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Okkyung Lee:
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Yeo-Neun Quartet is an experimental chamber music ensemble founded in 2016 by Okkyung Lee on cello, with harpist Maeve Gilchrist, pianist Jacob Sacks, and bassist Eivind Opsvik, in a detailed album merging melodic contemporary composition with free improvisation and unusual technique, as Lee explores her musical history and experiences through ten dramatically elegant works. ... Click to View


Various Artists (Luigi Russolo / Chris Cutler / Nick Sudnick / Andrzej Karpinski / Alessandro Monti / Silvio Mix / Pietro Verardo:
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Architect John Körmeling and maverick musician Charlemagne Palestine collaborate on a whole new system of music, reworking the harpsichord to generate notes of Pythagorean ratios, asking visionary and idiosyncratic to create a set of recordings on the instrument that Palestine dubbed "The Frogischord", this unique double LP the documentation of that music. ... Click to View


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Brandon Seabrook (w/ Cooper-Moore / Gerald Cleaver):
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The title aptly describes the intense excitement and exhilaration of NY guitarist Brandon Seabrook's second trio album on Astral Spirits, performed with rhythm giants Cooper-Moore on Diddley Bow (a single-string bass) and free jazz drum legend Gerald Cleaver, the two creating a percolating interactive foundation for Seabrooks powerfully expressive and investigative playing. ... Click to View


Liebman / Brecker / Copland / Alessi / Gress / Baron:
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Greg Foster has been merging poetry with music since the 60s, including work with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Thelonious Monk, here joins pianist Joel Futterman also on curved soprano saxophone and Indian flute, accompanying Foster's potent words and messages in 8 poems, including the 19 minutes "Alabama Exequy" examining the pain and horror of racism. ... Click to View


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Released for their 50th anniversary, The LJCO, in configurations of up to 21 musicians including Derek Bailey, Trevor Watts, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, &c., perform works by Kenny Wheeler, Barry Guy, Paul Rutherford and Howard Riley, captured live at the Berliner Jazztage in 1972; at Donaueschingen Musiktage in 1972; in the studio in 1980; and London's Round House in 1980. ... Click to View


Dave Rempis / Elisabeth Harnik / Michael Zerang:
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Recording in Graz, Austria in 2019 at the club Tube's, Chicago alto saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Michael Zerang, frequent collaborators with Ken Vandermark and The Resonance Ensemble, joined with Austrian improvising and classical pianist Elisabeth Harnik to record three exuberant and incredibly informed improvisations: "Triple Tube" I through III. ... Click to View


Barre Phillips:
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The title to be taken literally, these two solo concerts recorded in Canada by French-based US bassist Barre Phillips, the first recorded at Vancouver Western Front in 1989, the 2nd from the 35th International Festival Music Festival of Victoriaville in 2019, both exemplary concerts showing his masterful skills and ability to captivate then and now. ... Click to View


Joelle Leandre / Lauren Newton / Myra Melford:
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The 13th International Festival of Improvised Music "Ad Libitum" in Warsaw, 2018, themed "Women Alarm!", presented the new trio of Joëlle Léandre (double bass), Myra Melford (piano), and Lauren Newton (free improv voice), performing a masterfully energetic, quirky and indescribably enthralling set of trio and duo improvisations titled "Whisper" 1 through 8. ... Click to View


Conference Call (Gebhard Ullmann / Michael Jefry Stevens / Joe Fonda / Dieter Ulrich):
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The tenth Conference Call album and the first with drummer Dieter Ulrich taking over for former drummers Matt Wilson, Han Bennink, George Schuller and Gerry Hemingway, the 20 years journey for this transatlantic band leading to this album captured in the studio in Central NY while on tour, performing 3 original compositions from Ullman, 2 from Fonda, and 2 from Stevens. ... Click to View


Philippe Lauzier / Eric Normand :
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An album of quiet improvisation focused on timbre, rhythm and pensive pacing from the duo of bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier and bassist Éric Normand, also using objects to create mysterious tones and acoustic sonics, released as a limited 300g paper card hand-printed by Normad with an accompanying download code, 1 of 2 art cards initiating an 8-card series. ... Click to View


