The Squid's Ear
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Joe Morris / Rob Oxoby: Dancing With Penguins (Bug Incision Records)

Improvising guitarist/bassist, writer, and educator Joe Morris spent four months as visiting scholar at the University of Calgary, during which time he recorded with University of Calgary professor and double bassist Rob Oxoby, this freely improvised album with Morris on electric guitar, a great confluence of strings in 6 concentrated and adept dialogs. ... Click to View


Joe Morris / Chris Dadge / Jonathon Wilcke: Rural Optimism (Bug Incision Records)

During guitarist Joe Morris' stay as a visiting scholar at University of Calgary, Morris joined the Chris Dadge / Jonathon Wilkes duo, first on stage and then in the studio to record this first-rate album of collective improvisation, merging idiosyncratic percussive activity, abstract and lyrical sax declarations, and profound and pointillistic guitar work. ... Click to View


Bent Spoon Trio: Nine Year Itch (Bug Incision Records)

Formed in 2002 as a quartet, then in 2005 as the trio of Chris Dadge (percussion, trumpet, bass), David Laing (bass & trombone), and Scott Munro (sax, melodica, &c), then as the duo of Dadge & Monro in 2008; 2016 found the trio together again in Calgary for the closing of the Emmedia performance space, their entire set of unique collective improv captured for this CD. ... Click to View


Chris Dadge / Jonathon Wilcke: Three Live Pieces (Bug Incision Records)

With a 15 year history of collaboration, Bug Incision label leader Chris Dadge joins with fellow Calgary free improviser Jonathon Wilcke on saxophone for an album of live performances in their home city, two performances from Parlour and one at Local 510, showing strong rapport in their duo of uniquely unconventional percussion and lyrically quirky sax. ... Click to View


Obnox (Lamont Thomas): Templo del Sonido [RED VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Ohio garage and free rock mainstay Lamont Thomas, AKA Obnox, was approached by Astral Spirits to make a free jazz record, the unexpected results sounding more like a rock record in a wild ride of noise, funk, electro, voice, and percussion, a savage album with the protest and pointed sensibilities of the early 60s; pressed on translucent red vinyl. ... Click to View


Signe Dahlgreen : Kunki Snuk [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Solo improvisations on the heavy side from Swedish saxophonist Signe Lykkebo Dahlgreen (Yes Deer, Per-Ake Holmander, Anna Hogberg), using prodigious technique and a tenacious style she pushes the sax into odd harmonic territory balancing complex technical playing with raw energy and angst, a balance that keeps her listeners on the edge of their seats. ... Click to View


Paolo Sanna: Fluorite (Creative Sources)

Dedicating his album to Paul Burwell and Z'ev, Spanish percussionist Paolo Sanna demonstrates his many years of research in sound, silence, noise, experimentation, musical research and deconstruction through stand percussive devices and found objects, giving his playing a distinctive and personal palette which he plays with superb technique and timing. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Bruno Parrinha / Luis Lopes / Vasco Trilla: { Lithos } (Creative Sources)

Recording in the studio in Lisbon, Portugal, the free improvising lowercase/subtle momentum quintet of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Bruno Parrinha on bass clarinet, Luis Lopes on electric guitar, and Vasco Trilla on percussion demonstrate intense control and remarkable concentration through the five parts of "{ Lithos }". ... Click to View


PCRV: Mobility [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

Thick fuzzy sound with subliminal interventions and a subsumed squiggly lead line makes the first side of this cassette release from American sound artist Matt Taggart, AKA PCRV, balanced by a ringing work piece of ambient harmonics that creates a beautiful hypnotic tone texture that shifts slowly with illusional transitions. ... Click to View


Pregnant Spore: I Am in Love with My Own Sins [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

Pregnant Sport is Justin Marc Lloyd, Chicago-based experimental noise artist who performs under a variety of monikers, here as Pregnant Spore in a rapid-paced album of rich and ruptured sound, unusual rhythmic sources, reverse phonetics, quickly changing pace and direction while maintaining an odd sense of cohesion; fascinating and perplexing. ... Click to View


Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda: Mizu (Long Song Records)

With commanding instrumental skills and a growing history of collaboration, bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Satoko Fujii are heard again in two live concerts as part of their 2017 European tour, two duos from Belgium and one in Germany, the CD taking its title from the Japanese word for "water" as the two converse in powerfully emotional and technically breathtaking ways. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. I (The Embedded Sets) [2 CDs] (Pi Recordings)

With his earliest and most current performance history tied to the enduring Manhattan jazz club The Village Vanguard, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman records his Five Elements in a 2017 live show with Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Miles Okazaki on guitar, Anthony Tidd on bass, and Sean Rickman on drums for a fiery, exuberant and masterful concert of modern jazz. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings)

Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse brings together 9 musicians in a chamber jazz setting without a drum set--Jonathan Finlays(trumpet), Jen Shyu (vocals), Matt Mitchell (piano), Mara Grand (tenor sax), Rane Moore (clarinet), Kristin Lee (violin), Greg Chudzik (bass), and Neeraj Mehta (percussion)--performing 9 of Coleman's sophisticated original compositions. ... Click to View


Barker Trio: Avert Your I [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

After releasing drummer Andrew Barker's duo with Daniel Carter, "Polyhedron", Astral Spirits takes on Barker's trio album with sidemen Michael Foster on tenor & soprano sax, plus electronics, and Tim Dahl on bass, Barker also adding synth & electronics, for an album of ruggedly intense, propulsive playing with a probing inquisitiveness. ... Click to View


Charles Barabe : De la Fragilite [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Victoriaville, Quebec electronic composer Charles Barbare creates abstract electroacoustic works, here in an impressive 6-movement work that covers a wide ground from minimalistic rhythmic sections to time-stretched voices and electronics to musique mystery, his inquisitive approach allowing his scores to unfold in decipherable, dramatic and coherent ways. ... Click to View


Hvizdalek / Nergaard / Tavil / Garner: Juxtaposition (Nakama Records)

Sonic sources of a wide variety of timbre, rhythm and tone, mixed with voice, feedback, even bird sounds, make up the strata of this intriguing album from Oslo Improvisers Agnes Hvizdalek (voice), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (electric bass, electronics, field recordings), Utku Tavil (snare drum, no input mixer, sampler), and Natali Abrahamsen Garner (voice, electronics). ... Click to View


Hvizdalek / Nergaard / Tavil / Garner: Juxtaposition [CASSETTE] (Nakama Records)

Sonic sources of a wide variety of timbre, rhythm and tone, mixed with voice, feedback, even bird sounds, make up the strata of this intriguing album from Oslo Improvisers Agnes Hvizdalek (voice), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (electric bass, electronics, field recordings), Utku Tavil (snare drum, no input mixer, sampler), and Natali Abrahamsen Garner (voice, electronics). ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee / Christian Meaas Svendsen: Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel (Nakama Records)

Three "nonsensical" musical conversations between Malaysian experimental musician and Herbal International label founder Goh Lee Kwang, and Norwegian bass player and Nakama label leader Christian Meeas Svendsen; a first encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations, packaged with a pencil to let you draw your own cover. ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee / Christian Meaas Svendsen: Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Three "nonsensical" musical conversations between Malaysian experimental musician and Herbal International label founder Goh Lee Kwang, and Norwegian bass player and Nakama label leader Christian Meeas Svendsen; a first encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations, packaged with a pencil to let you draw your own cover. ... Click to View


Hal Hutchinson: Factory Metal Sound [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

British noise artist Hal Hutchinson (Der Bunker Records) in a record of apparent field recordings of metallic factory sounds, a machinist's daydream of rotating and subdued lathe sounds, each side of the cassette with a distinct timbre and recording ambiance as the mysterious sounds provide a cantankerously complex set of audio environments. ... Click to View


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

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


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

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


Musaeum Clausum: Musaeum Clausum (Umlaut Records)

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


Sebastien Beliah : Nocturnes (Umlaut Records)

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Sidsel Endresen / Jan Bang: Hum (Confront)

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


Don Cherry: Home Boy, Sister Out (WeWantSounds)

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


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

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


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The Squid's Ear
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Instrumentals
We've asked a number of musicians to write about their instruments of choice, taking a view that is either personal, historical or, in some cases, just unusual. The results are to be found in these pages.


