Urs Leimgruber & Jean-Marc Foussat – Face To Face

(Fou) Having read nothing on the origin of this double CD before listening to it, I was amazed to learn that the two sets in Face To Face represent the first encounters between Urs Leimgruber (soprano and tenor sax) and Jean-Marc Foussat (AKS synthesizer, voice). The conceptual coherence emanating from the vivid acoustic abstractionism of these improvisations suggests a long-standing collaboration. Whatever one wants to think, though, the duo provides us with high-level music in terms of on-the-spot imagery and intellectual response to what is heard. Both in “Rive De Réves” and “Luxerna”, respectively taped in Zürich and Lucerne, Leimgruber and Foussat … Continue reading Urs Leimgruber & Jean-Marc Foussat – Face To Face

Shira Legmann / Michael Pisaro – Barricades

(Elsewhere) If one listens to the piece from 1717 that indirectly originates this composition by Michael Pisaro — namely, “Les Barricades Mystérieuses” by François Couperin — the connection between the two entities may appear hard to fathom, at least in terms of pitch distribution. Still, compositional ideas often germinate thanks to a sympathetic intermediary: in this case pianist Shira Legmann, whose passion for Couperin inspired Pisaro in the creation of thirteen studies for piano and electronics, the latter also utilized exclusively in a pair of additional interludes. In order to absorb its resonant essence the recording should ideally be listened … Continue reading Shira Legmann / Michael Pisaro – Barricades

Burkhard Beins / Mazen Kerbaj / Michael Vorfeld – Sawt Out

(Herbal International) Comes a time when one learns to find a place inside the textural accumulation of an intense improvisation, in body and spirit, while relinquishing any judging intent. Seeking a connection at the deeper levels of psychoacoustic transfiguration corresponds to becoming the phenomenon itself. For that, we need instrumentalists whose experience overcomes the emission/consequence polarity. Musicians capable of remolding the acoustic matter on the spot, mashing the resulting substance to an “unrecognizable source” extent, drawing tangible abstraction from a clairvoyant instinct. Two percussionists (Beins and Vorfeld) and a trumpet (Kerbaj) look to redefine the boundaries of timbral evolution across … Continue reading Burkhard Beins / Mazen Kerbaj / Michael Vorfeld – Sawt Out

Milo Fine / Joseph Damman – Acceptance Of Sorrow

(Aural Terrains) I will not lie, this review had a problematic gestation. Numberless components of Acceptance Of Sorrow categorically reject a sheer description; sometimes, even a simple analysis. On the other hand, the uncontaminated springs of an original such as Milo Fine cause this sort of problem to ears frequently polluted by formulaic pronouncements. The Minneapolis maverick’s insight, shared by this writer for a long time now, yet still full of unanticipated twists and turns, is not limited to mere musical indications. It encompasses varied existential layers, profound reflections synthesized in sounds as temperamental as impossible to encode. Fine’s nonconformist … Continue reading Milo Fine / Joseph Damman – Acceptance Of Sorrow

Bruce Ackley / Fred Frith / Henry Kaiser / Aram Shelton – Unexpected Twins

(Relative Pitch) When celebrated musicians reunite — as in this session from 2016 — it’s often difficult to elaborate about the conclave’s outcome. For the circumstance Bruce Ackley (of ROVA renown), Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser were joined by younger and equally gifted Aram Shelton in a meeting of two saxophonists (alto and soprano) and two guitarists (acoustic and electric, Frith doubling at the piano on occasion). The unusual orchestration, however, does not appear to overly influence the mutable palette of Unexpected Twins, occasionally rendered a little “crazier” by Kaiser’s trademark exploitation of bizarre guitar effects. The record’s title and … Continue reading Bruce Ackley / Fred Frith / Henry Kaiser / Aram Shelton – Unexpected Twins

Ferran Fages – Detuning Series For Guitar

(Edition Wandelweiser) Generally speaking, children do not appreciate quietness, doing everything in their power to break it with screams and noises. However, try and put a guitar in a room with a lone child. Nine times out of ten, the puppy’s hand will start plucking the strings with increasing energy in utter absorption, making them resonate in the silence. In such moments a future is often traced, depending on the vibrational impact inside that still-developing human being. Just reflections while playing this disc, which comprises five tracks for paired electric guitars. Conceived in 2016, the pieces were revised two years … Continue reading Ferran Fages – Detuning Series For Guitar

