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Recently @ Squidco:

Evan Parker / Pat Thomas / John Russell / John Edwards / Alex Ward / Alison Blunt / Benedict Taylor / David Leahy / Kay Grant: Mopomoso Tour 2013 | Making Rooms [4 CDs] (Weekertoft)

An excellent 4-CD set from a UK tour of the long-running London monthly concert series Mopomoso, featuring improvisations from various grouping of John Russell, Evan Parker, John Edwards, David Leahy, Pat Thomas, Alison Blunt, Benedict Taylor, Kay Grant & Alex Ward. ... Click to View

Alvin Curran: Natural History [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

The first-ever vinyl issue of Alvin Curran's 1983 cassette release, a composition of organized field recordings, a major work he describes as a series of "still lifes" from 20 years of recordings with an engrossingly diverse set of curious and concrete sounds - amazing! ... Click to View

Sam Shalabi / Alan Bishop & Sam Shalabi: Mother Of All Sinners (Puppet On A String) [VINYL] (Unrock)

Montreal guitarist Sam Shalabi and Sun City Girls guitarist Alan Bishop in a release on Unrock's Saraswati Series, string-oriented albums; here Shalabi performs on electric guitar and oud, while Bishop plays alto sax and sings in a "oriental psychedelic free form". ... Click to View

Aaron Dilloway: Songs About Jason [VINYL 10-inch] (Amethyst Sunset)

Originally released in limited edition of forty copies for a solo/duo show with Jason Lescalleet in 2013, this 10" release remasters the original release, a disorienting and melodic album of tape loops and dark ambient drone. ... Click to View

Bushman's Revenge: Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen (Rune Grammofon)

The Norwegian trio of guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, drummer Gard Nilssen, and bassist Rune Nergaard in their 8th Bushman's Revenge album, bridging free improvisation and 70s style prog-oriented rock, non-histrionic, outstanding instrumental music with great depth. ... Click to View

Bushman's Revenge: Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen [VINYL + CD] (Rune Grammofon)

The Norwegian trio of guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, drummer Gard Nilssen, and bassist Rune Nergaard in their 8th Bushman's Revenge album, bridging free improvisation and 70s style prog-oriented rock, non-histrionic, outstanding instrumental music with great depth. ... Click to View

Bushman's Revenge: Bushman's Fire [VINYL + CD] (Rune Grammofon)

Live recordings at Cafe Mono in Oslo, Norway of the extended edition of Bushman's Revenge, the trio of guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, drummer Gard Nilssen, and bassist Rune Nergaard with David Wallumrod on Hammond Organ and Kjetil Moster on saxophone. ... Click to View

Peter Brotzmann / Steve Noble / John Edwards: The Worse The Better (Otoroku)

CD edition of the first set performed by the trio of Peter Brotzmann, Steve Noble and John Edwards at Cafe OTO in January 2010 during Brotzmann's first residency at the venue, and the first time this trio had played together. ... Click to View

Hearts & Minds (Stein / Giallorenzo / Rosaly): Hearts & Minds [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The Chicago trio of Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Paul Giallorenzon on keys, and Frank Rosaly on drums, performing a joyful album of lyrical jazz, blending compositions and free playing with modern creative skills and unpredictable, enthusiastic soloing; superb! ... Click to View

Talibam! w/ Alan Wilkinson: It is Dangerous to Lean Out [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

The Downtown NY insanely creative duo Talibam! of Kevin Shea on drums and Matt Motel on keys is joined by free improvising legend, saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, for two incendiary improvisations performed live at Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sardinia, Italy. ... Click to View

Tim Stine Trio The: Tim Stine Trio [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

Acoustic guitarist Tim Stine and his trio with upright bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly, an all-star group of younger Chicago players in an album of buoyant, original improvisations with great give-and-take from a superb working band of contemporaries. ... Click to View

Konstrukt w/ Graham Massey & David McLean: Live at Islington Mills [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

The Turkish Konstrukt trio teamed up with 808 State guitarist Graham Massey and pianist David Andrew McLean (Charles Hayward's Anonymous Bash) for a live album at Islington Mill in Salford England for two sides of blistering avant-funk, cosmic space sounds. ... Click to View

Rankin-Parker/Pearce: Odd Hits [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

An exhilarating and unusual set of duos for drum and cello from Daniel Pierce and Teddy Rankin-Parker, the latter known for Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, ICE, and work with Primus; together they deliver intense and captivating polyrhythms and unexpected string sonics. ... Click to View

