The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Fred Frith / Nicolas Humbert / Marc Parisotto: Cut Up The Border (RogueArt)

Filmakers and composers Nicolas Humbert and Marc Parisotto revisit the tapes recorded by Jean Vapeur for the film by Humbert & Werner Penzel, "Step Across the Border" with soundtrack by Fred Frith, extracting more of Vapeur's fascinating field recordings and adding music by Fred Frith with additional music & voice from Tom Cora, Iva Bittova, John Zorn, &c. ... Click to View


Claudia Solal / Benoit Delbecq: Hope Town (RogueArt)

French vocalist Claudia Solal provides the lyrics, sung-spoken narratives, prose and poetic forms performed with pianist Benoit Delbecq, who uses internal preparations and a variety of creative approaches to keys, both intricate and melodic, setting the fascinating and insightful stories that Solal spiels; a wonderful union of instrument and word. ... Click to View


Kuzu (Rempis / Dorji / Damon): Purple Dark Opal (Aerophonic)

In 2018 on their 2nd tour, the Kuzu trio of Dave Rempis on alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, Tashi Dorji on guitar, and Tyler Damon on drums, captured this, their 15th concert in the tour, at The Sugar Maple, in Milwaukee, an extended improvisation that lives up to its title in dark ruminations that reveal beauty and rare color through powerful and passionate playing. ... Click to View


McPhee / Reid / Lopez / Nilssen-Love / Rempis: Things Beyond Thule Volume 1 [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Aerophonic)

Already planning a duo concert at Chicago's Hungry Brain between saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love as part of their Transmission Series, the duo expanded to a trio with the inclusion of visiting cellist Tomeka Reid, and then to a quintet by adding New York legend Joe McPhee on trumpet & sax, and NY bassist Brandon Lopez, recording this masterful, limited album. ... Click to View


Bones (Ziv Taubenfeld / Shay Hazan / Nir Sabag): Reptiles [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Amsterdam-based bass clarinetist Ziv Taubenfeld leads the Bones trio, performing Taubenfeld's compositions, with double bassist Shay Hazan and drummer Nir Sabag, the three friends since their youth, as their improvisation emphasizes lower tones through slowly slinking, saurian improvisation that bridges tonal work and energetic scrabbling. ... Click to View


Tim Barnes: DEAD-LOOP [VINYL] (Amish Records)

Percussionist, Quakebasket label leader, and experimental artist Tim Barnes both subverts and respect the forms of electronica by turning it on its side, extracting unusual rhythms and structures from rhythmic elements and samples, at times following conventional direction and then breaking off into Barne's instinctive drive for abstraction and diversion. ... Click to View


PEK Solo: Coefficient of Unity (Evil Clown)

A great example of the state of David Peck (PEK)'s approach to improvisation & arsenal of instruments, in an epic solo work merging acoustic and electronic sources with an unhurried path in a coherent form improvisation using reeds, sheng, fog horn, game calls, gongs, chimes, crotales, daxophone, [d]ronin, mpa 019, therimin, aquasonic, loops, & signal processing. ... Click to View


Jim Black Trio (w/ Elias Stemseder / Thomas Morgan): Reckon (Intakt)

... Click to View


Ellery Eskelin / Christian Weber / Michael Griener: The Pearls (Intakt)

In their second album the trio of saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, bassist Christian Weber and drummer Michael Griener revisit the music of jazz tradition through the modern ears of the free improvisation, alternating the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, Harry Edison/Count Bassie, and Russell Robinson with original group compositions, a fascinating contrast in time and style. ... Click to View


Chris Speed Trio (w/ Tordini / King): Respect For Your Toughness (Intakt)

Recorded Live in Brooklyn, the 3rd album from the trio of tenor saxophonist Chris Speed, double bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dave King focuses on Chris Speed compositions in a traditional vein, using shades of classic bop styles that leave room for creative expression through comfortably lyrical pacing propelled by King's incredibly interactive rhythms; beautiful. ... Click to View


Awatair (Gos / Tokar / Gadecki): Awatair Plays Coltrane (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Surprising, singular and unconventional interpretations of four pieces from John Coltrane--"The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost", "Naima", "Improvisation For Mr. J.C.", and "Inspired by Seraphic Light"--from the Gdansk trio of Michael Gos (drums), Mark Tokar (bass) and Tomasz Gadecki (tenor & baritone sax), comissioned by and performed at the 2019 Jazz Jantar Festival. ... Click to View


