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Nate Wooley (Wooley / Sawyer / Halvorson / Alcorn): Columbia Icefield (Northern Spy)

With two guitarists--Mary Halvorson and Susan Alcorn on pedal steel--and Ryan Sawyer on drums, New York trumpeter explores the Rocky Mountains Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, through sophisticated compositions and superbly illustrative sound, an exceptional album of improvisation and intention from four modern masters. ... Click to View


The Seen: Archive : Volumes Vi - X : 2014 To 2016 (Confront)

Five concerts of exceptional free improvisation, recorded in London, the lastat Cafe OTO, across 5 CDs of collective ensembles known as "The Seen", presenting of some of the UK & Europe's finest improvisers including Mark Wastell, John Butcher, David Toop, Dominic Lash, Phil Durrant, Angharad Davies, Jason Kahn, Bertrand Denzler, Yoni Silver, Chris Burn, &c. ... Click to View


Arild Andersen / Clive Bell / Mark Wastell: Tales Of Hackney (Confront)

World instrumentation of shakuhachi, thai flute, shinobue, thai mouth organ, and shruti box blends with western orchestration of electric bass, percussion and electronics and Clive Bell, Arild Andersen, and Mark Wastell come together in the studio after their well-received concert at Cafe Oto in London to develop these beautifully lyrical improvisations. ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp Trio / Nicole Mitchell: All Things Are (RogueArt)

Chicago and New York come together in Brooklyn to record this excellent encounter between pianist Matthew Shipp and flutist Nicole Mitchell, with Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums, bridging exciting free playing with strong lyrical elements, balancing kinetically exuberant interaction with introspective and dark moments; inspired and masterful. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Tristan Honsinger / Guilherme Rodrigues / Klaus Kurvers: Ignis Fatuus (Creative Sources)

Recording in Germany, Creative Source's two Rodrigues'--Ernesto on viola and Guilherme on cello--along with double bassist Klaus Kurvers, celebrate legendary improvising cellist Tristan Honsinger's birthday with this studio album of active playing with a chamber quartet feeling through superb technical skills yielding electrifying string improvisation. ... Click to View


Matthias Bauer: Spontan In Granit (Creative Sources)

Berlin double bassist Mathias Bauer, a member of Unitedberlin, Asian Art, Junge Music and mosaik, and half of the duo Alchimia Organica presents a series of 18 solid and diverse spontaneous improvisations, most averaging under 3 minutes, captivating the listener through articulate momentum, exceptional technique, and inventive narrative. ... Click to View


Irene Kepl / Fred Marty: Pirouette (Creative Sources)

Austrian violinist and composer Irene Kepl met French double bassist Fred Marty in the studio in France in 2018 to record this lively album of string interactions, both players showing masterful skills informed by classical and improvisational training, shown through impressive and mischievous technique and dialog that "Pirouettes", "Rolls", "Skids" and even takes a "U-Turn". ... Click to View


Eric La Casa / Eamon Sprod: Friche : Transition (Swarming)

Making something out of "nothing", audio explorers and sonic organizers Eric La Casa from France and Australian Eamon Sprod spent a week on the waste grounds in the North East of Paris along the Canal Ourcq, capturing field recordings which they used to develop these active compositions, captivating by morphing everyday sounds into something intriguingly mysterious and remarkable. ... Click to View


Carlo Costa / Jason Nazary: Dim Thickets [CASSETTE] (Anticausal Systems)

Bringing together two New York percussionists for a wild ride of that finds drummer Jason Nazary performing exclusively on electronics against and alongise Neither/Nor label-leader Carlo Costa's percussion, using glitch and aberrant electronics in actively constrained ways as the two dart and weave around each other in an exciting and unique improvisational dialog. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : The Banshee (Chadula)

Doc Chad pays homage to classic horror flicks with this experimental album blending collages of spoken word from the original movies, with an emphasis on Vincent Price/Hammer Horror era epics, creating a new soundtrack to accompany them through effected guitar work in a Chad/Horror/Rake mode, a freakish and fun blend of improvised and planned performance. ... Click to View


David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger (ECM)

The fourth ECM album from NY Saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, here in a trio with textural guitarist David Torn in three extended compositions merging jazz, rock and ambient forms, the middle track augmented with the Scorchio String Quartet and Craig Taborn, as they ebb and flow intense energy, fascinating compositional turns, and superb playing. ... Click to View


David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger [VINYL] (ECM)

The fourth ECM album from NY Saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, here in a trio with textural guitarist David Torn in three extended compositions merging jazz, rock and ambient forms, the middle track augmented with the Scorchio String Quartet and Craig Taborn, as they ebb and flow intense energy, fascinating compositional turns, and superb playing. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : GTM (Syntax) 2017 [12 CD BOX SET] (New Braxton House/Firehouse 12 Records)

A 12-hour collection over 12 CDs of composer Anthony Braxton's Ghost Trance Music (GTM), a compositional system he developed with his superlative Tri-Centric Vocal Ensemble, GTM allowing the ensemble to generate a performance in real time in a mix of sung, spoken, and non-verbal utterances, with unpredictable and surprising results that reveal fascinating layers with each listen. ... Click to View


