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This Is It! (Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura / Takashi Itani): 1538 (Libra)

Part of pianist Satoko Fujii's "Kanreki" (60th Birthday) tour and monthly album release, the "This Is It!" Trio with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and drummer/percussionist Takashi Itani is heard at Koendori Classics, in Tokyo, Japan, in January 2018, for an incredible album of Fujii's compositions that include quirky asides in coherent and effusive compositions. ... Click to View


Flamingo (Chris Heenan / Adam Pultz Melbye / Christian Windfeld / Roy Carroll): Loud (Relative Pitch)

This Berlin-based collaboration with sound engineer Roy Carroll performing on electronics and features the trio of Chris Heenan on contrabass clarinet, Adam Pultz Melbye on double bass, and Christian Windfeld on snare drum, percussion & objects, using a reductionist approach to deep sonic improvisation of mysterious origins, in an extended journey fo sound. ... Click to View


My Cat Is An Alien: The Sky With Broken Arms (Opax Records / Elliptical Noise)

The long-running Italian improvising duo of brothers Maurizio Opalio and Roberto Opalio, celebrating their 20th anniversary in this album using electric guitar, effects, loops, keyboards, and wordless vocalizations to create this hauntingly beautiful extended composition, an hallucinatory mediation with a repeating motif over which an interstellar tapestry of sound emerges. ... Click to View


Roberto Opalio : Once You'll Touch The Sky You Will Never Return To Dust (Opax Records / Elliptical Noise)

Half of the Italian improvising duo My Cat Is an Alien, Roberto Opalio uses prepared mini-keyboard, handmade shortwave receiver, alientronics, and vocalizations to create this improvised prelude and statement, a shifting work that draws the listener into mesmerizing sonic environments of alien origin and transports them deceptively between ringing and textured vistas. ... Click to View


DNMF (Machinefabriek + Dead Neanderthals): Smelter [CD] (Moving Furniture)

The DNMF collaboration of Netherland's sonic experimenter Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) and the Dead Neanderthals duo of saxophonist Otto Kokke and drummer Rene Aquarius, in their second album of heavy, droning style, reveling in a resonant, high-volume, long-form work of hypnotic sound merging of metal, drone and dark ambience. ... Click to View


DNMF (Machinefabriek + Dead Neanderthals): Smelter [CASSETTE] (Tartarus Records)

The DNMF collaboration of Netherland's sonic experimenter Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) and the Dead Neanderthals duo of saxophonist Otto Kokke and drummer Rene Aquarius, in their second album of heavy, droning style, reveling in a resonant, high-volume, long-form work of hypnotic sound merging of metal, drone and dark ambience. ... Click to View


DNMF (Machinefabriek + Dead Neanderthals): Smelter [VINYL] (Moving Furniture)

The DNMF collaboration of Netherland's sonic experimenter Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) and the Dead Neanderthals duo of saxophonist Otto Kokke and drummer Rene Aquarius, in their second album of heavy, droning style, reveling in a resonant, high-volume, long-form work of hypnotic sound merging of metal, drone and dark ambience. ... Click to View


District Five (Ruegg / Svosve / Huter / Amereller): Decoy (Intakt)

Lyrical and creative modern jazz from the young Swiss quartet of Xaver Ruegg on double bass, Tapiwa Svosve on alto saxophone, synths, & electronics, Vojko Huter on guitar, synths, & electronics, and Paul Amereller on drums, members of the Gamut Kollektiv and aiming to extend conventional acoustic improvisational forms with rich sonic additions and modern grooves. ... Click to View


Bao Luo / Jean-Marc Foussat: Surface Calme (Fou Records)

A 5-part work of improvisations on keyboards, voice, guzheng and flute from French improviser Jean-Marc Foussat and Bao Luo (Beijing Talking), a mysterious album of nocturnal sounds, grand expressions, furtive language, and rich textures and timbres, as Bao Luo provides a guiding voice in song and speach to their beguiling dialog; an exotic and expressive album. ... Click to View


Metamorphic: The Two Fridas (Discus)

Having met at Middlesex University in 2001, this sophisticated London-based contemporary jazz/folk sextet formed in 2011, recently adding vocalist Kerry Andrew (Juice), as pianist Laura Cole composes music and text based on her personal experiences; pieces include two collective improvs and 2 reworkings of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman". ... Click to View


Chris Meloche / Martin Archer / Gino Robair / Lyn Hodnett: The Sincerity Of Light (Discus)

