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Fred Frith's solo performances are amongst some of his most fascinating, and this live album at Ateliers Claus in Brussels, 2018 does not disappoint, Frith using every inch of his guitar and an arsenal of objects, in tandem with his masterful playing, to create an extended and fascinating journey in sound, remarkable in its breadth and bold creative power. ... Click to View


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Recording in Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan the day before their performance at the Sounds Like Festival, audio explorer Tim Olive brings his magnetic pickups in a first meeting with Doreen Girard performing on a prepared tsymbaly, a Ukranian hammer dulcimer, for a single, unusually evolving, and wonderfully rich improvisation. ... Click to View


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Detail (Frode Gjerstad / Johnny Mbizo Dyani / John Stevens): Day Two (NoBusiness)

The history of the early Detail trio of Frode Gjerstad on tenor & soprano saxophones, Johnny Mbizo Dyani on double bass, and John Stevens on drums continues to be unearthed, with this studio session at Staccato Studios, in Stavanger, Norway in 1982, in two extended improvisations demonstrating the impressive skill and direction the band possessed. ... Click to View


The Attic (Rodrigo Amado / Goncalo Almeida / Onno Govaert): Summer Bummer (NoBusiness)

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Whit Dickey / Kirk Knuffke: Drone Dream [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

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Kang Hwan Tae / Midori Takada: An Eternal Moment (NoBusiness)

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Kang Hwan Tae / Midori Takada: An Eternal Moment [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

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Albert Beger Quartet: The Gate [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

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Dunmall / Gibbs / Taylor / John Long: Landscapes (FMR)

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David Leahy / Philipp Wachsmann: Translated Space (FMR)

Drawing on double bassist David Leahy's "Musicians in Space" research and improvisation series, Leahy met up with free improvising violinist Philipp Wachsmann to record these twelve improvisations, collective conversation in a meeting of strings with influences from chamber and fully free approaches, tempered and detailed dialog of impressive virtuosity. ... Click to View


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Sam Rivers / Cecil McBee / Norman Connors: Emanation (Sam Rivers archive sessions. Vol.1) (NoBusiness)

The NoBusiness label initiates its Sam Rivers Archive Series with this CD of River's Loft-era trio. the leader on tenor & soprano saxophones, flute & Piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Norman Connors on drums, for two sets at a Jazz Workshop residency in Boston in the summer of 1971, a superb concert showing inspired group interaction and River's intense focus. ... Click to View


Szilard Mezei Tul A Tiszan Innen Ensemble: Turizmus [2 CDs] (FMR)

Szilard Mezei's Tiszan Innen Ensemble is a chamber jazz ensemble of rare sophistication and talent, 11 musicians performing Mezei's compositions and arrangements based on Hungarian folk songs, in active and lyrical pieces with wonderful interplay between sections and individual players, and excellent moment of lively and passionate soloing. ... Click to View


Joao Lencastre: Parallel Realities (FMR)

An absorbing album of free and electroacoustic improvisation from drummer/composer Joao Lencastre, introducing his Parallel Realities group of creative Portuguese avant jazz players Albert Cirera on sax, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Pedro Branco on guitar and Joao Hasselberg on bass & electronics, composed for subgroups playing unique yet related passages in parallel. ... Click to View


Elephant9: Psychedelic Backfire I (Rune Grammofon)

The first of two "Psychedelic Backfire" concerts at Oslo's Kampen Bistro, taken from a 4 night residency by the Norwegian Elephant 9 rock trio of drummer Torstein Lofthus, bassist Nikolai Haengsle, and keyboardist Stale Storlokken, expanding on tracks from their excellent studio catalog in strongly lyrical and technically superb instrumental and improvised rock forms. ... Click to View


Elephant9 w/ Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon)

The second of two "Psychedelic Backfire"s, The Norwegian Elephant 9 improvising rock trio of drummer Torstein Lofthus, bassist Nikolai Haengsle, and keyboardist Stale Storlokken are joined by Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske for an exciting live concert at Kampen Bistro, in Oslo in 2019, the interaction of Fiske and Storlokken a fine example that prog rock is still a vital form. ... Click to View


Fresh Dust Trio: Hilarious Experts (FMR)

Slovenian drummer/percussionist Jaka Berger wrote 3 of the 4 pieces for this trio with guitar Samo Salamon and pianist Marina Dzukljev, also on objects, the 4th piece a collective improvisation, as the three apply experimental approaches to their playing while never leaving their collaborative conversation, making room for inspired soloing. ... Click to View


Ferran Fages / Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Ruth Barberan: Istmo (Creative Sources)

The second album from the trio of Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable), Ruth Barberan (trumpet), and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion) expands on their first "Atolon" album with these two recordings of intense electroacoustic improvisation, a mixture of ritual, controlled chaos, mysterious and often disruptively provocative sound, and other inexplicable evolutions. ... Click to View


Ferran Fages / Ernesto Rodrigues: Cru (Creative Sources)

A composite of environmental sounds, electronics, and viola, recorded in Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal from intrepid audio explorers Ferran Fages and Ernesto Rodrigues, the single long work taking the listener on a theoretical journey of transparent traffic, squealing wheels and indeterminate location, engrossing in its detail and the mystery it presents. ... Click to View


William Parker / In Order To Survive: Live / Shapeshifter [2 CDs] (Aum Fidelity)

