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Irene Schweizer / Joey Baron : Live! (Intakt)

Two generations and two masters of monumental free improvisation from Europe and New York joined together at the unerhort!-Festival Rote Fabrik Zurich in 2015 to unleash this technically awesome and ebullient and duo in a fantastic concert of dynamic power, lyrical insight, intense rhythmic support and counterpoint, and profound musical ideas; incredible! ... Click to View


Die Enttauschung (Axel Dorner / Michael Griener / Rudi Mahall / Jan Roder): Lavaman (Intakt)

The remarkable European Free Jazz quintet Die Enttauschung, crossing bop forms with modern creative approaches to jazz for over 20 years, take a new drummer--Michael Griener--and adds trombonist Christof Thewes, to join Rudi Mahall on clarinets, Axel Dorner on trumpet, and Jan Roder on bass, for an exciting and upbeat album of succint tunes that both revere and abuse jazz history in wonderful ways. ... Click to View


Trio Heinz Herbert (w/ Dominic Landolt / Ramon Landolt / Mario Haenni): The Willisau Concert (Live) (Intakt)

Textural improv of improbable grooves and tones driven by intense periods of interaction balanced with spatial sonic environments; adventurous and exuberant dialog caught live at the Jazzfestival Willisau, in Switzerland, 2016 from the trio of Dominic Landolt on guitar, Ramon Landolt on Hammond organ, synthesizer & samples and Mario Haenni on drums. ... Click to View


Aruan Ortiz : Cub(an)ism (Intakt)

Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz explores a range of musical idioms and styles, drawing on experiences from many phases of Ortiz' life in Cuba, Spain, France and the US, exploring cubist principles, faceting, and multiple perspectives with folkloric elements, as he presents 10 original compositions of passionate and playful music, performed with virtuosic skill. ... Click to View


Aki Takase / Paul Ayumi : Hotel Zauberberg (Intakt)

Pianist Aki Takase and voilinist Ayumi Paul's 1st collaboration is an 18 movement suite for violin and piano blending composition and improvisation, with 11 movements from Takase and 5 written with Paul, plus Mozart's "K. 1 minuet in G major" and the Preludio movement from Bach's solo violin partita in E major; an absorbing set of recordings inspired by the writings of Thomas Mann. ... Click to View


Hans Hassler: Wie Die Zeit Hinter Mir Her (Intakt)

Swiss accordionist Hans Hassler stands above the (small) crowd of improvising accordionist in the breadth of his career, his ability to balance both lyrical, abstract, serious, and humorous aspects in his approach the instrument, a true original in intent and ability to engage his listeners, in 15 original and diverse compositions recorded in 2017. ... Click to View


Pan-Scan Ensemble: Air And Light And Time And Space (PNL)

"Pan-Scan" refers to pan-Scandinavian, and the nine players on this thrilling and joyful recordings are all of that origin, performing live at Blow Out in Mir, Oslo, Norway in 2016, including both Lotte Anker and Ann HOgberg on sax, Thomas Johansson, Emil Stranberg and Goran Kajfes on trumpet, Sten Sandell on piano, and Paal Nilssen-Love and Stale Liavik on drums. ... Click to View


Xavier Charles / Michel F Cote / Franz Hautzinger / Philippe Lauzier / Eric Normand: Torche! (Tour de Bras)

An exceptional free improvising quintet of Montreal & Quebec improvisers--bassist Eric Normand, drummer Michel F. Cote, and bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier--with French clarinetist Xavier Charles and German trumpeter Franz Hautzinger, performing live during the 2016 Festival de Musique de Creation, creating fascinating commontion with incredible restraint. ... Click to View


Fraufraulein: Heavy Objects [CASSETTE] (Marginal Frequency)

The duo of Brooklyn electronics, field recording, bass guitar and french horn artists Billy Gomberg and Anne Guthrie, using musical and abstract sounds to create something between the concrete textures of field recording and spontaneous composition, presenting restrained yet detailed sound that engages the listener through transition and mystery. ... Click to View


Joda Clement / Mathieu Ruhlmann: Kindred (Marginal Frequency)