Szilárd Mezei Túl A Tiszán Innen Ensemble – Citromfa

(FMR) Artists keeping their output’s level consistently high despite a release schedule of an album per week or so are extremely rare. Violist and composer Szilárd Mezei is one of them, as evidenced by the large quantities of creative brightness characterizing the man’s multifarious projects. I honestly can’t recall a Mezei recording that didn’t stir my interest, but with Citromfa there’s an added degree of somewhat melancholic admiration of ancient East-European sounds and memories communicating more to this reviewer than those linked to his own birthplace, which is artistically weak (in spite of smart political facades) and desperately uninterested in … Continue reading Szilárd Mezei Túl A Tiszán Innen Ensemble – Citromfa

Jim Denley / Eric Normand – Plant II

(Tour De Bras) Jim Denley (flute, alto sax, objects) and Tour de Bras label honcho Éric Normand (electric bass, objects) do not believe in mere descriptions or pseudo-philosophical explanations to justify an improvisation. Released one year after a first collection of duets (Plant, on Smeraldina-Rima), Plant II offers five joint studies in the dissection and/or enhancement of the humming + buzzing + rattling + squealing properties of mechanisms set in motion via unorthodox tampering. Let’s be clear from the start: the respect of predetermined “aesthetic laws” — possibly tending to an immediate agreement with someone’s ears — is not a … Continue reading Jim Denley / Eric Normand – Plant II

Simon Nabatov / Barry Guy / Gerry Hemingway – Luminous

(NoBusiness) I am thinking of the responsibilities of an accomplished improviser. An inborn ability of handling an infinitude of acoustic circumstances to synthesize the “feel of the instantaneous” while still respecting a series of norms; social norms, if you will. The necessity of keeping the ego in check; sensibly understanding when restraint is preferable to emphasis; and, in that regard, the development of a high-yielding intercommunication with equally gifted performers. To all of the above, add the obvious need of involving an eager audience in what’s being expressed; or, in the worst case scenario (not infrequent in large-scale jazz festivals), … Continue reading Simon Nabatov / Barry Guy / Gerry Hemingway – Luminous

Rutger Zuydervelt – Sileen II

(Edition Wandelweiser) Sometimes the coincidences in one’s life appear so precisely charted to become momentous events that it’s hard to think of them as the ramifications of stochastic processes as they actually are. Take for example Sileen II, a work that acquired a completely different shape and complexion in the studio version as opposed to its genesis in 2016, fully orchestral and therefore influenced by the individual predispositions and physical strengths/weaknesses of the involved players (the whole story is narrated by the composer in the liners). Whereas the fruit of the original commission was a collective texture born from the … Continue reading Rutger Zuydervelt – Sileen II

Rene Lussier – Quintette

(Circum-Disc) The unyielding excellence of René Lussier’s output over several decades causes a lot of head scratching to this reviewer; in fact, the feeling here is that the Quebecoise composer, guitarist and daxophone virtuoso is still criminally underrated. A founding member of the equally unsung Conventum, one of the finest ever groups of RIO rootage, the man has been releasing rather extraordinary records such as Le Corps De L’Ouvrage and, especially, Le Trésor De La Langue. Add the partnerships with Fred Frith, Jean Derome, Robert Lepage, Chris Cutler, Tom Cora, Gilles Gobeil to mention just a handful. In spite of … Continue reading Rene Lussier – Quintette

Peter Evans / Weasel Walter – Poisonous

(ugEXPLODE) In a support video for this album, Peter Evans and Weasel Walter synthesize the genesis of each track via an amusing narration by a computerized voice, theoretically (and sarcastically) beneficial for “the many illiterate new-music fans”. This delivers a reviewer from the risk of falling into the trap of minute-by-minute chronicling which, in this case, would trigger a genuine nervous wreck. There are just too many shocks in Poisonous to single out, several of them unthinkable before the mandatory acceptance. An audience’s evolution is not inexpensive. Let’s talk of the studio work. After three hours spent playing their guts … Continue reading Peter Evans / Weasel Walter – Poisonous

