NEW FROM THE ERSTWHILE and ELSEWHERE EMPIRE:
TOSHIYA TSUNODA / TAKU UNAMI - Wovenland 2 (Erstwhile Records 090-2, USA) Well-established sound artists/experimentalists Tsunoda and Unami regroup for a second volume in their Wovenland series, and the modus operandi behind both projects remains intact and aurally compelling. The blurred, indistinct, morphing hues adorning the digipak are in fact perfect analogs to the worlds the listener subsequently enters. Tsunoda has spent a lifetime being something of an audiological archaeologist, not to mention a skilled aural documentarian, recording not only throughout his native Japan but worldwide, his microphonic appropriations magnifying their source’s innate characteristics. Unami’s studies have tracked across similarly minimal terrain, though his sound sources have tended to arise from the more ’traditional’ aesthetics of guitar and laptop; nevertheless, it is important to note that he has resisted using such tools in anything remotely like a conventional manner, save some of his earliest guitar-based recordings. On this two-disc set, the duo get Cage-y indeed, yet to say that their maxim mirrors templates laid down by the 20th century’s foremost conceptualist and avant-gardist misses the bigger picture. For Tsunoda and Unami, the idea of ‘environmental music’ is meant to be felt in layers that are simultaneously literal and metaphorical. Cage has famously stated (and open to interpretation, no doubt) that all sound is music—embrace that idea’s very literal definition, however, and something of a vacuum between artist and listener can quickly arise, to the detriment of each party. As interactive experiences go, the very act of listening to audio works comprised of ‘field recordings’ takes a certain understanding, and remove, that can easily distance oneself from the academic confines the respective artists initiate; stripped from such objectives, the translation can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Tsunoda and Unami are too clever by half to allow such obfuscation to take place. Disc one, subtitled “Mad Patissier”, creates a thoroughly engrossing narrative from its opening cadre of drones clear across its eventual thrust of birdsong to a mysterious, haunted landscape of interruptive pulsations derived from a fireworks event pitchshifted and resampled beyond normal recognition. Disc two’s ten-track suite, nicked (ironically and humorously) “Speed Freak”, is anything but. Comprised of sensations and circumstantial sounds culled from a hiking trail, a fish market, more fireworks, crickets and a shipping port, unentangled from the methods Tsunoda and Unami utilize, the resulting collage expresses itself as a stunning tapestry of contemporary musique concrète, the likes of which '60s pioneering composers such as Bernard Parmegiani or other denizens of the INA-GRM school would have given their eye-teeth for. Acoustic and electronic boundaries dissipate, context becomes paramount, ‘madness' becomes method. Whether you forget the underlying principles informing their work and simply engage with the sounds on their most primitive level, or revel in the complex academia that provides their fundamental girth, it’s undeniable that Wovenland 2 bespeaks a veritable masterclass of auditory exhumation, two hours of simply glorious cinéma pour l’oreille. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
2 CD Set $24
CHOI JOONYONG / JIN SANGTAE - Hole In My Head (Erstwhile Records 089, USA) The glitch is back! Okay, it never really went away, more like receded into the background, or at least can be seen somewhat hovering at the fringes, adjoined to original imprints such as Raster-Noton or the likes of artists like Oval, all of whom retain vested interests in digital deconstructionism and exploring the granular properties of sound at its most discrete. By design—and design, as referring to an obvious statement of intent and deliberateness, realized with meticulous attention to detail—truly is the operative word here, where Joonyong and Sangtae, both longtime South Korean experimentalists with decades of such aural research, initialize an almost brutalist, though hugely vibrant, piece of sound art. “Music” this isn’t, at least not in the literal sense; if such hoary traditionalist notions of melody, harmony, and rhythm are what you require, look elsewhere. But anyone with ears bent at ninety-degree angles, antennae prostate, can wholly bask in the crisp minutiae and vivid architecture these two artists cleanly sculpt. Nine tracks, all of whose titles spell out the album’s name in reverse (does deeper meaning reside here? Or it is simply a clever jape, a puzzlebox whose pieces might or might not fully interlock?) reveal a veritable soundscape of noises frazzled, warped, handstruck, sampled, distorted, debriefed, and detached from their original moorings so Joonyong and Sangtae can create entirely new contexts with the ingredients. Spaces filled with pregnant pauses work to as much dramatic effect as the ennobled dispatches both artists yield from their respective modules. Noticeable affect is portrayed by whirring machineries, malfunctioning ‘bots, stuttering and mysterious mechanisms/mechanics, objects in distress, aberrant noises that interrupt the environment when the portraiture becomes too abstract, only to explode in a kaleidoscopic thrush of digital noir. What makes this recording even more compelling is that Joonyong and Sangtae, despite the silicon patina, engage their indigenous airs throughout, a sonic animé if you will, as if soundtracking a William Gibson multiverse was the most profound context for such a supernatural arrangement of ones and zeros. Cinematic cyberpunk writ large, ripe with stark tonalities and a true anamorphic sensibility exquisitely rendered by the attendant artists. Superb. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
GIACINTO SCELSI // SHIRA LEGMAN - Suite No. 9 / Quattro Illustrazioni / Un Adieu (Elsewhere 013; USA) “Israeli pianist Shira Legmann dedicates her second album for the elsewhere label (following her collaboration with composer Michael Pisaro, Barricades, 2019) to the Italian eccentric composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988). She explains her fascination with Scelsi music with “his unique syntax of musical phrases, and the freedom he allows for the pianist in shaping them. By using minimal thematic materials and small shifts of articulation, all in a free time-signature environment, Scelsi offers a platform for the pianist to play with gravity points, resulting in the internal logic of syntax and meaning”.
