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Sidsel Endresen / Jan Bang: Hum (Confront)

Using sampler, dictaphone, and voice, the duo of Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang improvise and interact to create unorthodox hybrids of fractured electronics and articulated word, as edgy and engaging as it is unusual, captured live at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, in Oslo, Norway in 2016, a great followup to Bang's "And Poppies From Kandahar" Samadhi album. ... Click to View


Don Cherry: Home Boy, Sister Out (WeWantSounds)

Trumpeter Don Cherry recorded this funk album in France in 1985 with a set of multi-ethnic Paris players including Elli Medeiros and produced by Ramuntcho Matta, the songs crossing funk with jazzy vamps and rock roots and modern approaches, reissued with new liner notes and 5 bonus tracks including the cult 1983 single "Kick" featuring legendary Brion Gysin. ... Click to View


Don Cherry: Home Boy, Sister Out [VINYL 2 LPs] (WeWantSounds)

Trumpeter Don Cherry recorded this funk album in France in 1985 with a set of multi-ethnic Paris players including Elli Medeiros and produced by Ramuntcho Matta, the songs crossing funk with jazzy vamps and rock roots and modern approaches, reissued with new liner notes and 5 bonus tracks including the cult 1983 single "Kick" featuring legendary Brion Gysin. ... Click to View


Small Cruel Party: ἡσυχασμός (complacency) [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

The first new release from William Key Ransone's Small Cruel Party, two 12 minute pieces, the first a work of subtle noise that ebbs and flows in subliminal ways; the second a work of strong tone combinations with distracted percussion and unusual tonal interruptions, a unique album of atmosphere and tension. ... Click to View


Charles Noyes K. / Owen Maercks w/ Henry Kaiser / Greg Goodman: Free Mammals [VINYL] (Feeding Tube Records)

A great example of open-minded West Coast free improvisation around the late 70s from the quartet of Charles K. Noyes on percussion & saxophone, Owen Maercks on guitar, Henry Kaiser on guitar, and Greg Goodman on piano & percussion, side A from a live concert in Berkeley recorded by guitarist Henry Kaiser, side B from sutdio sessions in San Francisco. ... Click to View


Toshimaru Nakamura : Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) (Room40)

Tokyo-based electronics artist Toshimaru Nakamura's 9th album of No-Input Mixing Board music, elucidating sound from the mixing board without any audio sources, showing the amazing evolution of his approach as he turns this "empty" "instrument" into an amazing source of rhythmic and assertive sound that's both surprising and wonderfully musical. ... Click to View


Paul Flaherty / Chris Corsano: The Hated Music [VINYL 2 LPs] (Feeding Tube Records)

Gary Panter's artwork is updated and the format is vinyl this time for this welcome reissue of the 2000 Ecstatic Yod CD from the now long-running duo of tenor & alto saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano, a superb free jazz album of great invention and seriously deep playing, from hard attacks to introspective musing, really impressive! ... Click to View


Mako Sica / Hamid Drake: Ronda [VINYL 2 LPs] (Feeding Tube Records)

The long-running Chicago free-rock trio Mako Sica currently comprised of Przemyslaw Drazek (trumpet & guitar), Brent Fuscaldo (guitar) and Chaetan Newell (drums & piano) are joined by free improvising legend Hamid Drake on drum kit, tablas and frame drum for a beautiful and rich album of genre merging, spiritually warm, primarily instrumental music, inclusive and persuasive. ... Click to View


Sebastien Beliah : Nocturnes (Umlaut Records)

Sebastien Beliah is a Paris-based double bass player, a member of Umlaut Big Band, The Coquettes, Un poco loco, &c., here ina solo album of bass noir, dark and resonant tones evoked through strong bowing, finding harmonics between the strings and from the instrument itself, creating beautiful passages in a mirage of engulfing deep timbre. ... Click to View


Musaeum Clausum: Musaeum Clausum (Umlaut Records)

Musaeum Clausum is a French-German trio that features Louis Laurain on cornet (Die Hochstapler, Umlaut Big band, ONCEIM), Hannes Lingens on drums (Obliq, Konzert Minimal) and Sebastien Beliah on bass.(Un Poco Loco, Ensemble Hodos, Umlaut Big Band), in an album of patiently developing improvisation giving each player freedom and flexibility within a composed framework. ... Click to View


