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This Is It! (Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura / Takashi Itani): 1538 (Libra)

Part of pianist Satoko Fujii's "Kanreki" (60th Birthday) tour and monthly album release, the "This Is It!" Trio with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and drummer/percussionist Takashi Itani is heard at Koendori Classics, in Tokyo, Japan, in January 2018, for an incredible album of Fujii's compositions that include quirky asides in coherent and effusive compositions. ... Click to View


Flamingo (Chris Heenan / Adam Pultz Melbye / Christian Windfeld / Roy Carroll): Loud (Relative Pitch)

This Berlin-based collaboration with sound engineer Roy Carroll performing on electronics and features the trio of Chris Heenan on contrabass clarinet, Adam Pultz Melbye on double bass, and Christian Windfeld on snare drum, percussion & objects, using a reductionist approach to deep sonic improvisation of mysterious origins, in an extended journey fo sound. ... Click to View


My Cat Is An Alien: The Sky With Broken Arms (Opax Records / Elliptical Noise)

The long-running Italian improvising duo of brothers Maurizio Opalio and Roberto Opalio, celebrating their 20th anniversary in this album using electric guitar, effects, loops, keyboards, and wordless vocalizations to create this hauntingly beautiful extended composition, an hallucinatory mediation with a repeating motif over which an interstellar tapestry of sound emerges. ... Click to View


Roberto Opalio : Once You'll Touch The Sky You Will Never Return To Dust (Opax Records / Elliptical Noise)

Half of the Italian improvising duo My Cat Is an Alien, Roberto Opalio uses prepared mini-keyboard, handmade shortwave receiver, alientronics, and vocalizations to create this improvised prelude and statement, a shifting work that draws the listener into mesmerizing sonic environments of alien origin and transports them deceptively between ringing and textured vistas. ... Click to View


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Chris Meloche / Martin Archer / Gino Robair / Lyn Hodnett: The Sincerity Of Light (Discus)

The quartet of Canadian electronics composer Chris Meloche and label leader Martin Archer on woodwinds and electronics orchestrated these pieces, performed with improvsations from Gino Robair on percussion and electronics and Lyn Hodnett on voice, for a 3 part work of rich interactive loops, drones and soundscape, ranging from spine-chilling to lush and lovely environments. ... Click to View


Eclectic Maybe Band: The Blind Night Watchers' Mysterious Landscapes (Discus)

Univers Zero bassist Guy Seger brought this eclectic group of improvisers into the studio to develop the music on this genre-defying album, informed by a sextet of musicians who have performed and recorded with projects and artists including Vanishing Pictures, X-Legged Sally, Wrong Object, Tony Levin, Tony Bianco, Paul Schutze, Trevor Watts, Zeena Parkins, Jim O'Rourke, &c. ... Click to View


Martin Archer & Engine Room Favourites: Safety Signal From A Target Town (Discus)

Saxophonist Martin Archer composed the five works on this, the 3rd release for Engine Room Favorites, his AACM-influenced big band with a tremendous orchestration of horns with drums, vibes, piano and bass, here with their most complex yet melodic and rich release yet, including melodic elements of folk music, powerful rhythms from prog-oriented rock, and free improv and jazz. ... Click to View


Laura Steenberge : Harmonica Fables (Nueni)

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Swiss electric guitarist Florian Stoffner (Manuel Mengis Grupp) and Spanish/Portuguese saxophonist Albert Cirera (Agusti Fernandez Liquid Trio) present the 8 part "IRMA" in concise free improvisations, restrained but alert and quick-witted dialogs that explore their instruments with alternate approaches to each in articulate ways. ... Click to View


Niklas Fite / Alexander Frangenheim: Sugar Is A Necessary Fluid (Creative Sources)

Two string players, Swedish acoustic guitarist and banjo player Niklas Fite, and German double bassist Alexander Frangenheim, recording in the studio in Berlin in 2017 for 10 succinct improvisations ranging from quick interactive discourse of a pointillistic nature to near silent meditations using unusual and extended techniques, a quirky and informed album. ... Click to View