Alvin Curran / Jon Rose: Cafe Grand Abyss (Recommended Records)

Two masterful, virtuosic and inquiring musicians--Alvin Curran on piano, sampler & shofar, and Jon Rose on violins, 6-string drain pipe and singing saw--in an incredible album of improvisation that seems to know no boundary, farcically claiming to be revisiting their earliest experiences in cocktail club bands, but instead shredding the concept with breakneck speed and surprise; wow! ... Click to View


Stefan Aeby: Piano Solo (Intakt)

Spending two days in a recording studio in Berne, pianist Stefan Aeby recorded these 14 short works, a mixture of improvised and composed works using preparations and electronics to evoke a set of diverse recordings, from energetic structural works to evocative lyricism, nothing overstaying its welcome, carrying the listener through an inquisitive and compelling set of ideas. ... Click to View


Saadet Turkoz / Elliott Sharp : Kumuska (Intakt)

Distilling their work on previous albums Kumuska and Marmara Sea to the duo of creative New York bass clarinetist & guitarist Elliott Sharp, and Bosporus vocalist Saadet Turkoz, whose free singing include European, Indian and Asian influences while incorporating jazz & blues, as the two present 9 songs of the familiar focused throu a world view. ... Click to View


Reid Anderson / Dave King / Craig Taborn: Golden Valley is Now (Intakt)

Taking the improvising duo Bad Plus of electric bassist Reid Anderson and acoustic & electronic drummer Dave King and adding Craig Tabor on synthesizer, electric & acoustic pianos, for an accessible album of rhythmic and melodic tunes, electronics adding effervescence and a pop sensibility amongst sly rhythmic twists, strong grooves, and memorable themes. ... Click to View


Estamos Trio (McDonas / Escobar / Tamez): Dire Warning (Relative Pitch)

Highlighting issues between the US & Mexican borders, Thollem McDonas' Estamos Trio presents their 2nd album, here with Carmina Escobar (vocals, electronics, guitarron), Milo Tamez (percussion, found objects, electronics) and Thollem (keyboard, vocals, clay pot) in a work commissioned by and recorded at the 2018 "Casa Tomada" (House Taken Over) in Santa Fe for SITE. ... Click to View


Sunwatchers / Eugene Chadbourne: 3 Characters [VINYL 2 LPs] (Amish Records)

Eugene Chadbourne brings his guitars and voice to join the Sunwatchers band of Peter Kerlin, Jim McHugh, Jason Robira, and Jeff Tobias, as they perform the music of great American rock band Minutemen, with Minuteman Mike Watt joining on "spiel & labor leader", alongside original pieces by Sunwatchers, and experimental rock band Henry Flynt & The Insurrections. ... Click to View


Turbulence: Upheaval (Evil Clown)

Turbulence is a smaller grouping of the Boston-based Evil Clown collective, typically with a majority of horns, here as the quintet of PEK (reeds & winds), Ellwood Epps (trumpet), Bob Moores (trumpets), Jim Warshauer (sax and winds), and Michael Caglianone (saxophones), a fully acoustic group of wind instruments and brass, taking a chamber approach to distinctive improvisation. ... Click to View


Sub-Unit #1: Potential & Kinetic Energies (Evil Clown)

This "Sub-unit" from Boston's improvising Leap of Faith Orchestra presetns a duo between Eric Zinman on piano, percussion and synth and David Peck on an array of saxophones, clarinets, bassoon and other reeds, plus small percussion, Theremin and accordion, in a unique and active duo with both players suggesting a larger ensemble through diverse strategeis and instrumentation. ... Click to View


Wade Matthews: Aspirations And Inspirations (Creative Sources)

Recording in Madrid in 2002, and at The Groupe de Musique Electroniqueacoustique d'Albi-Tarn in France in 2004, Wade Matthews presents 9 solo works using close miking, circular breathing, percussive sounds from the instruments themselves, and other creative and unusual extended techniques, in an idiosyncratic and fascinating album of personal expression. ... Click to View


ROVA (Raskin / Ochs / Voigt / Ackley): Saxophone Diplomacy (Hatology)

A much needed reissue of the ROVA Saxophone Quartet's historic 1983 tour of Russia, Latvia and Romania, as Jon Raskin on alto, baritone & soprano sax plus clarinet, Andrew Voigt on alto, sopranino & soprano sax + flute, Bruce Ackley on soprano sax & clarinet, and Larry Ochts on tenor & sopranino sax tear apart six incredible multi-reed improvisations; incredible! ... Click to View