The quartet of Canadian electronics composer Chris Meloche and label leader Martin Archer on woodwinds and electronics orchestrated these pieces, performed with improvsations from Gino Robair on percussion and electronics and Lyn Hodnett on voice, for a 3 part work of rich interactive loops, drones and soundscape, ranging from spine-chilling to lush and lovely environments. ... Click to View


Eclectic Maybe Band: The Blind Night Watchers' Mysterious Landscapes (Discus)

Univers Zero bassist Guy Seger brought this eclectic group of improvisers into the studio to develop the music on this genre-defying album, informed by a sextet of musicians who have performed and recorded with projects and artists including Vanishing Pictures, X-Legged Sally, Wrong Object, Tony Levin, Tony Bianco, Paul Schutze, Trevor Watts, Zeena Parkins, Jim O'Rourke, &c. ... Click to View


Martin Archer & Engine Room Favourites: Safety Signal From A Target Town (Discus)

Saxophonist Martin Archer composed the five works on this, the 3rd release for Engine Room Favorites, his AACM-influenced big band with a tremendous orchestration of horns with drums, vibes, piano and bass, here with their most complex yet melodic and rich release yet, including melodic elements of folk music, powerful rhythms from prog-oriented rock, and free improv and jazz. ... Click to View


Laura Steenberge : Harmonica Fables (Nueni)

A truly unique album of solo harmonica and voice from Bay Area performer and composer Laura Steenberge, who's studies in folk music, psycholinguistics, acoustics and medieval Byzantine chant brings a sense of the ancient to modern experimentalism, transforming the instrument in a variety of illusive ways that are both enigmatic and entirely embraceable. ... Click to View


Florian Stoffner / Albert Cirera: I'm A Resonant Aircraft (Creative Sources)

Swiss electric guitarist Florian Stoffner (Manuel Mengis Grupp) and Spanish/Portuguese saxophonist Albert Cirera (Agusti Fernandez Liquid Trio) present the 8 part "IRMA" in concise free improvisations, restrained but alert and quick-witted dialogs that explore their instruments with alternate approaches to each in articulate ways. ... Click to View


Niklas Fite / Alexander Frangenheim: Sugar Is A Necessary Fluid (Creative Sources)

Two string players, Swedish acoustic guitarist and banjo player Niklas Fite, and German double bassist Alexander Frangenheim, recording in the studio in Berlin in 2017 for 10 succinct improvisations ranging from quick interactive discourse of a pointillistic nature to near silent meditations using unusual and extended techniques, a quirky and informed album. ... Click to View


Paul Flaherty / Gene Moore / Gene Janas / Federico Ughi: Morfina [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

First conceived during the 2016 Forward Festival when noise guitarist Gene Moore and NYC experimental bassist Gene Janas invited noted avant-garde drummer Federico Ughi for the second part of their set, the results being so impressive that they asked saxophonist Paul Flaherty to join them to record this album and to perform at the Forward Festival 2017. ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / Tobias Wilner / Djibril Toure / Federico Ughi: New York United [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

An excellent blend of electronics and acoustics as saxophonist, flutist and trumpeter Daniel Carter meets sound artist Tobias Wilner from world-renowned electronic pop band Blue Foundation, with Wu-Tang Clan bass player Djibril Toure and drum wiz Federico Ughi rounding out this forward-thinking album of hazy and rhythmic electroacoustic environments. ... Click to View


Silvan Schmid Quintet: At Gamut (Hatology)

Swiss trumpeter Silvan Schmid is a cofounder of the Gamut Kollektiv, organizing festivals and concerts, here caught live in 2016 at Gamut Series No 1 at Amboss Rampe in Zurich with his own quintet of Tapiwa Svosve on sax, Silvan Jeger on cello, Vincent Glanzmann on drums, and Lucas Wirz on tuba performing 6 Schmid compositions of profoundly lyrical free jazz. ... Click to View


Bucher / Tan / Countryman: Tributary (Self Released)

American ex-pat and Philippines-based alto saxophonist Rick Countryman joins with Philippines bassist Simon Tan and visiting Swiss drummer Christian Bucher to capture this live concert in that starts by paying homage to Eric Dolphy, amongst a strong set of jazz and blues influenced numbers and the two part building and flowing "Tributary". ... Click to View


Bucher / Countryman: Estuary (Self Released)

A live concert in the Philippines from American expatriate saxophonist Rick Countryman and visiting Swiss drummer Christian Bucher, a classic free jazz drum and sax duo informed by creative playing and superb rhythmic interplay, balancing lyrical progressions with a wonderful stream of concepts, this is a great example of the far reach of free jazz. ... Click to View