A unique cover of Brian Eno's "Taking Tiger Mountain" using synthesizer, field recordings, electromagnetic feedback, treatments, objects, oscillators, shruti box, reel to reel, ukelin, guitar, piano, clarinet, cello and voice, from Joda Clement and Mathieu Ruhlmann joined by Cristian Alvear, Gregory Moskos, Alexandra Spence, Tim Clement, Judith Hamann and A.F. Jones. ... Click to View


Mars Williams presents (w/ Berman / Lonberg-Holdm / Baker / Kessler / Sandstrom / Hunt): An Ayler Xmas: The Music of Albert Ayler & Songs of Christmas (Soul What Records)

Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams directs his Albert Ayler tribute band, Witches and Devils, to merge Ayler-esque compositions with Christmas songs, performed by Josh Berman (cornet) Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Jim Baker (keys, viola), Kent Kessler (bass), Brian Sandstrom (bass, guitar, trumpet); an unexpected and welcome present for your free jazz festivities! ... Click to View


Boneshaker (Mars Williams / Paal Nilssen-Love / Kent Kessler): Unusual Words (Soul What Records)

A CD intended to sell at concerts from Mars Williams' own Soul What Records label, a studio recording in 2012 from the powerhouse trio of Chicago multi-reedist Mars Williams, in-demand Norwegian drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, and Chicago bassist Kent Kessler, running the gamut from furious blowing to introspective interaction. ... Click to View


Elliott Sharp / Mary Halvorson / Marc Ribot: ERR Guitar (Intakt)

Elliott Sharp's New York Studio zOaR was the meeting place for three New York guitarists--Sharp himself, Mary Halvorson, and Marc Ribot--who find common ground by blending a variety of approaches to the instrument in 12 excellent and generally succinct collective improvisations, stretching, bending, plucking and inexplicably effecting their guitars. ... Click to View


John Cage: Klang der Wandlungen [3 CDs] (Edition Rz)

An impressive triple-CD box with recordings of some late works by John Cage, including "Seventy-Four for Orchestra, 1992", "103 for Orchestra, 1991, part 1 & 2", In a Landscape fur Harfe", "Postcard From Heaven fur Eine Bis Zwanzig Harfen", and some of "The Harmony of Maine"; including a 32 page booklet with photos and liner notes by Jakob Ullmann. ... Click to View


Jurg Frey: L'ame Est Sans Retenue I [5 CDs] (erstwhile)

A massive work from composer Jurg Frey focused on the dynamic relationship between sound and silence, and how it can affect our perception of the silence in a frame of space and time, using environmental sounds of field recordings and silence to create a massive work over six hours, modifying pitch, rhythm, dynamics, texture, and overtone, here properly released on 5 CDs. ... Click to View


Michael Pisaro / Samuel Dunscombe / Steven Andrew Flato / Wen Liu / Celeste Oram / Johannes Regnier: Organ For The Senses (Marginal Frequency)

San Diego's Parkeology director Kate Clark and composer Samuel Dunscombe organized this concert to take advantage of the Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ, inviting local and regional experimental composers to develop works for the 5,017 pipe instrument, attracting artists like Michael Pisaro, Samuel Dunscombe, Steven Andrew Flato, Wen Liu, &c. ... Click to View


Jon Irabagon / Joe Fiedler / Todd Neufeld: In Formation Network (Nuscope)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon, trombonist Joe Fiedler, and guitarist Todd Neufeld met in April, 2017 in Mount Vernon at the Oktaven Audio studio to record these nine varied compositions, presenting a unifying trio sound and identity that reflects Chicago's Giuffre trio, but with a unique collective attitude as the trio employs a varied set of compositional strategies. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee: The Willisau Concert (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Recorded in 1975 at the Swiss Willisau Jazz Festival, Joe McPhee's trio with John Synder on synth and Makaya Ntshoko on drums, and McPhee on tenor and sopranox sax, was Hat Hut's 2nd release and has been out of print since; Corbett vs. Dempsey asked McPhee what unavailable album he'd like to see in print, and this suberb album was his first choice. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : The Lost Eddie Chatterbox Session [2017 REISSUE] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Reissuing free improvising guitarist Eugene Chadbourne's 1977, San Francisco recording of compositions by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman, plus a few standards and originals, captured on an ailing quarter-track tape deck, but saved for the force of his playing, here restored, corrected, and remastered. ... Click to View