Liquid Quintet (feat Agusti Fernandez / Artur Majewski / Albert Cirera / Rafal Mazur / Ramon Prats): Flux (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Hailed as the most pyrotechnic and adventurous concert of the 12th Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw, Poland, the collective quintet of Agusti Fernandez on piano, Artur Majewski on trumpet, Albert Cirera on saxophones, Rafal Mazur on bass, and Ramon Prats on drums, rage and flow through three movements of "Flux", starting at the "Source" and ending in an "Estuary"; awesome. ... Click to View


George Graewe / Ernst Reijseger / Gerry Hemingway: Concertgebouw Brugge 2014 (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Performing together since 1989, at first frequently and now as very special events, this concert at Concertgebouw in Brugge of pianist Georg Graewe, cellist Ernst Reijseger, and drummer and marimba player Gerry Hemingway, is a superb example of the both telepathic and confidently confrontational interplay of their chamber-oriented and superbly paced improvisation. ... Click to View


Steve Swell / Robert Boston / Michael Vatcher: Brain In A Dish (NoBusiness)

Trombonist Steve Swell stands out in this trio of collective improvisation, recorded in the studio in Brooklyn with pianist Robert Boston, also on organ, and drummer Michael Vatcher, in a set of eleven outstanding dialogs that range from highly energetic to deeply introspective, with quirky and unusual technique from Vatcher and Swell adding unique qualities to their collective "brain". ... Click to View


Juan Vinuesa Jazz Quartet (Vinuesa / Berman / Roebke Avery): Blue Shots From Chicago (NoBusiness)

Spanish tenor saxophonist Juan F. G. Vinuesa leads his quartet with Josh Berman on cornet, Jason Roebke on bass, and Mikel Patrick Avery on drums and percussion, three bright stars of the Chicago scene, performing Vinuesa's compositions and arrangements of lyrical modern jazz that blend structure and melody with plenty of space for free playing; wonderful. ... Click to View


Katarsis4 (Bizys / Janonis / Pancerovas / Jusinskas): Katarsis4 (NoBusiness)

A diverse, unique and sometimes explosive saxophone quartet from Lithuania founded by Arminas Bizys, Kazimieras Jusinskas, Algirdas Janonis, and Danielius Pancerovas, using extended techniques, the saxophones themselves, and found objects as they articulately merge structurally free improvisation, academic approaches and motives from Lithuanian folk music. ... Click to View


Anthony Coleman : Catenary Oath [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Downtown NY cornerstone pianist Anthony Coleman is heard in a solo album of Coleman originals including a piece dedicated to Roscoe Mitchell, plus one piece each by Billy Strayhorn, John Klenner, and Ellington/George/Hodges/James, all beautifully captured at Boston's Jordan Hall as Coleman reveals his unique logic and inventive approach to solo performance. ... Click to View


Bobby Bradford / Frode Gjerstad / Kent Carter / John Stevens: Blue Cat [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

The 2nd in NoBusiness' archive series of the Norwegian Detail collective, here with Frode Gjerstad on alto sax, Bobby Bradford on cornet, Kent Carter on bass, and John Stevens on drums, captured live in London in 1991 during a UK record, in a 3-part work of informed free-jazz and free playing, exciting music with complex, swinging subtlety. ... Click to View


Sounds of Liberation: Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Originally formed by vibraphonist Khan Jamal in 1970 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia (the homefront of Sun Ra's Arkestra) and expanded to a septet when saxophonist Byard Lancaster joined, the band only released one official LP, this soulfully funky, upbeat and lyrical album extending their output with a well-recorded album captured at Columbia University in 1973. ... Click to View


Marc Copland: Gary ((Illusions))

Having a long association with pianists Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Bill Evans, and Marc Copland, it's fitting that the compositions of legendary bassist Gary Peacock are revealed in this solo album from Marc Copland with whom he has most recently worked, Copland interpreting his evocative compositions with thoughtful sensitivity and masterful skill. ... Click to View


Arto Lindsay / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark / Phil Sudderberg: Largest Afternoon (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Bringing together Chicago's long partnership of saxophonists Joe McPhee and Ken Vandermark with frequent Vandermark collaborator, drummer Phil Sudderberg, and New York guitarist Arto Lindsay, meeting on a winter afternoon in a Chicago studio to record these fifteen collective, freely improvised conversations of intense energy, unexpected twists and turns, and brilliant playing. ... Click to View


Cyanobacteria / Hubsch: Are You an Orchid or a Dandelion? (Toxo Records)

