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David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger (ECM)

The fourth ECM album from NY Saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, here in a trio with textural guitarist David Torn in three extended compositions merging jazz, rock and ambient forms, the middle track augmented with the Scorchio String Quartet and Craig Taborn, as they ebb and flow intense energy, fascinating compositional turns, and superb playing. ... Click to View


David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger [VINYL] (ECM)

The fourth ECM album from NY Saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, here in a trio with textural guitarist David Torn in three extended compositions merging jazz, rock and ambient forms, the middle track augmented with the Scorchio String Quartet and Craig Taborn, as they ebb and flow intense energy, fascinating compositional turns, and superb playing. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : GTM (Syntax) 2017 [12 CD BOX SET] (New Braxton House/Firehouse 12 Records)

A 12-hour collection over 12 CDs of composer Anthony Braxton's Ghost Trance Music (GTM), a compositional system he developed with his superlative Tri-Centric Vocal Ensemble, GTM allowing the ensemble to generate a performance in real time in a mix of sung, spoken, and non-verbal utterances, in unpredictable and surprising results that make more sense the more one listens. ... Click to View


Francesco Massaro / Giovanni Cristino / Walter Forestiere: Undergrowth (Creative Sources)

The Italian trio of saxophonist/clarinetist Francesco Masaro, pianist and prepared pianist Giovanni Cristino, and drummer/percussionist Walter Forestiere, take us on a journey at the lower levels of a forest's undergrowth, adding objects, preparations and extended techniques in a blend of free jazz and nonidiomatic forms to reveal mystery and brightness in the brambles. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Georges-Emmanuel Schneider: Kontergesang (Counter-Singing) (Creative Sources)

Eleven instrumental works with each piece based on and emulating the sound characteristics of blackbirds, such as "whistling" , "squealing" , "flutes", captured in a live concert at multi-reedist Udo Schindler's Salon fur Klang+Kunst in Krailling in Berlin, in the duo of Schindler and long-time musical collaborator, violinist Georges-Emmanuel Schneider, also on live electronics. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Georges-Emmanuel Schneider / Gunter Pretzel: Rhizome (Creative Sources)

Live recordings of the performance on March 1st, 2018 at the Galerie arToxin in Munich, presenting compositions from Udo Schindler, performing on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and euphonium, Gunter Pretzel on viola, and Georges-Emmanuel Schneider on violins and live electronics, three artists of diverse background crossing boundaries to create something unique and exciting. ... Click to View


Mattin: Songbook #7 [VINYL] (Munster Records)

Using historical references to rethink the present--the first 7 months of the Russian Revolution; and the accusal of Marius Plateau's murder by Germaine Berto--and working with Lucio Capece, Marcel Dickhage, Farahnaz Hatam, Moor Mother & Cathleen Schuster, Mattin performed this intense work of sound and narrative at the Digging The Global South Festival in Cologne, 2017. ... Click to View


Oyauchi / Deku Duo: Now's The Time? [VINYL] (Armageddon Nova)

The first release on Japan's Armageddon Nova now reissued as a limited 180gm double vinyl LP, presenting a 2012 concert at Performing Arts Center, in Japan in 2012 by the duo of free improvising alto saxophonist Aishi Oyauchi, a peer of Karou Abe in the 60s, and contrabassist Deku, a member of the 70s free improvising group New Jazz Syndicate. ... Click to View


String Theory : Thickness Of The Present (Evil Clown)

The Leap of Faith string-heavy grouping in a concert at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, 2018 with PEK on bamboo saxophones, reeds, tarota, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, aquasonic & bells; Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic; Grant Beale on guitar; Lukasz Pavlikovsky on cello & aquasonic; Albey onBass on electric bass; Silvain Castellano and Adrienne Schoenfeld on double bass. ... Click to View


Axel Dorner / Jason Kahn: For Berner Munster (Im Berner Munster) (Confront)