Legmann performs three compositions of Scelsi. These compositions derive from improvisations - as Scelsi saw himself as a medium who received musical messages while meditating and improvising. These diverse compositions were recorded live in Tel Aviv in 2014 and 2019, “where there is also an element of risk, surprise and spirit”. David Sylvian contributed the cover photograph, echoing the mystic and profound beauty of Scelsi's piano works.
The first composition is the nine-movements “Suite No.9” (1953), titled also as “Ttai”, after the eleventh hexagram of the ancient Chinese book of divination, I-Ching (“The little one goes, the big one comes. Heaven and Earth unite, the image of Peace”. John Cage also used this book for compositional decisions). Scelsi described this composition as "a succession of episodes which alternatively express time - or more precisely, time in motion and man as symbolized by cathedrals or monasteries, with the sound of the sacred 'Om'", and advised that this suite should be “listened to and played with the greatest inner calm. Nervous people stay away!”. Legmann captures beautifully the mystical and enigmatic world of Scelsi, himself a Zen Buddhist, including the recurring attempt to balance between emotional turmoil and poetic peacefulness.
The second composition, the four-movements “Quattro illustrazioni” (Four illustrations) (1953), is more dramatic and at times even chaotic, referring to the four illustrations of the metamorphoses of the Hindu deity Vishnu, as described in the Bhagavadgītā. Legmann enjoys exploring the ecstatic and sensual storms and the freedom to celebrate the full sonic spectrum of the piano. The last and short “Un Adieu” (1978/1988), considered as Scelsi’s last composition, is a meditative and melancholic piece, described by Lehmann as “a funeral march” where “the music asks the pianist to keep walking and not look back”.
Remarkable work.' - Eyal Hareuveni, FreeJazzBlog.org
JURG FREY - L’air L’instant - deux pianos (Elsewhere 014; USA) “Irrespective of the label it appears on—be it Elsewhere, Erstwhile, Edition Wandelweiser, Another Timbre or even Irritable Hedgehog—Jürg Frey's name on a recording long ago became a guarantee that it would be both interesting and enjoyable, whether he was credited as player, composer or both. Frey's second Elsewhere release l'air, l'instant—deux pianos is the latest example of this. On it, he is credited as composer and his music is played on two pianos by van Houdt and Boon. The hour-long album features two compositions written for two pianos, the seven-part "Toucher l'air (2019)," and "Entre les deux l'instant (2017-8)."
Right from the first notes of the album, it is clear that we are in very different territory to either of the albums above. The music bears the unmistakeable hallmark of Wandelweiser, Frey being a long-standing member. The stately pace and the spaces which allow every note to be clearly heard from beginning to end are as distinctive as fingerprints. The two pianists (Boon himself being a Wandelweiser member, of course) are ideally suited to the task of playing Frey's music and they do not disappoint, sounding totally tuned into each other's brainwaves and to Frey's intentions. Altogether, simply exquisite.” - John Eyles, AllAboutJazz.com
MELAINE DALIBERT - Infinte Ascent (Elsewhere 012; USA) “Of Elsewhere's first fourteen album releases, four feature French pianist and composer Melaine Dalibert, as do the label's first two download-only singles released in March 2020. On his previous release on the label, Anastassis Philippakopoulos: piano pieces, Dalibert was playing compositions by the Wandelweiser member named in the title, but on Infinite Ascent he has returned to playing his own compositions as he did on Musique Pour Le Lever Du Jour (Elsewhere, 2018) and Cheminant (Elsewhere, 2019). The contrasts between the music on his four Elsewhere albums serve to illustrate Daliberrt's versatility and the evolution of his playing and composing. Infinite Ascent—an evocative title conceived by David Sylvian, who also contributed the cover art—comprises eight pieces ranging in length from about one-minute-and-a-half to almost six minutes, thirty-four minutes altogether.
On his shift away from extended compositions such as the hour-long title piece of Musique Pour Le Lever Du Jour Dalibert has commented, "I wouldn't have thought it two years ago, but I started to step aside from my algorithmic systems to write very intuitive music, kind of pop-songs. It is surely a transient phase, but it seems to me to be necessary so as not to lock myself into certain procedures. It's very important for me to feel free to write outside of any academy or tradition." Compared to the spacious, deliberate, resounding music of the hour-long piece, these compositions are far fuller and brisker. While they may not match Dalibert's description "kind of pop-songs," it is easy to see his point as they are more up-tempo and melodic, maybe even "catchy." Interestingly, "Maelstrom" (YouTube below), one of the Dalibert singles, was recorded in December 2019 at the Infinite Ascent sessions but Melaine decided not to include it on the album as he thought it was a bit different from the other 'song-themed' pieces. However, despite the stylistic contrasts between different Melaine pieces, they are all part of the same rich tapestry.” - John Eyles, AllAboutJazz.Com
JOSHUA ABRAMS’ CLOUD SCRIPT with ARI BROWN / JEFF PARKER / GERALD CLEAVER - Cloud Script (Rogue Art 0107; France) Featuring Ari Brown on tenor sax, Jeff Parker on guitar, Joshua Abrams on double bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. OUTstanding! Only heard one track on-line, so far. Chicago bassist & composer, Joshua Abrams has been leading several bands simultaneously, the cosmic trance music of his Natural Information Society, as well as several different quartets with revolving personnel. For his new quartet, Mr. Abrams has organized a wonderful all-star quartet: Ari Brown on tenor sax, Jeff Parker on guitar and Gerald Cleaver on drums. No doubt that this new disc will be amongst this year’s best releases. My review soon. - BLG