Michel Doneda:
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Performing on soprano and sopranino saxophones, French saxophonist Michel Doneda is heard in concert at Tiasci in Paris for three "Monstre" solo improvisations of quietly emphatic playing using extended techniques and unusual phrasing, released as a limited 250g paper card hand-printed by Normad with an accompanying download code, 1 of 2 art cards initiating an 8-card series. ... Click to View


Von LMO:
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The 1981 debut studio album of Von LMO, released independently in 1981 through his label StraZar, dedicated to the advancement of the United States space program, described by music journalist Chuck Eddy as being one of the 500 best albums of heavy metal in his Stairway to Hell book, here in the Flemish Masters edition with the track "Shake, Rattle and Roll". ... Click to View


KNW :
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An album of ecstatic noise improv with an experimental edge from the trio of Ulrich Krieger on tenor saxophone & contrabass clarinet, Nandor Nevai on "throats" & drums, and Wolcott on oscillator & electronics, viciously assertive music in seven track of mostly succinct statements composed or conceived by each of the band members; cathartic. ... Click to View


Cecil Taylor / Tony Oxley:
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Performing in the intimacy of the Birdland Jazz Club in 2011, New York innovative pianist Cecil Taylor met with London free jazz legendary percussionist and long-time associate in The Feel Trio, Tony Oxley, Taylor's rapid often percussive approach to the keys pairing with Oxley's percussive work, and both invoking lyrical beauty from the other. ... Click to View


John Coltrane Quartet:
My Favorite Things Graz 1962 (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

The 2nd volume from tenor & soprano saxophonist John Coltrane 1962 tour of Europe and Scandinavia, heard here in late November at Stefaniensaal, Graz with his quartet of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones, the band playing classic numbers under the influence of Coltrane's expanding drive to transform his music toward greater freedom. ... Click to View


George Lewis / Ozana Omelchuk (Studio Dan):
Breaking News (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Two works commissioned by the Austrian Studio Dan ensemble: "As We May Feel" by George Lewis, referencing visionary engineer Vannevar Bush's concepts of data linking & association, in a work reminding how music recombines and associates; and Oxana Omelchuk's double concerto for two trombonists, "Wow and Flutter", taking listeners on a profound journey through recording technologies. ... Click to View



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  Mattin 
  Songbook #7  
  (Munster Records) 


  
   review by Phil Zampino
  2019-08-21
Mattin: Songbook #7 (Munster Records)

The first Songbook from sound artist Mattin was released in 2005, releasing 4 "Songbooks" within the first year, then taking a long break until 2014, when Songbook 5 was released. Three years later #6 was issued, and #7, the latest as of this review, in 2018. The concept behind the series initiated as "improvisation as a way or exposing structural clichés in pop/rock music" and "song structures to demystify the so-called spontaneity and freedom of improvisation."

The series had rough beginnings, presented as collections of off-the-cuff songs with little treatment, raw and fully on display; the reception to those albums seems to have been equally coarse. Mattin persisted, 2006's Songbook Volume 4 presented as a 5-piece band performing live in Tokyo, with the lineup of long-time collaborator Taku Unami on bass, Anthony Guerra on guitar, Jean-Luc Guionnet on sax, and Tomoya Izumi "shouting". The Squid's Ear's writer Kurt Gottschalk, reviewing the album in 2008, declared: It's cool, it's raw - your parents wouldn't like it, and your kids probably won't either.

To back this assessment, Mattin issued the following manifesto to coincide with the release:

1. Make up songs on the spot
2. The songs must have a beginning, a chorus, and an end
3. Record the songs directly into the internal microphone of a laptop computer
4. Use improvisation as a way or exposing structural and improvisational clichés in pop/rock music
5. Use song structures to demystify the so-called spontaneity and freedom of improvisation
6. Release the recordings on different labels and laugh at different peoples reactions

Mattin : Songbook #5 [VINYL] (Disembraining Machine )

The reviews for Songbook Volume 4 were more positive, and the series seems to have taken a turn, so it's surprising that the next album took six years to come about.