Francesco Massaro / Giovanni Cristino / Walter Forestiere: Undergrowth (Creative Sources)

The Italian trio of saxophonist/clarinetist Francesco Masaro, pianist and prepared pianist Giovanni Cristino, and drummer/percussionist Walter Forestiere, take us on a journey at the lower levels of a forest's undergrowth, adding objects, preparations and extended techniques in a blend of free jazz and nonidiomatic forms to reveal mystery and brightness in the brambles. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Georges-Emmanuel Schneider: Kontergesang (Counter-Singing) (Creative Sources)

Eleven instrumental works with each piece based on and emulating the sound characteristics of blackbirds, such as "whistling", "squealing", or "flutes", captured in a live concert at multi-reedist Udo Schindler's Salon fur Klang+Kunst in Krailling in Berlin, from the duo of Schindler and long-time musical collaborator, violinist Georges-Emmanuel Schneider, also on live electronics. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Georges-Emmanuel Schneider / Gunter Pretzel: Rhizome (Creative Sources)

Live recordings of the performance on March 1st, 2018 at the Galerie arToxin in Munich, presenting compositions from Udo Schindler performing on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone & euphonium, Gunter Pretzel on viola, and Georges-Emmanuel Schneider on violins & live electronics, three artists of diverse background crossing boundaries to create something unique and exciting. ... Click to View


Mattin: Songbook #7 [VINYL] (Munster Records)

Using historical references to rethink the present--the first 7 months of the Russian Revolution; and the accusal of Marius Plateau's murder by Germaine Berto--and working with Lucio Capece, Marcel Dickhage, Farahnaz Hatam, Moor Mother & Cathleen Schuster, Mattin performed this intense work of sound and narrative at the Digging The Global South Festival in Cologne, 2017. ... Click to View


Oyauchi / Deku Duo: Now's The Time? [VINYL] (Armageddon Nova)

The first release on Japan's Armageddon Nova, now reissued as a limited 180gm double vinyl LP, presenting a 2012 concert at Performing Arts Center, in Japan in 2012 by the duo of free improvising alto saxophonist Aishi Oyauchi, a peer of Karou Abe in the 60s, and contrabassist Deku, a member of the 70s free improvising group New Jazz Syndicate. ... Click to View


String Theory : Thickness Of The Present (Evil Clown)

The Leap of Faith string-heavy grouping in a concert at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, 2018 with PEK on bamboo saxophones, reeds, tarota, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, aquasonic & bells; Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic; Grant Beale on guitar; Lukasz Pavlikovsky on cello & aquasonic; Albey onBass on electric bass; Silvain Castellano and Adrienne Schoenfeld on double bass. ... Click to View


Axel Dorner / Jason Kahn: For Berner Munster (Im 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


Flying Luttenbachers, The: Shattered Dimension (ugEXPLODE)

Weasel Walter is the constant in the no-wave influenced free improvising band Flying Luttenbachers, formed in 1991 and on hiatus since 2007; Walter reassembled the concept in 2018 for a tour in France, then again in 2019 with this lineup of saxophonist Matt Nelson, guitarist Brandon Seabrook and bassist Tim Dahl, recording this startling, demanding and excellent album. ... Click to View


The Urge Trio: Live In Toledo (Veto)

Performing in Toledo, Ohio, the trio of Keefe Jackson on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, Christoph Erb on tenor saxophone & bass clarinet, and Tomeka Reid on cello are caught live at the Robinwood Concert House for a rugged set of collective improvisation, the two horns intertwining in extreme technique as Reid bows, scrapes and provides counterpoint to their volleys. ... Click to View


The Urge Trio: Live At The Hungry Brain (Veto)

The second of two live concerts on Christopher Erb's Veto label for the Chicago/Swiss trio of Tomeka Reid on cello, Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophones & bass clarinet, Christoph Erb on tenor and soprano, here in Chicago's Hungry Brain for an album of radical free improvisation contrasting reeds and string through impressive technique and fascinating collective discourse. ... Click to View


Tomas Fujiwara : Triple Double [VINYL 2 LPs] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Drummer Tomas Fujiwara's sextet is actually two trios interacting, with fellow drummer Gerald Cleaver, both Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook on guitar, and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and Ralph Alessi on trumpet, the pairings forming unisons and contrasts that add an unrestrained sense of enthusiasm and excitement to Fujiwara's sophisticated compositions. ... Click to View


Xenofox: Rupp / Lanz / Fischerlehner: Alarm (Oltrarno Raw)

Electric guitarist Olaf Rupp, one of the leading figures of Berlin's Echtzeit scene, and Rudi Fischerlehner, an active Berlin improvising drummer, have been playing together as Xenofox for years, releasing albums and playing festivals, here captured at A L'Arme Festival at Radialsystem, in Berlin in 2017 with turntablist Joke Lanz adding to their controlled chaos. ... Click to View


Tim Olive / Yan Jun: Brother of Divinity (845 Audio)

845 label leader and sonic explorer Tim Olive uses magnetic pickups and electronics in this meeting with radical living room concert sound artist, poet and improviser Yan Jun in Kobe, Japan, Jun using a variety of electronics, radio and field recordings as the two improvise in a wonderfully mischievous set of errant dialog and restrained deconstruction. ... Click to View