BRAD LINDE with ANTHONY PIROG / ERIKA DOHI / NATHAN KAWALLER - Underwater Ghost (Bleebop Records 1911; USA) Featuring Brad Linde on tenor sax & most compositions, Anthony Pirog on electric guitar & effects, Erika Dohi on acoustic, Fender Rhodes electric & prepared piano and Nathan Kawaller on bass. When DC saxist/teacher, Brad Linde, played here at DMG a couple of years back, he left us with five discs from his own Bleebop label, each one different from the others. I just contacted (12/20) Mr. Linde to restock one of his older titles and asked if he had something new for us. He did, or course, and just sent us another five newer discs, three with his mentor, Ted Brown, and two others with different personnel. Aside from Mr. Linde, the only name I know well here is guitarist Anthony Pirog, who might just be the best prog/rock/jazz guitarist from the CD area in many years. Check out his work with Henry Kaiser, James Brandon Lewis and the Messthetics. The only other name here I recognize is pianist Erika Dohi who does appear on a previous disc by Mr. Linde. The music on this disc was recorded at two sessions in DC & Virginia in October of 2013 and December of 2014 and was not released until recently. Since there is no drummer here, it is the bassist who holds down the bottom end/rhythm. The song “Lines” opens and gets two versions,one as a trio with no piano and one as a quartet. This piece sounds like thoughtful, restrained chamber jazz. Although all three members play the opening and ongoing theme, the piece breaks into sparse sections. “Ted Sed” takes a line from a piece by Ted Brown (elder saxist & Linde’s mentor), and then adds some unexpected twists and turns around the theme, some quite dreamlike. Two pieces are collective improvisations and they are most extraordinary. “Year of the Ram” has Ms. Dohi playing inside the piano with some utensils with some mysterious results, while the sax and bass throb together around her. Linde varies the quartet combinations on “Boo (Ghost Opus One)”, while the contrabass, sax & piano play one theme while the guitar plays some tasty counterpoint. On the second version of “Lines”, Ms. Dohi takes an extraordinary solo before the chamber jazz quartet takes over. On “Gladly Beyond”, it is Mr. Linde’s lush tenor tone and sympathetic organic sounding contrabass that really sound superb at the center with sublime, spacious el. guitar and inside-the-piano ghosts that float in and out of the mix. My favorite piece here is called, “It’s Not About You” and it was written by Ms. Dohi. It features a most cerebral repeating line for the electric piano which sounds like it was written for an early Soft Machine record. While Mr. Linde plays an exquisitely warm tenor line for “This Nearly Was Mine” (Rogers & Hammerstein), as Mr. Pirog inserts some soft, suspense-filled fragments on the guitar. So nice to hear some thoughtful, focused chamber jazz with no drummer involved for a change of pace. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TED BROWN & BRAD LINDE with GARY VERSACE / AARON QUINN / DERIC DICKENS - Drifting on a Reed (Bleebop Records #2017; USA) Featuring Ted Brown & Brad Linde on tenor saxes, Aaron Quinn on guitar, Gary Versace on B3 organ and Deric Dickens on drums. Cool school saxist Ted Brown just turned 93 (!) earlier this month. I’ve known about Mr. Brown from his work with Lennie Tristano, Jimmy Raney, Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz. I recall catching him live in a group with Lee Konitz in the late seventies at a jazz club in north Jersey. A much younger saxist, Brad Linde, hails from the CD area and is a teacher, multi-bandleader and runs this, the Bleebop Records label. Mr. Linde played here at DMG a few years ago and left us with a handful of CD’s, all different and all well worth checking out. When I contacted Linde earlier this month to restock some older titles, he said that he had a bunch of newer titles and sent us five newer titles, three with his former teacher Ted Brown.
‘Drifting on a Reed’ was recorded live at the Jazz Gallery in NYC in February of 2020, right before the pandemic took over. Although Mr. Brown was 92 at the time, he had never recorded with an organ player. Two of the songs here were written by Mr. Brown, the rest are mostly bebop standards written by Charlie Parker, Lennie Tristano, Miles Davis and Lee Konitz. The opener is called “Watch Out!” (Ted Brown) and it does have a lovely, somber melody which invokes a sense of warm calm. Even better is “Blimey!”, which has an even more enchanting two tenor led theme. Both saxes and guitar all take inspired solos here. I love the way both tenors play together on “I Can’t Get Started”, slow and suave, blending together perfectly like a warm drink on a cold night. Then organ solo by Mr. Versace really stands out as well. Even better is the way the two tenors sound on a Bird rarity called, “Big Foot”, also known as “Drifting on a Reed”, their harmonies rich and thoughtful. “Kary’s Dance” (by Lee Konitz) closes this disc with a most endearing soft swinging groove with both saxes playing in a lush-toned grace. A most modest delight. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK SOLO - Pursuing the Ideal Limit of Inquiry (Evil Clown 9251, USA) Let’s face facts: Dave PEK’s recorded catalog is fast approaching the brobdingnagian proportions of Sun Ra or Frank Zappa (well not quite, but it’s getting there), and damn are we lucky to have him. He epitomizes the consummate artist: tirelessly performing (at least pre-pandemic), constantly recording, working his artistic mandate with a vigor and sense of purpose necessary to underscore the value of his life’s work, splaying his art out for those of us wishing to be fully engulfed by it. PEK is also a man hugely invested in simply creating sound, and though predominantly a reeds player, he’s more broadly an enthusiastic multi-instrumentalist who will grab whatever noisemaker’s fifes are in reach to externalize his far-reaching ideas. On this outing, he limits himself to his trusty tenor saxophone, adorned and swept into vast clouds of digital delay, a soloist accompanying himself on soaring, spiritual flights of fancy. Obvious comparisons abound —Coltrane’s howling into the wind, Ayler’s spiraling lattices, the strident honks and pockmarked landscapes of Steve Lacy and Evan Parker. PEK’s texture mapping freely acknowledges these influences with relish, but his methodology ultimately translates into something more searching, telling, and haunting. Solo sax recordings, especially those of similar vintage, can be rough going for many (and this one, like other Evil Clown missives, comprises a single hour-long expanse); it takes an artist with enormous facility and keen expressive savvy to hold even the most patient audience’s attention through a single sitting. PEK’s notes and sequences mimic the flow of alternating electrical current, or the endlessly reformatting swells of an immense ocean, where the music’s progressions take us on a deep emotional rollercoaster through the labyrinthine pathways of the artist’s muse and mind. Is PEK stating here that his ideal limit of inquiry is his attempt to dissect us at the psychic level, to probe deep into the spectrotemporal for those elusive mindstates that are only crystallized via sound? If so, he’s succeeded in spades. This is visceral, profound music every bit as vital as its predecessors’ and just as spellbinding. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
PALO ALTO - Difference and Repetition: A Musical Evocation Of Gilles Deleuze (Sub Rosa 484; Belgium) “Palo Alto's tenth album was born from two ambitions: to pay tribute to Soft Machine's Third (1970) on form (four sides/four titles) and to philosopher Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition is the title of his thesis) on the contents. The four long pieces of this double concept album were developed over two years and each has a different style and climate. Bold and kaleidoscopic, Difference and Repetition perfectly synthesizes the musical and literary obsessions of Palo Alto. Difference and Repetition features Richard Pinhas, Thierry Zaboitzeff (Art Zoyd), Alain Damasio, and Rhys Chatham.