Presenting both sets of the second night of bassist William Parker's concerts at Brooklyn's ShapeShifter Lab with his group In Order to Survive of pianist Cooper-Moore, alto saxophonist Rob Brown and drummer Hamid Drake, an extraordinary event that featured all new Parker compositions, including an extended suite for late trombonist Grachan Moncur III. ... Click to View


Whit Dickey / The Tao Quartets: Peace Planet & Box of Light [2 CDs] (Aum Fidelity)

Two unique and exceptional studio albums with differing quartets from drummer Whit Dickey in a single set: "Peace Planet" with Matthew Shipp (piano), Rob Brown (alto sax) & William Parker (bass) in a thoughtfully flowing set of collective improvisations; and the more propulsive session "Box of Light" with Rob Brown (alto sax), Steve Swell (trombone), & Michael Bisio (bass). ... Click to View


Apartment House: Perform Olivier Messiaen and Linda Catlin Smith (Another Timbre)

The UK ensemble Apartment House performs two works--Olivier Messiaen's "Quatuor pour la fin du Temps" in 6 movements; and Linda Catlin Smith's "Among the Tarnished Stars"--taking a fresh modern approach to the Messiaen, drawing out its experimental character, and the sense of drama and intricate gradations of sonority in Smith's rich and mysterious work. ... Click to View


Catherine Lamb : Point/Wave (Another Timbre)

The first piece composer Catherine Lamb has written specifically for acoustic guitar was commissioned by Chilean guitarist Christian Alvear, extending concepts from an installation piece titled "Secondary Rainbow" with Bryan Eubanks, Lamb employs electronics over an infinite cycle of four "environmental chords" which overlap and resonate with one another. ... Click to View


Cyril Bondi / Pierre-Yves Martel / Christoph Schiller / Angharad Davies: Awire (Another Timbre)

During the tour in support of their "Tse" release, the quartet of Cyril Bondi on Shruti box, pipe & harmonica, Christoph Schiller on spinet & effects, Pierre-Yves Martel on Viola da Gamba, pipe & harmonica, and Angharad Davies on violin, captured this performance at London's Cafe OTO, improvised over a sequence of pitches with astonishing creativity. ... Click to View


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  The Elks (Kai Fagaschinski / Liz Allbee / Billy Roisz / Marta Zapparoli) 
  This Is Not the Ant  
  (Mikroton) 


  
   review by Darren Bergstein
  2017-11-07
The Elks (Kai Fagaschinski / Liz Allbee / Billy Roisz / Marta Zapparoli): This Is Not the Ant (Mikroton)

Does humor belong in music? More tellingly, does humor belong in electroacoustic improvisation? If you name your collective The Elks and your group photo for the inner CD gatefold paints you as refugees from a Black Oak Arkansas revival, then I guess the answer is yes. The interior collage is a real hoot — enthusiasts of both EAI and electronic music in general haven't seen anything like this since cut'n'paste techno-pranksters Rancho Relaxo Allstars mucked about the Disko B stable. The album title also revels in a sort of hysterical perplexity. What is the meaning here? The four tracks contained within this record's fairly concise duration (just over a half-hour running time) surely scrapple about far more luxuriously than even the most industrious insect, and the attendant noises, rattles, bleets, and blurts suggest an army of loose-limbed critters, so perhaps the title is a realistic analog to the music. If not, well, then the joke might very well be on us.

It wouldn't be germane to the aural plotline to classify The Elks as your typical EAI japesters. Clarinettist Kai Fagaschinski has amassed quite the dossier, appearing on a large number of dates across the improvisational/avant spectrum, as has bassist and electronics player Billy Roisz, who's done solid work with the remarkable digital-daytripper outfit Efzeg. Marta Zapparoli, who acquits herself quite demonstrably here, is The Elks's resident dadaist, bringing her broad collection of sounds to the table via a wide manipulation of tapes, tape machines, and various other sundry devices. And Liz Allbee completes the 'horn section' thanks to her errant trumpet spittle and splatter, the outgrowth of which is subtly altered through any number of discrete 'preparations' (as the digipak's back cover notes). Much confrontational affect, fire-stoking deliberation, and plain old exploration is brought to bear by this engaging quartet, a mischievousness that's on full display.

Sorry, though — japesters these characters sure as hell ain't. The Elks are drop-dead serious, but their tongues are soldered firmly in cheek, regardless. "Gremlins in Space" works a slow-burning miasma of hard drive hum pelted by stinging acid rain and the staccato breath-burps traded between Allbee and Fagaschinski. The fourteen-minute "Noise for Slugs" finds the foursome getting their hands oily thanks to a preponderance of expelled valve gas, slippery silicon leakage, and exposure to the kinds of glitched-out digital effluvium beloved by the likes of the old Mego crew, or Musica Elettronica Viva in a particularly randy mood. "Oceanic Bathtub" would have you luxuriate in its 50s sci-fi faux theremins and Forbidden Planet-birthed moodstates while your psyche shucks off this mortal coil, while the closing "Scuba Diving Elephants" recasts the last 15 years of EAI with breathtaking sweep, weird as all get out, content with letting the sounds themselves dictate the finale irrespective of the players. It's as if a new sonic playing field opened up in the digital ether, self-sustaining, self-replicating, experimental music's singularity writ large.

All chuckles, guffaws, and smirks aside — this is brilliant stuff.



The Elks (Kai Fagaschinski / Liz Allbee / Billy Roisz / Marta Zapparoli): This Is Not the Ant
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