on Land (Katherine Young and Amy Cimini) for this tour-de-force ensemble work, combining composed forms, electro-acoustic improvisation, noise, and lush harmonies, in a fascinatingly detailed album of creative musicianship. ... Click to View


exclusiveOr (Peter Evans / Wooley / Muncy / Olencki / Karre / Cimini / Young / Snyder / Pluta): Modules [VINYL] (Carrier Records)

The NY electronics duo exclusiveOr (Sam Pluta and Jeff Synder) join forces with the International Contemporary Ensemble and Architeuthis Walks on Land (Katherine Young and Amy Cimini) for this tour-de-force ensemble work, combining composed forms, electro-acoustic improvisation, noise, and lush harmonies, in a fascinatingly detailed album of creative musicianship. ... Click to View


Henry Cow: The Henry Cow Box Redux: The Complete Henry Cow [17 CDs, 1 DVD, 250pg Book] (Recommended Records)

The ultimate Henry Cow collection bringing together all of the 40th anniversary releases of this influential and innovative band, with all the remastered studio CDs, live CDs, Bonus CD, DVDs and booklets from each prior box, plus an additional 60 page booklet of band commentaries, pictures and other documents prepared specifically for this release, all in a sturdy & handsome box. ... Click to View


Krokofant w/ Stale Storlokken / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: Q (Rune Grammofon)

Bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (The Thing) and Stale Storlokken (Elephant9, Supersilent, Terje Rypdal) join the Nordic Krokofant trio of Axel Skalstad on drums, vibraphone, Tom Hasslan on guitar, and Jorgen Mathisen on saxophone for the band's 3rd album, performing the 4-part work "Q", an intense and sophisticated album of complex and passionate instrumental rock. ... Click to View


Fay Victor: Barn Songs (Northern Spy)

With cellist Marika Hughes (2 Foot Yard, Anthony Braxton's Trillum) and saxophonist Darius Jones (Little Women, Darius Jones Trio), vocalist Fay Victor introduces her Fay Victor Chamber Trio, the open instrumental foundation highlighting Victor's expressive songs and insightful lyric content, developed with Victor and Jochem van Dijk; a great example of creative contemporary jazz song. ... Click to View


Brian Osborne: Decorous Novelties (Heat Retention Records)

Using metal, glass, wood, and plastic, Percussionist, Brian Osborne (The Gate, Hatchers) offers twelve tracks of interweaving layers of simplicity and complexity, clarity and haze, many pieces initiating with deceptive simplicity and insinuating themselves in unique ways, all performed live in the studio and presented with no overdubs or affects. ... Click to View


Radical Empathy Trio: Reality and Other Imaginary Places (ESP-Disk)

Recorded during Thollem's 2017 residency at Brooklyn's multi-discipline center Pioneer Works, the trio of Nels Cline on electric guitar and Michael Wimberly on drums apply treatments, alterations and processes to acoustic-electro improv, their unusual approach often inviting the listener to discover organization under a wonderful commotion of sound. ... Click to View


Hands To (Jeph Jerman): Scrine (Notice Recordings)

Sound explorer and composer Jeph Jerman created the 11 pieces on this release while living in the Knob Hill neighborhood of Colorado Springs, using unusual recording techniques he refers to as "guerrilla recordings" like tossing tape decks off buildings or putting them inside running clothes dryers, inching tape manually over the heads, exploiting creative field recordings, &c. &c. ... Click to View


Chik White / Xuan Ye: Breath Fractals (Notice Recordings)

Chik White (Darcy Spidle of rural Nova Scotia) uses a jaw harp, and Xuan Ye (Toronto) uses voice, percussion and field recordings, in this series of rich, peculiar, startling and altogether satisfying recordings that investigate a variety of approaches to their instruments, taking them to the fringes but bringing the listener along with him; oddly entertaining. ... Click to View


Kimmig-Studer-Zimmerlin and George Lewis: (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