Joe Morris / Do Yeon Kim – Macrocosm

(Glacial Erratic) While most everybody is aware of Joe Morris’ personality and collaborative researching, Do Yeon Kim’s name may not sound familiar. She is a young virtuoso of the gayageum: a stringed instrument to be played in a sitting position, its timbral character akin to that of guzheng, komungo and others less diffused wooden machines from Asia. As the first gayageum player to be admitted at New England Conservatory, Kim became active in contemporary improvisation under the auspices of Hankus Netsky, Anthony Coleman and Morris himself. The five tracks of Macrocosm encompass a whole gamut of techniques, colors and velocities. … Continue reading Joe Morris / Do Yeon Kim – Macrocosm

Paul Rogers / Olaf Rupp / Frank Paul Schubert – Three Stories About Rain, Sunlight And The Hidden Soil

(Relative Pitch) Considering the superabundant offer in today’s improvisation, we frequently find ourselves in the condition of evaluating textural/environmental settings whose content can be hard to decode without putting in the necessary work. Given that brains operate at different speeds, a whimper of “exclusively for musicians” usually comes from individuals refusing a deeper investigation of unsympathetic expressive forms. This rings especially true when the momentousness of an acoustic contingency equals the clangor of (apparent) mayhem. In this superbly titled effort, bassist Paul Rogers, guitarist Olaf Rupp and saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert introduce several crucial issues in that sense. In an … Continue reading Paul Rogers / Olaf Rupp / Frank Paul Schubert – Three Stories About Rain, Sunlight And The Hidden Soil

Günter Müller / Kurt Liedwart / Norbert Möslang – Ground

(Mikroton) Mikroton’s releases have been repeatedly pleasuring these ears, the artistic consistency virtually negating any chance of a less than satisfactory experience. On the other hand, it just takes a look at the label’s roster to realize that, in terms of impressiveness, a faux pas is unlikely. Ground is a fine example of Kurt Liedwart’s penchant for publishing material that responds to the strictest demands of exploratory profoundness. His electronic devices, in conjunction with Günter Müller’s iPods and Norbert Möslang’s marvelously defective circuits, reveal the nature of electro-acoustic investigations which contradict any risible speculation related to theoretical “harmonic laws” in … Continue reading Günter Müller / Kurt Liedwart / Norbert Möslang – Ground

Jason Alder / Thanos Chrysakis / Caroline Kraabel / Yoni Silver – Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics

(Aural Terrains) I look back smiling at my initial correspondence with Thanos Chrysakis: a polite swapping of points of view in regard to an earlier Aural Terrains release I had not found entirely fulfilling at the time. Over the next ten years or so, the imprint has established itself as a “silently serious” repository of sonic inspections, frequently involving Chrysakis with esteemed representatives of diverse areas of improvisation. In this particular symposium the label honcho operates a laptop plus synthesizers, whereas his cohorts furnish the music with the strictly physical pneuma. The exact subdivision of the remaining roles reads: Jason … Continue reading Jason Alder / Thanos Chrysakis / Caroline Kraabel / Yoni Silver – Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics

Szilard Mezei Septet – Véres Páncél

(FMR) No more doubts by now: when Szilárd Mezei writes for small ensemble he means business, although his output persistently conveys lucid versatility, analytic consciousness and sheer poignancy via alternative orchestral organizations. The Septet was formed circa 15 years ago; this embodiment — captured live in Serbia, April 2018 — highlights the talents of Bogdan Ranković (alto sax, bass clarinet), Branislav Aksin (trombone), Máté Pozsár (piano), Ivan Burka (vibraphone), Ervin Malina (double bass) and István Csík (drums). Plus, of course, the leader’s articulate viola imbued with microtonal pathos. The set includes eleven tracks, some of them renditions of pieces from … Continue reading Szilard Mezei Septet – Véres Páncél

Samuel Blaser Trio – Taktlos Zurich 2017

(hatOLOGY) Born in 2013, the trio of trombonist Samuel Blaser, guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Peter Bruun is finally on record after five years of committed live activities. That this concert actually happened was in itself a noteworthy event, Blaser having undergone a bicycle accident three days prior that left him with a broken rib. There’s no stopping the flow of a focused improviser, though; thus, the four tracks of Taktlos Zürich 2017 confirm the old Albert Ayler axiom according to which music is a universal healing force. Slowly but steadily, the trombone has gained a reputation in the improvising … Continue reading Samuel Blaser Trio – Taktlos Zurich 2017