The trio of Renato Grieco on bass, Francesco Gregoretti on drums, Carl Ludwig Hubsch on tuba in a studio album of dense, deep improvisation, using amplification and feedback with extreme technique and meticulously controlled playing to create slowly evolving sonic environments of profound depth and mystery, a shadowy and fascinating album fraught with suspense. ... Click to View


Fred Lonberg-Holm / Joe McPhee: No Time Left for Sadness (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

"This Time", "That Time" and "Next Time", the three titles from the first duo meeting of Joe McPhee on tenor saxophone and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, also bringing electronics, the distillation of their playing outside of Survival Unit III a revelation in intensity and unconventional creativity, fueled by magnificent playing and an empathetic rapport. ... Click to View


David Grubbs / Mats Gustafsson / Rob Mazurek: The Underflow (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Recorded during two nights at Underflow Records and Art Gallery in Athens, Greece in 2019, The Underflow trio of Mats Gustafsson (reeds, fluteophone, electronics) from Sweden, with Chicago-based Rob Mazurek (trumpet, electronics), and David Grubbs (electric guitar) present an album of wide-ranging, powerful, often explosively eccentric, and always informed improvisation. ... Click to View


Joke Lanz / Jason Kahn / Norbert Moslang / Gunter Muller / Christian Weber: kangaroo_kitchen [2 CDS] (Mikroton Recordings)

Two astounding and wide-ranging electroacoustic improvisations from 5 prominent musicians on the Swiss experimental scene--Joke Lanz (turntables), Jason Kahn (synth, radio, mixer), Norbert Moslang (cracked everyday electronics), Gunter Muller (ipods & electronics), and Christian Weber (bass, revolver)--captured live at the 2018 Mikroton Mikroten Festival in Kaliningrad and Moscow. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Crumpled Dimensions (Evil Clown)

The core Leap of Faith trio of David Peck (PEK) on winds & percussion, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion, a subunit of Boston's Leap of Faith Orchestra, is joined by Jim Warshauer (reeds) and Eric Dahlman (trumpet, overtone voice) for an exciting and far-ranging improvisation of exotic instrumentation and intention. ... Click to View


VocColours / Yoichiro Kita: Live in Japan (Creative Sources)

A strange album of vocal improvisation from the the VocCoulours quartet of Brigitte Kuepper, Gala Gabriele Hummel, Norbert Zajac, and Iouri Grankin, performing live with Koichi Makigami on (voice & theremin), Yoichiro Kita (trumpet & laptop), Keiko Komori (bass clarinet), and Morgan Fisher (keyboards & toys); a truly unique album of startling utterance, texture, and environment. ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee: Avalanche (2 CDs) (Herbal International)

A double CD of experimental composition from Malaysian sound artist Goh Lee Kwang, hypnotic works of strangely repeating glitch that bookend shorter works of rich percussive abstractions, including a work with processed voice and an extended percussive "Ritual", singular pieces reflecting Kwang's curious mind and long experience merging aberrant and subtle sound. ... Click to View


Etienne Nillesen / Nicola Hein / Magda Mayas / Eve Risser / Marta Warelis: Piano Trialogues (Creative Sources)

Nicola L. Hein, performing on prepared guitar, and Etienne Nillesen on extended snare drum, present three trio recordings with three different pianists--Magda Mayas, Eve Risser, and Marta Warelis--each adding a different dimension to Hein & Nillesen's playing, as heard in these three live recordings from The Loft in Cologne, Germany in 2018. ... Click to View


Alexandra Grimal / Joelle Leandre: Desordre (Montagne Noire)

A playful, thoughtful, and quick witted encounter between Egyptian saxophonist Alexandra Grimal and French double bassist Joelle Leandre, at times each on voice, emphasizing a "desired disorder" in their approach to instant composition and declaring that neither determines the course of the music, but that they follow it simply as the music decides; wonderful. ... Click to View


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  Great Minds at Play  

Finding Art in Science, Monthly at Cornelia Street Cafe


By Matt Rand 2003-06-24

A room full of people who have just held in their hands a meteorite that hit the earth in 1576 is a tough room to play. And so it was that a good portion of the audience at Cornelia Street Cafe's "Entertaining Science" night (this one was "Heavy Metals") had left by the time Elliott Sharp picked up his miniature steel guitar. They had stayed through Oliver Sacks' lecture on the weights and properties of various metals, complete with fun handouts such as the meteorite, and even through David Brush's detailed explanation of the manner in which he sculpts with gold and steel. Both had something very tangible in common, in that both discussed specific ways that specific metals acted in specific situations.