Tashi Dorji / Tyler Damon: Live at the Spot +1 [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

The free improvising duo of Himalayan guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon, who preform regularly as a duo based in Asheville, NC and Bloomington, IN, here in a live album of thick and energetic interaction bordering on the ecstatic, recorded in two exhilarating concerts. ... Click to View

R. Dockery Lee / Smokey Emery: Cathedrelic [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

An album of dark and cavernous sound in the second release from the sound-sculpting duo of R. Lee Dockery and Smoke Emery (aka Daniel Hipolito), two long tracks that evolve with the patience and intensity of a dark sacramental journey in deeply detailed drone. ... Click to View

Ben Bennett : Trap [CASSETTE with DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

Twelve tracks of solo percussion using a variety of drum-like devices, an intense album of percussive possibilities that surprise in the variety of approaches, the intensity of sound, and the dynamics of each work, using close microphones to capture sonic details. ... Click to View

Jerman / Barnes: Goethe (Confront)

An extended improvisation of muted sound from the long-running duo of Jeph Jerman and Tim Barnes, performing live at Non-Event in Boston, creating mysterious analog sounds and cycles of drones with underlaying metallic textures creating an environment of suspense. ... Click to View

Angharad Davies / Tisha Mukarji: Ffansion | Fancies (Another Timbre)

The title reflecting violinist Angharad Davies' Welsh Roots, this duo with inside pianist Tisha Mukarji furthers the collaborations of these improvisers, recording in St Catherine's Church in South London, using the acoustics of the space to shape the form of their music. ... Click to View

Illogical Harmonies (Chang / Majkowski): Volume (Another Timbre)

A joint composition for violin and double bass, developed over six months in 2015 by violinist and Wandelweiser composer Johnny Chang with bassist Mike Majkowski, a fragile and beautifully revealing work in 5 parts that moves slowly through subtle harmonic changes. ... Click to View

Linda Smith Catlin : Dirt Road (Another Timbre)

Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith's extended composition for violin and percussion in 15 parts, performed by percussionist Simon Limbrick and violinist Mira Benjamin, a unique orchestration that reveals a journey of steady pace, tension and beauty. ... Click to View

Bryn Harrison : Receiving the Approaching Memory (Another Timbre)

Bryn Harrison's highly acclaimed, labyrinthine composition for violin & piano from 2014, expertly realised by violinist Aisha Orazbayeva and pianist Mark Knoop, for whom this 5-part work of beautiful repetitions reflecting tapestries of sound was written. ... Click to View

Sergio Merce: Be Nothing (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

A beautifully ambient album of analogue synthesiser, microtonal saxophone and electronics by Argentinian saxophonist Sergio Merce, a single long track that pauses and resumes its rich tones and harmonies at a deliberate and measured pace, allowing each environment to ring. ... Click to View

John Cage : Branches (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

The Ensemble Daswirdas performs John Cage's "Branches" composition, which is based on a previous work, "Child of Tree", but here each performer plays an 8 minute variation of that work, which is performed on amplified pods, cacti, and other plant materials. ... Click to View

Radu Malfatti: Radu Malfatti (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Austrian trombonist and composer presents two works: a solo piece for trombone comprised of a series of detached sonic events; and a work performed with the Wandelweiser String Quartet, using bowing and blowing techniques to create punctuations of unusual sound. ... Click to View

Wilmington Sound Orchestra: Play Russolo (Bad At Raving Foundation)

Two interpretations of Luigi Russolo's 1914 Futurist noise composition "Risveglio Di Uns Citta" ("The Awakening Of A City"), performed forwards and backwards, from a live performance at Squidco headquarters in Wilmington, NC. ... Click to View

Nate Wooley: Argonautica (Firehouse 12 Records)

Trumpeter Nate Wooley's major 3-part work makes oblique reference to dodecaphony, ambient tape music, and the minimalist rock of Terry Riley, conceived as a tribute to Wooley's mentor Ron Miles, who performs alongside Devin Gray & Rudy Royston (drums), Cory Smythe & Jozef Dumoulin (piano). ... Click to View

Peter Evans: Lifeblood [USB Drive] (More Is More)

Trumpeter Peter Evans' first solo release in over 5 years, presenting two demanding and impressive live performances from 2015/16, during Evan's residency at Roulette, and at Bop Stop in Cleveland, presented on a USB credit card drive in mp3 and wav formats, with liner notes. ... Click to View