The innovative string trio of Daniel Studer on double bass, Harald Kimmig on violin, and Alfred Zimmerlin on cello, develop focused environments of timbre, texture, dynamic and space, seemingly abstract yet incredibly concentrative and virtuosic interaction, here joined by Chicago trombonist and electronics artist George Lewis adding a 4th profound layer to their incredible conversation. ... Click to View


Satoko Inoue: Presents Jo Kondo's New Works For Piano (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

The second album of piano works from Japanese composer Jo Kondo performed by pianist Satoko Inoue--a noted interpreter of solo works by Feldman, Ferrari, and Cage--here presenting all of Kondo's works for solo piano written from 2001 to 2012, alongside two early works from 1975, exploring a wealth of harmonic, rhythmic, and conceptual idea from a wealth of projects. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Bobby Kapp: Ineffable Joy (ESP)

Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman's goal to release on the historical ESP label originated from the impression Gato Barbieri's 1967 ESP album left on him, here assembling ESP alumni, drummer Bobby Kapp, pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker (who made his recorded debut on ESP in 1973), in a lyrical album of advanced and impressive collective free jazz. ... Click to View


Peter Lemer: Son of Local Colour: Live at the Pizza Express, Soho (ESP-Disk)

On the 50th anniversary of the recording of UK pianist Peter Lemer's '67 ESP album "Local Colour" he re-assembled the quintet for a reprisal at the London jazz club Pizza Express, replacing Nisar Khan with Alan Skidmore due to illness but retaining John Surman (sax), Tony Reeves (bass) and Jon Hiseman (drums), as they stretch out on the original recordings with a life's experience and insight. ... Click to View


Company (Bailey / Honsinger / Kondon / Toop/ Cooper / Lacy / &c): 1981 [VINYL 2 LPs] (Honest Jons Records)

Derek Bailey's Company exploring free improvisation through a shifting and impressive lineup of performers, here in previously unreleased recordings with musicians including Derek Bailey, Tristan Honsinger, Christine Jeffrey, Toshinori Kondo, Charlie Morrow, David Toop, Maarten Altena, Georgie Born, Lindsay Cooper, Steve Lacy, Radu Malfatti and Jamie Muir. ... Click to View


David Myers Lee: Prototype Of The Veil (pulsewidth)

David Lee Myers began creating feedback music in 1989, originally under the name Arcane Device, developing unique approaches to harnessing feedback between audio devices in ways their manufactures did not intend; since 2014 he has used a set of new devices that allow intense control and beauty through vibrational interactions, as heard in this, his 18th solo album of feedback music. ... Click to View


Torba (Mauro Diciocia): Musique Inconcrete [VINYL] (Fragment Factory)

Italian sound artist Mauro Diciocia presents the second installment in a trilogy of related recordings, informally named "Le Musiche", using field recordings from a variety of settings mostly around Salento in southern Italy, organizing his recordings to create auditory sketches in sound, telling abstract yet compelling stories that envelop the listener. ... Click to View


Made to Break: F4 Fake (Trost Records)

This active quartet project brings together two Chicago players--drummer Tim Daisy and reedist Vandermark--with two European players--Christof Kurzmann on pooll & electronics, and Jasper Stadhouders on bass--in their 9th album, recording in the studio in Austria for an innovative album blurring the lines between fierce free jazz and inventive experimental ea-improv. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Luis Senra / Gianna De Toni / Luis Couto / Biagio Verdolini: Prima Pratica (Creative Sources)

A very open free improvisation of Portuguese musicians recording in Azores, PT from the quintet of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Luis Senra on tenor saxophone, Gianna de Toni on double bass, Luis Couto on electric guitar, Biagio Verdolini on homemade instruments, using space amid patiently evolving conversation with an overall acoustic feeling in three movements of "Dissonanze". ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Graham Lambkin / Charlie Mcphee / Oliver Lambkin: Live in the Batcave [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

