The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Oliver Schwerdt / Barry Guy / Baby Sommer:
Fucking Ballads (Euphorium)

An enthusiastic and energetically powerful trio meeting between three masters--Oliver Schwerdt on grand piano & percussion, Barry Guy on double bass and Baby Sommer on drums & percussion--performing live in 2021 at naTo, in Leipzig for two extended improvisations of remarkable communication, incredible virtuosity, but most importantly, incredible and compelling creative drive! ... Click to View


JAKAL (Fred Lonberg-Holm / Keefe Jackson / Julian Kirshner):
Peroration (Amalgam)

Formerly known as J@K@L, this Chicago trio has explored hard hitting improvisation since 2014, the band name an amalgamation of the performer's names--Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophone & tube, Julian Kirshner on drums and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, tenor guitar and electronics--in a dynamic and exciting 2022 concert at Elastic Arts, in Chicago. ... Click to View


The Remote Viewers :
Inside The Blizzard / Trivia (Remote Viewers)

UK Composer David Pett's Remote Viewers present two large works: "Inside the Blizzard" in five parts of configurations from solo to quintet; and "Trivia", a quintet work in eight parts; solid, compelling work of forceful confidence from members Adrian Northover, Sue Lynch, Caroline Krabbel & Petts on sax, John Edwards on bass, Hutch Demouilpied on trumpet and Rosa Theodora on piano. ... Click to View


Teiku (Harlow / Taylor / Shahid / Formanek / Leafar):
Teiku (577 Records)

Teiku, a Talmudic acronym that roughly translates to "unanswered question", was co-founded by pianist Josh Harlow and percussionist Jonathan Barahal Taylor to explore each of their family's unique Passover vocal melodies through improvisation and sonic exploration, performed in a quintet with Art Ensemble/Sun Ra bassist Jaribu Shahid and reedists Peter Formanek & Rafael Leafar. ... Click to View


Jorge Nuno:
Labirinto (Phonogram Unit)

After recovering from heart surgery, Portuguese guitarist Jorge Nuno (Ensemble MIOA, Isoptope, Voltaic Trio, &c) records this solo improv album to show his resilience, performed primarily on acoustic guitar in a balanced journey of assertive and introspective playing, accompanied by an insert of a text work by Rui Baião. ... Click to View


Bruno Duplant / Rutger Zuydervelt:
Edge Of Oblivion (Machinefabriek)

The third collaboration between sound and electronic artists Bruno Duplant and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) is a darkly heavy and dramatic work of subtle motion that slowly unfolds and shifts through vast sonic environments, fueled by acousmatic sources that take the listener to the edge of darkness and then pulls them back in warm waves or rich ambiance. ... Click to View


Felix Profos / Peter Conradin Zumthor:
Grund (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Since 2021 Swiss composer Felix Profos and drummer Peter Conradin Zumthor have performed as the duo Grund, Profos performing on harmonium and on the 1973 Italian organ Bontempi Pop3, Zumthor on bass drum, gong, bells & snare, their extended work on this self-titled album a tranquil and meditative work of slow transitions with moments of terse activity, receding with grace and serenity. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
Emergent Spacetime (Evil Clown)

The core of the Boston improvising collective Leap of Faith Orchestra are the duo of cellist Glynis Lomon and reedist and multi-instrumentalist David Peck, here joined by Eric Woods on analog synth and new collective member Jared Seabrook on drums & percussion, for two examples of Peck's broad palette concept yielding evolving transformations through free playing ... Click to View


Expanse:
Reach (Evil Clown)

Perhaps the most synthetic of Evil Clown releases, Expanse represents space and restraint, this the 8th album from the Boston improvising collective of David Peck on reeds, winds, synths and percussion, Robin Amos on synths, Michael Knoblach on percussion (including egg beater, humpty dumpty toy, and teething rings) and Joel Simches providing real-time processing; inexplicably interesting. ... Click to View


Ethnic Heritage Ensemble:
Open Me, A Higher Consciousness Of Sound And Spirit (Spiritmuse Records)

Celebrating 50 years, percussionist Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble as the trio of El'Zabar, Corey Wilkes (trumpet) and Alex Harding (bar. sax), joined on tracks by James Sanders (violin) and Ishmael Ali (cello), reinterpret classics including "Great Black Music", "Ornette" and Aretha Franklin's "Compared to What", along with Miles' "All Blues" and McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance". ... Click to View


Simon Hanes:
Tsons of Tsunami (Tzadik)