Cal Lyall / Tim Olive: Lowering (845 Audio)

Like mad scientists of sound, sonic explorers Tim Olive and Cal Lyall met in a Tokyo studio in 2012 armed with hydrophones, magnetic pickups and electronics to record this richly detailed and slowly unfolding work, blending organic and mechanical elements of indeterminate origin, finding absorbing dialog without clamor or tumult; intriguing and engrossing. ... Click to View


Octopus: Mimus (Creative Sources)

The 8-limbed creature that is Creative Source's Octopus presents their 3rd album of diaphanous improvisation, using two reeds (clarinet & tenor sax), trumpet, resonator guitar, viola, double bass, snare drums and electronics, as they slowly prowl in subaqueous and subtle improvisation of powerful technique, cautiously moving with rich details and deft direction. ... Click to View


Houben / Rodrigues / Rodrigues: The Haecceity Of Things (Creative Sources)

A mysterious album of viola, viola d'amore, organ, and field recordings, merging the compositional minimal approach of Wandelweiser artist Eva-Maria Houben with Creative Sources performers Ernesto & Guilherme Rodrigues, the field recordings creating a virtual setting of environmental stillness, evoking slow motion in the unique "thisness" of haecceity. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Tangled Hierachies (Evil Clown)

A 2019 performance in Cambridge, MA of this intertwining quintet of unique instrumentation, with PEK on bamboo & bass saxophones, clarinets, contrabassoon, tarota, melodica, sheng, aquasonic, wood, metal, wind siren, crank siren, & chimes; Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic, & chimes; Eric Zinman on piano; Syd Smart on percussion; and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, gong, wood, metal, wind siren, & chimes. ... Click to View


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  An Earful of Fred  


By Len 37 Siegfried 2003-03-28

With Friends Like These (Metalanguage) - 1979
Who Needs Enemies (Metalanguage) - 1983
(Reissued with extra tracks as With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends on Cuneiform)
Quirky and unrelenting. Frith and Henry Kaiser show how to use the guitar in a manner other than the way it was intended to be used, and how to have a dialogue in that language with great authority. One of the first albums to show me that very out avant can really work, and can actually be catchy.

Stop Complaining (FMP) - 1991
Hans Reichel in duet with Frith Kazuhisa Uchihashi. Frith and Reichel take sound from subtle depths to raucous heights and back again. They display a sympathetic ear towards each other that can only be had through years of honing their craft, listening and playing as a single action. It's so fucking fun to go along for the ride...subtle and amazing.

Guitar Solos (Caroline) - 1974
(reissued several times, most recently, in 2002, on Fred Records) A how-to guide on extended guitar technique. If you play guitar (or even if you don't), this album will show you that more can be said on the instrument than you had ever imagined. Open you ears and let it pour in. "Hello Music" is your invitation!

Live at Loft Shinjuku (Floor Records) - 1982
It really captures the excitement of Fred, live and unpredictable. Performed with Totsuzen Danball, a duo comprised of guitarist Shunji Tsutaki and Eiichi Tsutaki on organ and percussion. The have a very interesting groove all their own, and when Fred finds his space in the center, watch out... sparks ensue.

Live in Japan: The Guitars on the Table Approach (Recommended Records Japan) - 1982
Fred presented live, solo, with guitar firmly placed on a tabletop. If you have ever thought about what type of sounds can be produced using foreign objects on a guitar, this is the release for you. I t's hard to imagine what objects are being used at times, and even harder to imaging being able to control and shape these sounds into something both puzzling and beautiful.

Learn To Talk (Rift) - 1984
(Various reissues, slated for release on Fred Records in 2003)
Covering everything from formal Sousa marches to the most eclectic out improvisation, Frith and Tom Cora, as Skeleton Crew, present a document that is hard to imagine being produced by only two people. Two one-man bands communicating with their instruments better than most people can by talking. Exciting, enigmatic and surprising, this is the FINEST ROCK RECORD EVER MADE.

Step Across the Border (Rec/Rec) 1990
(Reissued by Fred Records, 2003)
This record takes the listener on a journey around a world of sound, quite literally, as Frith travels the United States and Europe, playing with a remarkable array of musicians, alarm clocks, seagulls and cars. The short list of artists who appear on the record, and the film of the same name, includes John Zorn, Bob Ostertag, Haco, Zeena Parkins, Tom Cora, Bill Laswell, Iva Bittova, Rene Lussier, Lars Hollmer, Tim Hodgkinson and Kevin Norton. This disc will push almost any listener in a new direction, regardless of what horizons they might already have.

Technology of Tears (SST) - 1988
(Issued on cd by SST in 1998, but with the final side of the double album omitted.)
Music for dance, and showing a side of Fred not often seen: sequenced compositions and a generally more electronic approach with a hard edge. With John Zorn, Christian Marclay, Jim Staley and Tenko. Amazing!





Read Mike Chamberlain's Interview with Fred Frith.

See the Fred Frith section at Squidco.



The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Rodrigues /
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