Formed in Paris in 1989, Palo Alto released his first album (a cassette) on the Italian label Old Europa Cafe in 1990. The year 2020 is therefore an opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this first stone, the founder of a discography rich with ten albums. The band is now composed of Jacques Barbéri (also a science fiction author), Laurent Pernice (ex-member of the French industrial band Nox), and Philippe Perreaudin (also coordinator of several compilations and reissues: Legendary Pink Dots, Un Département, Nino Ferrer Revisited, Ptôse, Hardy Fox...) Literature, and particularly science fiction, is a leitmotiv in the band's work. Antoine Volodine, Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, Lewis Carroll, or J. G. Ballard have been invoked many times. In recent years, Palo Alto has multiplied musical collaborations with, among others, The Residents, Ptôse, Klimperei, Tuxedomoon... From industrial music to inextricable electronic ramifications, by making a detour through improvisation, the musical universe of Palo Alto is multifaceted. Their new album is no exception to this rule…”
SILK SAW - Nothing Is Finished / Everything Starts (Sub Rosa 486; Belgium) “Since the early '90s, the Belgian duo Silk Saw has pioneered nearly unclassifiable electronic music at the forefront of experimental and avant-garde. Their 12th album is a contiguous expansion of the universe created in Imaginary Landscapes, the previous album published on Kotä in 2015, blending sweet and bitter in languorous and enigmatic melodies that float on intriguing pounding polyrhythms. With the release of Nothing Is Finished / Everything Starts on Sub Rosa, Marc Medea and Gabriel Séverin are back home, since their very first trial, Musique du garrot et de la feraille -- under their strange "modern dada" alias, Jardin d'Usure -- was released in 1994 (followed by the first two Silk Saw albums from 1996 and 1997). Now more than ever, without compromise, the duo makes full use of complex tools like frequency modulation, granular and morphing synthesis. In an array of delightful to jarring surprises, a sinuous ballad will be troubled with remote blasts, or abruptly interrupted by a collapse of the base. While the tracks resonate fundamentally with a feeling of falling, failing, decay, the sleeve picture conveys that destruction is in fact where everything starts. Broken rhythmics, deliquescent soundscapes infiltrated in fragmented rooms and corridors... When the roughness of some deflagrations meets the accuracy of textures. Russell Haswell meets Autechre.
WOODY BIANCHI - Under The Influence Volume Eight: A Collection of Rare Boogie & Disco (Z Records 049; UK) ”Z Records continues its commitment to unearthing the obscure and long forgotten tracks from the last 40 years through the ever-popular Under The Influence series. Following on from Red Greg, Paul Phillips, James Glass, Nick The Record, Sean P, Faze Action, and Winston. It's now the turn of one of the Italy's most impressive collectors; Woody Bianchi. The story behind Z Records' Under The Influence series is this: being a seasoned record collector Z label boss Dave Lee/Joey Negro has made the acquaintance of many of the worlds other vinyl junkies. People that may be unknown to the general public but are hardcore enthusiasts who have built some of the best collections of soul, funk, and disco on the planet. The idea of UTI isn't solely about big name DJs compiling albums but to give a musical platform to those who have the knowledge to put together a track listing of killer tunes. Woody Bianchi is a prolific DJ, producer, remixer, and record collector. His international collaborations with Bob Sinclar, Todd Terry, Arthur Baker, Full Intention, Eric Kupper, Jocelyn Brown, Marshall Jefferson, and many others have created a remarkable profile for him. He has released over 300 productions worldwide and has toured side by side with many of the scenes greatest names. Here you have the pleasure of delving into his vast collection and plucking some of the rarest records out, with many of the tracks costing hundreds if you were actually able to find the originals. As always with ZR compilations a lot of time and effort has been spent on creating these masters from the original vinyl, cleaning them up, removing all the clicks and pops resulting in the cleanest sounding copy possible.