The pairing of German trumpeter Axel Dorner, and NY-born experimental artist Jason Kahn living and performing in Zurich, brings the tradition of avant free jazz and nonidiomatic improvisation into an unusual merging of techniques and approaches, each applying their advanced virtuosity to this intense concert, recorded during Hamburg's Zoom In Festival, 2017. ... Click to View


Flying Luttenbachers, The: Shattered Dimension (ugEXPLODE)

Weasel Walter is the constant in the no-wave influenced free improvising band Flying Luttenbachers, formed in 1991 and on hiatus since 2007; Walter reassembled the concept in 2018 for a tour and France, then again in 2019 with this new lineup of saxophonist Matt Nelson, guitarist Brandon Seabrook and bassist Tim Dahl, recording this startlingly, demanding and excellent album. ... Click to View


The Urge Trio: Live In Toledo (Veto)

Performing in Toledo, Ohio, the trio of Keefe Jackson on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, Christoph Erb on tenor saxophone & bass clarinet, and Tomeka Reid on cello are caught live at the Robinwood Concert House for a rugged set of collective improvisation, the two horns intertwining in extreme technique as Reid bows, scrapes and provides counterpoint to their volleys. ... Click to View


The Urge Trio: Live At The Hungry Brain (Veto)

The second of two live concerts on Christopher Erb's Veto label for the Chicago/Swiss trio of Tomeka Reid on cello, Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophones & bass clarinet, Christoph Erb on tenor and soprano, here in Chicago's Hungry Brain for an album of radical free improvisation contrasting reeds and string through impressive technique and fascinating collective discourse. ... Click to View


Tomas Fujiwara : Triple Double [VINYL 2 LPs] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Drummer Tomas Fujiwara's sextet is actually two trios interacting, with fellow drummer Gerald Cleaver, both Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook on guitar, and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and Ralph Alessi on trumpet, the pairings forming unisons and contrasts that add an unrestrained sense of enthusiasm and excitement to Fujiwara's sophisticated compositions. ... Click to View


Xenofox: Rupp / Lanz / Fischerlehner: Alarm (Oltrarno Raw)

Electric guitarist Olaf Rupp, one of the leading figures of Berlin's Echtzeit scene, and Rudi Fischerlehner, an active Berlin improvising drummer, have been playing together as Xenofox for years, releasing albums and playing festivals, here captured at A L'Arme Festival at Radialsystem, in Berlin in 2017 with turntablist Joke Lanz adding to their controlled chaos. ... Click to View


Tim Olive / Yan Jun: Brother of Divinity (845 Audio)

845 label leader and sonic explorer Tim Olive uses magnetic pickups and electronics in this meeting with radical living room concert sound artist, poet and improviser Yan Jun in Kobe, Japan, Jun using a variety of electronics, radio and field recordings as the two improvise in a wonderfully mischievous set of errant dialog and restrained deconstruction. ... Click to View


Cal Lyall / Tim Olive: Lowering (845 Audio)

Like mad scientists of sound, sonic explorers Tim Olive and Cal Lyall met in a Tokyo studio in 2012 armed with hydrophones, magnetic pickups and electronics to record this richly detailed and slowly unfolding work, blending organic and mechanical elements of indeterminate origin, finding absorbing dialog without clamor or tumult; intriguing and engrossing. ... Click to View


Octopus: Mimus (Creative Sources)

The 8-limbed creature that is Creative Source's Octopus presents their 3rd album of diaphanous improvisation, using two reeds (clarinet & tenor sax), trumpet, resonator guitar, viola, double bass, snare drums and electronics, as they slowly prowl in subaqueous and subtle improvisation of powerful technique, cautiously moved with richly detail and deft direction. ... Click to View


Houben / Rodrigues / Rodrigues : The Haecceity Of Things (Creative Sources)

