The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Satoko Fujii: Solo (Libra)

A stunning album of solo performances, the first of 12 monthly releases from Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii celebrating her 60th birthday, in an impressive set of seven original compositions illustrating her incredible skills in both profoundly beautiful and technically spectacular playing both inside and out of the piano, an exceptional start to the series. ... Click to View


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The fifth album from the French and Japanese quartet Kaze, initiated by drummer Pter Orins, with two trumpeters--Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura--and pianist Satoko Fujii, all using extended and unusual techniques as they perform innovative compositions from Fujii, Orins, and Tamura with a balance of serious and playful approaches; brilliant. ... Click to View


Fire!: The Hands (Rune Grammofon)

The genre-defying trio Fire! with Mats Gustafsson on saxophones & electronics, Andreas Werliin on drums, percussion and effects, and Johan Berthling on upright and electric bass, blend heavy and dark elements of free improvisation, free rock, free blues, sound and noise, and sampled overlays in their latest, cultured and crude album of brooding and gripping music. ... Click to View


Fire!: The Hands [VINYL + CD] (Rune Grammofon)

The genre-defying trio Fire! with Mats Gustafsson on saxophones & electronics, Andreas Werliin on drums, percussion and effects, and Johan Berthling on upright and electric bass, blend heavy and dark elements of free improvisation, free rock, free blues, sound and noise, and sampled overlays in their latest, cultured and crude album of brooding and gripping music. ... Click to View


Lisa Mezzacappa : Glorious Ravage (New World Records)

San Francisco Bay Area composer, acoustic bassist, and bandleader, Lisa Mezzacappa used the 1872 writings of British world traveler Isabella Bird "I am doing what a woman can hardly ever do ..." as the basis for lyrics for her adventurous ten-part "panoramic song cycle for improvisers, with Fay Victor handling the vocals with a stellar ensemble of modern improvisers. ... Click to View


George Lewis: Assemblage (New World Records)

Composer George Lewis leads an ensemble that bridges compositional and improvisation skills through four large compositions written between 2012 and 2014 using the concept of "assemblage," a pragmatic, material, non-teleological approach to composition on four differing themes, yielding fascinatingly complex yet diverse, thrilling and embraceable results. ... Click to View


Daniel Levin / Chris Pitsiokos / Brandon Seabrook: Stomiidae (Dark Tree Records)

A collective trio of vanguard improvisers and frequent New York collaborators, Daniel Levin on cello, Chris Pitsiokos on alto saxophone, and Brandon Seabrook on electric guitar, a working band captured here in the studio at Firehouse 12 for a powerful set of idiosyncratic and exhilarating improvisations with tracks and the title named for a family of deep sea fish. ... Click to View


Jaap Blonk / Terrie Ex: Thirsty Ears (Terp Records)

Ex guitarist Terrie Ex improvises with Dutch sound poet and electronicist Jaap Blonk for 9 stories and sonic works, using unusual phonetic interpretations in strange stories with electronic asides and interventions, a truly unique album drawing on the evolution of their duo since 2012 that includies performances in Ex's Ethiopian "Soundpoetry" series of concerts and workshops. ... Click to View


Plan B (Joe Mcphee / James Keepnews / David Berger): From Outer Space [VINYL with DOWNLOAD] (Roaratorio)

Spinning an unusual story, the trio of saxophonist and pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee, guitarist and laptop artist James Keepnews, and drummer David Berger envision the first encounter between alien life and a delegation of earthlings, while giving a nod to jazz's original man from another planet, Sun Ra, with a side-long suite dedicated to him. ... Click to View


Rutger Zuydervelt (w/ Ilia Belorukov / Rene Aquarius): The Red Soul (Sofa)

Music for the movie "The Red Soul" by Jessica Gorter, a chilling and fascinating look at the legacy of Josef Stalin, from an electroacoustic trio of Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) editing and processing the playing of saxophonist Ilia Belorukov and percussionist Rene Aquarius, a dark and muted set of 14 emotional tracks that reflect a dark history. ... Click to View


Lasse Marhaug: Void [7"] (BeCoq)

Two dark works of sound creating a mysterious chasm of drones, pulsations, electronic stretches, and mysterious percussive engines, a strange pair of recordings that definitely fit the title of this 7" record from Norwegian sound experimenter Lasse Marhaug. ... Click to View


Makoto Kawabata / Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida: (Bam Balam Records)

Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Richard Pinhas (Heldon), and Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), modern and prolific explorers in the 21st century evolution of so-called progressive rock, reunite at the Studio Condorcet in Toulouse (France) to record a series of fiery improvisations and experimentations blending free noise, blues, and psychedelia. ... Click to View


Makoto Kawabata / Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida: (Bam Balam Records)

Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Richard Pinhas (Heldon), and Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), modern and prolific explorers in the 21st century evolution of so-called progressive rock, reunite at the Studio Condorcet in Toulouse (France) to record a series of fiery improvisations and experimentations blending free noise, blues, and psychedelia. ... Click to View


Dominik Karski : GLIMMER Flute o'clock (Bolt)