North Of North (Pateras / Tinkler / Veltheim) – North Of North

(Offcompass) Three exacting improvisations by Anthony Pateras (piano), Erkki Veltheim (violin) and Scott Tinkler (trumpet). This reviewer’s conversancy with Pateras’ creative expression is sufficiently established; after having treasured Veltheim’s input in their mesmerizing duo The Slow Creep Of Convenience (Immediata, 2017), the missing link of knowledge here was Tinkler’s modus operandi. I’m now glad to have met an accomplished trumpeter, his CV including important collaborations both in jazz and classical ambits. This is the first release by Offcompass, a label founded by this very trio; all the track titles refer to the recording location, Melbourne’s Church of All Nations. In … Continue reading North Of North (Pateras / Tinkler / Veltheim) – North Of North

Martin Archer & Engine Room Favourites – Safety Signal From A Target Town

(Discus) I dream of a life without the obligation of labeling a record. A place where the parallelism of compositional attributes simply warrants pure delectation and implicit comprehension. If this world truly existed, Martin Archer’s tireless work would symbolize the necessity of forgetting about roots and derivations to better relish the fruits of sensible orchestral choices, in turn initiating terrific contrapuntal instances. Saying this might sound peculiar as the leader himself cites essential influences on his creations, especially AACM and British jazz with progressive tendencies; music that — in Archer’s very words — combines “considered spaciousness and white heat improvisation”. … Continue reading Martin Archer & Engine Room Favourites – Safety Signal From A Target Town

Jin Sangtae & Tim Olive – Naar/Voor

(845 Audio) In a conceptual setting recalling the legendary “cracked everyday objects” microcosm of Andy Guhl and Norbert Möslang’s Voice Crack (what a fantastic duo, by the way), Jin Sangtae and Tim Olive make the most of recycled pieces of quotidian technology. They highlight the substance of what usually remains unheard, and which may contain the germs of intuition of an invisible totality that is more relevant than expected. Sangtae connects cables to salvaged hard drives, bringing to (disorderly) life the barely perceptible interferences typical of computer-induced brainlessness. Olive — an erstwhile virtuoso of electrically enhanced one or two-stringed self-mades … Continue reading Jin Sangtae & Tim Olive – Naar/Voor

Veryan Weston – The Make Project

(Barnyard Records) Among several notable intuitions, pianist and composer Veryan Weston has been working for decades on the concept of tessellation. To quote from his website, “visual interlocking symmetries and geometric shapes are transferred to the audible world of pitches, rhythm and counterpoint, with the spirit and energy of jazz, improvisation and folk music always at the heart of the performance“. Nothing rings truer after having lent our ears to this brilliant album, in which Weston presents the newest version of an existing work with the help of vocal conductor Christine Duncan and drummer Jean Martin. Other musicians involved are … Continue reading Veryan Weston – The Make Project

Steve Swell – Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen

(Silkheart) On a first glance at the title we’re automatically reminded of a milestone of minimalism by another famous Steve; but there is nothing in this work by Steve Swell that can be reported on as “minimalist”. Rightly applauded as a virtuoso trombonist, the man is also a discerning composer, this CD fully supporting our assumption. Picking Olivier Messiaen as the subject of a tribute is in itself a brave move; assembling a quintet of top-notch instrumentalists to concretize the sterling configurations and the spontaneous germinations implied by a partially notated score might even represent a danger, all the more … Continue reading Steve Swell – Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen

Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended

(hatOLOGY) Clarinettist Eichenberger and double bassist Studer have been operating in tandem for over eight years after having attended more populated assemblies since the late 90s. Suspended is an affidavit of the solidity of their joint sharpness, an album consisting of seven improvisations defined by sometimes strange titles (“Walking Harshly”, “Glancing Loudly”) yet distinguished by the qualities that separate the practitioners of serious acoustic craft from the self-publicists who categorize the act of drooling into a tube or swatting flies off a string instrument as “art”. The aforementioned qualities can be encapsulated in two words: concreteness and reactivity. In the … Continue reading Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended

Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Miguel Mira – Mikrographía

(Creative Sources) The extremely short duration — less than 19 minutes — classifies Mikrographía as an EP. However, such a restricted temporal frame is inversely proportional to the interplay’s quality, made explicit across three tracks of mysterious counterpoints bathing in relatively ambiguous resonance. Aside from Chrysakis’ piano — obviously more identifiable than the rest of the palette and, in a way, dictating the extemporaneous harmonic paths of the spontaneous fluxes — the overall dynamics follow the rules of a hide-and-seek game of sorts. Think an evacuated neighborhood enshrouded by grayness, but occasionally illuminated by entrancing oblique lights. When the Rodrigueses … Continue reading Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Miguel Mira – Mikrographía