2 CD Set $17
KRAUT! TEIL 3 with EMBRYO / DZYAN / OCTOPUS / KRAAN / VOLKER KRIEGEL / et al - Die Innovativen Jahre des Krautrock 1968-1979 (Bear Family Records 17623; Germany) "Progressive Rock from Germany! Towards the end of the 1960s, German bands began their first attempts to emancipate themselves stylistically from their US and British role models. Prog rock and psychedelia from our country were initially smiled at internationally and disparagingly called 'Krautrock' by cult DJ John Peel, among others. Unorthodox formations could not be pigeonholed, and so a scene with a wide musical range was created. This third part is dedicated to the South of Germany and presents popular bands such as Embryo, Kraan, Volker Kriegel, Guru Guru next to Action, Dzyan, Sahara, or Octopus and Orange Peel. Mostly remastered from digital tape copies by Marcus Heumann without wasting the original sound. Compiled and commented on 112(!) pages by Burghard Rausch (DJ, vinyl collector, drummer, radio presenter/author and book editor). With the release of the first of a total of four issues, Bear Family marks another milestone on the way to a comprehensive documentation of the history of popular music in Germany from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. Smash! Boom! Bang! covers the complete history of Beat music in Germany on a total of 30 individual CDs; the CD documentation Für wen wir singen -- Liedermacher in Deutschland, consisting of four triple-CDs, describes the singer/songwriter scene with 274 individual songs, supplemented by the 10 CD box set Die Burg Waldeck Festivals 1964-1969. And finally, Aus grauer Städte Mauern - Die Neue Deutsche Welle 1997-1985, Bear Family's four-part double-CD series with popular and weird sound examples and a total of about 600(!) pages of accompanying text." Booklet is German language only.”
2 CD Set $30
MYTHOS - Berliner Schule Sequencing (Pilz 20202; Germany) “The legendary PILZ label released the first album of the Berlin-based electronic group Mythos in 1972. The current album, Berliner Schule Sequencing, is a brand-new production and the first new release on the PILZ label for 45 years. Mastermind Stephan Kaske presents the typical sound cascades and sequences of the Berlin School.”
THIRD WEEK OF THE ReR CD SALE, ALL Priced Recently Reduced.
Buy some truly Progressive Music to challenge yourselves.
BIOTA with MNEMONIST ORCHESTRA / MNEMONISTS: WILLIAM SHARP / et al] SUSANNE LEWIS / CHRIS CUTLER/ CHARLES VRTACEK / et al - Object Holder (ReR BCD4; UK) Stunning thorough worked piece that breaks new ground altogether; an extraordinary achievement, 3 years in the making and rewriting a lot of rules. Text and singing (Susanne Lewis, inimitably) Also features Charles Vrtacek (Piano), Andy Kredt (Guitar) and Chris Cutler (percussion, electrics, texts). A Dense, profound field of sound, music, silence.
EC NUDES with CHRIS CUTLER / AMY DENIO / WADI GYSI - Vanishing Point (ReRN1; UK) 'The (EC) Nudes were a trio that featured Wadi Gysi (Swiss) on guitar, Amy Denio (from the Tonedogs & the Tiptons) on bass, alto sax, accordion & vocals and Chris Cutler (Henry Cow & Art Bears) on drums, radio & electrics. Their one & only disc was released in 1994. The lyrics were written by (mainly) Chris Cutler or Amy Denio. This disc was mixed by the great Bob Drake who also added bits of violin & bass guitar. Both Ms. Denio and Mr. Cutler have had long careers in different types of progressive musics while Mr. Gysi has only appeared on a few records, including a duo with Hans Reichel. Right from the “Opening”, this music has an infectious, rocking quality which should a smile on your sour pus. Ms. Denio & Mr. Cutler make a great rhythm team while Mr. Gysi is a crafty electric guitarist. Besides being a great electric bassist, Ms. Denio is also a charming singer, as well as adding intricate sax and/or accordion to these consistently enchanting songs. Although Ms. Denio hails from Seattle, her singing and playing are influenced by a wealth of diverse interests. She has works with different prog bands, Eastern European pop bands (The Danubians) and even a Mexican death metal project. You can hear some of those influences bubbling within this superb disc. “It Might Be Better” sounds like punk-rock with some Zorn-like screaming sax on top. Chris Cutler, who also wrote the lyric for the Art Bears, is a gifted and ever-enigmatic poet/lyricist. If you take the time you will find several layers of meaning in his words. Somewhere in the land of prog/rock, you will find a number of great bands who rarely got the recognition they obviously deserved. The (EC) Nudes should be placed high on that list. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ISTVAN MARTHA - The Wind Rises (ReR SD1; UK) “The idea behind The Wind Rises was to take a recording studio into the Transylvanian countryside, and make an album "in the open air", a "Sound Diary" of village sounds, musicians, people and places. They transported the best Hungarian rock, jazz and classical musicians, and recorded them on location. It was all bound together with state of the art studio and production techniques. They produced one of the great albums of the decade, an epic which manages to work as an overwhelming fusion of rock, classical, ambient, industrial and folk styles. The album combines found sounds with mediaeval instruments, Industrial percussion, excerpts from an operetta as if performed by Laibach, startlingly aggressive cymbalon, a cast of thousands, the astonishing traditional singing of Marta Sebestyen, and guttural saxophones rising out of the mist. Some of the music was improvised on location, some scored for early music ensembles, rock bands and traditional instrumentalists. Especially featured are jazz saxophonist Lazlo Des, the Cymbalon player Kalman Balog, the Amadinda percussion ensemble, and the WYXimfonic orchestral group The whole piece is structured as a dream, which sucks you in to the ancient spiritual struggles of rural Hungarian life, and expands to take on national oppression, surrealism and post modernism.”
MNEMONIST ORCHESTRA - Gyromamcy (ReR MN2; UK) The MNEMONISTS are a legendary group of composers and artists from Fort Collins Colorado, who create ambiguous unsettling soundscapes. They have a bizarre working method, which perhaps explains their startlingly original sound. Starting off by recording a mainly acoustic ensemble playing live, they subject the resulting tapes to real-time processing, while simultaneously adding more live sounds. Layers and layers are then built up and assembled into the frightening sonic resonances that we hear on Gyromancy.