Sabu Toyozumi / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan / Stella Ignacio / Isla Antinero: JYA-NE (Self Released)

Four configurations of free jazz recorded live during a vist by trombonist Sabu Toyozumi to Manila: first in a duo with alto saxophonist Rick Countryman; then in a duo with drummer and erhu player Sabu Toyozumi; then expanded to a quintet with vocalist Stella Ignaci and electric bassist Simon Tan; and last as a free jazz trio with Countryman, Tan, and Toyzumi. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Thought Experiment (Evil Clown)

The core trio of Leap of Faith Orchestra--David Peck on clarinets, saxophones & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion--joined by Mimi Rabson on violin, the quartet recording with the full Leap of Faith Orchestra arsenal of instruments; plus an expanded LOF recording of the Orchestra work "Possible Worlds". ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Gravitation (Evil Clown)

The core of Leap of Faith Orchestra--David Peck on reeds and winds, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion-- joined by Eric Zinman on piano, recorded at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA, where Evil Clown has a residency on the third Saturday of each month, presenting a variation of subunits from one of their larger units. ... Click to View


PEK Solo: Fulcrum (Evil Clown)

Extracting the leader from a multitude of ensembles, David Peck's solo album has him performing on tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, clarinet, contraalto clarinet, bassoon, tarota, hand chimes, accordion, [d]ronin, wood, metal, aquasonic, daxophone, Atlantis gong, plus pre-recorded mixes adding a "soloist with tape" aspect to his complex and rich performance. ... Click to View


Turbulence: Amorphous Solids (Evil Clown)

Turbulence is the extended horn section for the Leap of Faith Orchestra, a varying-sized ensemble, recording here at Boston area's Outpost 196 as a quartet with PEK on reeds, Bob Moores on trumpet and Dan O'Brien on sax, clarinets & flutes, all playing an assortment of percussive devices, with Leap of Faith core member Yuri Zbitnoff as a dedicated percussionist. ... Click to View


Metal Chaos Ensemble: Shape Memory (Evil Clown)

Wind player David Peck and percussionist Yuri Zbitnoff formed Metal Chaos Ensemble to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, employing an arsenal of percussion, electronic and wind instruments, becoming one of Evil Clown's most prolific sub-units, here with Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar, Eric Woods on analog synth, and Eric Zinman on percussion. ... Click to View


Mekaniks: The Great Klown Panik of 2017 - Klownpocalypse (Evil Clown)

A collaboration of Leap of Faith members, percussionist Yuri Zbitnov, multi-reedist and wind player David Peck, with guests from the Evil Clown roster, adding electroacoustic elements including looping, sampling and electronic processing to their improvisation, here with Joel Simches on real-time signal processing, alongside sound artists Greg Grinnell & Bob Moores. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : Braxton: (Willisau) 1991 Studio [2 CDs] (Hatology)

Reissuing and remastering the two studio albums from the 1992 4-CD boxset of Anthony Braxton's Quartet with Marily Crispell (piano), Mark Dresser (double bass) and Gerry Hemingway (drums & marimba) recording in Willisau, Switzerland, realizing 10 Braxton numbered compositions with masterful skill and virtuosity, an exceptional set of modern jazz. ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp : Symbol Systems (Hatology)

Originally issued in 1995 on the No More Records label, this was New York pianist Matthew Shipp's 6th release as a leader and first solo album, still a rarity in his discography, as we hear Shipp in 14 succinct improvisation that explore texture, tone, and his frameworks that embrace a structured approach to theoretical aspects of the music with warmth and lyricism. ... Click to View


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  Big Sounds in a Small Town  

The Victoriaville Festival celebrates, or at least notices, its 20th anniversary


By Kurt Gottschalk
Photos by Martin Morissette 2003-06-19

Last year, after the 19th annual Festival International de Musicque Actuelle de Victoriaville, I asked festival organizer Michel Levasseur if he had big plans for Victo's 20th birthday. His response was, quite simply, that it was just another year and that he didn't see any reason why it should be a bigger deal than any other year.

Still, there were signs all over the small town (with a population of about 40,000, 7,000 tickets sold over the course of the five-day festival represent a noticeable swell on the streets every Victoria Day weekend) celebrating the anniversary, and a downtown bank gave away pieces of a birthday cake inscribed to FIMAV. Mentions of the anniversary from the stage, however, were rare. And while there were big sets from big names with long histories at the fest, other performances almost seemed to reinforce the idea that anniversaries are no big deal. Along with the stars and the oddities, a current of small sounds, well amplified, ran through the five-day festival.