Mako Sica / Hamid Drake: Ronda [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

The long-running Chicago free-rock trio Mako Sica currently comprised of Przemyslaw Drazek (trumpet & guitar), Brent Fuscaldo (guitar) and Chaetan Newell (drums & piano) are joined by free improvising legend Hamid Drake on drum kit, tablas and frame drum for a beautiful and rich album of genre merging, spiritually warm, primarily instrumental music, inclusive and persuasive. ... Click to View


Axel Dorner / Jason Kahn: For 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


Douglas Benford : For Now (Confront)

Sprawl Imprint label leader Douglas Benford developed this fascinatingly layered composition with a diverse set of instruments, objects, and field recordings from recordings made at the Stockholm Music Museum and at performances in Lithuania and England between 2009 and 2017, assembling them to create this exceptional odyssey of concrete, ambient and ethnic sources. ... Click to View


Isotope Ensemble: Barium (Creative Sources)

Large scale improvisation of the most subtle nature from Portugal's Isotope Ensemble led by Ernesto Rodrigues, 17 musicians slowly unfolding this beautiful work of consonance and dissonance dedicated to element atomic number 56, recording live at O'Culto da Ajuda in Lisbon with instrumentation including acoustic reeds, strings, brass and percussion, and electronics. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Andrew Lafkas / Bryan Eubanks: 0 Minutes And 0 Seconds (Creative Sources)

Lisbon-based viola player Ernesto Rodrigues joins three Berlin-based musicians--cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, with double bassist Andrew Lafkas and electronics artist Bryan Eubanks--merging the lowercase approaches of Creative Sources groupings with experimental electronics for a 5-part album that ranges from the subliminal to assertive tones and momentum. ... Click to View


Sergio Merce: Three Dimensions Of The Spirit (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Conservatory trained Argentinian saxophonist Sergio Merce uses a prepared tenor sax and a microtonal sax to create rich harmonics and slowly moving tonal works, layering aberrant and alluring tones in restrained configurations that allow each stratum of sound to be distinguished and appreciated, creating mesmerizing compositions of elusive and illusionistic sound. ... Click to View


Beuger.Boon.Susam: (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Pianist and composer Dante Boon performs his own work "Years, Numbers", alongside Antoine Beuguer's "Pour Etre Seul(e), Sans Reserve" and Taylan Susam's "Tombeau", and Bueger's "Nov. (piano)", four works of graceful and introspective beauty using minimal approaches to tone, chord, or spaciousness, recorded live at University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2014. ... Click to View


Cyril Bondi / d'Incise: Kirari-Kirari (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

A sextet of Cyril Bondi (vibraphone), d'Incise (metallic objects), Magnus Granberg (piano), Anna Lindal (Baroque violin), Anna-Kaisa Meklin (viola de gamba) and Christoph Schiller (spinet) perform two works composed by Bondi and d'Incise, recorded by Simon Reynell of Another Timbre, works of repetition with distinct variations that evolve as each piece progresses. ... Click to View


Johan Lindvall: Giraffe (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Fourteen pieces for solo guitar from Norwegian composer Johan Lindvall, sparse yet warmly spaced pieces that focus on the individual notes or simple chords in intimate ways, meditative yet warmly evocative; two sections are presented in multiple movements, with "five songs for voice and guitar", Rasten singing words written by Marianne Moore; lovely and refined. ... Click to View


Stephen Cornford : Battery Acid [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

UK Sound experimenter Stephen Cornford took the bare wires of two microphone cables and submerged them in the cavaties of a large but run-down car battery, plugged it into a mixer, panned hard left and right and recorded, adding a 12 Volt trickle charger to the external terminals of the battery and made a second recording, the results heard here unchanged. ... Click to View


The Rita: Vice Baron [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

The Rita, the duo of Sam McKinlay and Arlie Doyle, made samples from 1930's pre-code exploitation films, focusing on the sounds made in the changing rooms of female prostitutes depicted in those films, and manipulated the sounds to make these two tracks, inscrutably crunchy and static filled manifestoes with a sense of age and decay from the period captured. ... Click to View


Golia / Kaiser / Moses / Smith / Walter: Astral Plane Crash (Balance Point Acoustics)