Paul Flaherty / Gene Moore / Gene Janas / Federico Ughi: Morfina [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

First conceived during the 2016 Forward Festival when noise guitarist Gene Moore and NYC experimental bassist Gene Janas invited noted avant-garde drummer Federico Ughi for the second part of their set, the results being so impressive that they asked saxophonist Paul Flaherty to join them to record this album and to perform at the Forward Festival 2017. ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / Tobias Wilner / Djibril Toure / Federico Ughi: New York United [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

An excellent blend of electronics and acoustics as saxophonist, flutist and trumpeter Daniel Carter meets sound artist Tobias Wilner from world-renowned electronic pop band Blue Foundation, with Wu-Tang Clan bass player Djibril Toure and drum wiz Federico Ughi rounding out this forward-thinking album of hazy and rhythmic electroacoustic environments. ... Click to View


Silvan Schmid Quintet: At Gamut (Hatology)

Swiss trumpeter Silvan Schmid is a cofounder of the Gamut Kollektiv, organizing festivals and concerts, here caught live in 2016 at Gamut Series No 1 at Amboss Rampe in Zurich with his own quintet of Tapiwa Svosve on sax, Silvan Jeger on cello, Vincent Glanzmann on drums, and Lucas Wirz on tuba performing 6 Schmid compositions of profoundly lyrical free jazz. ... Click to View


Bucher / Tan / Countryman: Tributary (Self Released)

American ex-pat and Philippines-based alto saxophonist Rick Countryman joins with Philippines bassist Simon Tan and visiting Swiss drummer Christian Bucher to capture this live concert in that starts by paying homage to Eric Dolphy, amongst a strong set of jazz and blues influenced numbers and the two part building and flowing "Tributary". ... Click to View


Bucher / Countryman: Estuary (Self Released)

A live concert in the Philippines from American expatriate saxophonist Rick Countryman and visiting Swiss drummer Christian Bucher, a classic free jazz drum and sax duo informed by creative playing and superb rhythmic interplay, balancing lyrical progressions with a wonderful stream of concepts, this is a great example of the far reach of free jazz. ... Click to View


Sabu Toyozumi / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan / Stella Ignacio / Isla Antinero: JYA-NE (Self Released)

Four configurations of free jazz recorded live during a vist by trombonist Sabu Toyozumi to Manila: first in a duo with alto saxophonist Rick Countryman; then in a duo with drummer and erhu player Sabu Toyozumi; then expanded to a quintet with vocalist Stella Ignaci and electric bassist Simon Tan; and last as a free jazz trio with Countryman, Tan, and Toyzumi. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Thought Experiment (Evil Clown)

The core trio of Leap of Faith Orchestra--David Peck on clarinets, saxophones & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion--joined by Mimi Rabson on violin, the quartet recording with the full Leap of Faith Orchestra arsenal of instruments; plus an expanded LOF recording of the Orchestra work "Possible Worlds". ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Gravitation (Evil Clown)

The core of Leap of Faith Orchestra--David Peck on reeds and winds, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion-- joined by Eric Zinman on piano, recorded at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA, where Evil Clown has a residency on the third Saturday of each month, presenting a variation of subunits from one of their larger units. ... Click to View


PEK Solo: Fulcrum (Evil Clown)

Extracting the leader from a multitude of ensembles, David Peck's solo album has him performing on tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, clarinet, contraalto clarinet, bassoon, tarota, hand chimes, accordion, [d]ronin, wood, metal, aquasonic, daxophone, Atlantis gong, plus pre-recorded mixes adding a "soloist with tape" aspect to his complex and rich performance. ... Click to View


Turbulence: Amorphous Solids (Evil Clown)