... Click to View


Cortex: Avant-Garde Party Music [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Cortex propels their persuasive, groove oriented approach to jazz with this swinging album that blends free jazz styles with great hard bop, in line with a band like The Thing, this Scandinavian group wants to make your body move without indulging in excess or pandering, instead following a muse that's solidly in the exuberant free jazz tradition. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton: Music For David Mossman (Intakt)

David Mossman is the founder of The Vortex Jazz Club in London, where in January 1983 the British trio of Evan Parker on sax, Barry Guy on bass, and Paul Lytton on drums recorded their first album together on the Incus label, "Tracks"; returning now, 43 years later, to pay tribute to the club and to record this absolutely impressive album of commanding free improvisation. ... Click to View


Amok Amor: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt)

An edgy, technically spectacular, inventive and slightly twisted jazz quartet of German-based free improvisers Christian Lillinger (drums), Petter Eldh (bass), Wanja Slavin (sax), with NY trumpeter Peter Evans (Mostly Other People Do the Killing) on trumpet, for 9 innovative compositions that thrill, amuse, and keep you on the edge of your seat. ... Click to View


Jurg Wickihalder / Barry Guy / Lucas Niggli: Beyond (Intakt)

A working trio formed from 3 generations of free jazz players dedicated to performing and recording, Jurg Wickihalder (sax), Barry Guy (bass) and Lucas Niggli (drums) spent two days at the Loft in Cologne, Germany recording this album of virtuosic skill and joyful playing, effortlessly passing from lyrical to abstract sections with always a song in their collective heart. ... Click to View


Eskelin / Weber / Griener: Sensations of Tone (Intakt)

Taking their title from a 19th century text by Hermann von Helmholtz on acoustics and perception of sound, the trio of NY saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, German drummer Michael Griener, and Swiss bassist Christian Weber present a a series of improvised pieces alternated with early jazz compositions, juxtaposing both approaches to highlight their similarities and the differences. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 1 Titan (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and New York pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this first volume of 6 albums brings the two together with frequent collaborator William Parker for a 6 part work, fittingly dedicated to Saturn's largest moon, "Titan". ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Bobby Kapp): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 2 Tarvos (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and New York pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this second volume brings the duo together with legendary drummer Bobby Kapp, who's nimble and relaxed approach showcases himself and the duo of Pereleman Shipp with grace. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Whit Dickey): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 3 Pandora (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 3rd volume brings David S. Ware's (or Shipp's Trio) rhythm section the studio for a turbulent and ultimately fiersome album of free improv that only such long relationships can invoke. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Michael Bisio): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 4 Hyperion (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 4th volume celebrating that partnership adds another long-term compatriot, NY bassist Michael Bisio, for a 10 part series of improvisations exploring a diverse set of approaches. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Whit Dickey): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 5 Rhea (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 5th volume celebrating that partnership brings the duo together with bassist William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey, where the long-term bonds of all 4 players push each to great heights. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 6 Saturn (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 6th volume bring us back to the core, evoking the planet Saturn in a 10-part series of duos between these two masterful players, showing fire and angular playing in mid-tempo exploration. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Andrew Cyrille): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 7 Dione (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 7th and final volume brings legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille together with the duo in a subtle album propelled by Cyrille's authoritative rhythms and superb interaction of all three players. ... Click to View


Myra Melford Trio: Alive In The House Of Saints CD 2 (Hatology)

The much-anticipated 2nd volume in pianist Myra Melford's series of live performances, "Alive In The House Of Saints", documenting sublimely beautiful and innovative playing with her trio of Lindsey Horner on bass and jazz legend Reggie Nicholson on drums, performing live in two concerts in Germany in 1993. ... Click to View


Michael Adkins Quartet (w/ Russ Lossing / Larry Grenadier / Paul Motion): Flaneur (Hatology)

Much is made of Canadian saxophonist Michael Adkin's mid-tempo approach to jazz, heard here in his 3rd album, "Flaneur", which translates to "stroller" or "saunterer", an apt description of the lyrical, unhurried yet technically adept and sophisticated approach taken by his quartet with Russ Lossing on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Paul Motian on drums. ... Click to View


Samuel Blaser Trio (w/ Marc Ducret / Peter Bruun): Taktlos Zurich 2017 (Hatology)

With a history of work in Switzerland, NY and Berlin, trombonist Samuel Blaser brings his multi-national trio with avant improvising guitarist Marc Ducret and Dutch drummer Peter Bruun to the stage of the Taktlos Festival in Zurich, Switzerland in 2017 for a set of extended improvisations, all three players displaying a unique language of incisive and fascinating free jazz. ... Click to View


Markus Eichenberger / Daniel Studer: Suspended (Hatology)

Swiss compatriots with a long history of creative approaches to improvisation, double bassist Daniel Studer and clarinetist & bass clarinetist Markus Eichenberger join together for a studio album recorded at Radio Zurich in 2016, an album of furtive tension and suspense, each track named for a motion or subtle action that they carefully describe. ... Click to View


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The Squid's Ear
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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.



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reviews about releases
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