David Area / Tomás Gris / Ernesto Rodrigues – Chorismos

(Creative Sources) I’ll spare the title’s philosophical implications for another occasion, and get straight to the point. Creative Sources was among the first imprints to present works by artists honestly willing to travel the no man’s land separating sound from silence. For this, Ernesto Rodrigues’ label is respected by this reviewer in spite of the latter’s repudiation of similarly oriented music in recent years. I have spoken at length on the insincerity of certain assumed milestones — in reality, forgettable albums — by composers and/or improvisers who fabricated a trend for exploitable audiences (and, not infrequently, built rewarding careers on … Continue reading David Area / Tomás Gris / Ernesto Rodrigues – Chorismos

Jean Derome – Résistances

(Ambiances Magnétiques) When it comes to naming names in the all-encompassing landscape of contemporary music, Jean Derome’s eminence remains relatively unquoted amidst the sacred cows of the last decades. A first-class reedist and composer, he’s indelibly associated with René Lussier — specifically, in the duo Les Granules — beyond significant proprietary works (random memory selection: 1988’s Confitures de Gagaku, on Victo). Derome has shown time and again that his idiosyncratic creativity, compositional skill and ability to put a theory into artistically fructiferous practice are second to none. In its clever mix of conceptual consistency and stimulating interplay, Résistances clearly explains … Continue reading Jean Derome – Résistances

The Remote Viewers – Last Man In Europe

(Remote Viewers) The Remote Viewers might include throat-cutting improvised sections amidst notated scores, or emit toneless murmurs during long stretches of suspension. Nonetheless, two words that perfectly identify their music are “order” and “intelligibility”. Perhaps I’m slightly influenced by the public image projected by the press pictures showing them neatly attired. However, the sense of lucidity conveyed by a recording like this is not questionable. Following a series of changes in the lineup for the preceding chapters, Last Man In Europe is a trio for two saxophones (Dave Petts and Adrian Northover) and double bass (John Edwards). This reduced version … Continue reading The Remote Viewers – Last Man In Europe

Udo Schindler – Botenstoffe

(Confront) German reedist Udo Schindler was not born for acridness and collision. The owner of a transparent “inner tone” transferred on different species of saxophone and clarinet, Schindler is a firm flag-bearer of that area of improvisation where “balance” is the first commandment. Not exclusively in terms of acoustic weight and artistic relationship; what is looked for is an ideal equality of the existing gradations to be achieved — almost at the molecular level — through a precisely defined emission. This constitutes the starting point of a series of delicate questions to which only a committed player can answer; the … Continue reading Udo Schindler – Botenstoffe

Hans Reichel – Bonobo

(Corbett vs Dempsey) In 1987 or so a much younger embodiment of this disgruntled writer entered the Recommended Records headquarters in London’s Wandsworth Road. Among several rare items he was desperately searching for a copy of Hans Reichel’s Bonobo Beach, at that time practically impossible to score on the Italian territory. The man’s work had been discovered years earlier on Fred Frith’s Guitar Solos compilation, the beginning of an endless love for this overly humble artist. A talented improviser, Reichel was also a builder of nearly utopian tools for self-expression; in addition to innumerable bionic guitars he created the dachsophone … Continue reading Hans Reichel – Bonobo

Daunik Lazro / Jean-Luc Cappozzo / Didier Lasserre – Garden(s)

(Ayler) Beyond any commonplace, “freedom” — especially for drilled musicians endowed with sympathetic aesthesia — represents a possibility of probing tradition and newness through the use of detailed construction in symbiosis with the removal of predigested concepts. Even more frequently, an instrumental unit mixes all those components; that’s when things can get interesting — or plain horrible. How many albums of reinterpreted standards smelling of stale bread must we endure? How come several theoretical “free jazz” recordings flash an “establishment” billboard from the very first notes? Why a player whose beginnings appeared innovative becomes a face pouting from the cover … Continue reading Daunik Lazro / Jean-Luc Cappozzo / Didier Lasserre – Garden(s)