Sun Ra: Discipline 27-II [2017 REMASTER] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

The 2nd volume in Sun Ra's "Discipline" series was recorded during the same sessions as 1972's Impulse release "Space Is the Place", with Sun Ra on electronic keyboards and Moog, and a large band including Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, Danny Davis, Akh Tal Ebah, June Tyson, &c. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith Orchestra: The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown)

The Leap of Faith Orchestra is a large improvisation ensemble comprised of 5 ub-units--Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensemble, String Theory, Turbulence, and the New Language Collaborative--all assembled here for a massive and far-ranging experience, scored with time indices and English language descriptions by leader David Peck; dense and spectacular. ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio with Luiz Rocha: Akuanduba (Creative Sources)

The 4th collaboration for Portugal's Lisbon String Trio of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, and Alvaro Rosso on double bass, with Brazilian clarinetist based in Barcelona Luiz Rocha, all captured live at Casa dos Bicos, Fundacao Jose Saramago, in Lisbon in 2017 for free improvisation that maintains a calm center amidst seething and commanding playing. ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio with Etienne Brunet: Telepathie (Creative Sources)

Portugal's Lisbon String Trio with Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, and Alvaro Rosso on double bass, in a series of releases adding one additional improviser, here joined by Etienne Brunet on soprano saxophone, for two extended improvisations of active counterpoint and beautiful open sections, an excellent and rousing collaboration. ... Click to View


Un Coup de Des (Barriere / Sainz): Volcan Evaporado (Creative Sources)

Two women in a duo of voice and amplified objects, Lali Barrier using a variety of devices that are clearly micro-amplifed and mixed in performance, as Marta Sainz intones vocal sounds, never speaking but creating innuendo and drama at a cautious pace, allowing Barrier's objects to interact, creating an unusual sonic environment of unpredictable and interesting discourse. ... Click to View


Steve Roden : Between Yellow And White On One Side. Between Blue And Black On The Other (Banned Productions)

Part of a trilogy of cassette-related works that began with a piece sound artist Steve Roden created for an online exhibition for ICA London in early 2012, these two works were composed from 1983-84 recordings Roden made in his bedroom, recorded at double speed and here playing at half speed, half in reverse, which were organized into these two compositions. ... Click to View


Kullhammar, Aalberg Zetterber & Santos Silva: Basement Sessions Vol.4 (The Bali Tapes) (Clean Feed)

The 4th volumes of this remarkable set of "basement sessions" from the Swedish trio of Espen Aalberg on drums & percussion, Jonas Kullhammar on saxophone & flute, and Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, joined by Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, for a beautiful album of free hard bop, encompassing spiritual and ritual aspects of gamelan music in a unique and wonderful album. ... Click to View


Imaginary Numbers (McPhee / Niggenkemper / Solberg): Imaginary Numbers (Clean Feed)

Playing both pocket trumpet and tenor sax, Joe McPhee joins German/French/NY bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and Norwegian drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, for an authoritative and bold album of collective free improv, three extended conversations that center on "A Supreme Love (For John Coltrane)", pointing to the history and sympathies of these impressive musicians. ... Click to View


Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity : Live in Europe [3 CDs] (Clean Feed)

Three complete 2016 concerts at North Sea Jazz Festival, Ljubljana Jazz Festival and Oslo Jazz Festiva, and 3 CDs to present them, from drummer Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity, a superb free/post-bop group with a core of Nilssen, bassist Petter Eldh, and saxophonist Andre Roligheten, featuring 3 saxophonists: Fredrik Ljungkvis, Kristoffer Berre Alberts, and Jorgen Mathisen. ... Click to View


Tree Ear (Strinning / Troller / Hemingway): Witches Butter (Clean Feed)

After percussionist and composer Gerry Hemingway migrated to Luzern, Switzerland he joined forces with the creative improvising community in that city, in particular with guitarist Manuel Troller and saxophonist and bass clarinetist Sebastian Strinning, the trio taking the name Tree Ear, blending free and idiomatic improv in bold, uncommon and spellbinding ways. ... Click to View


Eve Risser / Kaja Draksler: To Pianos (Clean Feed)

Two pianists dedicate to their instruments at the Gallus Hall of Cankarjev Dom during the 57th Jazz Festival Ljubljana: Paris-based pianist Eve Risser (Umlaut, En-Corps, &c) and Slovenian pianist Kaja Draskler (I/O, Draskler Octet, &c.), to record these inventive duos, weaving their keys together or working inside and out of the piano in incredible sonic approaches. ... Click to View


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  The Manhattan Listening Tour  

A guide to galleries that aren't for the eyes.