A mysterious album of viola, viola d'amore, organ, and field recordings, merging the compositional minimal approach of Wandelweiser artist Eva-Maria Houben with Creative Sources performers Ernesto & Guilherme Rodrigues, the field recordings creating a virtual setting of environmental stillness, evoking slow motion in the unique "thisness" of haecceity. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Tangled Hierachies (Evil Clown)

A 2019 performance in Cambridge, MA, an intertwining quintet of unique instrumentation with PEK on bamboo & bass saxophones, clarinets, contrabassoon, tarota, melodica, sheng, aquasonic, wood, metal, wind siren, crank siren, & chimes; Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic, chimes; Eric Zinman on piano; Syd Smart on percussion; and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, gong, wood, metal, wind siren, chimes. ... Click to View


Dave Rempis / Brandon Lopez / Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic)

A solid debut for the Chicago trio of saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Brandon Lopez, and drummer and electronicist Ryan Packard, recording at Elastic Arts, in Chicago in a three-way exploration of rhythm and tempo that finds them working solidly within the jazz tradition, born from live gigs in 2017 and 2018, honing a sound that allows for great flexibility and freedom. ... Click to View


Kuzu (Dave Rempis / Tashi Dorji / Tyler Damon): Hiljaisuus (Aerophonic)

Kuzu is a hard-charging but patient trio that came together in the fall of 2017, after saxophonist Dave Rempis, a stalwart of the Chicago improvised music scene, worked with both Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums) individually as part of a lengthy solo tour of the U.S.; this new trio is captured at Elastic Arts, in Chicago in an intense and dynamic live set. ... Click to View


Alister Spence / Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe: Imagine Meeting You Here (Alister Spence Music)

Australian composer Alister Spence wrote this in five parts composed for an improvising orchestra, which was first premiered in 2016 by Satoko Fujii's orchestras in Kobe, Nagoya and Tokyo, and the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra; this recordings in 2017 at Big Apple Jazz Club in Kobe revisits the work with Fujii's Orchestra Kobe, conducted by the composer. ... Click to View


Sabu Toyozumi / Rick Countryman: Sol Abstraction (Sol Disk Records)

The longstanding relationship between US alto saxophonist living in the Phillipines, Rick Countryman, and legendary free improvising Japanese percussionist Sabu Toyozumi, heard in two previous albums, is here captured live in concert in the Phillipines in 2018, revealing active and thoughtful dialog of great expression and skill, an inspired encounter of free playing. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Jason Stein: Spiritual Prayers (Leo)

A confluence of reeds as Brazilian-born, NY-based tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman meets NY-born, Chicago-based bass clarinetist Jason Stein, the 2nd of Perelman's recent reed duos after his meeting with bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall; here Pereleman ascribes a spiritual connection with Stein in the remarkable compatibility of wonderfully controlled, complex interplay. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Rudi Mahall: Kindred Spirits [2 CDs] (Leo)

The first in a series of recent duo recordings from Brazilian-born, NY-based tenor saxophonist Ivo Pereleman is with German bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, both incredibly skilled players that complement each other in timbre and range, while finding common ground in intertwining lines, incredible counterpoint, and an innate adherence to lyricism. ... Click to View


Rudi Fischerlehner : 15 8 Slum (Not Applicable)

Austrian drummer percussionist Rudi Fischerlehner (RM, Xenofox, Parrot Feathers, &c) in his first solo album of energetic, polyrhythmic construction, titled for a chance proximity to a note on 15/8 rhythms and Rene Pollesch's book "www-slums", apt for the blend of precise playing and creative abstractions heard in this engaging and propulsive album. ... Click to View


Terry Rusling : The Machine Is Broken (Spool)

Retrospective of Terry Rusling, a Canadian composer of electronic music working for the CBC in the 60's, who was introduced to the Electronic Music Studio at the University of Toronto, where he was awarded the title of Research Associate, receiving a Canada Council Grant to travel and work in Belgium, Utrecht, Paris, &c.; 2 of his graphic scores are part of John Cage's "Notations" project. ... Click to View


