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Third Coast Ensemble: Wrecks (RogueArt)

Merging France's Nautilis Ensemble with musicians from Chicago created this large improvising orchestra, here in a new suite composed by Rob Mazurek and dedicated to Great Lake Michigan and the devestation of thousands of shipwrecks over many centuries, using historical data, first hand accounts of shipwrecks off both shores, magical realism and steampunk aesthetics. ... Click to View


Made to Break: Trebuchet (Trost Records)

The eight release from Ken Vandermark's hard-hitting quartet with Austrian electronic improviser Christof Kurzmann, Netherlands bassist Jasper Stadhouders, and Chicago drummer and frequent Vandermark collaborator Tim Daisy, for 3 vigorous and extreme pieces dedicated to Shellac, Susan Sontag, and Kerry James Marshall; powerful, informed, essential. ... Click to View


Made to Break: Trebuchet [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The eight release from Ken Vandermark's hard-hitting quartet with Austrian electronic improviser Christof Kurzmann, Netherlands bassist Jasper Stadhouders, and Chicago drummer and frequent Vandermark collaborator Tim Daisy, for 3 vigorous and extreme pieces dedicated to Shellac, Susan Sontag, and Kerry James Marshall; powerful, informed, essential. ... Click to View


Boneshaker: Thinking Out Loud [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The third album from this international trio of powerful improvisers--Norwegian drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, Chicago bassist Kent Kessler, and Chicago/NY saxophonist Mars William-- in four odysseys that take the listener from introspective playing to out and out blowing, using technique to serve their incredible dialog. ... Click to View


Kodian Trio: II [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The uniquely voiced free improvising Kodian Trio formed of saxophonist Colin Webster using aggressive techniques and unusual approaches to his horn, electric guitarist Dirk Serries (vidnaObmana) throwing spiky lines in forceful and unorthodox dialog, and in-demand UK drummer Andrew Lisle providing underpinning and punctuation, in six far-ranging and impressive tracks. ... Click to View


Becoming Animal (Massimo Pupillo / Gordon Sharp): A Distant Hand Lifted [VINYL] (Trost Records)

An album of dark atmospheric electroacoustic sound with voice and introductory narrative from Zu bassist Massimo Pupillo and Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk, the first meeting between the two, performed live at Cafe Oto for four pieces of rich sonics, emotional and hypnotic playing from two creative masters with a long history of powerful and passionate music. ... Click to View


Novaks Kapelle: Fartwind - Complete Discography (1967-1979) [2 CDs] (Trost Records)

Hard rocking Novaks Kapelle was an Austrian underground rock band, formed in 1967 by Erwin Novak, Walla Mauritz, Peter Travnicek and Helge Thor, with Paul Brown Steiner joining in 1970, and after a period of quiet, in 1978 jazz guitarist Harri Stojka joined the band; this double CD collects all known tracks, presenting a fascinating evolution of style. ... Click to View


Kan Mikami / John Edwards / Alex Nielson: Live at Cafe Oto [VINYL] (Otoroku)

More typically a solo performer, Japanese bluesman Kan Mikami has created a distinctive path for his voice, guitar and poetic lyrics; here he is propelled in an improvisational setting with two powerful UK players--John Edwards on bass and Alex Neilson on drums--captured live at London's Cafe Oto for a growling concert of finesse and brusque attitude. ... Click to View


William Parker : Conversations II Dialogues & Monologues [CD & BOOK] (RogueArt)

The 2nd volume in New York free improvising basist William Parker's "Conversations" series, more than 500 pages with 32 interview between William Parker and artists including Marshall Allen, Tim Berne, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Dresser, Henry Grimes, &c &c, plus a CD excerpting those interviews and punctuated with duos between Parker and saxophonist Kidd Jordan. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Feat. Pika: Astro Infinity Discotheque [VINYL 2 LPs] (Bam Balam Records)

A live album in 2016 from the mind-blowing and prolific Japanese psychedelic improvising rock band Acid Mothers Temple with Kawabata Makoto, Higashi Hiroshi, Mitsuru Tabata, Stoshima Nani, S T, and Pika, performing some of their well known works and starting with Gong's "Flying Teapot", all recorded at 15th Acid Mothers Temple Festival at Tokuzo (Nagoya). ... Click to View


Strycharski / Andriessen: Ghost (Bolt)

Polish composer and recorder player Dominik Strycharski wrote these pieces in response to a work for the recorder by composer Louis Andriessen that he dedicated to Frans Bruggen: "Melodie"; Strycharski response is "Harmonie", performed in a duo with pianist Sebastian Zawadzki to demonstrate the impracticability of harmony in its purest forms. ... Click to View


Vinny Golia Wind Quartet: Live At The Century City Playhouse (Dark Tree Records)

Dark Tree's Southern California archive series adds this phenomenal session from multi-woodwind player Vinny Golia's Wind Quartet with clarinetist John Carter, trombonist Glenn Ferris, and cornetist Bobby Bradford, recorded fairly early in their careers in 1979 live at Century City Playhouse in LA for two sets of exploratory, dexterous and astounding jazz. ... Click to View


Christian Kobi (solo and with Taku Sugimoto / Yoko Ikeda / Wakana Ikeda: Atta! (Monotype)

Four solo saxophone improvisations, two on tenor and two on soprano, using remarkable technique and concentration from Swiss improviser Christian Kobi performing live in Tokyo and Osaka in 2017, plus a live quartet improvisation with flutist Wakana Ikeda, violinist Yoko Ikeda, and guitarist Taku Sugimoto for an open-approached performance of detailed, minimal improv. ... Click to View


Natsuki Tamura / Alexander Frangenheim: Nax (Creative Sources)

An impressive, creative, startling meeting between Japanese trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and German double bassist Alexander Frangenheim, taking Tamura out of his more typical structured improv and Frangenhemin into more active and agressive styles than his Creative Sources output; a great album reminding just how fun and awe inspiring free improvised music can be. ... Click to View


Raphael Roginski : Populista Presents BOX [3 CDs + POSTER] (Bolt)

Raphael Roginski's Trilogy - 3 CDs in Bolt's Populista series: CD 1. "Raphael Roginski plays John Coltrane and Langston Hughes African mystic music"; CD 2. "Zywizna plays Zaswiec Niesiacku and other Kurpian songs"; CD 3. "Populista presents Raphael Roginski plays Henry Purcell featuring Olga Myslowska and Sebstian Witkowski"; in a slip box with a poster. ... Click to View


Polyorchard: Red October [CASSETTE w/DOWNLOAD] (Out and Gone Music)

Polyorchard founder and double bassist David Menestres leads the quartet of Jeb Bishop on trombone, Shawn Galvin on percussion, and Laurent Estoppey on saxophone, using skills drawn from both improvisation and compositional music to present six free dialogs showing intent listening amongst the four as they create complex, interweaving, sophisticated statements; impressive! ... Click to View


Polyorchard: Color Theory in Black and White (Not On Label)

Two trios, "Black" with cellist Chris Eubank and violist Dan Ruccia, and "White" with trombonist Jeb Bishop and saxophonist Laurent Estoppey, each with the foundation of bassist David Menestres, balancing experience in free improvisation and compositional music to create an exciting hybrid, a chamber collective of tumult and control. ... Click to View


Various Artists: Lao Dan / Rick Countryman / Colin Webster: Saxophone Anatomy (Armageddon Nova)

Saxophone solo improvisation omnibus by three free saxophonists from around the globe: Lao Dan from China recording in an underground bomb shelter in an agressive solo performance; US ex-pat Rick Countryman from the Philippines in a traditional yet extremely free jazz exposition; and London's Colin Webster on baritone sax for an exploration of extended techniques. ... Click to View


Aishi Oyauchi : Wrong Exit (Armageddon Nova )

Under-recorded but legendary Japanese free improvising saxophonist Aishi Oyauchi in a double CD, performing on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and piano through 52 untitled and inventive pieces, from a few seconds in length to several minutes, presented as 7 composite tracks; part of the Armageddon Nova Series exploring radical free improvisation. ... Click to View


Zywizna: Roginski, Raphael with Genowefa Lenarcik: plays Zaswiec Niesiacku and other Kurpian songs (Bolt)

Guitarist Raphael Roginski reinterprets the music of the Kurpi region of Poland, performed with vocalist Genowefa Lenarcik who was born in 1940 in the village of Krobia, part of the Kurpi region, and is the daughter of folk singing legend Stanislaw Brzozowy; together they bring out the rich heritage of this region, expanded by the natural sounds of the forests of Northeaster Poland. ... Click to View


subterrene: Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been (Bad Architect Records)

Rich sonic atmospheres from subterrene, aka Grant Stewart, a member of the 910 Noise collective, using slowly evolving and dovetailing drones that resonate and reveal shimmering beauty, deeply controlled and maintaining aural interest without any sense of impatience, maintaining a steady hand that reveals hidden harmonics amongst beautiful clouds of sound. ... Click to View


Alessandro Bosetti : Notebooks (Bolt)

Czech composer Leos Janacek was fascinated with speech melodies, writing them down in notebooks to use in his compositions; Italian composer Alessandro Bosetti has adapted these notes, using the words themselves to create a series of works that builds rhythmic structures in place of melody, injecting himself and other performers into Janacek's interest in the voice. ... Click to View


Raphael Roginski (feat. Olga Myslowska / Sebstian Witkowski): plays Henry Purcell (Bolt)

Polish guitarist Raphael Roginski presents works from baroque English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695), considered one of the greatest English composers, performed on solo guitar and with accompaniment by Sebastian Witkowski on synth and Olga Myslowska on voice, a beautiful and languorous album that pays homage to the profound lasting qualities of Purcell's music. ... Click to View


Boguslaw Schaeffer : Travel Notes (Bolt)

Several compostions by Polish composer Boguslaw Schaeffer developed in the Polish Radio Experimental Studio from 1966-1978, including works for tape, electronic computer, voice, a quadraphonic generator, the SynLab synthesizer, composed using both graphic and notated scores, and realized with incredibly detailed layering and development of the material. ... Click to View


DJ Lenar: Drite Shtilkayt (Bolt)

Using recordings of Polish Jewish cantors with cello arrangements from Marek Czerniewicz, DJ Lenar (aka Marcin Lenarczyk) dedicates an album to the memory of Polish Jews by reimagining the recordings in subtle and sincere ways, reinforcing the powerful voices that guide the liturgical music of the Jewish faith, accompanied by a booklet of inspirational text. ... Click to View


Refusenik (Arturas Bumsteinas): Musikaliszer Pinkos (Bolt)

A collection of more than two hundred Hebrew religious chants compiled and published by cantor Abraham Berenstein in 1927 in Vilna, Poland (today Vilnius, Lithuania), re-composed by Arturas Bumsteinas using fragments of melodies found found in the Berenstein's book, with electronics recorded on the old Russian analogue synthezier Polyvox then mixed in EMS. ... Click to View


Trio 3 (Lake / Workman / Cyrille): Visiting Texture (Intakt)

This time around the long-standing trio of drummer Andrew Cyrille, bassist Reggie Workman, and saxophonist Oliver Lake doesn't add a 4th player to the group, instead focusing on the trio itself and their intuitive and implicitly lyrical approach to free jazz, in this 11th album recorded in the studio to feature their masterful collective playing as a group of equals where "music is the leader". ... Click to View


Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Miguel Mira / Abdul Moimeme: Micrographia (Creative Sources)

Recording in Portugal, the quintet of Aural Terrains label leader Thanos Chrysakis on piano, Creative Sources label leader Ernesto Rodrigue on viola, son Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Miguel Mira on double bass and Abdul Moimeme on electric guitar, three parts of microscopic collective electroacoustic improvisation of highly focused, detailed interplay. ... Click to View


VCA (Vilanova / Castrillon / Andean): Ceres (Creative Sources)

Electroacoustic improvisation from the trio of Marc Vilanova on saxophone, Sergio Castrillon on cello, and pianist James Andean also performing on objects and electronics, in nine collective improvisations of close-knit dialog balancing intense activity and silent space, building tension and releasing it in unexpected and wonderfully eccentric ways. ... Click to View


Edward Sol / Alpha Crucis: Excessive Weight [CASSETTE] (Banned Productions)

Ukrainian sound artist Edward Sol collaborated with Puerto Rican sound experimenter Jorge Castro (Cornucopia) via the post to create these two long works of harmonic drones from indecipherable sources creating slowly building chambers of rich noise that resonate and shift above deep underpinnings of cavernous bass. ... Click to View


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  Stop and Smell the Sewers  

Psychogeographers Strive to Slow the Nonstop City


By Kurt Gottschalk and Urania Mylonas
Photos by Kurt Gottschalk 2003-06-24

On a rainy night in May in the Lower East Side, about 100 people stopped or slowed down traffic, and nobody got mad. Motorists actually smiled as the motley crew of costumed revelers, wearing skirts made from recycled magazines and hats made from household items, banged on cans, bottles, and washboards, anything they could make noise with, as they paraded up Essex Street, onto Houston and headed towards the confines of East River Park.

The event was part of Psy-Geo Conflux, a weekend dedicated to redefining how we experience the city. The parade itself was organized by the Toy Shop Collective, who previously won a competition organized by evolutionre zellen, a Berlin-based group dedicated to finding and funding those who can best answer the question: "How do you design your society?"

As the group traveled along Houston, several police cars trailed them, although they didn't try to stop the march. Many people along the way looked quizzically, as if wondering what was going on. One man stopped a member of the group and asked her why she was banging on an old dirty can. "Thats junk!" he said. The woman looked at her can, then reached inside it and pulled out a whistle and handed it to him. He seemed resistant at first, but the bright smiles and infectious enthusiasm of this group won him over and he jumped in, blowing on his whistle and abandonding self-consciousness, tuning in to the group's collective consciousness, which was best described by a banner some of them held: Is the Fear of Looking Stupid Holding You Back?

Street Grid
Psychogeographers Locate Street Scenes at ABC No Rio
Psychogeopraphy is a discipline discussed in universities and celebrated among anarchist collectives like the Lower East Side's ABC No Rio, where much of the weekend's festivities were centered. But it's not one that's easily defined. While some organizers and participants attempted long explanations of the small field of thought that concerns itself with how the environment affects an individual's inner state, others offered simpler, more utilitarian explanations. It's an effort to "stop taking for granted the things you take for granted," said Drexel University history professor Scott Knowles, who lives in Queens and took part in several of the events aimed at slowing down the nonstop city.

Knowles is a member of a loosely-knit group calling itself Psychogeography New York. In the last two years, they have undertaken such activities as collecting objects on the street and redistributing them around the city based on the object's aesthetic qualities; riding the length of the A train, starting in upper Manhattan and making the two-hour ride to have a party in Far Rockaway, Queens; and exploring the city using maps of other cities. Such projects, Knowles said, are intended to undermine their own expectations about what goes on in, and below, the streets of New York.

"To me, at the very simplest level, stripped of political meaning, it's making yourself aware that your surroundings not only effect what you think, they are what you think," Knowles said. "At the first level, it's what you are seeing and then what you are not. But there's a deeper level that people discuss where, as capitalism develops, more of the experience of the street is closed off and you are channeled to certain areas in the street.

"It's not a religion," he added. "It's not a life-changing philosophy. It's realizing that what you see on the street is effecting you."

Taking time to appreciate one's surroundings is, of course, hardly a 21st century innovation (although it may well be one that denizens of this century would be wise to recall). Psychogeography as a discipline dates back to Paris in the 1950s, but it has roots that stretch back much further. One could even argue that Socrates, who said "The unexamined life is not worth living," was the first psychogeographer. During a talk at ABC No Rio, photographer Colette Meacher, who has worked as a lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the Andes in Bogota, discussed the value of meditative walking through philosopher Immanuel Kant's work.

"Walking has always been a means to thought, not just for writers, artists and poets but for philosophers as well," Meacher said. Kant took the same walk at the same time every day, and used these walks as ways to discover the beautiful and the sublime, not just in his surroundings but in own experiential states, she said.

"The city itself, as landscape, offers moments of wonder by virtue of the wealth of diverse practices which, synchronously, and continuously, manifest therein," she said during the talk. "The sublime views which can be gained neither depend on perspectival privilege nor on a specific positionality within its spaces - a feeling of awe can be achieved irrespective of familiarity with it or whether it is approached wit a 'naive' eye."

Regaining that "naive eye" was the impetus for several self-guided walks during the weekend. People stopping by ABC No Rio could pick up photos taken around the Lower East Side, locate the site pictured, and then return to put them in the appropriate spot on a large map on the wall. A book was handed out that directed the reader around the city, steering participants in different directions based on hearing a car alarm or a cell phone or seeing a bicycle locked to a street sign or a woman wearing a hat. And groups were sent out to photograph and document the service entrances of New York's most prominent buildings.

Bill Brown
Bill Brown
If the psychogeographers want to get a fresh look at the city, they're not forgetting that they're being watched at the same time. Bill Brown maps security cameras around the city, and says there are at least 7,500 in Manhattan alone. And with cameras mounted on emergency vehicles, planes and satellites, "we are now visible from the ground all the way to the sky," he said.

The cameras are not a product of terrorism concerns so much as attempts to monitor drug sales, traffic infractions and consumer behavior, he said.

"We are now visible to those cameras," Brown said, pointing to a camera mounted on the side of a building aimed at the dozen people circled around him. "Because we are lingering, we are loitering. It is interesting enough to track us. It used to be in our society we divided people into two groups, the people that might commit crimes and the people that might not commit crimes. If you stand here on the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue, you are worth watching."

The sights and sounds of the city have often been the source of artistic expression, of course. The closing party, held at Subtonic, in the basement of the nightclub Tonic a few blocks from ABC No Rio, featured site specific sound work by percussionist Sean Meehan and sound manipulator Geoff Dugan.

Sean Meehan & Geoff Dugan
Sean Meehan & Geoff Dugan
Dugan used recordings of Meehan playing on the street as a sound source, layering it and altering it as Meehan sat quietly, as if trying to find away in to the sound, into aduet with himself, despite excessive chatter and onlookers who displayed no sense of the performers' personal space. Or perhaps Meehan was simply absorbing all the noise, the sounds of conversation and cash registers, before beginning. Eventually he entered into the dialogue, rubbing the rim of his snare with a fork, rolling the drum on the floor, pushing thin wooden rods against a cymbal, mixing in with the sound around. Whatever his reaction - annoyed, amused or inspired - it could only have been seen as appropriate by the psychogeographers gathered on a rainy Mother's Day night. Meehan and Meehan, and the sounds of a basement bar. To ignore the noise would, perhaps, have been to miss the point.



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