A fly-on-the-wall hang out with virtual drinking buddies--saxophonist and pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee and his brother Charlie, and sound artist Graham Lambkin, who brought along his son Oliver--hanging at Charlie's in Poughkeepsie, NY, captured by an open mic as they tip back a few, play records, instruments, discussing life and music, and endi in a singalong. ... Click to View


Miles Okazaki: The Sky Below (Pi Recordings)

An album of intelligent modern jazz that twists contemporary bop forms through unusual time signatures and highly interactive playing, in the 5th album from composer and bandleader Miles Okazaki, retaining his rhythm section of Anthony Tidd (bass) and Sean Rickman (drums) and here with Matt Mitchell on piano and keys; forward-thinking and embraceable. ... Click to View


Tyshawn Sorey / Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (Pi Recordings)

New York drummer Tyshawn Sorey and pianist Marilyn Crispell first played toghether in 2014, this only their 3rd performance, at The Kitchen in 2018 as part of a 3-day career accomplishments series for Sorey, the two performing in the dark as they spontaneously evolve a brilliant piece of innate orchestration, color, texture, rhythm, and thematic development. ... Click to View


Steve Lehman / Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi Recordings)

Saxophonist Steve Lehman's trio with drummer Damion Reid and double bassist Matt Brewer is expanded with pianist Craig Taborn for an album of Lehman originals and compositions by Autechre, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Kirkland, and Jeff "Tain" Watts, plus three duo recordings between Lehman and Taborn; intricate cutting edge jazz made effortless and exuberant! ... Click to View


Craig Taborn / Vadim Neselovskyi: The Book Beri'ah Vol 11: Da'at (Tzadik)

Two pianists--Vadim Neselovskyi and Craig Taborn--take on the 11th volume of composer John Zorn's 3rd book of Masada compositions, The Book Beri'ah, in settings from solo piano, piano duos, and three pieces for piano, bass and drums, performed with bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Ronen Itzik; beautifully lyrical work merging contemporary compositional and improvisation forms. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Paal Nilssen Love: Song for the Big Chief (PNL)

Named for Sunny Murray's 1969 album "Big Chief", the long-runing collaborations of tenor saxophonist & pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee and drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love pay tribute to the late drummer Sunny Murray in this concert recording at London's Cafe Oto for a dynamic dialog of free jazz, with two nuanced free improv pieces including a "Fantasy for Lester [Bowie]". ... Click to View


Fish & Steel (Mats Aleklint / Per-Ake Holmlander / Paal Nilssen-Love): Fish & Steel (PNL)

Distilling a trio from Paal Nillsen-Love's Large Unit results in Fish & Steel, the trio of Mats Aleklint on trombone, Per Ake Holmlander on tuba, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion, an unusual brass & drum orchestration in two extended improvisations with an experimental bent that veers in and out of jazz forms with a mischievous attitude and masterful playing. ... Click to View


Entr'acte: Soigne Ta Droite (Audiographic Records)

Ken Vandermark's first large ensemble recording in more than four years brings together ten vanguard improvisers in acoustic and ea-improv forms--Dieb13, Elisabeth Harnik, Steve Heather, Terrie Hessels, Didi Kern, Mette Rasmussen, Jasper Stadhouders, Joe Williamson, and Nate Wooley--recording 3 long-form compositions live in concert, dedicated in sequence to musician Ikue Mori, sculptor Richard Serra, and painter, poet & typographist Francis Picabia. ... Click to View


Isotope Ensemble: Radium (Creative Sources)

Recorded at CreativeFest#12 in Lisbon at O'Culto de Ajuda, the 21-piece electroacoustic ensemble Isotope takes on the chemical element Radium in a gripping piece of evolving improvisation, intensely restrained and extremely detailed, orchestrated with cello, baroque violin, double bass, acoustic & electric guitars, zither, psaltery, winds, brass, keys, electronics and percussion. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues : Mycelial Studies [2 CDs] (Creative Sources)

