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Derek Bailey & Company: Klinker [2 CDs] (Confront)

Derek Bailey's Company in recordings from 2000 at The Klinker in London, with four performers--Bailey on guitar, Simon H. Fell on double bass, Mark Wastell on violincello, and Will Gaines tap dancing--the concert presenting various permutations of these musicians improvising, with narrations from Bailey, Fell, Wastell and Gaines punctuating the recordings. ... Click to View

Phil Maguire / James L. Malone: Working Title (Confront)

Phil Maguire (Verz label) exchanges abstract electronics from a variety of lo-fi devices with glitch and aberrant guitarist James L. Malone, a London improviser who has worked with Eddie Prevost, Phil Durrant, Steve Beresford and Adam Bohman, as the two trade strange sonic disruptions, avoiding pandemonium, instead using noise in pointed discourse. ... Click to View

Phil Minton / Roger Turner: Scraps Of Heard (Confront)

London Free Improv Scene long-standing members, vocalist Phil Minton and drummer/percussionist Roger Turner's first album together, "Ammo", was released in 1984; the two have continued to record together, and this live recording from 2016 in Hanover, Germany shows the two continuing to create distinctly bizarre and wonderfully personal dialog unlike any other. ... Click to View

Golden Oriole: Golden Oriole (BeCoq)

Rough and ready, angular instrumental rock from this Stavanger, Norway-based instrumental duo of Kristoffer Riis on guitar and Thore Warland on drums, two parts of the power-trio Staer, here creating a massive dose of momentum as they push heavy rhythmic riffs with odd tonality and a great sheen of prickly effect layers, in a compelling and muscular album. ... Click to View

Loubatiere / Warnecke: Couleurs Chimeriques (BeCoq)

An album of rich aural environments contrasted with clamorous action and disintegrating sound from the duo of French percussionist Rodolphe Loubatiere performing on snare drum and Berlin-based sound sculptor Pierce Warnecke, their second album as a duo presenting a sophisticated and diverse set of compositions that both entrance and disrupt their listeners. ... Click to View

IKB: Apteryx Mantelli (Creative Sources)

IKB continue their series of albums graced with taxonomic latin names for animals, here with the North Island brown kiwi bird, as the string- and wind-heavy electroacoustic ensemble led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues present this extended improvisation of subtle motion and understated complexity live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2017. ... Click to View

Finn Loxbo / Erik Blennow Calalv : Snow Country (Creative Sources)

A duo between Swedish guitarist Finn Loxbo (Fire! Orchestra) and bass clarinet Erik Blennow Calalv, in a low-key, moody and tranquil album of improvisations with titles implying their unhurried approach to their dialog--"Clouds", "Moving, Dancing", and "Ryoanji"-- making a beautiful album of nearly ambient but decidedly determined music. ... Click to View

Kang Hwan Tae : Live at Cafe Amores (NoBusiness)

Korean free saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan recorded this album of sincere and satisfying solo improvisations in 1995 at Cafe Amores, in Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan, two decades after forming his first free jazz trio of experimental improvisations, demonstrating powerful technical skills and a unique voice on the sax; a long-overdue distillation of his music. ... Click to View

Kang Hwan Tae: Live at Cafe Amores [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Korean free saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan recorded this album of sincere and satisfying solo improvisations in 1995 at Cafe Amores, in Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan, two decades after forming his first free jazz trio of experimental improvisations, demonstrating powerful technical skills and a unique voice on the sax; a long-overdue distillation of his music. ... Click to View

Jeph Jerman : The Bray Harp (White Centipede Noise)

Aural explorer Jeph Jerman reworks 20 years of source material into this large work of recurring sound, obscuring sources in a rugged mill that turns its sonic grist into a mesmerizing flow of ringing tones and resolute grit, constructed from Jerman's own recordings and tapes from Eric La Casa and Oskar Burmmel, and metal & wood from Ben Brucato. ... Click to View

Stephen O'Malley / Anthony Pateras: Reve Noir (Immediata)

Pianist Anthony Pateras and guitarist Stephen O'Malley (Sunn O))) performed a concert in 2011 at Instants Chavires in 2011, which they took into the studio to deconstruct and recompose on 1/4 inch tape, creating a compelling landscape of fractured musique concrete, introspective meditations, electro-acoustic textures and heavy guitar; includes a 20 page interview with O'Malley. ... Click to View

Rohan Drape / Anthony Pateras: Ellesmere (Immediata)