  The Violin (& The Infidel)  


By Jon Rose 2002-12-17

infidel: a person who does not believe in religion or who adheres to a religion other than that of the majority eg. they wanted to secure the holy places from the infidel

origin: late 15th century; from the French infidele or the Latin infidelis, from in = not + fidelis = faithful (from fides =faith, related to fidere = to trust. The word has two distinct origins. 1) It denoted a person of a religion other than one's own, specifically a Muslim (to a Christian), a Christian (to a Muslim), or a Gentile (to a Jew). 2) With the invention of the violin circa 1530 and the confusing transformation of bowed strings from vernacular fidel , via fiddle to violin, viola, viole, violone, and viol (as it happens completely unrelated to the violin), the word fidel became a word of abuse denoting loose living or corrupt dealings as in fiddle your fancy, on the fiddle, fiddling around, or indeed the dismissive term get fiddled. The fiddle has given rise to many misreadings of history, most notably the assertion that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned", clearly impossible as by the first century AD, the instrument had not yet been invented. Other misconceptions abound, for example, that Jewish people always play the fidel on the roof, that Romany (or Gypsy) fiddlers always keep a knife in their left boot, that all famous fiddlers suffer from Paganini's serious complaint of a permanent erection. Today's common usage is obviously underscored by the present dearth of work for the practicing violinist, In fidel we trust, everybody else pay cash.

So what is it about the violin that makes it so untrustworthy? Is it due to the current world situat ion? A question worth asking as the divide between the rich and the poor on this planet continues to widen at an ex ponential rate. The instrument has become an icon of capitalism, that's for sure. Like old oil paintings of the rich and flatuous, old violins are a kind of inflated currency, the guaranteed investment, the item at houses of Southerbys and Christies that makes the auctioneer's wet their pants. I have played a $600,000 Guernarius and, shock horror, it was a good instrument. But it was no better than a $20,000 top of the line fiddle from a good modern maker.

The violin is 70 bits of wood stuck together. I discovered this as a child after I had been studying the instrument for a few months. Now the early days on a violin are not too enjoyable for the player or the listener, be you a Heifitz or a no-hoper. It is a very frustrating time. I felt things weren't going fast enough, so with one blow, I smashed the fiddle over the kitchen table. Now I would like to point out a number of issues at this point. Firstly, this was not a Fluxus performance as 1) I was a kid and 2) this was still in the 1950's. Secondly, it was not my instrument and was actually a piece of crap that belonged to the school. Thirdly, that doesn't matter because a violin, any violin is "of value," right? Fourthly, my father was a regular bricaleur who, as a prisoner of war in Japan, had made a two-string cello out of bits of camp detritus; he calmly spent the evening sticking it back together again (he had actually tried to make a piano for a concert pianist in the camp and had got as far as a sound board and 2 keys working before disaster struck, but that is another story altogether). Fifthly, my violin teacher never noticed.

Indeed genetics must have something to do with the whole violin conundrum. On my mother's side I am partly Afghan, her family name was Kahn, which could have meant me doing hours of practice on the Saranda instead of Satan's instrument itself. People often used to ask me if I was Jewish. "Plays the violin? Must be Jewish," goes the rocket science. So I'm in the minority then, or at least on the opposing team. This all came home to me just recently when I wrote a slightly off-center composition called "The Islamic Violin," it included the detonation of an ordinary violin which I was able to realize at a performance in Paris at the beginning of this year. The story, like most great stories, is based on a true one featuring a street violinist with a foreign name who stored his violin in a bus station left luggage cubicle in Hamilton, Canada. An official of the bus company became suspicious of the violin case and alerted the police, who with due care and subtlety, took it out onto the street and blew it up! "Due to the current world situation," explained the Police as they handed a few bits of wood and string back to the devastated musician. The score of the composition has the following notes on the notes:

(1) The inability of Muslims to recognise a violin manifests itself through the entire Lebanese restaurant industry in Australia. During and after the Lebanese civil war of the 1950's, the 1960's, the 1970's and the 1980's, many families from both Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon emigrated to Australia. A tradition quickly grew whereby Christian Lebanese restaurants would always display the sign of the violin outside their premises (some of these are quite remarkable art pieces of neon, post-digestive, calligraphic Arabic deco). Research has shown that many Muslim Lebanese literally DO NOT SEE the violin, thinking that it may be some kind of indiginous pig or plant life or worse, a Christian plot conceived by the CIA (who run a number of military bases in Australia). One could think that the Muslim restaurants would be running a counter campaign of non recognition posting any number of Islamic bowed instruments in retaliation to this provocatio n, (One considers here the Afghani rebab or dilruba as suitable images to represent all that is fine in Muslim culture) but one would be mistaken. Muslims do not stoop to such low immoral subterfuge, relying instead on the final statement of account which must be paid at that restaurant in the sky.

(2) I should point out that I had actually brought a violin (a 'Tortellini' 1751) with me for the good Sheikh to study but after a cursorary glance and a rap on its historic body with the knuckles of his left hand, he had thrown it to his trusty dog who then proceeced to gnaw on it happily through out the entire interview.

(3) A quote that comes from the pyramid breaking tome 'Yehudi Menuhin serves Capitalism' by the influencial Marxist composer and violinist virtuoso Dr. Johannes Rosenberg. In a classic Rosenberg/Menuhin confrontation, the latter violinist is cornered as he admits to denouncing Ravi Shankar as a poser who pays no attention to speed limits, Stephane Grapelli as having bad intonation, Rumanian Gypsy music as being 'rather dirty stuff one wouldn't want next door in Hampstead,' and himself as having said 'actually classical music IS rather superior, don't you think?'

(4) From the best seller 'How to Blow Up a Violin' by Buttblaster Fuller. It includes a hand-drawn map of an average violin, indicating the weaker, more sensitive zones of spiral vibration where the four charges should be placed with 1/4 strips of gaffe tape (Please note that 'Scotch Tape' will NOT do). Alternative routes for the fuse wires are suggested depending on the reader's level of experience and expertise in dealing with their first violin assignment. Questions of budgetary allowancea re always prevalent in the modern day violin world, so the cheaper alternative has also been tested thoroughly throu gh correspondance courses in 'Final Violin Solutions' made available by The Mother of All Museums Museum, Baghdad. They suggest that four 'Tigre Bison 3' fireworks packed in the base of the violin with simultaneous ignition will blow the devil's instrument to 'Kingdom Come': results obtained with a cheap East German Eduard Tausher model seem to bare out Buttblaster's assertions.

---which may account for the sudden interest in my Web site from a US military search engine - unless there are some contemporary music freaks working at the Pentagon who spend their time searching the Web for weird violin stuff. I'm not kidding, I had over 3,000 hits last month from the defenders of the free.

In April my partner, violinist Hollis Taylor, and I were working on our 'Great Fences of Australia' project near Alice Springs in the middle of Australia. It's a kind of sonic map of the whole continent. We bow the fences, which we consider to be giant string instruments. In fact they are the longest artifacts in the world, the so called 'Dingo Fence' is twice as long as the Great Wall of China. So far we have traveled over 16,000 kilometers in our endeavor. Anyway I phoned up the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near 'The Alice' and asked if we could make a little recording of their perimeter fence. Well the head dude humored me for some minutes and I thought we had a chance till I mentioned we played the fiddle --- "No." The conversation was immediately terminated. 'Due to the current world situation' he barked.


(c)www.jonroseweb.com

the violin warping website remains
www.jonroseweb.com

for a guide to the weird, the wild and the vern ac ular in Australian music
www.abc.net.au/arts/adlib

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Previous Instrumental Articles:
The Accordion (& the Outsider) - Pauline Oliveros
The Guitar (& Why) - Derek Bailey
The Banjo (& guitarist Johnny PayCheck) - Eugene Chadbourne


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