Drawing on a far-ranging set of influences--jazz, rock, contemporary, surf & exotica--California-born improvising guitarist Simon Hanes (of Trigger, who covered Zorn's Bagatelles) now resides in NYC, appropriately releasing an album of eclectic, generally upbeat, sometimes quirky, typically melodic instrumentals performed with an octet ensemble of incredible musicianship. ... Click to View


Joel Futterman:
Perspicacity (Soul City Sounds)

Five extended improvised piano solos from Joel Futterman recording in his home base of Virginia Beach, each an incredible journey in free playing that quotes and comments on the history of jazz piano, living up to the album's title through insight, perceptiveness, wit and intuition, Futterman's technique and mastery expressing narratives of amazing confidence and solid direction. ... Click to View


Kimmel.Ali.Harris (Jeff Kimmel / Ishmael Ali / Bill Harris):
Flora Oblique [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Amalgam)

The third release for the Chicago collective improvising trio of Jeff Kimmel on clarinet & electronics, Ishmael Ali on cello & electronics and Bill Harris on drums & feedback, acoustic interplay in the foreground with electronics adding layers of intriguing sonic pressure as their playing evolves through clear and cohesive conversation over punctuated & textural foundations. ... Click to View


Anthony Donofrio :
These Calm Words (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

An exquisite recording of composer Anthony Donofrio 1972 work for solo vibraphone captured at the University of Nebraska where Donofrio teaches and directs their new music ensemble, this extended work for solo vibraphone performed by Donofrio himself, living up to its title in a delicate advancement from clear playing to unusual vibraphone timbres and technique. ... Click to View


Eva-Maria Houben (Kei Kondo / Takahiro Kuroda):
His Master's Voice / Aus Den Fliegenden Blattern Eines Fahrenden Waldhornisten / Lose Verbunden (Ftarri Clasical)

One of two albums capturing a May 15th, 2023 concert in Tokyo by composer Takahiro Kuroda at the Ftarri performance space, titled "Square of Thoughts Vol. 2: Eva-Maria Houben and Horn + x", this album presenting two Houben works for solo horn performed by virtuoso horn player Kei Kondo, and one solo piano piece performed by Kuroda on upright piano. ... Click to View


Eva-Maria Houben (Takahiro Kuroda / Kei Kondo):
Echo Fantasy II (Ftarri Clasical)

The second of two albums capturing a May 15th, 2023 concert in Tokyo by composer & pianist Takahiro Kuroda at the Ftarri performance space, titled "Square of Thoughts Vol. 2: Eva-Maria Houben and Horn + x", this album presenting a 2018 Houben composition for horn and piano titled "Echo Fantasy II", performed by virtuoso horn player Kei Kondo and Takahiro Kuroda on upright piano. ... Click to View


Rutger Zuydervelt :
Kites (music for a performance by Roshanak Morrowatian) (Machinefabriek)

Music for a solo dance piece performed by Roshanak Morrowatian and composed by Netherland electronic artist Rutger Zuydervelt, the subject of the dance reflecting on the experience of young asylum seekers forced from their native countries to grow up somewhere unfamiliar, the music in seven parts weaving fragments of Iranian popular music into Zuydervelt's abstract electronics. ... Click to View


Simulacrum:
Mimesis (Evil Clown)

Expanding on their 2023 Homunculus, the Boston-based collective ensemble Simulacrum with a core of David Peck on reeds, percussion, keys and direction, Eric Woods on analog synth and Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar are expanded with Cecil Taylor bassist Albey OnBass, synthesist Eric Zinman, reedist Michael Caglianone and drummer Michael Knoblach. ... Click to View


John Butcher + 13:
Fluid Fixations (Weight of Wax)

Commissioned for the 2021 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, John Butcher's fantastic work for 14 improvisers of unique approach employs what Butcher refers to as "psychological orchestration"--imagining how each performer might respond to particular ideas & their sonic company--the score, which includes photographic imagery, directing specific solos, duos & small groupings. ... Click to View


Phantom Orchard (Ikue Mori / Zeena Parkins):
Hit Parade of Tears (Tzadik)

Distilling their ensemble to its original duo configuration, New York improvisers Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori reflect on the stories of Japanese author Izumi Suzuki through ten mysteriously eclectic and beautifully developed compositions of harp (acoustic and electric), electronics, percussion, harmonium, ondes martenot, and much more; wonderful, imaginative and evocative work. ... Click to View


Sean Lennon Ono:
Asterisms [VINYL] (Tzadik)

The chameleonic styles of Sean Ono Lennon are in full force on this instrumental record, merging rock, jazz, experimental and cinematic styles in captivating ways, performed with the spectacular ensemble of Devon Hoff (bass), Yuka Honda (electronics), Johnny Mathar (drums), João Nogueira (Wurlitzer), Ches Smith (drums), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) & Mauro Refosco (percussion). ... Click to View