Turbulence is the extended horn section for the Leap of Faith Orchestra, a varying-sized ensemble, recording here at Boston area's Outpost 196 as a quartet with PEK on reeds, Bob Moores on trumpet and Dan O'Brien on sax, clarinets & flutes, all playing an assortment of percussive devices, with Leap of Faith core member Yuri Zbitnoff as a dedicated percussionist. ... Click to View


Metal Chaos Ensemble: Shape Memory (Evil Clown)

Wind player David Peck and percussionist Yuri Zbitnoff formed Metal Chaos Ensemble to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, employing an arsenal of percussion, electronic and wind instruments, becoming one of Evil Clown's most prolific sub-units, here with Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar, Eric Woods on analog synth, and Eric Zinman on percussion. ... Click to View


Mekaniks: The Great Klown Panik of 2017 - Klownpocalypse (Evil Clown)

A collaboration of Leap of Faith members, percussionist Yuri Zbitnov, multi-reedist and wind player David Peck, with guests from the Evil Clown roster, adding electroacoustic elements including looping, sampling and electronic processing to their improvisation, here with Joel Simches on real-time signal processing, alongside sound artists Greg Grinnell & Bob Moores. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : Braxton: (Willisau) 1991 Studio [2 CDs] (Hatology)

Reissuing and remastering the two studio albums from the 1992 4-CD boxset of Anthony Braxton's Quartet with Marily Crispell (piano), Mark Dresser (double bass) and Gerry Hemingway (drums & marimba) recording in Willisau, Switzerland, realizing 10 Braxton numbered compositions with masterful skill and virtuosity, an exceptional set of modern jazz. ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp : Symbol Systems (Hatology)

Originally issued in 1995 on the No More Records label, this was New York pianist Matthew Shipp's 6th release as a leader and first solo album, still a rarity in his discography, as we hear Shipp in 14 succinct improvisation that explore texture, tone, and his frameworks that embrace a structured approach to theoretical aspects of the music with warmth and lyricism. ... Click to View


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  Sound in the Balance  

Amplify 2003: Elemental


By Nirav Soni (photo credit: Nirav Soni) 2003-03-25
:  () Why it has taken so long for me to write this review:

1. Naming

The very first problem for the sort of music that was played at the AMPLIFY festival is what to call it. Many have proposed names to encompass the range of approaches that musicians as diverse as Toshimaru Nakamura, Jason Lescalleet and Tim Barnes take to their instruments, but as of now, none really satisfy me. The one that I hear most often is "Electro-Acoustic Improv"; it is likely the most commonly used because of the discussion list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Electroacoustic/) of the same name. Jon Abbey, founder of Erstwhile Records at one time called what he releases "dangerous improv." He now prefers to use "balanced improv" to describe his curatorial decisions. Electroacoustic-improv doesn't apply to everything that it covers; during this festival the first set was entirely acoustic, with the musicians forgoing all electronics, even amplification. The acronym "EAI" also refers to the organization Electronic Arts Intermix, who are a group of people devoted to preserving the legacy of video and multimedia art. I'm tired of confusing the two. "Balanced improv" makes a little more sense to me about the means of producing of this music, and more about what happens to the space.

Maybe one could call this "room improv. " In his essay, "Towards an Ethic of Improvisation" (found in Treatise Handbook, London: Edition Peters, 1971) Cornelius Cardew says, "it is impossible to record with any fidelity a kind of music that is actually derived in some sense from the room in which it is taking place- it's shape, acoustical properties, even the view from the windows.....The natural context provides a score which the players are unconsciously interpreting in their playing."

