The Squid's Ear
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The Necks: Vertigo (Northern Spy)

The Necks 18th album finds the trio of drummer/percussionist Tony Buck, bassist Lloyd Swanton and pianist/keyboardist Chris Abrahams in a vertiginous 44 minute dark excursion punctuated by cliff hanging moments through homemade instruments and unusual textures. ... Click to View

The Necks: Vertigo [VINYL] (Northern Spy)

The Necks 18th album finds the trio of drummer/percussionist Tony Buck, bassist Lloyd Swanton and pianist/keyboardist Chris Abrahams in a vertiginous 44 minute dark excursion punctuated by cliff hanging moments through homemade instruments and unusual textures. ... Click to View

Raoul Bjorkenheim / eCsTaSy: Out Of The Blue (Cuneiform)

Ecstatic modern improvised music from electric guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheims quartet with drummer Markku Ounaskari, bassist Jori Huhtala, and saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen, in their second album blending complex time signatures with beautiful sonic environments. ... Click to View

Evan Parker: The Snake Decides [REPRESS] (psi)

Re-issuing UK improvising saxophonist Evan Parker's stunning 2003 solo release on soprano sax, recorded in 1986 in St. Paul's Church, Oxford by the late Michael Gerzon--"a giant in the field of audio"--using the natural resonance of the space augments Parker's stunning technique. ... Click to View

Evan Parker / Schlippenbach / Lytton: America 2003 [2 CDs] REPRESS (psi)

Concert recordings from the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and the Seattle Asian Arts Museum from the trio of Evan Parker (sax), Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano) and Paul Lytton (percussion), 2 CDs of stunning and surprising improv from three masters of the form. ... Click to View

Thomas Heberer / Achim Kaufmann / Ken Filiano: Interstices (Nuscope)

... Click to View

Kevin Drumm / Jason Lescalleet: Busman's Holiday (erstwhile)

A meditation on the inner mental environments that one encounters and endures during times of work-related travel, intended as a distraction in airports, bus stations, train stations, subway terminals, reflected in literal and abstract sound, in a mix of patience and terror. ... Click to View

Takahiro Kawaguchi / Utah Kawasaki: Amorphous Spores (erstwhile)

Unusual sound work from the Japanese duo of Takahiro Kawaguchi and Utah Kawasaki (Astro Twin), using self-made instruments and electronics to create unexpected sonic emissions that follow curious paths that are separated by periods of quiet or textural sound. ... Click to View

Zs (Hillmer / Fox / Higgins): XE (Northern Spy)

Sam Hillmer's NY based Z's in a trio format, with Hillmer on sax & electronics, Patrick Higgins on guitar & electronics, and Greg Fox on percussion & electronics, for an album of energetic and often abstracted beats, hyperkinetic electronics, and strange tonal music. ... Click to View

Van Hove / Jacquemyn / Smith: Burns Longer (Balance Point Acoustics)

European Free improvising legend Fred Van Hove performing on piano and accordion with two bassists--fellow Belgian Peter Jacquemyn, and West Coast bassist Damon Smith--for an album of dizzying flights and growling bass turning convention on its side in sensational ways. ... Click to View

Trot A Mouse (Simon Jermyn): Pictorial Atlas Of Mammals (Skirl)

With Tom Rainey on drums, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Mat Maneri on viola and leader Simon Jermyn on 6 string electric bass, Trot a Mouse's 2nd album is a sophisticated NY band blending lyrical and free approaches to a diverse set set of modern creative jazz compositions. ... Click to View

Kenny Wheeler / John Taylor: On The Way To Two (CamJazz)

A tribute to the passing of both trumpet and flugelhorn Kenny Wheeler and long-time collaborator, pianist John Taylor, in a subtle conversation of two partners of superb skill and taste "suggesting, agreeing, mildly disagreeing, but never at cross purposes". ... Click to View

Midnight Doctors: Through A Screen And Into A Hole (Ourodisc)

A long-term studio project/mutant big band merging collage, scored pieces, structured improvisations, cut-up jams, hi- and lo-fi textures, electroacoustic work, and location recording into large and wonderfully unpredictable compositions with few boundaries. ... Click to View

Midnight Doctors: (Ourodisc)

A long-term studio project/mutant big band merging collage, scored pieces, structured improvisations, cut-up jams, hi- and lo-fi textures, electroacoustic work, and location recording into large and wonderfully unpredictable compositions with few boundaries. ... Click to View

Musicworks: #123 Fall 2015 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Features: The Expanding Universe of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan; Yamantaka // Sonic Titan; The Retro Aesthetic of Le Revelateur; JOYFULTALK (Drip Audio); Muuixx; Hard Rubber Orchestra; Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville; Allison Cameron and Contact; plus live and recorded reviews. ... Click to View

Komuna// Warszawa: plays Luc Ferrari Tautologos III (Bolt)