Laura Mello: Esta Verde! (Creative Sources)

Using multiple voices, field recordings and electronics, Brazil-born composer living in Berlin Laura Mello works with spoken language as she explores human perception of acoustic phenomena in relation to spoken language, here in 8 compositions or excerpts that reveal hallucinatory and unusual aspects of speech complemented by elusive aural environments. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Rodrigues / Santos: Cyclic Symmetry (Creative Sources)

Recorded in the studio in 2017, "Cyclic Symmetry" presents an electroacoustic trio of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, and CS mainstay Carlos Santos on field recordings, in a minimal work suggested to be heard on infinite loop, contrasting deep silence with sections accenting the slow, interwining harmonics of both Rodrigues' string work. ... Click to View


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  The Magic I.D. 
  till my breath gives out  
  (erstwhile records) 

   review by Phil Zampino
  2008-03-02
The Magic I.D.: till my breath gives out (erstwhile records)

Erstwhile Record's first foray into "pop" music won't strike many as being in a pop mold, but it does extend the understated forms of electro-acoustic music into more embraceable yet still abstract song territory. lowercase song forms, you think? Not completely, but there are so many tonal and minimal aspects to this album that the comparison has to be made. It's probably more accurate to say that this blends the sensibility of minimal ea-improvisation with the avant/minimal compositional world, adding a song sensibility that understands and plays with popular form. The pieces have a strong use of dynamics and harmonics, with unconventional repetition and rhythm, a detached but clear vocal style, wielded with a subtle hand that implies the concentrative interaction of improvised music in conjunction with strong compositional skills.

Michael Thieke is perhaps best known for his work with on the Creative Sources label, alone and in a quartet with label leader Ernesto Rodrigues; he's also a part of The International Nothing, another fascinating minimalist recording group which, not surprisingly, has all of the players on The Magic I.D. at one point or another. Clarinetist Kai Fagaschinksi has worked with vocalist and electronics artist Christof Kurzmann on their excellent duo record under the name Kommando Raumschiff Zitrone, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, covering the Roberta Flack number of the same name, along with other songs of delicacy and a hint of space's massive vacuum. Kurzmann has also recorded with John Butcher on The Big Misunderstanding Between Hertz and Megahertz. Margareth Kammerer is also heard as a vocalist on Otomo Yoshihide's ONJO New Jazz Live Series 1 & 2.

"True Holiday" opens till my breath gives out with a Kafka-esque quality of distant despair in the dual tonal clarinet work of Thieke and Fagaschinski. They practically birth the album in long coloured tones that suddenly break into Kammerer's impassive vocal, telling us that she can prove that we've met before. In fact, in an over-the-shoulder way, one almost shivers to feel that they've been listening to this song for years without ever noticing it. That implication is prominent, a distantly familiar soundscape and subdued words, ideational tales that carry an isolable openness; they simply make sense when you finally hear them.

"Martin Fierro" is the most song-like of the album, backed by the strumming guitar of Margareth Kammerer. It's a pretty piece in its way, and acts as a bit of relief from the remote intensity of the balance of the songs. "Loopstuck" shows the stylistic border for this band, coming close to silliness in its plaintive sing-song quality, ultimately brought back by Kammerer's entrance with the warmly pale abstraction that makes these pieces work. "Wintersong" is an extraordinary example of what this band is capable of, Kurzmann's voice carrying a European pathos in a song that parallels the starkness of winter with the colourless march of nation states. The song evokes an Art Bears sensibility while only needing a hint of their instrumentation. The intensity of tones and their intersection makes a sort of pure tension that hunches your shoulders as though something were about to drop out of the sky, using urgent siren-like dissonance, disturbed thumping sounds, and electronically pulsing panic buttons. When the music breaks free of the instrumental section for the final lyric it leaves you expecting winter to wrap its frozen arms around you, a superb example of how less can be so much more.



The Magic I.D.: till my breath gives out
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