So when Sharp took off his hat and started to set up his instrument and effects, people might have thought that this would either be too gimmicky ("Look, I'm making noise from metals!") or too vague ("Here is an ode to metal, bittersweet metal.").

Among those who stayed, however, was the inventor of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot. He was in for a treat, as Sharp warmed up with a series of harmonics played against a droning open string. Then, suddenly, he was playing a weepy slide melody, but the harmonics, fed through a delay pedal, hadn't stopped.

With the looping, he was able to add layer upon layer of new sound, from sliding melodies to distorted riffs to ethereal harmonics. However he didn't use the loops to create a bottomless cacophony. He let the more distant sounds slip out the back door, so that the sound at any given moment was a fluid combination of only the last couple of things that he had done.

Maybe Sharp got Mandelbrot's attention with the pattern, zooming into a space, exploring it, picking a spot and zooming in some more. The implication was that the piece could have been infinite, rather than a structured musical form.

"Entertaining Science" began on a whim. Los Angeles Timesscience writer and UCLA teacher KC Cole had written a book on the concept of nothing (The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered into the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything) and she wanted to do a reading at the restaurant and performance space Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan's West Village. Robin Hirsch, co-owner and founder of the cafe and a long-time friend of Cole's, however, was concerned that the reading wouldn't draw enough of a crowd to make any money.

As Hirsch told the story: "So she said, 'Well, how about me and Roald Hoffmann?' and I said 'Who's he?' 'He's a poet and he's a nobel laureate in chemistry.' And I said, 'Well in all candor, nobody is going to come for him either.' 'Well, so how about me, Roald and Oliver Sacks?' And it was an incredible night."

There was a write-up in the New Yorker, pegged on Sacks' appearance (Sacks is an NYU neuroscientist with an interest in unusual psychological phenomena, and is the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Awakenings and Uncle Tungsten, among other works). Anywhere between 150 and 300 people showed up, depending on whom you ask. Either way, it was more than the 85-person occupancy of the basement room where the event takes place. According to Sacks, "it was very much an experiment then, which rose almost by chance," but Hirsch and Hoffmann decided to make it a monthly event, with Hoffmann becoming the event's curator.

In January, 2002, the series began, individual nights usually centering around a theme, such as "Heavy Metals," "What's So Funny About Science?" and "Get Lost in Translation." With his vast network of friends and colleagues, Hoffmann manages to find three people per month to round out the program, though he sometimes uses fewer if a scientist can also sing, dance or otherwise entertain. No one gets paid, but there is a free dinner in it for the participants. "They sing for their supper," Hirsch said.

Sacks, who has attended almost every month, said it has been so successful because it's "informal, not like going to a lecture, and it's conversational, interactive. Roald has had some extraordinary and important people coming and there's a great hunger for contact with scientific ideas and artistic expression."

But the informality can also lead to difficulties in booking people used to academic settings. "Sometimes I have to twist the scientists' hands a little bit to get them to participate," Hoffman said. "There are a lot of great scientists who are just afraid of standing in front of a stage in a Cafe."

About a month after "Heavy Metals," the subject of the next "Entertaining Science" event was music itself, or "Music on the Brain." Neurobiologist Fredrik Ullen of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and psychologist and cognitive scientist Carol Krumhansl from Cornell spoke about the brain's perception of music. Krumhansl discussed the perception of musical key and how that relates to the idea of expectation (such as you expect the song "Happy Birthday" to resolve in the same key in which it started). Ullen, who is also a renowned pianist, discussed the organization of various parts of the brain involved in making the rhythmic movements involved in playing an instrument, and performed compositions by Gyorgy Ligeti and Frederic Chopin on the piano.

There was, though, a disconnect between Ullen's lecture and his performance. His style on the piano, even while playing Chopin, was sober and unromantic. He played crisp, clear notes that brought out the structure of Chopin's writing rather than getting lost in the emotion of the piece. Then, even if the audience was still caught in Chopin's lilting melodies or Ligeti's churning rhythms, Ullen was not. He had stood up from the piano and he was already speaking and giving a PowerPoint demonstration. He would sit back down at the piano again, but just as an interlude oras an example during Krumhansl's talk. His music was his music and his science was his science. That his science was built around music did not seem to feed anything back into the music-making.