By Nirav Soni 2002-12-07

Poking around Manhattan for any period of time will soon yield a steady stream of tourists, eyes welded heavenwards, cameras in hand, relentlessly scanning left and right for the next spectacle. One should have caution when around such birds; an errant digit poses a significant threat to eyeballs. Rarely, however, do you find out-of-towners armed with a minidisc recorder, or a DAT machine. Surely our fair city is as much an auditory all-you-care-to-eat as it is it is an ocular one!

Apocryphally, John Cage said that when he moved into a loft on 18th St. and 6th Ave, he never bought records again. Whenever he wanted to hear music, he just opened his window. What can compare to the subtle symphony of pedestrian and road traffic? How many composers harmonies subtle as that of a screaming baby and a fire engine or rhythms as complex as squealing breaks and car alarms? The ears reel at the wealth of such sonic stimuli!

Of course, the nuances of street sounds can be somewhat unwelcome in an undercaffinated morning. But the shock always subsides and the hum of traffic blends with howling winds, underscoring the subtle interplay of rustling leaves and grumbling pedestrians.

Noise pollution?! How can you even think a phrase like that? I'll fight to the death to hear the Long Island Rail Road every morning; there are few sounds as life-affirming as the 7 train rattling over Roosevelt Avenue in Queens at the break of dawn. The sweet sounds of this fair city are in my book nowhere paralleled. Sure, New Delhi is louder and more brash and les rues of Paris perhaps more refined, but how can you compare it to the delicate clinking of change in indigent cups, the idle chatter of trust-funded youth, sizzling kebabs, clomping boots and clicking heels? Give me street performers like Kalaparusha Maurice McIntryre, Kenta Nagai and a free-jazz subway combo like Test over whatever else another city's got any day.

With su ch a rich ambiance to work in, NYC has a number of galleries and spaces devoted to the creation and presentation of sound art, in its installed and performed incarnations. These galleries present an excitingly diverse range of work, from the rigorously formal and conceptual to the more spontaneous and organic. With this in mind, I present to you "The Squid's Ear Sound Art Tour of Manhattan"

A few preliminary remarks:

  1. Get a Metrocard Funpass. $4 will have you cruising the subways and buses all day.
  2. Sound art galleries are not available in the way that visual art galleries in Chelsea and Soho are. As they are not dedicated to the marketing of commodities, galleries like Engine27 and Diapason are generally not as accessible as "traditional" art galleries are. You'd be well advised to check ahead of time to see which days and times they are open.
  3. Turn off your cell phone.
  4. Leave your headphones at home.

Engine27

Whatever you hear at the Engine 27 sound art gallery, it is likely to be perceptually overwhelming. Housed in an ex-firehouse in Tribeca, the gallery is home to the most sophisticated and awe-inspiring multichannel sound playback system I've ever witnessed.

Engine27 is generally open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, exhibiting sound installations and, on occasion, live performances. The rest of the week, the gallery becomes a studio for artists to work. The overarching majority of what is exhibited is created on commission, specifically for the space. As part the commission, each artist is given 30-40 hours of time with an engineer to create a work to be exhibited in the environment.

I stopped into Engine27 early on a weekday, and had the pleasure of seeing the gallery without it's dress shoes on.Fragments of Leopanar Witlarge's composition-in-the-working hovered in the space as I took a slow walk through the gallery. It's d isconcerting enough to walk through an ex-firehouse filled with speakers that are at least half your size suspended from the ceiling; imagine the cognitive dissonance you feel when you see two people amiably chatting while shards of a disembodied voice moves from one side of the space to the other.

http://www.engine27.org/
Address: 173 Franklin St., between Hudson and Greenwich
Directions: 1, 9 train to Franklin St. Walk 1 and 1/2 blocks west on Franklin.

The Dream House

La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela's Dream House has been a fixture of the New York creative community for 8 years. Since its creation, it has been employed in the realization of their collaborative project "The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time...." (Go to the website if you want to see the entire title), which ostensibly becomes an immersive sound and light environment.