A fascinating rendering of Ferrari's Tautology--everyday activities enacted in gesture, noises, words, &c.--used as a framework for a chamber work where the performers recorded their parts independently, which were then overlapped and played alongside Ferrari's tapes and narration. ... Click to View

Kare Kolberg : Attitudes (Bolt)

Kare Kolberg was a pioneer of electroacoustic music in Norway, having written the first Norwegian work for computers in 1973; this CD presents froms from 1969-2003 written for the Polish Radio Experimentral Studio blending and expanding on concepts of concrete music. ... Click to View

MIRT: Solitaire (Bolt)

Tomek Mirt resurrects the memory of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheimie through this five part work of slowly shifting electronics, tense atmospheres, and gentle murmurs, detailed work that reveals its meditative depth through repeated listenings. ... Click to View

Goh Kawng Lee / Julien Ottavi: Pukul Berapa? (Herbal International)

Goh Lee Kwang performing on a no input mixer meets Julien Ottavi on TamTam, bass drum and a computer running Puredata and Apodio 10 for an album of electronic improvisation recorded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Nantes, France that balances agressive and meditative sound. ... Click to View

Christopher Riggs / Carl Testa: Sn (S to the power of n, or Sⁿ) (Gold Bolus Recordings)

New Haven instrumentalist Carl Testa and Chicago guitarist Christopher Riggs in a large composition for prepared electric guitar and live electronic processing that references Ashley, Stockhausen and Braxton while manipulating one's sense of time, space, and memory. ... Click to View

Steerage: Entropy Is What The State Makes Of It (Caduc)

An album of tones and tonal environments from Barry Chabala and A.F. Jones, using guitars and effects to create slowly moving sound punctuated with unusual sounds of unknown origin; rich and curiously non-specific sound that lives in the back- and foreground. ... Click to View

Cecil Taylor : Garden, 2nd Set (Hatology)

The second set of Cecil Taylor's superb live set at Grosser Saal Volkshaus, in Basel, Switzerland in 1981, performing solo over five improvisations, presented for the first time in the original concert sequence. ... Click to View

Anthony Braxton : Quartet (Santa Cruz) 1993, 2nd Set (Hatology)

Remaster of the exhilarating second set from saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton's concert at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, CA, 1993, one of 7 nights performing with the quartet of Marilyn Crispell on piano, Mark Dresser on bass, and Gerry Hemingway on percussion. ... Click to View

Claudio Sanna : Ammentos (Hatology)

Sardinian pianist Claudio Sanna, versed equally in the classical, jazz, and electroacoustic traditions, in his debut recording of 8 original compositions blending composition and improvisation, revealing an enthusiastic and curious approach to music. ... Click to View

Uwe Oberg : Work (Hatology)

German pianist Uwe Oberg (Lacy Pool, Uwe Oberg Quartet, Kooperative New Jazz) in a solo album performing works of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and his own original work, applying a diverse set of approaches rooted in jazz tradition. ... Click to View

Anthony Braxton / Derek Bailey: First Duo Concert (London 1974) (Emanem)

A much-need reissue of the 1974 Emanem LP presenting saxophonist Anthony Baxton, also on flute, with guitarist Derek Bailey on acoustic and electric, performing at London's Wigmore Hall for twelve duets of a diverse, playful, and accesible character. ... Click to View

Veryan Weston / Jon Rose / Hannah Marshall: Tuning Out [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Improvised pieces for tracker action organs and strings recorded in five English churches from the trio of violinist Jon Rose, Veryan Weston on tracker action organ, and cellist Hannah Marshall, inviting the public to re-imagine the nature of pitch relationships. ... Click to View

Steve Lacy Quintet: Last Tour (2004) (Emanem)

The Steve Lacy Quintet's final tour with vocalist Irene Aebi, trombonist George Lewis, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and drummer John Betsch, performing live in Boston for an impressive set punctuated with words from Burroughs, Waldman, Kaufman, Creeley & Schelling. ... Click to View

Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (Tzadik)

West Coast multi-reedist and founding member of the Rova Sax Quartet Larry Ochs leads this impressive free improvising quintet patterned after the New York Contemporary Five, with the superb lineup of Nate Wooley, Harris Eisenstadt, Pascal Niggenkemper, and Ken Filiano. ... Click to View

John Zorn: James Moore Plays The Book Of Heads (CD/DVD) Of A Film By Stephen Taylor (Tzadik)

Zorn's "The Book of Heads" is performed by guitarist James Moore, heard on CD and seen in a DVD by Stephen Taylor, using prepared guitar to interpret Zorn's hermetic language of meticulously notated sounds inspired by contemporary classical extended techniques. ... Click to View


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Op-Ed (Opinions and Editorials)

  Musical Activism: An Open Call  
By Marc Ribot

On tour in Europe during the first twelve days of the recent invasion of Iraq, I witnessed something close to bereavement among audience members at the apparent consent of most Americans to Bush's agenda of war and empire.

