The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Zlatko Kaucic (w/ Evan Parker, Agusti Fernandez, Rafal Mazur, Lotte Anger, Artun Majewski, Phil Minton, Johannes Bauer): Diversity [5 CD BOX SET] (Not Two)

Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaucic reinforces the title of his "Diversity" box set over 5 CDs in a variety of solo, duo, trio and quartet setting, including some of the UK & Europe's finest improvisers--Evan Parker, Agusti Fernandez, Lotte Anker, Artur Majewski, Rafal Mazur, Phil Minton, and Johannes Bauer--an excellent example of his wide-ranging work as an improviser. ... Click to View


Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra: Littlefield Concert Hall Mills College (Wide Hive)

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Chicago Odense Ensemble: (El Paraiso Records)

In 2008 the Danish group Causa Sui of guitarist Jonas Munk and drummer Jakob Skott ventured to Chicago, meeting and setting up the studio session for this excellent electric jazz session in a 70's Miles mode, with cornetist Rob Mazurek, Tortoise members Jeff Parker and Dan Bitney. ... Click to View


Luc Ferrari: Music Promenade / Unheimlich Schon [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Two works from French composer Luc Ferrari: "Music Promenade" (1964-69) an electroacoustic work for four stand-alone tape recorders presenting a series of colliding realistic sounds and sonic images; and "Unheimlich Schon" (1971), a quiet work of Musique concrete with spoken work--"How does a young woman breathe when thinking about something else?" ... Click to View


Regis Lariviere Renouard: Contree [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Acousmatic compositions--works of sound having no relationship to concrete elements--from French composer Regis Renouard Lariviere, using bold sounds structures in three major works from 2002, 2010 & 2013, each exploring sonic environments affected by tone, timbre, time and pitch in fascinating and gripping ways; profoundly interesting and otherworldy. ... Click to View


Maja Ratkje S.K.: Sult (Rune Grammofon)

Starting with a pipe organ, adding metal tubes, PVC tubes, a wind machine, guitar strings, a bass string, a resin thread, metal and glass percussion and a bow, Maja SK Ratjke developed the instrument for a live performance in Jo Stromgren's ballet "Sult" ("Hunger"), taking the instrument to the studio for this extraordinarily interesting album of keys and song. ... Click to View


Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl With G.W. Sok : Forget All This (Music a la Coque)

Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl takes the current members of drummer Moe! Staiano's Surplus 1980 and associated musicians including Kyle Bruckmann, John Shiurba, Vicky Grossi, Paul Costuros, &c, with Dutch vocalist G.w. Sok from The Ex, in an album of avant post-punk rock works, sophisticated but determined and pointed music, an unusual hybrid of impressive styles. ... Click to View


Toyozumi / Countryman / Montes: Blue Incarnation (Improvisations for Kulintang) (ChapChap Records)

Also known as "Improvisations for Kulintang", this live album of energetic and informed free jazz occurred between legendary Japanese percussionist Sabu Toyozumi and Philippine-based saxophonist Rick Countryman in Dec 2018, with featured guest Tusa Montes performing on prepared Kulintang percussion, a set of horizontally laid gongs that add tympanic melody. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg / Skogen: Nun, es wird nicht weit mehr gehn (Another Timbre)

Composer Magnus Granberg took influences from Schubert's song cycle "Die Winterreise", extracting tonal material, which he merged with rhythmic influences from medieval English folk music and a song by Dowland, merging them into a temporal framework for this large and subtle composition, executed by a setpet including Angharad Davies, Erik Carlsson, Henrik Olsson, d'incise, &c. ... Click to View


Angharad Davies / Rie Nakajima / Alice Purton: Dethick (Another Timbre)

Three free improvising women--Angharad Davies, Rie Nakajima, and Alice Purton--met in the church in the tiny hamlet of Dethick, near Matlock, Derbyshire, over the course of two days developing the ten pieces of this album using an impressive set of stringed and percussive instruments, objects, and mysterious sources to create these fascinating sonic evocations. ... Click to View


Klaus Lang / Golden Fur : Beissel (Another Timbre)

A collaboration between Austrian composer/organist Klaus Lang and the Golden Fur ensemble ofSamuel Dunscombe on clarinet, Judith Hamann on cello & James Rushford on viola & harmonium, reworking a hymn from 18th century composer Johann Conrad Beissel, using an algorithmic system to reinterpret the piece through orchestration, dynamic movement, harmonic density & harmonicity. ... Click to View