When I read this quote, I understood why it seemed to me like the set that Greg Kelley and Bhob Rainey ( collectively comprising the band nmperign) played with Le Quan Ninh sounded like it could have been composed. The form that I heard in the playing was not that of a pre-determined score, but a conforming,RWD, TK an adaptation of personal style to circumstance, in this case the venue Tonic, on a frosty winter evening, with a very respectful audience. That one could detect this form within the music speaks volumes about the maturity of the players, and their immense discipline, focus and concentration

2. Profundity:

Amplify 2003: Elemental

Wednesday, Feb: 6th (Diapason Gallery)
Tim Barnes/Okkyung Lee/Toshio Kajiwara
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tetuzi Akiyama/Ben Watson

Thursday: Feb 7th (Tonic):
Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe
Tim Barnes/I-Sound
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura

Friday: Feb 8th (Tonic):
Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh

Saturday: Feb. 9th (Engine 27):
Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura
On the Tuesday before the festival, Keith Rowe held a discussion at Columbia. Rowe introduced the talk with an excerpt from a work by Jean Cassanea de Mondonville, a French composer from the baroque period. After playing the music on a small stereo that betrayed the size of the music, he asked whether or not electronic music can approach the level of profundity that the piece by Mondonville did. During the discussion, I was the only person who mentioned religion (being a non-musician, I have a tendency to talk about other thing s in the way of my talking about music). It seemed to me that profundity is not a quality that music (or for that matter, anything, really) can possess; one instead has a relationship that is profound, with a piece of music, a painting, a cat, or a dish that only mom cooks just so.

Rowe mentioned Mark Rothko during the discussion, which got me to thinking about the relationship of the abstract and the profound. What strikes me upon reflection on all of the artwork I've come across by Rowe (which can be seen on a number of album covers, including his discs with AMM and on Erstwhile) is how so little of it is entirely abstract. His paintings certainly aren't, and one can easily look at his use of the radio as a way of distancing the listener from the sensual surface of the music. Rowe's radio brings the music towards the exterior, towards the social, but always in a tangential, distant, often fleeting way. He seems to be, both in his words and in his music, alluding to the ethical, to the engaged.


3. Performance

I was eagerly awaiting the Keith Rowe/Le Quan Ninh performance on the 8th after seeing such intense performances by both of them the night before. Upon reflection, it makes sense that the collaboration was less than harmonious. Where Rowe's sound-image recalls for me the moral and the conscientious, Ninh's style is very different. His performances were more about the erotics of the "surrounded bass drum". His playing is supremely graceful, precise, delicate, and extraordinarily sensual. One cannot help but reference the libidinal when you watch him rubbing his thumb across the skin of the drum.

It is entirely appropriate that it was Ninh who was touring with butoh dancer Yukiko Nakamura. Nakamura performed onstage during the during the first and last sets of the Tonic nights. I would comment about her role during the first show, with Ninh, Kelley and Rainey, but she spent the vas t majority very low to the stage, and thus obscured to me by a friend's head. I do recall that somewhere around a third of the way into the set, she dramatically rolled onto the floor, whereupon I completely lost sight of her. During the Müller/Ninh performance, she was completely visible. She went through a series of very, very slow movements, which made it seem like she was crumpling to the ground in slow motion. It was, however, bristling with tension and intensity, entirely in key with the tenor of the music.

I am generally critical of visual accompaniments to music, and, possibly because of that, my favorite person to watch play during the festival was Tim Barnes. Barnes is the perfect foil to Ninh. Where the latter is classical grace and fluidity, eminently measured and controlled, the former's gestures are more intently muscular, more about the grain of the kit; coarseness. Watching him slowly scrape the cymbals across his kit was pure pleasure, it had the same visual rhythm as a turnstile.

4.Günter Müller

I do not understand how this man is completely capable of making almost every situation I've heard him play in work. I've been worrying about how to write about what he does for weeks, and I give up now.


Instead of attempting to describe the music played, I ask you to accept this list of adjectives that I will append to the bottom of this review, in correspondence with the performance they apply to:

Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey - open
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe- earthy
Tim Barnes/I-Sound- split
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- still

Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh- discordant
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey- near
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama- spare
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh- thick

Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama- long
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet- wide
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- de e p

Relevant links:
http://www.l-m-c.org.uk/texts/rowe.html
http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem1751.html



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written by
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