Hamid Drake & Ned Rothenberg – Full Circle – Live in Lodz

(Fundacja Słuchaj) This writer’s nonexistent command of the Polish idiom didn’t prevent him from taking account of the history and scope of the Fundacja Słuchaj organization, whose intriguing discography began flourishing at the very end of 2014. Names such as Joe Morris, Agustì Fernandez, Barry Guy, Frances-Marie Uitti have been enriching a roster comprising both renowned and local talents. Hamid Drake (drums, frame drums and voice) and Ned Rothenberg (clarinet, alto sax, shakuhachi) belong to “that” category of creative entity: one knows in advance that the only requirements are locating a hospitable couch, press play, and spend some quality time … Continue reading Hamid Drake & Ned Rothenberg – Full Circle – Live in Lodz

Christoph Erb / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly – …Don’t Buy Him A Parrot…

(HatOLOGY) From personal experience I know that Werner X. Uehlinger — foreman of Hat Hut, of which HatOLOGY is the “jazz” branch — is a man who, to this day, maintains a pair of wide open ears. Just take a look at the label’s catalog to see what we mean. Granted, you can acknowledge certain names and recordings more than others; it’s only natural. Still, the range of artists who have had efforts published by the Swiss imprint has been consistently impressive, encompassing a considerable number of accomplished players — present and past — in varying combinations. Aside from a … Continue reading Christoph Erb / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly – …Don’t Buy Him A Parrot…

Thollem / Mazurek – Blind Curves and Box Canyons

(Relative Pitch) Thollem Mcdonas (here featured under his “Thollem Electric” nominal alter ego) and Rob Mazurek need no introduction for those who have followed things just a bit in the last fifteen years or so. Innumerable projects and polymorphic collaborations have pushed both artists to global renown; the former’s special versatility on the keyboards and the latter’s conjunction of visual art with various combinations of brass and electronic instruments have nearly become standards by now. Still, the couple had not met until January 2016. They joined forces for an exhibition of Mazurek’s works, Marfa Loops Shouts And Hollers, held in … Continue reading Thollem / Mazurek – Blind Curves and Box Canyons

Steve Noble / Yoni Silver – Home

(Aural Terrains) Thanos Chrysakis’ Aural Terrains celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Not a minor accomplishment, considering the level of competition — so to speak — distinguishing the sonic field inside which the label operates. Each new AT release attempts to raise the bar in a quest for improved artistic significance while not overlooking the sheer aesthetic attributes of interactions involving sets of players (or more unsocial investigations such as, for example, Edith Alonso’s brilliant Collapse). That said, Home represents a rather engrossing outing. Highlighting the rational consciousness of percussionist Steve Noble and multi-instrumentalist Yoni Silver (here exclusively on bass … Continue reading Steve Noble / Yoni Silver – Home

Martin Archer – Story Tellers

(Discus) Yet another case of jazz-rooted-yet-nearly-impossible-to-categorize release, requiring open-mindedness and dedication (read: time) to ascertain its many values. Reedist and composer Martin Archer was aided by the sympathetic companionship of Mick Somerset on additional wind instruments and percussion, Kim Macari Stone-Lonergan on trumpet, Corey Mwamba on vibraphone, Anton Hunter on guitar and Peter Fairclough on drums. Although every musician is the owner of an excellent CV, this is not the sort of setting urging an audience to single out voices. It’s instead a collective effort of the genuine kind, a man’s idea interpreted with care for the detail and — … Continue reading Martin Archer – Story Tellers

Giuliano d’Angiolini – Cantilena

(Another Timbre) Two crucial phrases excerpted from an interview with Italian composer Giuliano d’Angiolini delineate the gist of his work. The first, “indeterminacy or chance put a brake on our will”; the second, “humans should be more discreet”. As a matter of fact, Cantilena‘s program includes pieces whose spaciousness and measured pace — enhanced by the perceptiveness of the performers — provide a listener with a heartening serenity. In that regard the initial pair of tracks — “Aria Del Flauto Eolico” for superimposed flutes and “Finale” for solo piano — top the whole. However, no risk exists for this music … Continue reading Giuliano d’Angiolini – Cantilena

The Keith Tippett Octet – The Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon

(Discus) The case of Keith Tippett is rather remarkable, in that one seldom finds a musician (mujician, we should say) whose reputation is at the same time grounded on numberless artistic correlations and distinguished by incomparable compositional manners. Aside from a promptly admitted writer’s admiration, perhaps the best compliment we can throw is that whatever type of ensemble he writes for and whoever the performers are, the result is always unquestionably Tippett. Tight arrangements sounding modern but with an eye to the past; right doses of nimble soloism; stirring openings to contemplative vistas (just check “The Dance Of The Intangible … Continue reading The Keith Tippett Octet – The Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon

Bryn Harrison – Receiving the Approaching Memory

(Another Timbre) The accuracy of each gesture in Receiving The Approaching Memory is directly proportional to the feeling of unclouded poetry conveyed by Bryn Harrison’s music, released by Another Timbre for the second time after 2013’s Vessels. This reviewer has been exclusively focusing on the album for days, an unequivocal sign of gratitude for the disclosure of an unpretentious masterpiece. In terms of sheer imagery, the comparison is that of a blackbird singing in front of the placid waters of a lake, the latter somehow mirroring those sounds in a wonderful connection between the bird’s jargon and the environmental reverberations. … Continue reading Bryn Harrison – Receiving the Approaching Memory

Illogical Harmonies – Volume

(Another Timbre) The exercise of listening to the concurrent unfolding of unbroken pitches is perfect to create a mental sphere where, given the right conditions, nobody can touch you. The ears embrace a dilation containing numerous micro-components; the brain places the sounds exactly where they are meant to be according to a unique aural holography. One hears a pulsation behind the nape of the neck for a few seconds; gradually, another coalition of upper partials shifts the position of the acoustic phenomenon towards a higher point, twenty inches over the forehead. It’s like recognizing diverse tonalities of light without actually … Continue reading Illogical Harmonies – Volume

Christoph Erb / Frantz Loriot – Sceneries

(Creative Sources) Any improvising duo can drown in the slimy waters of run-of-the-mill jugglery lacking a real purpose. Several albums — including renowned ones — have proven that this format looks ideal for hypnotizing over-trusting audiences with a bunch of technical exercises dispatched for creativity during endless invocations to the Mother of all Vacuities. But wait; there’s also something called “commitment”. Saxophonist Christoph Erb (here doubling on tenor and soprano) and violist Frantz Loriot possess great experience both as participants in variously shaped collaborations and instigators of ensembles. Still, a record like Sceneries is rare to hear nowadays. Its five … Continue reading Christoph Erb / Frantz Loriot – Sceneries

Angharad Davies & Tisha Mukarji – Ffansïon | Fancies

(Another Timbre) In spite of knowing each other since 2005, violinist Angharad Davies and pianist Tisha Mukarji don’t meet often; even more infrequently they commit their perlustration of echoing locations to tape, this being only the second time after 2007’s Endspace. In both cases, good old Simon Reynell — the man who has turned a considerable number of British crucifixes into witnesses of significant improvisational events — brought his recording gear to capture essential traces of their unstudied dialogue. In this particular instance the outcome reflects a sui generis seductiveness dressed in austere clothes. In addition to five main segments … Continue reading Angharad Davies & Tisha Mukarji – Ffansïon | Fancies

Guilherme Rodrigues / David Area / Guillermo Torres / Tomas Gris – Aleph

(Creative Sources) It was, I believe, 2003 when my fraternization with Creative Sources began, and with it the experience of previously unheard-of combinations of ineffable sonorities and unique talents in disparate improvisational milieus. Cellist and composer Guilherme Rodrigues — the son of label honcho Ernesto — was 15 at that time, this writer well remembering his smiles of gladness in front of such a young kid fully immersed in unusual environments, yet expressing his voice like a veteran. Quite often the early albums from the Portuguese imprint featured ensembles that, exactly as this quartet, were proposing valuable methods to snatch … Continue reading Guilherme Rodrigues / David Area / Guillermo Torres / Tomas Gris – Aleph

Variable Geometry Orchestra – Quasar

(Creative Sources) The Variable Geometry Orchestra — 46 instrumentalists for this release — is just one among the innumerable projects engendered by the hyperactivity of Creative Sources boss Ernesto Rodrigues. In a respectable large improvising ensemble, the role of the conductor (Rodrigues himself in this case) is essential to make such a massive accumulation of instrumental nuances wander along genre-dissolving borders. If individualities are practically forgotten in the name of so-called “collective vibe”, a potential risk exists on the listener’s side to get knocked senseless by a jumble of spontaneous spurts that may not necessarily imply genuine art. Luckily this … Continue reading Variable Geometry Orchestra – Quasar