R. STEVIE MOORE - Phonography (ReR RSM1; UK) Phonography was Stevie s first LP release, and an out-of-the-blue masterpiece: terminally idiosyncratic but with all the compositional qualities of great pop. A gifted songwriter, R Stevie (son of Bob Moore, Elvis bassist) grew up and was steeped in Nashville s countrypolitanism; but, as a recidivist rebel, he inevitably slipped into strange byways, following his own, unique path into celebrated obscurity - as this strange and compelling record attests.
NEWS FROM BABEL with LINDSAY COOPER / CHRIS CUTLER / ZEENA PARKINS / DAGMAR KRAUSE - Work Resumed on the Tower (ReR NFB1; USA) "News from Babel was the song project inaugurated by Chris Cutler with fellow ex Henry Cow composer Lindsay Cooper. The pieces for this first LP were written for a band that also included Zeena Parkins (harp - her first recording with the instrument) and the incomparable Dagmar Krause (another ex-band member) singing. Using the studio as an instrument and experimenting with unusual instrumentation and techniques, these are songs stretched into a less than familiar shape. Phil Minton and Cow bassist Georgie Born also appear. Re-mastered and repackaged with full text and illustrations enclosed."
CD Sale $6
OSSATURA with TIM HODKINSON - Dentro (ReR O1; UK) Elio Martusciello (gtrs/samplers/pre-recorded materials), Maurizio Martusciello (electro-acoustic objects), Fabrizio Spera (drums/amplified objects/strings/tapes/ radio/electronics), Luca Venitucci (piano/synthesizer/drum machine/objects), Tim Hodgkinson. Improvisation represents the backbone of the music played by Italian group OSSATURA. Their music is marked by a sequence of sound blocks and diversified interlocking timbres and shapes, where detailed textural work alternates with rhythmic acellerations and highly dense sound events. Standard instrumental techniques are explored, together with heterodox practices such as manipulation, treatment, electrification and amplification of various objects, assuming noise as a structural element. OSSATURA naturally tends towards a combination of non-musical languages through a creative process where music is but one of the components in a complex and extended project. For Dentro, their first CD on ReR/Recommended, OSSATURA are joined by former Henry Cow man TIM HODGKINSON to produce an electro-acoustic collaboration that drummer Chris Cutler described as being: "Somewhere between musique-concrete and a kind of abstract improvisational work, using extended techniques and electrification that disconnects sound from any recognizable source. A fascinating first record that sits between studio improvisation and extensive post production processing composition."
ERIC GLICK RIEMAN / LESLI DALABA / STUART DEMPSTER - Lung Tree (ReR RDD; UK) ERIC GLICK RIEMAN writes for piano and for ensembles, and is celebrated for his development of the 'prepared and extended Rhodes piano. "Basically I cut a Rhodes electric piano into pieces and reassembled it, separating its outputs, adding contact mics to the general pickup structure to amplify very small sounds. Each event can be spatialized in stereo and electronically processed". He has also recorded with Fred Frith and Carla Kihlstedt, performed with Ikue Mori, Marcos Fernandes, Marcello Radulovich, Wadada Leo Smith and interpreted the work of Meredith Monk, Cecil Taylor, Alvin Curran, Pauline Oliveros and James Tenney under the composers' supervision. Trumpeter LESLI DALABA has worked with the New York Composers Orchestra, Eliot Sharp's Carbon, Fred Frith's Tense Serenity, Derek Bailey, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins Wayne Horvitz, LaMonteYoung and Eugene Chadbourne. Her most recent release, 'Timelines' (Tzadik), is an ambitious, musical rendering of 5 billion years of Earth's history in accurate, relative time. She practices acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Seattle. STUART DEMPSTER--Sound Gatherer--trombonist, composer and Professor Emeritus at University of Washington; has recorded for Columbia, Nonesuch, and New Albion. A leading figure in the development of trombone technique and performance, he published his landmark book 'The Modern Trombone' in 1979. He is a member of Cathedral Band and Deep Listening Band and has toured extensively. He produced the first three DLB recordings.”
JON ROSE - The Hyperstring Project (ReR JR6; UK) “A large scale work featuring extensive writing for string orchestras, and controlled Rosean chaos. Jon Rose is a master of improvising jazz violin, an inventor of complex interactive electronics, a humorist who likes to do everything you could imagine doing to a violin (and some things you couldn't imagine), and a creator of mad cut-up radio programmes. He also produces large-scale interactive concert performances; a recent project involved Jon and partner Hollis Tayler coaxing noise and music from mic'd up wire fences, in the Australian outback. This new CD from Rose, The People's Music, places him in a slightly more traditional field of composition, in which he is able to manipulate and choreograph a string orchestra, percussionists, a speaker, solo violin improvisations and video projections. It was recorded live in 2001, and is an extension of a previous Rose project, the extraordinary Violin Factory, which was premiered in Vienna in 1999. Jon talks about the inspiration behind these works: "I spent a lot of time looking through junk shops in Sydney buying the cheapest violins that little money could buy. I became aware that most of these instruments had been made in China (notably the Skylark models) and I started to imagine the factories full of massed labouring violin-makers, where these instruments were produced. Although the average professional western violin player found these instruments to be unplayable and (tone-wise) un-listenable to, I took the opposite view. With their shrill tone production, they sounded closer to the erhu (the traditional Chinese two -string violin) than to our model of beauty and perfection - the Strad. They were in effect, the sound of Asia, the new string sound of our century! The People's Music is part homage, part parody and part meditation on these themes. A string orchestra whisks through re-composed shards of the classical repertoire; a Red Guard factory guide barks instructions; a three-piece percussion ensemble from time to time intervenes destructively.”