On Songbook 5 Mattin recruited five musicians (Alex Cuffe, Andrew McLellan, Dean Roberts, Joel Stern, and Mattin himself) to record five spontaneous "songs" of five-minute duration, each in response to five different concepts of five different five-word song titles. Mattin then recorded vocals for each as a form of singing lecture at The Victorian College of the Arts, where Mattin heard the music on headphones but the audience does not hear the music; he subsequently superimposed the vocals onto the songs. One can only imagine the unique and perhaps maddening qualities of that lecture, but the unusual process provided results unlike any other rock album.

Mattin: Songbook #6 [VINYL] (Munster Records, Insulin Addicted Records, Crudités Tapes)

Songbook 6 from 2013 is performed with Farahnaz Hatam, Pan Daijing, Colin Hacklander, Werner Dafeldecker, and Dean Roberts, a vicious mix of essentially no-wave rock and experimental music, six songs at exactly six minutes each covering topics of the conflicts, confusion and frustrations of our modern age. The number theme continues here, and the songs become more articulated even if difficult to follow, the music more controlled but not polished, and certainly not predictable. Dean Roberts writes: "Yes, there is rock, but it's so deformed that not even no wave could help you make sense out of it." It's rock with an experimental bent, using plenty of electronics, and little indication of who is doing what. It's a far cry from Songbook 1, but it's still crying with angst, confrontational, and with a Berlin-backing band, hearkening a bit to Einstürzende Neubauten and similar bands of foreboding sound and word.

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

Which finally brings us to this review: Songbook 7, recorded in 2017. From its humble roots, the Songbook series has become serious, and Mattin is using his songbooks as a solid platform for social commentary with an incredible band capable of shaping his intentions in sound. As he states, if previous Songbooks dealt with the tension between improvisation and song structure, this Songbook explores the tension between the individual and the collective, while contrasting historic moments against modern politics, comparing the present with the past, and exploring issues like the rise of fascism.

In an impressive septet with Lucio Capece (bass clarinet & sampler), Marcel Dickhage (voice, sampler & German texts), Colin Hacklander (drums), Farahanz Hatam (computer), Mattin (voice & English texts), Moor Mother (electronics) and Cathleen Schuster (voice, sampler & German texts), Mattin uses this Songbook to contemplate two moments as historical inspiration: the first 7 months of the 1917 Russian Revolution; and Germaine Berton, the anarchist who in 1923 was accused of murdering Marius Plateau, director of the far-right organization French Action League.

To do this Mattin blends spoken words and electronics, shards of rock, noise, and otherwise inexplicable sound, all in an unpredictable amalgamation. Several of the pieces initiate as narratives, with intense musical accompaniment building, pausing at times for spoken asides, and then thickening like a chaotic clash, reflecting the events described. There's room for individual improvisation, and Capece, Mother Moor and Hacklander stand out in throttled and energetic cries, each eventually subsumed by the sonic tempest and overshadowed by statements that whiplash the listener, bouncing from speaker to speaker and modified by an array of treatments. Altogether it's an excellent work that fuses disparate musical and sonic forms in emphatics ways to create an enveloping set of sonic environments that support the themes of the album.

Each recording on the LP is named for a successive month, each distinctive in the layering and density of sound. "January" is foreboding and thick with a cloud of sound, effected and robotic voices guiding and rebuking; "February" builds thicker, demanding, driving but taking narrative pauses, twists & turns; "March" & "April" are reserved, instructive, mysterious; "May" experimental, filled with space and innuendo, whispered voices, fractured bits of sound and quietly aberrant and swelling electronics. The music's unpredictability is its fascination; at times the listener is overwhelmed, at times perplexed, at times startled, at times soothed into complacency.

We are led to track 6, "June", which is an audio discussion of the album's objectives and degrees of success; this level of self-awareness reflects Mattin's serious exploration of his themes--this is not an album to take lightly, and his subjects are non-trivial issues that have vexed society for decades. The album ends in "July", returning to the work of the album with distressed and desperate cries from Mattin. Is it frustration at the cyclical nature of these issues and their failure to resolve, for people to escape control and fascism, to transform society to something lastingly better?



Mattin: Songbook #7
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