Julius Eastman / Apartment House: Femenine (Another Timbre)

A live recording of Julius Eastman's 1974 work "Femenine" performed by Apartment House led by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze with Simon Limbrick on vibraphone, Kerry Yong on piano, Mark Knoop on keyboard, Mira Benjamin on violin, and Gavin Morrison and Emma Williams on flute, an ecstatic and intricate work using a repeating figure contrasted with both asynchronous and complementing backgrounds. ... Click to View


Joshua Abrams And Natural Information Society: Mandatory Reality [2 CDs] (Eremite)

Two large hypnotic works and 2 shorter pieces from Chicago's Natural Information Society led by Joshua Abrams on gimbri in an eight-piece acoustic band with Lisa Alvarado on harmonium & gongs, Mikel Avery on tam-tam & gongs, Ben Boye on autoharp & piano, Hamid Drake on tabla & tar, Ben Lamar Gay on cornet, Nick Mazzarella on saxophone, and Jason Stein on bass clarinet. ... Click to View


Various Artists: An Anthology of Greek Experimental Electronic Music 1966-2016 [2 CDs] (Sub Rosa)

An anthology of contemporary Greek experimental composers focused primarily on works since the 1980s, attempting to map the breadth of approaches while delineating different understandings of what "Greek" or "experimental" may stand for, by means of zeroing in on the numerous, often overlapping, realities and micro-scenes that are associated with the former. ... Click to View


Various Artists: An Anthology of Greek Experimental Electronic Music 1966-2016 [2 LPs] (Sub Rosa)

An anthology of contemporary Greek experimental composers focused primarily on works since the 1980s, attempting to map the breadth of approaches while delineating different understandings of what "Greek" or "experimental" may stand for, by means of zeroing in on the numerous, often overlapping, realities and micro-scenes that are associated with the former. ... Click to View


Masing / Lin / Tallone / Rodrigues / Zek: Buratino (Creative Sources)

A quintet of strings, hurdy gurdy, and amplified objects from Elo Masing on violin, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Hui-Chun Lin on cello, Caroline Cecilia Tallone on hurdy gurdy, objects, and Ame Zek on 12 string guitar, objects, recording in the studio for this 5 part improvisation, the hurdy-gurdy adding sustained mystery to a balance of subdued and assertive interaction. ... Click to View


Wolfgang Schwabe / Hui-Chun Lin: 180818 (Creative Sources)

A unique pairing of strings from Berlin improviser Wolfgang Schwabe performing on the Guqin, or Qin, a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family, and Hui-Chun Lin on cello and voice, finding common ground in instant compositions of exotic string figures plucked and bowed, with Hui-Chun Lin sometimes bringing emotional release in voice. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas: Showing Up / The Power of the Vote [7" VINYL] (Greenleaf Music)

2019 Record Store Day release, a 7" from trumpeter Dave Douglas in two different configurations: the lead track from his album "Engage" featuring guitarist Jeff Parker and cellist Tomeka Reid along with Anna Webber, Nick Dunston & Kate Gentile; and a B-Side from 2018's "Uplift" featuring Joe Lovano and Bill Laswell alongside Mary Halvorson, Julian Lage, and Ian Chang. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.: Invisible Eyes And Phantom Cathedral [VINYL] (Bam Balam Records)

One of the most significant Japanese psych bands, Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.'s official RSD release has a distinct Gong/Can feel about it, with the 2019 lineup of Kawabata Makoto: guitar, synthesizer, speed guru; Higashi Hiroshi: synthesizer, noodle god; Jyonson Tsu: vocal, guitar, bouzouki; Satoshima Nani: drums, another dimension; Wolf: bass, space & time. ... Click to View


Various Artists: 20 Jahre Inventionen VI (Edition Rz)

New Pricing April 2019: Recordings from the Berlin Inventionen Festivals for New Music 2005 and 2006 featuring compositions by Edgar Barroso ("ODD"); Mario Verandi ("Comme un jeu des images"); Paul Wilson ("Trhough the Rain"); Ricardo Climent ("Wallwoodpeckers"); Vladimir Djambazov ("The Secret Life of a Snare Drum"); and Ludger Brummer ("Glasharle"). ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall Sun Ship Quartet (Skidmore / Kjaer / Solberg / Wastell): John Coltrane 50Th Memorial Concert At Cafe Oto [2 CDs] (Confront)