SHORT BUT SWEET LP ONLY SECTION:
KEITH ROWE & MARK WASTELL - Live At I-And-E (Confront Recordings 002; UK) “Last remaining copies RSD 2020 release. Long anticipated vinyl reissue of a concert that took place at the I-and-E Festival at Trinity College, Dublin in 2006 by Keith Rowe (legendary AMM guitarist and one of the founding fathers of European improvised music) and Mark Wastell (pivotal London based experimentalist). The duo had formed the previous year for a show at ErstQuake Festival in New York and this was to be their second, and only, other performance together. Fully remastered. Cover art by David Sylvian. White vinyl.
"Keith Rowe and Mark Wastell -- This last performance balanced the evening well. Louder, more gestural, bringing the evening to a climax in two ways -- the temporal one and also by taking the audience on a long journey to the satisfactory end of the piece -- more musically referential towards the end especially as Rowe dropped in a distinct seesawing 6/4 rhythm. Theme and statement and variations... all here but not under the figure of traditional moves. But the strategies are very much the same. They just require a shift in the mode of listening." - Rod Warner
SPIRAL WAVE NOMADS - First Encounters (Feeding Tube Records 577; USA) "Paradoxically, the second LP by Spiral Wave Nomads documents the first time Albany-based guitarist Eric Hardiman and New Haven-based drummer Michael Kiefer attempted to play as two humans inhabiting the same locus inside the time/space continuum. The pair had been trading files and music for a good while. Their eponymous debut LP (FTR 455) was produced remotely and released too much rapture in May 2019. But they had never actually played together until later in that summer. First Encounters is raw documentation of what happened when they walked into the studio at Eric's, house, set up and let the music flow. Very much in the same headspace as their debut, the improvisations here combine sinewy, SCG-informed guitar lines with cymbal-rich percussion that moves in laterally jazzoid patterns. But that's not all of it. Other parts make me think of a stripped-down version of Feelies (during their brief mostly-instrumental phase in the early '80s) jumping deep into psych improvisation. In other spots I'm put in mind of tapes I've been hearing of '60s Bay Area guitarists getting themselves into 'trouble' while playing on acid. There are these moments where the guitarist (Garcia, Cipollina, Kaukonen, etc.) realizes they've hit a wall, and they either back down or they decide to take the wall apart. In the latter instances the players become de facto avant-gardists, since the deconstruction process is so different from their standard practices. Anyway, there's some of that here as well. Although given Hardiman's deep experimental roots, his moves are presumably a more conscious decision to go 'out.' The upshot is that the four tracks on First Encounters are wonderfully explosive, difficult to predict and utterly mind-melting. Just the thing to soak in during what looks to be a hard-ass winter. Spiral Wave Nomads' music reminds us that spring will eventually blossom again." - Byron Coley, 2020
GIL SCOTT-HERON & HIS AMNESIA EXPRESS - Summer '86 (Trading Places 54024; UK) "Gil Scott-Heron was one of the foremost singer-songwriters of his generation. A committed civil rights activist that also wrote a couple of unusual novels exploring negative elements of the black experience and the punitive societal attitude against black people in the United States, Scott-Heron recorded an exceptional body of work during the 1970s and '80s, and although longstanding issues with drug addiction resulted in repeated bouts of imprisonment and an ultimately shortened lifespan, he continued to produce noteworthy material into the new millennium. Anyone that had the pleasure of seeing Scott-Heron and His Amnesia Express band during the mid-1980s is unlikely to forget it; percussionist Larry McDonald, drummer Rodney Young, saxophonist Ron Holloway, and backing vocalist/keyboardist Kim Jordan provide a full yet uncluttered backdrop to the man and his piano, as evidenced by these stunning excerpts from the summer 1986 tour, with "Winter In America", "Johannesburg", "Blue Collar", and "Shut 'Em Down" being among the standouts. Licensed by Prestige. 180 gram black vinyl.
MAGGOT BRAIN - Maggot Brain #3 [Dec/Jan/Feb 2021](Maggot Brain Magazine; USA) "We're back with ink on paper and stoked to bring you a Super-Packed special issue of our arts and music quarterly Maggot Brain! For our cover story, we dive into the genesis and continued import of our namesake, with a lengthy feature by Detroit music journalist Ana Gavrilovska on the mind-melting fifty-year-old Funkadelic masterpiece Maggot Brain. We also have rare photos of the White Stripes live at Paychecks Lounge in Hamtramck Michigan from 1999 by noted photographer Doug Coombe. There's a mini-roundtable discussion on gay rights pioneer Morris Knight and San Francisco's brilliant hippie queer activist pranksters the Cockettes and the must-see pages with Rachel Leah Gallo's eight-page bio-comic on the delightful and obscure kitchen-folk singer Connie Converse. Includes: Jessica Beard's vital, personal yet succinct piece on accountability and community in the music scene; RJ Smith dives deep on Fortune Records in a review of the Mind Over Matter book; Murat Cem Mengüç documents the impromptu art show that sprung up around the White House at the start of the Black Lives Matter movement; Andy Beta on Brazilian composer, anthropologist, and musician Priscilla Ermel's gorgeous work; Instagram sensation Tara Booth in an intimate interview with Amy Gillfeather; Joshua James Amberson goes deep on poet Lydia Tomkiw and her stunning new wave band Algebra Suicide; Michael Gonzales on 1990s neo-soul singer Ephraim Lewis; Robert Gordon on Memphis' primitivist aesthete Tav Falco -- an excerpt from the final chapter to It Came From Memphis."
ATTENTION ALL CREATIVE MUSICIANS OUT THERE, Around the world.