A founder of the Slave Pianos collective and co-organizer of the Inland Concert Series, Australian computer and synth artist Rohan Drap joins keyboardist Anthony Pateras for an extended exploration of interlocking vintage electric organs, allowing their tones and timbres to interact in microtonal richness as they create tonal environments and gradually unfolding progressions. ... Click to View

Max Eastley / Steve Beresford / Paul Burwell / David Toop: Whirled Music [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

Remastering a singular album of joyfully disruptive free improv recorded in England in 1979 at Ikon Gallery from the quartet of Max Eastley, Steve Beresford, Paul Burwell, and David Toop, their goal: to create music from instruments and objects that would be whirled to produce sound, performed behind a net and played with masks to protect the performers and audience. ... Click to View

Jean-Luc Guionnet / Daichi Yoshikawa: Intervivos [VINYL] (Empty Editions)

Recording at Empty Gallery in Hong Kong furing a week residency, the duo Jean-Luc Guionnet (Ames Room) on saxophone and Daichi Yoshikawa (Eddie Prevost) using self-developed feedback of speakers, contact microphones & found objects, create intense yet constrained improvisations of impressive control, technique and exotic soundscape. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Sonic Fiction (ESP-Disk)

Focusing on sound, warmth and exploration, pianist Matthew Shipp leads his quartet with saxophonist and clarinetist Mat Walerian, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey through 10 tracks that explore a diverse set of moods and styles, allowing each player space for expressive solo space, while never leaving the jazz and blues behind in this beautifully paced album. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp: Zer0 aka Zero [2 CDs] (ESP-Disk)

New York pianist Shipp extends his infrequent solo career with this set of eleven solid studio recordings, taking us into the inner working of the influential pianist's approach to improvisation through lyrical, structured, enigmatic and unusual approaches to the keyboard; the first CD pressings include an hour talk "On Nothingness" that Shipp gave at The Stone. ... Click to View

Loren Connors: Pretty As Ever [VINYL] (Recital)

The Recital label continues its Loren Conners editions/reissue series with their 4th album of the guitarist's music, collecting and remastering tracks from out of print albums "Sails" and "Little Match Girl" in an album of ballads, complemented with a 12-page art-booklet of previously unpublished illustrations by Conners himself. ... Click to View

Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra: Sun Embassy [VINYL WITH DOWNLOAD] (Roaratorio)

Recordings from Sun Studios made between 1968-1969 with Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra including Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, Daddy DAvis, Ray Thompson, Danny Davis, &c. in nine tracks, six of which have never been heard before in any form, plus remasters on 1950s classics "Sunology" and "Ancient Aiethiopia", plus an early rendition of "Why Go To The Moon". ... Click to View

Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Myth Science Solar Arkestra: Sleeping Beauty [VINYL] (Art Yard)

An extremely soulful electric album from Sun Ran and the Intergalactic Myth Science Solar Arkestra, a groove driven and funky swirling masterpiece from the late 70's, with Sun Ra on piano, electric piano and organ, the Arkestra propelled by the drumming of Luqman Ali over a full band with Craig Harris, Michael Ray, Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, Danny Ray Thompson, &c &c. ... Click to View

Bistre (Muller / Rodrigues / Wong): As We Read Along... (Creative Sources)

A trio of free improvisers recording five detailed and subdued dialogs in the studio, from trombonist Matthias Muller (Splitter Orchester), cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, and guitarist Eric Wong, collective improvisation guided by long pointillistic passages that converge into lyrical focal points, a profound example of concentrative discourse. ... Click to View

Anthony Braxton : Sextet (Parker) 1993 [11-CD BOX SET] (New Braxton House)

Originally released on Hat Hut in '95, this 11-CD box blows open these 2 European concerts in Zurich and Koln, reworking the music of Charlie Parker and associated bop composers, with Braxton himself on reeds, plus saxophonist Ari Brown, trumpeter Paul Smoker, pianist Misha Mengelberg, and alternating between drummers Han Bennink and Pheeroan AkLaff; superb, essential! ... Click to View

Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma (Kretzmer / Loriot / Hoffamn / Sinton / Niggenkemper / Van Hemmen): Months, Weeks and Days [2 CDs] (OutNow Recordings)

The 2nd album for NY-based saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer's Chamber-Improv ensemble New Dilemma with Frantz Loriot (viola), Christopher Hoffman (cello), Josh Sinton (bass clarinet), Pascal Niggenkemper (double bass) and Flin Van Hemmen (drums), investigating "the intricacies differentiating and combining the written and the improvised continue with further depth and chance". ... Click to View