The West Coast Plane Crash trio of Henry Kaiser (guitar), Damon Smith (bass) and Weasel Walter (drums) is extended with Vinny Golia (reeds) and Ra-Kalam Bob Moses (drums) for two absolutely impressive improvisations that show forcefully restrained and coherent playing that follows an intuitive narrative only possible from such skilled and virtuosic musicians. ... Click to View


Pascal Niggenkemper : Sound Within Sound | Wuppertal Diary [2 CDs] (Fitschgetau)

Adventurous double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper was artist in residence at Wuppertal in the fall of 2017, presenting concerts with a diverse set of masterful improvisers from Europe and the US, excerpts of which are meticulously programmed in this 2-CD collection, organized by artistic endeavor and intent, from the spacious/introspective to wildly lively encounters; recommended. ... Click to View


Mahobin (Fujii / Anker / Tamura / Mori): Live at Big Apple in Kobe (Libra)

Continuing the celebration of pianist Satoko Fujii's 60th birtday by releasing one CD each month, this quartet brings an excellent set of electroacoustic improvisation to the collection in a quartet with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, New York saxophonist Lotte Anker, and New York electronic artist and former DNA drummer Ikue Mori, performing live at Tokyo's Big Apple in 2018. ... Click to View


Ahmed (Pat Thomas / Antonin Gerbal / Joel Grip / Seymour Wright): New Jazz Imagination [VINYL] (Umlaut Records)

Ahmed Abdul-Malik was a jazz bassist and oud player, a member of bands led by Art Blakey, Earl Hines, Randy Weston, and Thelonious Monk and whose own albums fused aspects of Arabic and East African musics; the band Ahmed of Pat Thomas, Joel Grip, Antonin Gerbal, and Seymour Wright revisit and rethink his compositions and influence, as heard in this massive and elucidating recording. ... Click to View


Trio La Soustraction des Fleurs (Vrod / Aurier / Lemetre): Airs de Moyenne Montagne [2 CDS] (Umlaut Records)

Combining folk and ethnic rhythms in traditional popular forms, the Trio La Soustraction of des Fleurs of Jean-Francois Vrod on violin & voice, Frederic Aurier on violin & voice, and Sylvain Lemetre on zarb & voice focuses on the music of the mountains of the Massif Central, melodic music with unique timbres, forms, pre-texts, and a richly complex set of musical objects. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani : Yama Yaki (Nakatani-Kobo)

Recorded in his home state of New Mexico, Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani presents a 46 minute continuous improvisation of acoustic percussion, a perfect reflection of his solo performance sets, Nakatani alternating between extremely rapid interactions and reflective and atmospheric environments, always creative and quick-witted through staggeringly impressive playing. ... Click to View


Mark Weaver / Tatsuya Nakatani: Weaver Nakatani (Nakatani-Kobo)

A live recording of a 2018 improvisation between Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and tuba & dijeridu performer and THE ROOST Creative Music Series concert organizer Mark Weaver, through eleven concise dialogs illustrating the unique and diverse approaches of each player, finding middle ground through unusual technique and compatible creative drive. ... Click to View


The Bertch Quartet : For Oumuama (Creative Sources)

Guitarist Henk Zwerver, bassist Raoul van der Weide and percussionist George Hadow, frequent collaborators in the Amsterdam free improv scene, join with Berlin saxophonist & clarinetist Edith Steyer to make up the Bertch Quartet, their debut album a great and embraceable example of subtle, collective free improvisations that merge traditional and non-idiomatic forms. ... Click to View


Colectivo maDam / Ernesto Rodrigues / Miguel Mira: Coluro (Creative Sources)

The Spanish free improvising quartet Colectivo maDam of Ruben Gutierrez on electronics, objects, Tomas Gris on acoustic guitar, Guillermo Torres on fluguelhorn, and David Area on electronics are joined by Lisbon improvisers Ernesto Rodrigues on viola and Miguel Mira on cello for this 3-part work, the first recorded live at Espacio B, Madrid, the 2nd & 3rd recorded in the studio. ... Click to View


The: Astra Choir Morton Feldman; Will Ogdon; Pauline Oliveros; Earle Brown; Warren Burt; Robert Carl: We, Like Salangan Swallows...: A Choral Gallery of Morton Feldman and Contemporaries (New World Records)