This is the difference between the science of music and the music of science. From one side of the table, scientists like Ullen and Krumhansl, or Sacks with his studies of music as a blueprint for motion for Parkinson's patients, attempt to find out why existing music affects us like it does. On the other side, Sharp is intent on creating music that seizes on the patterns that science has detected in nature. His compositions often follow structures based on the discoveries of mathematicians such as Fibonacci and Mandelbrot.

In the early 1970s, Sharp was studying music at Bard College and living in a house on the Hudson River. "I spent a lot of time walking along the river," he said, "and we had a porch, and you would see literally thousands and thousands of butterflies. There were times they would form patterns and almost seem on the verge of spelling out things. That led me to thinking about all the rhythmic structures we were composing, structures that are open-ended. It was all right there, all the fractal shit, pine cones and branches, streams and currents. It inevitably found its way into my thinking and I did a Hudson River series of compositions. They were all instruction sets, basically conceptual pieces, it being the '70s, but with a mathematical subtext.

"Self-similarity, mapping from the micro to the macro, is something that became very much a part of my approaches to composition, where I'm creating structures that echo each other both on a micro and a macro level, in the shape of the phrase from a 2-bar or 5-bar level out to its full structure."

But this kind of structure isn't obvious to every listener, and to many a piece made up of such algorithms might sound like a whole bunch of noise. In response to a questionabout the people who left the Heavy Metals show before Sharp had the chance to play, he explained that "music is the most abstract of all of the arts, and people either like it or they don't. The thing about music is you can't shut your eyes. Even with earplugs you're going to feel the vibration in the room... People are able to take in dissonant visual images much more easily than they can dissonant audio."

Sharp might be understating the point that visual dissonance is easier to stomach than audio dissonance. Ken Jolls, an Iowa State thermodynamics professor, jazz vibraphone player and January, 2003 Entertaining Science performer (he played the vibraphone and talked about its physics), has found that visual images of thermodynamic models make the traditionally undergrad-torturing concepts of thermodynamics far easier to understand for most students.

"The beauty of Gibbsian thermodynamics with its precisely connected functional structure can be demonstrated through computer imaging.... Ideas that have long been hidden under layers of abstraction now emerge through their understandable, spatio-geometric analogs," he wrote in his paper "Visualization in Classical Thermodynamics".

As with the intricate and beautiful images of Mandelbrot's fractals, a visual representation can make a concept more accessible. But we don't, for some reason, process sound the same way.

And yet Sharp wants the abstractions in his music to sing for themselves. For him, the listener shouldn't need to be versed in science or mathematics, or to have a copy of the score or an explanatory statement, to recognize the abstract structures from the sound of a given piece of music.

"I'm hoping someone hearing this music will understand, like a piece like 'SyndaKit,' they'll hear the complexity in it, they'll wonder how it's generated, maybe they'll hear the order, maybe they'll hear the rules," he said. "And they'll go backwards from thesound of the music to the systems that went into it, thinking about birds flocking, thinking about the way RNA molecules combine, thinking about genetic mutation, thinking about African drum choirs, thinking about how nature creates an algorithmic structure."

It's an ambitious approach. And it has won him a fan in Hoffmann, who said, "what attracts me to Elliott is a combination of just plain good musicianship and then this interesting thing where he plays on real instruments but he also does this computer work, simulates real things. And there's a deep intellectual structure to the work. My general feeling is there's something smart and intuitive about music, and if both are there, that's where Sharp is."

While some audience members might not yet be ready to skip their dinner reservations for the audio abstractions, Hoffmann likes what Sharp's getting at. Sharp uses science as an input, but creates something outside of science. Some scientists might stop at the boundary, waving at the bald-headed, black-wearing musician from inside their classrooms, but Hoffmann's humanized science brings him outside and into the cafe.

Hirsch and Sacks each brought up C.P. Snow when discussing Hoffman. Snow is best known for his mid 20th century work The Two Cultures, in which he examined the gulf between literary and scientific academics at Cambridge. He was disheartened by the ways in which academic specialization could work against the open sharing of knowledge.

Sacks explained that "Roald once gave a talk of the 'One Culture', against the Snow idea of two cultures, that comes out of the similarity of the creative processes, and also from, in many instances, some focusing on the same subjects. For example, language can be studied by a linguist, by neurolinguistics but also by a poet."

Hoffman is a Renaissance Man. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981 for his explanation of the geometric behavior of molecules, and he has published four books of poetry. He spoke six languages by the time he was 12 years old, all while he was traveling across Europe, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis. Now his goal is to "humanize science," because, simply, he is a human and a scientist.



continued...




The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
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Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


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