It was exhausting, in addition with all the other pressures of performance, to deal with expectations to represent "America" in this situation. Although it felt strange to speak about the war during performances - I'm a guitarist, not a lecturer - it felt even stranger not to. The one thing about which I felt certain was that the incredible level of anger and opposition I witnessed was no longer simply about one lousy political decision, but had become a critique of the legitimacy of the power of empire, and it wasn't going to stop when the war ended.

Indeed, it hasn't. It remains nearly impossible to get on stage without addressing (or failing to address) the context within which, whether we like it or not, our music is now heard.

This database project described below was conceived as a means through which artists and musicians will be able to say what needs to be said politically in the formats where it will do the most good, to help to change a political context which, simply put, has become intolerable.

We're inviting touring artists to participate in a pilot project version to be launched around February 1, 2004. Anyone can back out at any time, but expressions of interest/commitment (along with brief bios if possible) are needed to apply for grants to build the database.

Best regards, Marc Ribot Musicians Solidarity Database [correspondence may be sent to]

WHAT: The Musicians Solidarity Database will connect internationally touring recording artists/musicians with anti-war and global justice organizations local to their touring dates.

The Database is an initiative of the Musicians Solidarity Network (MSN). Although open and useful to all artists regardless of origin or tour destination, the actual possibilities will probably reflect the current touring routes. The intent is for participating artists to be able to integrate whatever degree of activity on behalf peace/democracy/social justice organizations they feel able to commit to into their regular tour itineraries with a minimum of effort, and for the organizations to benefit from cultural support.

HOW: Touring artists enter their upcoming tour schedules, tech needs, and other necessary info and preferences into the database. Major peace/ democracy/social justice organizations access the info and cross-reference the dates of their planned events with touring artists' availability. The organizations then send the musicians/artists a set of proposals (for example: to speak or perform at a demonstration). The artist accepts whichever proposals they choose, and forward their acceptance along with whatever time or tech specs apply back to the organizations. The organizations confirm the date.

Even if tour schedules are too tight to allow for an artist's participation in outside events, artists can arrange, through the data bank, to make merchandise/ literature table space available to organizations they support.

Great care will be taken to make the data-base user friendly to both artists and organizations.

WHY?: An enormous divide has opened in political understanding between the US and most of the rest of the world, particularly in Europe. Most touring artists and musicians are already well aware of this.

But artists who speak out against Bush's agenda of war and empire, particularly in the US, run the risk of alienating fans or even being subjected to radio and other forms of blacklisting.

In Europe, things are different, at least for the time Being. Manu Chao's "Clandestino" was a hit because of, not in spite of, his close identification with the social forum movement. Whether this will always be true is difficult to say: the same forces that created Bush are also pushing Europe steadily rightward. But it's true now.

The database is a way to turn this political differential into a force for progressive change in the US, enable artists who want to be active to do so, provide organizations against war and for global justice with a constant stream of performing artist support, and build a global network of artists and activists.

It will help artists to limit the economic risks of activism by connecting them with activists and audiences who share their views.

For example, contact with non-US activists and anti-war audiences will enable US musical/cultural figures (and global cultural figures who wish to sell in the US market) to speak out. It's no accident the Dixie Chicks spoke out against the war while in Europe.

As more artists risk opinions outside the US mainstream, it will change the political math that has discouraged dissent by encouraging fans to question their mass-media enforced opinions. And contact between US audiences and European/international artists willing to speak out will help break the US media censorship of the depth of world opposition to war and empire.

Of course, the issues affecting us all aren't confined to the US: the same political/economic forces that put Bush in power in the US are alive and well in Europe and elsewhere. The problems are global and gestures of solidarity from touring musicians are needed to keep the spirit of opposition global as well.

A secondary benefit of the database involves musicians and artists rights issues. There are some issues of interest from anti-war, cultural, and labor perspectives. For example, the role of the Clear Channel monopoly in censoring opposition to the war, blacklisting anti-war artists, and even organizing pro-war demonstrations in the US is both an anti-war issue, and an infringement on artists' freedom of expression.

SPECIFICATIONS Filters, both passive/automatic and active/human will ensure that participating orgs are major and respected, and that participating artists are at a sufficiently professional level to be of use to them.

  • Access to the database will be strictly limited to approved organizations.
  • Contact between artists and organizations will take place within a database 'mailbox' so that artists/managers run no risk of having personal/business email accounts flooded with requests.
  • Whatever form of participation the artist chooses - be it a gig, a single song, or a brief statement - the database format will ensure that all necessary technical requirements and conditions are met, without extensive back and forth between artists, managers and organizations.
  • Artists will have access to full information about events they are being invited to participate in and about the organizations asking them to participate.
  • Artists' participation in the database will be confidential (although at this stage, we may need to list participating artists in grant applications) unless the artists themselves choose to make it public.

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