Chorale Joker / Ensemble SuperMusique:
Demantibule•es (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Merging members of Ensemble SuperMusique with a subset of the ensemble Chorale Joker, Joane Hétu presents four premieres that explore our experiences during the pandemic, SuperMusique focused on electronics and synthetic instruments and offset by a wind quintet, the music and vocal interactions often explosive, reflecting on our mental states during an overwhelming cultural malady. ... Click to View


Josh Berman / Eli Wallace / Ishmael Ali / Bill Harris:
An-Ill Fitting Garment [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Amalgam)

Cornetist Josh Berman, drummer Bill Harris, and cellist Ishmael Ali meet with NY pianist Eli Wallace in Chicago, recording live in the studio for a session that focuses on acoustic interplay using unusual techniques, inside piano playing, textural percussion with scrapes & drags and melodic & harmonic fragments, Fitting quite well in a set of interesting moods and motion. ... Click to View


IKZ (Chris Dammann / Kevin Davis / John Niekrasz / Toby Summerfield):
I Saw The Cryptic Problem Of My Generation Destroyed (Amalgam)

Four improvisations that start as dense and scrabbly electroacoustic improv and then transport into beautiful sonic interaction from the Chicago collaborative quartet of Chris Dammann (Scott Clark) on double bass, Kevin Davis (Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore) on cello, John Niekrasz (Poor School, The Naked Future) on drums and Toby Summerfield (Larval, Algernon, Scott Clark) on guitar. ... Click to View


Joao Gato / Bruno Parrinha:
Two (Phonogram Unit)

Two Portuguese saxophonists of different generations both playing on alto sax--Bruno Parrinha, an established and extraordinary player involved with many projects on Clean Feed and Creative Sources, and João Gato, leader of Apophenia Quartet--present 11 improvisations recorded in the studio, their voices intertwining amid masterful technique and creative impulse. ... Click to View


Danya Pilchen :
Two Songs. Anne, Germaine, Koen, Seamus, Danya (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Two "songs" from a series of works by Netherlands composer and pianist Danya Pilchen, exploring the possibilities of making and experiencing time through attentive listening, these works focused on creating a dialogue between two measures of time, performed with Anne La Berge on flute, Germaine Sijstermans on clarinet, Seamus Cater on harmonica and Koen Nutters on double bass. ... Click to View


Paul Newland:
Things That Happen Again (Another Timbre)

A portrait of UK interdisciplinary composer Paul Newland's music through five pieces dating from 2009 to 2023 performed by members of London's Apartment House ensemble, including a string quartet, two different trio combinations, a short work for solo piano, and a score for open instrumentation, realised in this recording by a septet. ... Click to View


Michel Banabila :
The Unreal Realm (Tapu Records)

A collection of works from Netherlands composer Michel Banabila, including a piece developed with saxophonist Dave Liebman and previously released only digitally; a work with Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek); a work with Pierre Bastien; and excerpts from scores for Yin Yue's choreography in two works: "Somewhere" for New York Live Arts and "Timeless Tide" for BalletMet. ... Click to View


Rotem Geffen:
The Night Is The Night (thanatosis produktion)

Singer, songwriter and pianist Nelly Klayman-Cohen, aka Rotem Geffen, explores the fringes of dreamy pop music with lyrics in German, English and Hebrew that explore themes of memory, love, grief, loss, and the night as a vibrating room, with collaborators including Alexander Zethson on keyboards, Isak Hedtjar on clarinets and winds, Vilhelm Bromander on double bass, &c. ... Click to View



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  Outside the Chicken Shack  

Lars Hollmer Brings Sammla Mama to the U.S.


By William Burke 2003-12-15

Lars Hollmer
[Photo: Pelle Engman from the album utsikter]
"My influences? Hard to tell. Of course I like artists like Robert Wyatt, Albert Marcoeur, Tamla Movton, Wagner, Beethoven, Prokofieff...even some stuff of Michael Jackson."

Lars Hollmer is a true original. From his home base in Uppsala, Sweden, Hollmer and his accordion explore sublime regions of varied musical worlds, drawing on rock, prog, Scandinavian folk music, circus music, organ grinders and other cultural traditions. "Lately I have been listening to much from Japan," he said. "I have been so occupied with Japanese musicians and I have been to Japan six times." Along with his group Sola, which draws on those Japanese influences, Holmer works regularly with the groups Accordion Tribe and Von Zamla. But he is perhaps known for his progressive rock group Samla Mammas Manna, who undertook their first US tour in the fall.