Frith, Lussier, Etc.
Fred Frith, Maxime Lepage, René Lussier, Tom Walsh
Rene Lussier and Fred Frith performed at the first festival in 1983, and a duo set was the first release on Victo records, so it was fitting enough that the Quebecois guitarist opened the first night of the fest with Frith in his band. The nonet played deeply deconstructed folk songs from Lussier's record Tombola Rasa, with melodies sometimes only vaguely recognizable. Some pieces were played by smaller groupings of the ensemble, but when the full group played they toyed with familiar melodies and themes that would dissolve and break apart frustratingly fast, phrases filtering, sweltering, smelting, flowing, growing but never quite gelling. It wasn't until the third song, with Lussier singing, that that Franco-Dixie-St. Germaine sources became apparent (at least to a listener visiting from the States).

Excellent support was provided especially by violinist Liette Remon and clarinetist Lori Freedman, but the nine people onstage were an orchestra (as well as a big band and a hootenanny), with all the diversity and arrangement that befits an orchestra. Euro jazz, mountain music, hula, funk and, of course, the inexplicable, the actuelle and French lyrics were incorporated, reminding visitors from the south that North American music comes from all over North America.

Fred Frith returned three nights later with Montreal's Nouvel Ensemble Moderne to present three composed works (including Traffic Continues released in 2000 by Winter & Winter) intertwined into a long suite over 75 minutes.

While the pieces were a little too similar to combine into a dynamic suite, the performance was enhanced by sonically theatrical staging. Musicians rose from their seats and moved to the side of the stage, playing and speaking without microphones (as with almost all of the sets at Victo, the performers were otherwise well miked and the sound was exemplary), dropping wooden blocks on the stage floor and creating an acoustic sound field within the piano syncopation and complex, linear, nonrepeating oboe and flute lines emanating from the p.a. Frith took over the conducting from ensemble leader Lorraine Vaillancourt for brief interludes of real-time arrangements before slinking back to the side of the stage to punctuate with his prepared guitar. It was an interesting, romantic, static, intelligent and lucid suite. The pieces no doubt stand better distinct, but what should be expected from an inventive mind other than inventive ways to present its work?

The Victo festival also has a long relationship with the Montreal label Ambiences Magnetiques, which was represented in several of the concerts, including a duet by Jean Derome and Joane Hétu, the husband/wife team that co-founded and run the label.

Intimacy is a word that gets thrown around a lot in discussions of music: intimate clubs, intimate atmospheres, intimate concerts, intimate albums. But the intimacy of family, of a gracious couple entertaining guests, brings an altogether different nuance to the claim. Derome and Hétu are perfect hosts, jointly relating stories, complimenting without interrupting each other. They surely must be the sort of couple that defers conversational points to each other, depending on who "tells it better."

Joane Hetu
Joane Hétu
Hétu on alto and vocals, Derome on alto, flute, bass flute and an array of sound-making devices, both singing and vocalizing, their songs (sung in French) were miniature portraits of domesticity and getting along, imparting a feeling of cooking dinner while the news plays in the next room. Intimate enough as to simply breathe into the microphone and through the saxophone. And jazz being the macho business that it is, you have to appreciate a guy who'll go onstage and play patty-cake with his wife.

Mike Patton has more recently become a regular on the Victo program, but nevertheless pulled together a program of note. His Fantomas, playing in tandem with The Melvins as the Fantomas Melvins Big Band, had only done one previous concert before they closed the last night of the fest. They began as a double trio with two singers, two bassists and two drummers in perfect sync. Two rock bands demanding sacrifice in unision, like Black Sabbath looking in a mirror. From there they broke into bpm noise and huge thrash metal. It was the festival's closing party and it's money shot, and they rocked freakin' suitably. Flipping between anthemic speed grinds and tense, sparse, hilarious segues, the assault came to an end with all six bashing on cymbals for more than a short time. Learned listeners run the risk of overlooking them because they might not be good, or at least not especially innovative, and indeed Mike Patton has become very adept at doing other people's ideas well. But what matters about rock bands has never been if they're good. What matters about rock bands is if they rock.

Another blockbuster set was a double trio fronted by Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker. They opened with an all-out twin tenor Coltrane attack. The two saxophones began a simple unison theme and took only moments to turn that into sheer energy. They truly were a double trio: Brötzmann, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker leaving the stage early on to give Evan Parker, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Paul Lytton the spotlight, then Parker and von Schlippenbach setting down a series of short statements, separated by brief pauses while Lytton lightly rolled across cymbals and snare.