Melbourne, Australia's Astra Choir directed by John McCaughey use choral voice and appropriate instrumentation to interpret and present music from mediaeval to modern electronic and post-minimal music, here taking on compositions from Morton Feldman, Will Ogden, Pauline Oliveros, Warren Burt, Earle Brown, and Robert Carl. ... Click to View


Toshi Ichiyanagi with Eye Music: Sapporo (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Written in 1963 for up to 15 peformers plus a conductor who may also make sound, Japanese composer and Fluxus artist Toshi Ichiyanagi's score has 16 pages marked with combinations of lines, dots and letters indicating duration, number of events, and moments of restraint, each player using a different page, with certain options of switching pages with another player during performance. ... Click to View


Marianne Schuppe : Nosongs (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Marianne Schuppe continues to reimagine songs and their relation to tone and melody, here in a series of 11 songs realized with voice, lute, and uber bows, creating delicate accompaniment to her lucid movements between pure sound and words, singing and speaking her lyrics of succinct phrases rich in subtle intimation and evocative imagery; beautiful. ... Click to View


Tim Feeney: Burrow [CASSETTE] (Marginal Frequency)

Meridian percussionist and frequent collaborator with Vic Rawlings and Annie Lewandowski, Tim Feeney presents a fascinating solo album of "four improvised poundings" using "a drum, a pair of sticks, a metal plate, a pair of dowels, a heavy cymbal, a large room, a small squirrel, a static listening, a punishing listening, a boring listening, a quickening listening". ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio & Eduardo Chagas: Tactile (Creative Sources)

A live performance at O'Culto da Ajuda in Lisbon from the Lisbon String Trio of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, and Alvaro Rosso on contrabass, joined in this concert by Creative Sources frequenct collaborator Eduardo Chagas (Variable Geometry Orchestra, IKB, Suspensao, &c), a large work of microscopically detailed and concentrative acoustic improv. ... Click to View


Free Music Septet: Meandros e Vertentes (Creative Sources)

A live recording from the acoustic septet Free Music 7tet of Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Luiz Rocha (clarinets), Guilherme Rodrigues (cello), Eduardo Chagas (trombone), and (piano), Hernani Faustino (double bass) and Paulo Ferreira Lopes (drums), performing at O'Culto da Ajuda, for five improvisations from active free improv to lowercase exploration. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Eduardo Chagas: Holes and Cracks (Creative Sources)

A lowercase duo of intense focus and concentrative dialog from Creative Sources label leader Eernesto Rodrigues on viola and trombonist Eduardo Chagas, a member of IKB, Variable Geometry Orchestra, Suspensao, &c., through five recordings using primarily extended techniques and close proximity miking to create unusual textural and alien soundcscapes of great tension and release. ... Click to View


Jacques Demierre / Anouck Genthon: Teyerit (Confront)

A series of unusual compositions originally written by Jacques Demmiere and Vincent Barras, here reworked by Demmiere and violinist Anouck Genthon, each piece focusing on sounds, breaths, frictions, silences, vowels and consonants, weaving and complementing each other through a mix of traditional, extended and unconventional techniques; fascinating. ... Click to View


Felicie Bazelaire / Bertrand Denzler: Basse Seule (Confront)

A series of etudes and pieces for double bass composed by Bertrand Denzler specifically for Paris-based cellist and double bass player Felicie Bazelaire, presenting 7 etudes and 2 named compositions based on systems that require Bazelair to reveal the complexity of certain characteristics of the double bass within the framework of a solo performance. ... Click to View


Andrew Coltrane : F.T.W. [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

Detroit sound artist Andrew Coltrane recorded this work of complex noise and feedback in Detroit in 2011, recording to 4-track cassette with instrumenation including saxophone, flute, bowed strings, voice, synthesizer, tape loops, short wave, field recordings, and electronics, creating a thickly detailed album of unpredictable yet uniquely organized sound. ... Click to View


Sissy Spacek: Basement [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

The Los Angeles grindcore/noise band of Charlie Mumma, John Wiese, and Phil Blankenship in a cassette of brutal noise performed at Bronson, in Los Angeles California in 2014, both tracks using a similar explosive approach to sound, "Deja Vu" having more space between events while "Unfolding Universe" adds a thick noise floor that approaches white noise at time. ... 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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