A stellar line-up commemorateing the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's passing, showcasing Paul Dunmall's blistering Coltrane-influenced quartet together with special guest, lifelong Coltrane devotee saxophonist Alan Skidmore, and also marking the premiere performance of the newly formed international trio of Julie Kjaer (DK), Mark Wastell (GB) and Stale Liavik Solberg (NOR). ... Click to View


Anthony Pateras : Collected Works Vol. II (2005-2018) (Immediata)

The second volume in composer and audio explorer Anthony Pateras' "Collected Works" series, a sturdy 5 CD box set assembling 26 collaborations and solo works that bridge experimental and contemporary compositional work investigating electro-acoustic orchestration, temporal hallucination and sound phenomena, a remarkably diverse and fascinating collection. ... Click to View


Biota: Fragment For Balance (Recommended Records)

From Mnemonist Orchestra to Biota, with 18 albums in total, the Colorado collective Biota presents its 11th album on ReR, taking 4 years to complete this genre-defying album of gorgeous abstraction through free improvisation and composition, absorbing styles and reflecting them in a filtered ray of melody & song using unusual instrumentation and arrangment; absolutely recommended ... Click to View


Jakob Ullmann : Femde Zeit Addendum 5 (Edition Rz)

Jakob Ullman's 5th solo work for piano is atypical for a piano performance, using electronic playback and requiring three assistants sustaining a soundscape to realize a concept of "gravity" that Ullman applies as laws in a conceptual soundscape modified by a series of abstract images, resulting in unexpected sonic environments, tones, timbres and momentum. ... Click to View


Turgut Ercetin (Ensemble Mosaik, Ensemble Apparat, Ensemble Adapter, Sonar Quartett): Panopticon Specularities (Edition Rz)

Istanbul composer Turgut Ercetin (Daad artists-in-Berlin 2016 award winner) completed his doctorate studies at Stanford University, developing works engaged with issues of sound as sonic entities dealing with time and space, here in a string quartet performed by Arditti Quartet, and a work for voice and live electronics performed by Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgar. ... Click to View


David Behrman: On the Other Ocean [VINYL] (Lovely Music)

In 1977 David Behrman programmed a Kim 1 microcomputer developed at Mills College to analyze the music performed by the duo of bassoonist Arthur Stidfole, flutist Maggi Payne; and then the solo work of cellist David Gibson; for each work, the Kim 1 following Behrman's instructions, becoming a virtual musician responding to and interacting with the playing of each setting. ... Click to View


Robert Ashley: Private Parts [VINYL] (Lovely Music)

A reissue of Robert Ashley's 1978 release "Private Parts", presenting an unvarnished exposition of the inner workings of a man's mind through narrative, read by Ashley over the piano & synth of "Blue" Gene Tyranny and tabla player Kris, as Ashley describes two lives in an abstract narrative of keen observation and inside jokes; baffling and spellbinding. ... Click to View


Jacob Wick: Feel [VINYL] (Thin Wrist)

The first vinyl solo release from Chicago/NY/Mexico City avant trumpeter Jacob Wick, whose work includes exploring the physical form of the trumpet itself as he uses extended techniques and circular breathing while he deconstructs the instrument during performance, creating unusual textures and timbres, here in two side-long profoudnly contemplative improvisations. ... Click to View


Phew / Oren Ambarchi / Jim O'Rourke: Patience Soup [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

Performing at Japan's Playhouse in the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center in 2015, legendary Japanese underground vocalist Phew joins Oren Ambarchi on guitar and Jim O'Rourke on piano & synth for the two part "Patience Soup", Phew's extreme vocal technique and electronics a powerful foil to the rich sonic environments of frequent collaborators Ambarchi & O'Rourke. ... Click to View


Edith Steyer: Hoox And Add-ons (Creative Sources)

A reflection of the previous year's solo work from Berlin-based saxophonist and clarinetist Edith Steyer, a member of GEDOK, the Berliner Senat and Composers Orchestra Berlin, here using preparations and extended techniques to open new possibilities in improvisations, as she explored ethnomusicology, using repetitive figures influenced by tribal music. ... 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...




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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


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