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

First meeting of Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and New York bassist Joe Fonda, initiated at the suggestion of Fonda, recorded in Portland, Maine at the Dimensions in Jazz Series, a beautifully recorded and intimate duo of superb dialog between two seasoned improvisers. ... Click to View

Bertrand Denzler / Antonin Gerbal / Alex Dorner: Le Ring (Confront)

Having performed in duos previously, this trio came together at Festival Noise No. 5, at Theatre Le Ring, in Toulouse, the sound of the group is a "malleable space in which the musicians generate small or bigger shapes, simple and complex sounds, irregular and mechanical rhythms." ... Click to View

Forebrace (Ward / Sassi / Horro / Doulton): Steeped (Relative Pitch)

Blending jazz and rock forms with frenetic excitement and masterful control, multi-reedist Forebrace quartet with Roberto Sassi (electric guitar), Santiago Horro (electric bass) and Jem Doulton run the gamut on exultantly virtuosic improvisation, here recording live at Cafe Oto. ... Click to View


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  John Zorn 
  (Tzadik (1995)) 

   review by Brian Olewnick
John Zorn: Redbird (Tzadik (1995))

For all his hyperkinetic musical activity over the last few decades, some of Zorn's most beautiful moments have, for me, been those rare examples of stasis, when he reaches a territory and allows himself to observe instead of quickly disrupting it. Granted, those moments are few and far between, but things like the closing minutes of his string quartet Forbidden Fruit, the brief, lonesome surf guitar forays played by Ribot in Bar Khokba or even, in an odd way, the entirety of Leng T'Che with its obsessive exploration of one fearful emotion are among the examples of his music that have had the most staying power for me.

When 'Redbird' appeared, I was immediately heartened by the lovely Agnes Martin painting adorning its front cover. Not only was this a refreshing change from what I found to be the increasingly puerile and shock-for-shock's-sake illustrations more typically found on his releases, but for what it possibly promised regarding the music within. Happily, the artwork and music share a common sensibility.

The first of two pieces, 'Dark River' is a solo performance by Jim Pugliese on bass drum. It has, ostensibly, one zone of reference: the low rumble. But over the course of its nine minutes, Pugliese creates a palpable world wherein one never has any sense of sameness but instead a breathing pocket of reality. No steady rhythms, only mild fluctuations in volume, just a natural, billowing flow of deep, echoing booms achieving an almost wind-like quality at times. I have no idea how much of this is to the credit of Pugliese's own creativity or Zorn's score (I imagine a bit of both) but it's a trivial matter. It's also, presumably intentionally, an intriguing prologue to 'Redbird' proper, a processional of sorts, dark into medium light.

Zorn had cited Morton Feldman as an influence on many prior occasions but I was rarely, if ever, able to hear it in his actual music. That breathing quality, the ultra-slow rhythms as subtly irregular as they were organic, found little expression in the younger composer's work. Redbird is about as close as I've heard him get, and it's a ravishing achievement. I'm reminded very much of Feldman's orchestral work For Samuel Beckett in the sense the listener gets of having stumbled into an ongoing performance, a piece that began well before you hear the first note and continues well after the disc is over. Scored for harp, viola, cello and percussion, it also has an instrumental flavor akin to a number of Feldman's chamber works. Other influences make their presence known to be sure: one hears snatches of George Crumb and you can even pick up some sonorities in the strings that recall Ornette Coleman's 'The Skies of America'. There's also a plaintive, almost romantic aspect to some of the writing, something Feldman might abhor (though he, too, didn't sidestep it completely) but which, in my opinion, is a central part of Zorn's persona. The overall feeling is of being on a gentle seesaw, undulating back and forth, seeing almost the same view reappear time after time but always noticing some new detail, some different tinge. Eventually, it stops rather than ends.

It's been several years now since I've picked up a new Zorn release; although he'd occasionally explore similarly intriguing areas (as in Duras), too much of his recent work had struck me as treading water, and less and less interesting water at that. Although it's perhaps too much to ask of so restless a composer, I still wouldn't mind if, at least once in a while, he picked a plot of land and worked it, then worked it some more, then continued to work it. I'm fairly confident that I'd be pleasantly surprised at what he was able to grow.

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Recent Selections @ Squidco:

Claudia Quintet, The:
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(Black Truffle)

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