Two complete live performances in Munich at Galerie arToxin, and at Udo Schindler's Salon fur Klang + Kunst Krailing in 2018, with Schindler on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and cornet, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, and Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, balancing active and introspective dialog of advanced harmonics, (a)rhythmic approaches, and extraordinary technique. ... Click to View


Harri Sjostrom / Guilherme Rodrigues: The Treasures Are (Creative Sources)

Bringing together a wealth of experience in contemporary improvised music, Berlin-based cellist Guilherme Rodrigues and soprano and sopranino saxophonist Harri Sjostrom developed these 12 pieces, combining and contrasting their instruments, at times seeming to complete each other's phrases, in a remarkably sophisticated and virtuosic "Treasure". ... Click to View


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  Ernst Karel 
  Swiss Mountain Transport Systems  
  (Gruenrekorder) 


  
   review by Wyman Brantley
  2012-02-01
Ernst Karel: Swiss Mountain Transport Systems (Gruenrekorder)

With this release, phonographer/musician Ernst Karel continues his series of magnificently detailed field recordings of fascinating subjects. With Heard Laboratories (and/OAR 2010) his subjects were part of Big Science, while this time the locales are more municipal (or, perhaps, recreational). Once again, the recordings are more than mere sound catalogs or curiosities. Karel's ear for the aesthetic, the interesting, as well as matters compositional, is a crucial ingredient here.

It is easy to see why Karel chose these devices as a field recording source — the elements of motion and travel are important to the effect these recordings produce. The progress of the vehicles through various mechanical segments and external environments combines an unmistakable sense of drama with the familiar, comfortable feeling of being en route. The first track, for example, was recorded inside an eight-seat gondola in Flumserberg, St. Gallen. As it cruises along its journey, a quiet mechanical drone sets the fundamental backdrop. Against this, acoustic events ebb and flow. Some are sudden and stentorian, as when it sounds like the gondola hits a set of rollers on the line. Others are more subtle, such as gusts of air and passing birds. And, as a jaunt along the gondola's itinerary, the clip also has a clear beginning and resolution. It is a found symphony that would seem to have written itself, if not for our awareness of Karel's adeptness in choosing and sampling his sources.

Not all of the tracks create such a blur between the phonographic and the musical (to pretend, for the moment, that those categories are a separable). Track two has to be taken on its own terms. It features not only the mechanical sounds of a funicular (a cliff railway tram) but also the noises of its passengers. Contrast, perhaps, is at the fore. The grunts, chuckles, and bits of conversations of the travelers pull the listener into a familiar social setting — that of transportation in close quarters with others. It is therefore striking, in retrospect, how the mechanical sounds in the middle of the ride seem to subvert this sense of the mundane. The listener is lulled away by their hypnotic patterns, and the quiet of the passengers suggests that they were too.

In fact, a recurring theme — if one wants to call it that — in these recordings may be the contrast between the relatively placid atmospheres of travel itself versus the aural jostle found at launch and landing. Track three brings this out in stark relief. The listener will need a responsive set of headphones or speakers to pick up the minimalist burbling of a ride on the six-seat gondola near Aletsch glacier. At the stops along the way, though, the metallic clangs, whacks, thumps, etc. resonate within a cavernous soundscape. If not for the phonographic verité of it all, one might be tempted to suspect some underlying symbolism.

There really is quite a bit of variety in these recordings, and the tracks manage to pique both intellectual interests and aesthetic ones. Although I have not tried it myself, one can easily imagine the reaction of someone to whom these recordings are described ("How is that music?") might contrast that of someone who walks in on the sublime drones found on track 6, a recording of a four-seat aerial tramway ("Oh, who is that? Is that the new ___?"). Whatever Ernst Karel might have to say about the Art question in a manifesto, Swiss Mountain Transport Systems provides ample excuse to merely sidestep the question. Some of us simply like listening for its own sake, and there is much here to reward that pursuit.



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