If you have a link, for some music that you are working on and want to share it with the folks who read the DMG Newsletter, please send the link to DMG at DMG@Downtownmusicgallery.com. Many of us are going stir crazy staying at home so if you want to inspire us and help us get through these difficult times, please show us what you got. I listed some these last week but have also a few more.
MORE THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU ARE WAITING AROUND FOR THE WORLD TO END OR GET BETTER: STILL STIR CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!
THIS IS FROM MY GOOD FRIEND JESSICA HALLOCK,
This is from Jessica Hallock, please do check it out, there is so much to explore here and I know some of you are bored and need some inspiration/distraction:
Livestreams are obviously no replacement for live shows, but they're all the community we have right now––so experimental music calendar NYC-Noise.com now provides links to livestreams (with artist / curator donation info); a roundup of local musicians' releases; COVID-19-related resources, including links to grants, petitions, & a local venue donation list; & an Instagram account (@NYC_Noise) promoting artists and releases. Please let me know about your livestreams &/or new records at www.nyc-noise.com/submit.
“Violin Vigil for Elijah McClain” - featuring CHARLIE BURNHAM & FRED CASH
THIS COMES from PETE SEWARD,
One of my oldest & dearest friends whom I met at the Knitting Factory in the late 1980’s. Artist, t-shirt designer occasional promoter in Lake Placid, NY
This past summer we (Pete & his wife Karen) actually hosted a live music event, a Violin Vigil for Elijah McClain, featuring Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash, and also Charlie leading a Community String-along. This event was personally meaningful for me, as I had been wanting to present and feature Charlie as a singer and leader. He chose to bring electric bass player Fred Cash. It was also a collaboration with my wife Karen Davidson's Memorial Field for Black Lives, a project of John Brown Lives! at the John Brown Farm and gravesite in Lake Placid, NY. This event happened on the anniversary of McClain's death.
The sequence of the video:
* Community String-along "Let my People Go"
* Jeri Zempel - Eulogy for Elijah, his last words
* Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash "Love is in Need of Love Today" (S.Wonder)
* Community String-along "Will Will Overcome"
* Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash "In America" (C.Burnham)
THIS ONE COMES from PAUL DUNMALL, British Saxophone Colossus!!!
I haven't done any gigs since March but I have a done a couple of recordings so if your interested there's a video of one below which goes on line 7.45pm November 26th it was organised by TDE promotions/Fizzle may you all stay well. - Paul
Here's the link: https://youtu.be/GjbY7tTeH7k
THIS COMES FROM JOURNALIST & AUTHOR OF THE ESP BOOK, JASON WEISS:
The French saxophonist Etienne Brunet (studied with Lacy a bit in the ‘70s, & in fact it’s thanks to him that Saravah put out Lacy’s Scratching the Seventies, which he edited; later played with various people like Jacques Oger, Jac Berrocal, Fred Van Hove). So, if maybe you’re inclined this time to list it in your newsletter, Etienne has just posted a duo set, “Wifi Long Distance Call” (39 min.), Etienne on bass clarinet, with percussionist Shyamal Maitra, mostly on tabla.
THIS COMES from KEVIN REILLY AT RELATIVE PITCH RECORDS:
MATTHEW WRIGHT // EVAN PARKER / MARK NAUSEEF / TOMA GOUBAND - Matthew Wright’s Locked Hybrids (Relative Pitch; USA) “I’m sending a head's up for tomorrow's release of Matthew Wright's Locked Hybrids. It's the first digital-only release for the label. It was assembled in Wright's studio during the lockdown and made entirely from samples of Evan Parker, Toma Gouband and Mark Nauseef collected during a 2018 recording at Arco Barco in Ramsgate, UK. Using a mixture of software editing and Wright's own brand of improvised mixing with turntables and laptops, the resultant music is a blend of experimental hip hop, sonic art, improvisation and digital composition. The release will coincide with a new Locked Hybrids commission for hcmf// that will stream from the festival website (https://hcmf.co.uk/) on the weekend of 20th-22nd November. Excerpts from the RP release will also feature on the UKs BBC Radio 3 New Music Show during that weekend.
Download Only Release at https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/album/locked-hybrids
THIS IS FROM GUITAR MASTER HENRY KAISER:
once in a while they are historical old thangs from my video archive and I will be doing more collaborations with other improvisors. I plan to keep this up until there are live gigs again so there will likely be a lot more of these best, Henry
From INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY:
Every Week for the entirety of this pandemic/lockdown INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY have been posting a new duo offering. I have listened to every one of these as they were sent out and am much impressed by the way this duo continues to evolve and work their way through many ideas. You can check out each one here:
FROM SAXIST, COMPOSER & MULTI-BANDLEADER, JEFF LEDERER:
2020 Year-end Newsletter
(it's over, thank goodness...)
In a last minute edit to this newsletter, I have to start by acknowledging the sudden loss yesterday of the great musical spirit and friend to so many of us, Frank Kimbrough- Frank was a musician whose ears and heart were wide open - he made good things happen, and he will be terribly missed. Yeah, this year sucked, by all standards, especially the terrible impact of Covid, a political climate that challenged everything we thought we knew about our country and ourselves and the sudden pause of all of our live performance activities as artists. But still, there were little bright moments, and we hope for more brighter moments to come for all of us in 2021. Looking ahead, here are three new recordings to look for in 2021 - The music will come back for all of us when the world is healthy, and we are looking forward to welcoming a more compassionate, equitable, just and peaceful world!! If you are interested you can read more of my year-end musings in the latest blog entry "2020-Out There" on the little (i) site. Until then, hang in there, stay healthy and safe, and take care of each other!! - yours in simplicity, Led.
Check out his website: