December 6, 2018:
The holidays and Blue Squid / Cyber Squid / Black Squid / whatever we call them SALES have kept us very busy! We are grateful to our wonderful customers who made our sales successful and fun, and we really appreciate the positive comments about our service and the catalog of music we all love so much. Thank You!
We have a great set of new releases coming our way, either ordered already or soon to be released (have a look below), and the end of the year and the start of 2019 looks to be as exciting, interesting and rewarding as 2018. We're typically a bit late publishing our year end lists, but we're currently looking into restocking top sellers and having animated dialog about which albums we found most rewarding, and of course, which we disagree on. Look for those lists near January 1, but in the meantime you can always look at our Top Lists by Customer Orders page to see what other customers have found interesting and exciting.
Having been raised by a clarinetist, I'm a natural fan of the Magic I.D. and International Nothing. Both bands use the instrument in unique harmonic combinations to create tonal structures and interference patterns unique to the pure tones of the clarinet. I've also been an enthusiast of The Necks since Recommended Records introduced me to the band around the turn of the century. The subtlety of their improvisation fascinates me, as the band slowly modifies often hallucinogenic riffs that slowly move the listener in almost illusionary progressions.
The Dogmatics, the duo of Chris Abrahams (piano) and Kai Fagaschinski (clarinet) does neither, but takes elements from both approaches and brings a new and subdued approach to improvisation into unusual territories. The two Australians share a dark image of their pairing, as reflected in the covers of their albums; in reality there is no negativity in their playing, but plenty of shadowy sections, twilight tones that play out as though dark secrets were being whispered while the pair hide behind trees, dropping notes into the atmospheres and building sonic environments that creep around you in alluring ways.
This is their second release, a vinyl album self-published on their own label. It's a great place to enter their scenarios.
The Dogmatics: Chop Off The Tops [VINYL] (Dogmatics)
The second album from the duo of pianist Chris Abrahams (The Necks) and clarinetist Kai Fagaschinski (The Magic I.D., Interational Nothing) has the duo decelerating for an intimate examination of tone and harmonics through perfectly placed notes and subtly extreme technique, creating sublime sonic environments that hover and dissolve; beautiful.
Do Yeon Kim is a masterful performer on the gayageum or kayagum, a kind of zither or harp from Korea. Joe Morris is the better-known performer here, playing guitar on this album. Their duo is an impressive and captivating example of incredible skill and a diversity of approaches from both players, including pointillistic improv, rich rivers of chords, languid moments of beauty, and moments where it's difficult to discern who's playing what. It may take several listens to embrace the "space" they occupy in performance, but the mix of exotic interplay and the fascinating challenge of hearing a unique combination of instruments that yields unexpected results draws in the listener. Morris and Kim are clearly captivated by their own playing, and their focus and flow in their dialogs keeps this album interesting from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Morris, Joe / Do Yeon Kim: Macrocosm (Glacial Erratic)
Performing on the Korean gayageum (also known as kayagum), Doyeon Kim joins Joe Morris performing on guitar for five incredible string improvisations using a diversity of approaches from both players, including pointillistic improv, rich rivers of chords, languid moments of beauty, and moments where it's difficult to discern who's playing what.
The aforementioned album with Joe Morris brought to mind yet more of guitars. A host of great guitarist-led records ended this year, and since October seeing great releases from Brandon Seabrook, Dustin Carlson, Mary Halvorson & Joe Morris (after Mary Halvorson & Bill Frisell), Tashi Dorji, East of the Valley Blues (Kevin & Patrick Cahill), Julien Desprez & Luis Lopes, and of course, Eugene Chadbourne.
For the more blues/abstract side of things East of the Valley Blues, the duo of brothers Kevin & Patrick Cahill lays down a wonderfully rich album blending country blues, folk and world approaches. For the rock and weird side of things one can't go wrong with the improv/jazz/rock weirdness of Doc Chad, who has released a good number of albums this year. Though technically a trio album, Chad's free improv album with the Canadian Vertek Ensemble, Dimsum, Dodgers, And Dangerous Nights, also contains a solo live piece, a touching rendering of "My Mother's Eyes".
Brandon Seabrook and Dustin Carlson both bring Downtown NY approaches to their albums as leaders, Carlson more in the modern mainstream of the sound (think Pi Recordings), while Seabrook is the more renegade player (think Marc Ribot) with angular and gritty resolve.
Mary Halvorson continues to excite, releasing two duos, one with Downtown NY legend Bill Frisell in album of absolutely stunning interplay, with Halvorson's signature stretchy guitar effects contrasting with Frisell's tasteful and sophisticated playing. With Joe Morris, Halvorson turns off the effects and the two create a jaw-dropping display of rapid fire yet comprehensible playing.
On the experimental side Tashi Dorji's cassette+download on Moone Records is a more abstract affair, beautiful in it's gazing approach to the acoustic guitar, taking his mind and our ears where he wanders. In contrast, the meeting of Canadian guitarist Pascal Landry and NY guitarist Mick Barr is an intense and free-flying affair of rapid intertwining "swarms" of notes and timbres. Julien Desprez & Luis Lopes take yet another approach through effects and sonic treatment to build beautifully evolving works of subtlety and mystery.
East of the Valley Blues (Kevin & Patrick Cahill): Ressemblera [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)
Twin brothers Kevin and Patrick Cahill, AKA East of the Valley Blues, are a Toronto-based guitar duo who have released a series of albums blending country, folk and world approaches with a Fahey-esque overtone, here in an extended work of interactive playing that has a nearly telepathic feel in the give and take these two brothers bring to their instruments.
Chadbourne, Eugene / Vertek Ensemble: Dimsum, Dodgers, And Dangerous Nights (Volatile Records)
Documenting the meeting of guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, also singing on "If I Were a Bell", with the Edmonton, CA-based Vertrek Ensemble of Ron de Jong on percussion and Vadim Budman on guitars and trumpet, in a city Chadbourne lived in 25 years prior, as he returns for a serious and well recorded album of informed free improv, plus one solo Chad track from a concert during his visit.
Seabrook, Brandon Trio: Convulsionaries (Astral Spirits)
Essentially a string trio, guitarist Brandon Seabrook's Trio with upright bassist Henry Fraser and cellist Daniel Levin is anything but typical string fair, blending improvisation with complex composition and rock sensibilities as one of New York's most unique downtown players takes listeners on a diverse and sometimes demented journey through genre and style.
Carlson, Dustin (w/ Mitchell / Gentile / Hopkins / Morgan / Trudel / Gouker): Air Ceremony (Out Of Your Head Records)
A strong album of modern creative jazz from New York guitarist Dustin Carlson, in a septet with Matt Mitchell on synth, Kate Gentile on drums, Adam Hopkins on bass, Nathaniel Morgan on alto saxophone, Eric Trudel on baritone saxophone, Danny Gouker on trumpet, sophisticated, intricate, lyrical and compelling compositions driving the enthusiasm and exuberance of their ceremony!
Halvorson, Mary / Joe Morris: Traversing Orbits (RogueArt)
Two of this generation's most influential and skilled guitarists, Mary Halvorson and Joe Morris bring their distinct styles and jaw-dropping mastery of their instruments into a duo of collective improvisation, neither player using effects but instead impressing by (often high-speed) lyricism, incredibly precise interaction, and the warmth their long association brings to them.
Halvorson, Mary / Bill Frisell: The Maid With The Flaxen Hair (Tzadik)
Two Downtown NY guitarists, both masterful players with unique approaches to their instrument, come together to present extraordinary and brilliant interpretations of an eclectic set of standards and compositions, titled for Claude Debussy's 1910 solo piano work, and including pieces by Hoagy Charmichael, Johnny Smith, Willard Robinson, and a number of traditional works.
Dorji, Tashi: But a night that ends, as all nights end, when the sun rises [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Moone Records)
Guitarist Tashi Dorji's two part work is pieced together in a non-linear/non-hierarchical form where every segment balances fragile and intense playing, his improvisations reflecting eastern and western approaches, with fragmentary passage that resolve into tightly focused playing that imparts a wonderful sense of lyrical and emotional depth.
Insect-ions (Pascal Landry / Mick Barr): out.over.forever (Tour de Bras)
Acoustic guitar intermeshes with electric guitar as Canadian guitarist Pascal Landry and New York guitarist Mick Barr, both of whom play in heavy rock and free improvisation settings, meet in Queens, NY to record this intense album of free playing using a diverse set of approaches, intertwining their strings in an insectile swarm of notes and timbres.