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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


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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


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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


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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


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Using historical references to rethink the present--the first 7 months of the Russian Revolution; and the accusal of Marius Plateau's murder by Germaine Berto--and working with Lucio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)

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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 Red Masque 
  Fossil Eyes  
  (AdHoc Records) 


  
   review by Joseph Schafer
  2009-03-15
The Red Masque: Fossil Eyes (AdHoc Records)

There was a time long ago when progressive rock meant more than virtuoso musicians, long songs, and the occasional bout of odd time. Recently bands like Tool and Muse have broken into the mainstream with pseudo-prog heavy on listener-friendliness and very light on anything… well… progressive. Sure, the music scene worldwide was once full of innovators like Ruins and King Crimson, bands who genuinely attempted to provide with their music what others in the psychotropic business were providing: a genuinely mind-bending experience.

The Red Masque are taking back the banner of prog on their third full-length FossilEyes. The disc is nearly an hour of unapologetically out-there music with a focus on unorthodox instrumentation and unsettling atmospheres. Information on the band itself can be as obscure as the music, but this much is known for sure: the Philadelphia three piece, led by vocalist Lynette Shelly, have a dedication to throwing rulebooks out of windows. With gothic and virtuosic help from multi-instrumentalist Brandon Ross and percussionist Brian (Koworn) Van Korn, Shelly creates a unique sound and aesthetic equal parts Hammer Horror and zeuhl.

This is not your father’s prog. Melody takes a back seat to mood and dynamics on this album. FossilEyes does use the traditional extended-song prog format, but sports a few extremely short songs; half the album’s tracks clock in at under 2-and-a-half minutes, but these cuts never feel like bridges or interludes. Acoustic and electric guitars mix and match here with reckless abandon until the difference between the two becomes negligible.

The songs slither and lurch from movement to movement much like the animals they are named after. “Das Snail,” one of the strongest cuts on the disc, metamorphoses from an abstract and jazzy arpeggiation to a lumbering, slow-paced monstrosity as it collapses and reforms under the weight of its own melodrama. With the occasional touches of heavy metal present (a la Porcupine Tree) the band firmly plants itself in the hazily defined outer limits of “extreme” music.

The Red Masque employs the use of noise as an instrument, especially on closer “The Anti-Man,” but at no point in time does the music descend into a mere texture of sound. At least one part of the music is clear and distinct, usually the drums, which often take on a folk or tribal character during the noise segments. The music is not emotional, or compelling; the band takes inspiration from their horror movie soundtrack imagery, so they focus on creating an unsettling feeling in the listener. The album succeeds in this endeavor because the music never becomes catchy or repetitive enough to make a deep impact. Instead the songs introduce new motifs and ideas in rapid succession.

Lording over the rest of the music like a dominatrix is Shelly’s voice, which rarely reaches a fragile vulnerability, but normally maintains a baroque howl. Occasionally she descends into Diamanda Galas-like shrieks and orgiastic howls. Her lyrics (when clear enough to understand) are foreboding, but thoughtful. The theme of the album would appear to have something to do with evolution, or the food chain, but most of that takes a back seat to the broad and bold strokes of musical color that The Red Masque paints with.

While the songs do hearken back to the sheer bravado and musical adventure of older prog bands, it falls into the same pitfalls — some of the songs are heavy-handed (see opener “The Spider is the Web”) and get bogged down in the sheer multitude of bridges and transitions. All of the songs, even some of the short ones, are overloaded with time signature changes and guitar freak-outs — it often comes across as forced. The album does not flow, and can feel jagged on the crucial first couple of listens. Still, all is forgiven during the beauty of the album’s climaxes, such as “The Anti-Man” and “Poltphemus,” when the guitar becomes smooth and sensual, and Shelly abandons her actress’ mask in favor of a better role: rock singer. None the less, with personality and punch, Fossil Eyes is an album that takes its listener by the throat and demands to be heard.



The Red Masque: Fossil Eyes
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