Over more than three decades of performing, Hollmer has consistently been a tireless performer and dazzling composer. Just about any sounds or rhythms that may enter his world seem to be fair game and may eventually turn up on a composition. He is a noted keyboard player often blending his compositional pieces with a ferocious ability to improvise. The Samla sound especially, is often upbeat and at times almost whimsical, crossing musical boundaries and creating a warm blend of pleasing melodies within complex time signatures. "I always write the music down on paper," he said. "I need to do it to be able to communicate with other musicians. I compose everything myself from the heart. Nowadays I also have Pro tools for recording and I use Logic Audio Platinum for composing. It is much easier now. I have big experience from the past with analog tapes, multitracks. So much easier now."

Samla was originally formed in the late 60s, rehearsing and recording in Hollmer's home studio, which has become known over the years as the Chicken House. (The Zamla side of Fred Frith's Gravity was recorded there). "Mainly all my recording work I do in the Chicken House," he said. "I've had it since the mid '70s. I made the Chicken House myself and it's mainly two rooms, one kitchen and one studio. CH is located 50 meters from our living house in the country outside Uppsala. I'm very happy about it! It has great sound and now I have excellent tools as well."

The Uppsala countryside has remained his home base, despite the quiet lifestyle. "It is not a very big town," he said. "It is a university town, close to the airport, and close to Stockholm. The music scene is so-so. I don't play her so much but many good musicians live here. I have thought about moving, but since we built a house ourselves in the countryside and we have four children it has not been so easy to move. Also I have my studio here. If not Sweden, Italy maybe , or even Japan."

After years of recording and touring in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, Zamla was invited to tour Europe with the legendary British band Henry Cow. This helped further Zamla's contact with different European bands such as Univers Zero, Etron Fou, Stormy Six and Art Zoyd, among others, enmeshing them in the Rock in Opposition movement. "The nicest part about RIO was that suddenly we found out that we were not alone making strange music," Hollmer said. "Other groups like Univers Zero and Henry Cow had their own tracks but we found several common things. It was great to collaborate and to be invited to play in other European countries. Of course many influences were moving around."

Despite acclaim among the progressive rock community, Samla Mammas Manna had never played in the United States before this year, when they headlined the Progday Festival held in North Carolina. "I don't know why we haven't played in the US before," Hollmer said. "Fred Frith wanted me to come to the Knitting Factory in the '80s and we negotiated about playing there many times but always something came up."

The new incarnation consists of the core of the classic '70s lineup, with Hollmer on keyboards, guitarist Coste Apetrea, and Lars Krantz on bass, with Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, himself an unabashed prog fan, joining in. Hollmer and Yoshida had previously played together in Sola, and the power drummer was a strong addition to the Samlas. "Great with Tatsuya Yoshida in Samla!" he said. "It is not easy to take Hans Bruniusson's place but Tatsuya makes it great, and he adds good energy to the band."

Even without playing the US, Lars' tour schedule is demanding. "I'm on the road several times a year," he said. "Last year I had five repertoires in my head, Samla, Accordion Tribe, Sola, Fem Söker en Skatt, and solo, and I toured like hell! This year less, but I have been in Japan twice and on a tour in France solo. Plus some gigs in Sweden. The audiences have been great. I have got a kind of reputation from over the years and it may help a bit, especially in Japan. Toyko is a nice city to play.

"Recording is enjoyable but overall I can't stand just sitting in a studio," he added. "I need to meet an audience. Also the music develops in front of an audience and for me to play and share the music with other musicians is the biggest pleasure."

Samla Mammas Manna brief US tour included a stop in New York's Knitting Factory at the end of August, where they shared the stage with two other heavy prog outfits. The evening began with Nick Didkovsky and the great Dr. Nerve playing their wonderfully tight compositional madness for an appreciative crowd. They were immediately followed by the impressive Ron Anderson and Pak, who ripped through their set with a heady combination of power and control. The two bands warmed up the recently renovated Tap Bar for Samla, who delighted the crowd with their light-hearted ease and complex musical progressions. Hollmer was especially impressive as he directed the band, chatted casually with the audience and played difficult passages without a misplaced note, frequently all at the same time.

That onstage juggling act seems to be how he manages much of his work. In the coming months, Hollmer will release two new cds, include a "Chicken House Archives" disc in Japan, and has tours booked for December and March, as well as an Accordion Tribe tour in February. And he is working with Michel Berckmenns to form a larger group with a string section. "I hope I can keep alive some more because much remains to do."



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