The sextet moved beyond its double-trio structure and into a rotating ensemble. Different passages in the unbreaking piece included quintets with each of the horns stepping out, a remarkable trio with von Schlippenbach's piano and the two drummers and a bass/drum duo by Parker and Drake. The sextet ended, dissolving until a few lone notes hung in the air. An unnecessary but welcome encore brought them back to the stage, and back to the Trane. In a festival revolving so much around the new and unusual, it was great to hear free jazz this good.

Perhaps the most excitement was generated by two sets from John Zorn, and indeed it was odd coming from New York to hear over 1,000 people screaming for one of his game pieces. Zorn presented a big, fat, long Cobra, thickly coiled and taking its own sweet time to strike. And with Mr. Zorn approaching the dawn of his sixth decade, it was a more generous Cobra as well, with the leader at the prompter's pulpit offering players the opportunity to lead the piece, a move known as 'guerilla tactics' that once had to be claimed, not merely accepted, by participants. (Alternately, Zorn ended some moves early, seeming to break with game piece tradition in order to ensure a stronger musical result.)

Cobra is the most played of Zorn's game pieces, a set of rules that impose structure on improvisation and allow players to direct the performance even as they're playing. At its core, it's about using personality clashes and sympathies to create an environment automatically tailored for any set of musicians. This meeting, however, didn't explore individual or cultural divides. Zorn used the structure as a compositional tool more than he allowed players to contend against each other to build something not entirely controllable. Cobras of late have become more musical and less contentious anyway. This one was immense, monolithic and satisfying, thanks primarily to Diane Labrosse's fierce, grinding noise and guest Makagami Koichi's leaps and screams.

Electric Masada have been woodshedding a more orchestrated, fast-cut version of the latest take on the Masada songbook, but unfortunately the group was in jam band mode for their set. An unusually powerful, syncopated, melodic and structured set was presented by some other visiting New Yorkers, however. Mephista were more dynamic than ever, visually cuing each other and even referring to scores, a direction which, according to laptop percussionist Ikue Mori, the group has developed with recent heavy touring.

MINIATURES

Sparse electronic music can have a microscopic effect, like listening to photosynthesis or cells dividing. When it's done well, it can carry the feeling of the lives we live zoomed in to an unrecognizable degree. Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse, both Canadian, worked that angle well, pairing soft crackles and reverberating whirs with slow black-and-white videos of pedestrians shot from overhead. The walkers got nowhere, the documentation of their simple tasks slowed, reversed and repeated, displayed on four monitors surrounding the audience. It was life slowed to a crawl, mental activity not mattering, biological functions continuing.

The miniature music was amplified to epic proportions with a quintet comprised of Quebecers Diane Labrosse and Martin Tetreault and French improvisers Xavier Charles and the duo Kristoff K. Roll. The electronics-and-small-objects ensemble invited observers into the physical space, setting up in a circle in the middle of the room and asking the audience to promenade around them, revealing their many sound sources to full view. The quintet included Labrosse's laptop and Tetreault's turntable, but otherwise relied on cups of lentils, kitchen utensils, rubber bands, aluminum foil, plastic toys, cds dropped onto a zither being moved arross a tabletop scattered with rice. Charles' clarinet provided the only strictly musical sounds; his short squeaks and breathy tones would push the edges in a jazz context, but against the rattle of this giant junk drawer it sounded deceptively melodious. The rest was amplified more than it was altered, coming off deceptively like electronically generated music when it was really the sounds of inanimate life, with the volume up.

Another quintet seemed to embody not the sound but the actual movement of thousands of small objects. In an excellent set by Kazue Sawai, Michel Doneda, Kazuo Imai, Le Quan Ninh and Tetsu Saitoh, the players were in constant movement, flying under the radar of chaos. Guitar, bass and koto strings were rubbed and rubbed hard while Le Quan worked metal edges against his table-mounted bass drum. Doneda darted above and circled below with his soprano. They were frenetic, energetic, quietly fast and fantastic.

Krebs Neumann
Annette Krebs & Andrea Neumann
The microsonic plane was further explored by two essentially acoustic players, Annette Krebs on guitar and Andrea Neumann playing the strings and metal frame of a piano stripped of keys, pedals and wooden casing. With contact mikes placed on the guitar laid across her lap, Krebs applied steel wool, brushes and bows to her hypersensitive strings. Likewise, Neumann's playing had less to do with the vibration of strings than what can be made to happen upon them. The sounds themselves weren't of particular note. Instead, their aesthetic is about a shared penchant for placing the sounds, and they work quiet beautifully together.



continued...




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