The Linda Sharrock Network – They Begin To Speak

(Improvising Beings) This double CD set contains two versions of the same piece. The first performance occurred on May 5, 2015 at The Lescar in Sheffield; besides Linda Sharrock’s vocals and Mario Rechtern’s reeds, it features Derek Saw (trumpet), John Jasnoch (guitar) and Charlie Collins (drums). Fifteen days later in a studio of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, Sharrock and Rechtern gathered a larger ensemble comprising Itaru Oki (trumpet), Eric Zinman (piano), Makoto Sato (drums), Yoram Rosilio (bass), Claude Parle (accordion) and Cyprien Busolini (violin). Listing all the participants appears the correct thing to do, for this music is an excellent sample of collective … Continue reading The Linda Sharrock Network – They Begin To Speak

Carlos Costa – Door of No Return

(Aural Terrains) Coming all the way from the Canary Islands, Carlos Costa (not to be confused with Italian percussionist Carlo Costa) is a double bassist operating through multiple categories and assignments. In Door Of No Return he attempted to calibrate the theoretical idiosyncrasies of his instrument in a solo context; this unceremonious set fits quite nicely in the recent wake of releases by lonesome bassists. The material is divided in nine “Doors”, each track revealing a tactic to elicit sounds from the big box. Processes and practices are relatively typical for this sort of setting: disconnected plucking, reposeful whispering, nervous … Continue reading Carlos Costa – Door of No Return

Henry Kaiser / Steve Parker / Damon Smith / Chris Cogburn – Nearly Extinct

(Balance Point Acoustics) For inexplicable reasons this quartet brings us back to the times of youth. The discovery of previously unclassified sounds on a newly acquired album meant afternoons and evenings spent trying to decode its unusual messages, while looking for pseudo-familiar elements to clutch at. We used to feel proud amidst “rock & pop only” specimens who, in our presumptive imagination, could not possibly have a clue about freeform music. Those were the first signs of a life adventure which would warrant enormous satisfactions in terms of real learning — as a practicing musician, sonic explorer and human being … Continue reading Henry Kaiser / Steve Parker / Damon Smith / Chris Cogburn – Nearly Extinct

Edith Alonso – Collapse

(Aural Terrains) An attentive analysis of Edith Alonso’s CV gives several clues about the typology of creative energies fuelling Collapse. Having been an active practitioner/student both in punk bands and electroacoustic environments, this Spaniard attempted to transfer the disorderly drive of anarchy into a more structured context, prepared electric bass being the lone source. Over four tracks, the raw dynamism of a growling sonic coagulation maintains its clutch on our focus, in a way forcing a physical absorption of its constitutional substances. In the meantime, a multitude of micro-components adds various layers of vivid intricacy to the music. The violent … Continue reading Edith Alonso – Collapse

WTTF Quartet – Berlin Kinesis

(Creative Sources) The acronym stands for (Phillip) Wachsmann, (Roger) Turner, (Pat) Thomas and (Alexander) Frangenheim. A previous release by this quartet — Gateway ’97, same label — came out after 16 years from the original performance. Berlin Kinesis took much less to see the light, having been recorded in 2014. In the liners, a somewhat cynical list of catastrophic historic events (peculiarly inaugurated by the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, whereas 2004’s Indian Ocean tsunami — approximately 230,000 victims, everybody — is forgotten) becomes a pretext to get proud about the project’s persistence as opposed to the progressive worsening of our civilization’s conditions. … Continue reading WTTF Quartet – Berlin Kinesis

Maja S.K. Ratkje / Jon Wesseltoft / Camille Norment / Per Gisle Galåen – Celadon

(Important) In today’s music world, performances and recordings revolving around drones are by now a dime a dozen. Thus, finding the right motivation for individuating genuine nutritional components after having discarded the chaff has become harder. Insubstantial albums may even sound radiant at the outset, but in a couple of listens the bluff is easily identified by the specialist. Other releases, perhaps defined by a higher degree of humbleness, touch more effectively on interior issues. A third variety exists, that of an experiment with the resonating properties of a given space that might or might not produce a profound connection … Continue reading Maja S.K. Ratkje / Jon Wesseltoft / Camille Norment / Per Gisle Galåen – Celadon