What's most amazing about the Dream House is how the meticulously structured and calculated, para-scientific study sensory input is deployed in a space is so gentle and warm. Fans of drone based music will be taken by the complex webs of sum and difference tones that are synthesized in real-time, and the corollary light sculptures at once suggest 19th century retinal psychology, and 60's minimalism.

There are a few pillows alongside the walls, and the carpeting is plush, but aside from a small shrine to Pandit Pran Nath and the sound and light producers, the main space of the Dream House is bare. There's no one ideal location to experience the piece, and you're tacitly invited to create the composition for yourself by walking around and turning your head. Every time I go, I end up slumped up against the wall, gently nodding my head and thoroughly losing myself. There aren't really audible indicators of time, so if you don't have a watch, it becomes tough to tell whether you've been si tting down for 15 or 50 minutes.

The Dream House is a wonderful place to go in the wintertime, as it's much warmer than it's surroundings. There's a $4 donation requested at the door and shoe removal is mandatory (wear clean socks.)

http://melafoundation.org/main.htm
Address: 275 Church Street between Franklin & White Streets in Tribeca
Directions: 1,9 to Franklin St. Walk east to Church, cross the street, turn left, and walk 1/2 block.
From Canal St. Station (N, R, Q, W, J, M, Z, 6) Walk west to Church Street and head south.

Diapason

Diapason resides in the midst of office buildings and the financial mutterings. You'd hardly guess that this narrow entranceway in midtown would be home to some of NYC's most innovative sound art. Michael Schumacher and Liz Gerring continue Diapason in the tradition of their Studio Five Beekman, and present installations and performances in the galleries. Often you'll see video projected on the 3 screens in the galleries, adding an interesting visual component to the music.

You'll have to plan your trip around this visit. The gallery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 6-12 pm, and since it's so far removed from the other stops on the tour, it's recommended that you leave plenty of time for it.

Diapason is comprised of two separate galleries: a large chamber that you enter when you walk through the door and a smaller room towards the far end of the room. The second room is easy to overlook, but is always worth spending time in.

Fred Szymanski presented his "Friction Sticky Rough" in the larger chamber in October, filling the space with dense clouds of sound particles, ebbing and flowing. On the wall were undulating, synthetic structures, a visual analogue to the tactile effervescence of the music. Bernard Gunter's installation in the smaller room wa smu ch more spare, a single red bulb illuminating the room, with speakers pushed against the wall almost sculpturally. The music was haunting, so quiet at times that the sound from the Szymanski piece became a very real presence.

http://www.diapasongallery.com/
Address: 1026 Sixth Avenue, between 38th and 39th
Subway: Subway: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, B, D, F, Q, N, R, W to 42nd Street. Walk 3 and 1/2 blocks south on 6th Ave.

Sonic Garden at the World Financial Center

I applaud the curators of the Sonic Garden for their curatorial acumen and progressive tastes. It's not often that one can hear innovative sound art from the likes of Laurie Anderson, Marina Rosenfeld, David Byrne and Ben Rubin in as public an arena as the World Financial Center, where hundreds and hundreds of people pass every day.

However, these works are in an uncomfortable space. The Winter Garden, of which the Sonic Garden is a component, is located within the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan. For whatever reason, that didn't trigger enough bells for me, and I didn't mentally prepare myself for walking right next to the site of the World Trade Center last November in order to get to the Winter Garden.

Context is so important to the reception of artwork, and the Sonic Garden, while admirably presented, can't escape the larger shadow it stands beneath. It makes David Byrne's collection of jokes and one-liners seem a little trivial. Taken on their own merit, the works are nice enough. Ben Rubin incorporates market economics in his work, while Marina Rosenfeld's echoing sound particles evoke an image of a large, quiet imaginary dream garden. Laurie Anderson's work alone seemed appropriately elegiac, it's single processed violin, which feels delicate and reverent.

http://www.creativetime.org/sonicgarden/map.html

Subway: Take the 4/5/6 to Fulton Street, the N/R to Rector Street, or the 1/9 to Wall Street. Walk to Church and Liberty Streets and cross the South Bridge to 1 WFC. Follow signs within complex to the Winter Garden.



The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
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