Quin Kirchner: The Other Side Of Time [VINYL 2 LPs + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Known as a superlative sideman, Chicago drummer/percussionist Quin Kirchner's debut as a leader brings together trombonist Nick Broste, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, saxophonist Nate Lepine, pianist Ben Boye and bassist Matt Ulery for an excellent album of spiritual free playing with compositions from Sun Ra, Andrew Hill, Charles Mingus, Paul Motian, Phil Cohran, &c. ... Click to View

William Hooker Trio (Feat. Ava Mendoza / Damon Smith): Remembering [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Downtown NY drummer William Hooker leads a trio with West Coast players, Damon Smith on double bass and Ava Mendoza on guitar, for a live album at New York University in 2017 that blends free jazz and avant rock forms to create something unique and powerful, yet filled with moments of intrinsic beauty and drama, a great amalgamation of free playing. ... Click to View

Eave (Anna Webber/ Erik Hove / Vicky Mettler / Evan Tighe): Eave [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

A mix of New York and Canadian players, "Eave" is the quartet of Anna Webber and Erik Hove on saxophones, Vicky Mettler on guitar and Evan Tighe on drums, a collective abstract improvising band that uses its instruments as much for effect as for conventional playing, with commanding skill in all approaches as they surprise, bemuse and mesmerize the listener. ... Click to View

Tony Irving / Massimo Magee: The Fog [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

London scene free players since the 90s, drummer Tony Irving and alto saxophonist Massimo Magee, both of the improvisation duo Ascension, meet in the studio to record seven distinctive and quirky dialogs of strong technical skill, Irving often thundering over Magee's strangling runs and melodic diversions and asides; powerful and unpredictable. ... Click to View

Muyassar Kurdi / Nicholas Jozwiak: Intersections & Variations [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Interdisciplinary vocalist Muyassar Kurdi and Chicago-born, NY-based cellist Nicholas Jozwiak use the ambient sounds of their recording spaces in Brooklyn to add a presence to their introspective dialogs that take an almost devout approach to their calmly measured performances, making an intimate and evocative album of unorthodox improvisation. ... Click to View

Udo Schindler / Korhan Erel : leben | nebel (Creative Sources)

Live at the 66th SALON fur Klang+Kunst in Krailling, Munich, Germany finds festival leader Udo Schindler on cornet, bass, contrabass clarinet, soprano saxophone in a duo with Berlin-based Istanbul-born computer musician Korhan Erel, who designs his own unique instruments with unusual controllers, performing 9 singular dialogs of ethereal and unorthodox sound. ... Click to View

Yoko Miura / Jean-Marc Foussat: When Lowlands Consume the Space (Creative Sources)

Two approaches to keyboards from Japanese acoustic pianist Yoko Miura and keyboardist Jean-Marc Foussat (Fou Records) recording these extended and excursive improvisations in Paris in 2017, contrasting Foussat's alien and encompassing synthetic and electronic worlds with Miura's sophisticated playing inside and out of the piano. ... Click to View

Michael Winter : Approximating Omega (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Composer Michael Winter uses the "maximally complex, incomputable number" known as Chaitin's Constant, plus text adapted from Gregory Chaitin's 1994 book "The Limits Of Mathematics", samples from 36 creative musicians, the voice of Muirgen Eleonore Gourgues, plus cello from Judith Hamann and piano from Winters, to create this curious and compelling narrative work. ... Click to View

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  Freedom of Suppression  

A week of copyright infringement in New York City

By Urania Mylonas 2002-12-30
Concert photos by Urania Mylonas
Food chain Barbie photo by Tom Forsythe

Mark Hosler
"Illegal art?" John Filker, a New York-based photographer and painter grew incredulous when asked what he thought about using someone else's work without permission. "It's wrong! You can't just copy someone else's work and then add your name to it! You can't use another artist's images or other work without their approval. That's not right." But when asked about using corporate images or sounds illegally, his response was far different. "Oh, well it's OK to fuck with corporations, it's not like a corporation is an artist" he said.

Even an employee for a large advertising agency in New York City, who works in the art department (but didn't want her name or firm to be disclosed), didn't seem to mind that the Illegal Art Festival, which had its New York run from November 13 to December 6, and was organized by Stay Free! magazine, was making use of some of the corporate images that her company might have made. "This sounds like great fun," she said. "I'm tired of large restaurant chains using my good work. Let someone else use it and turn it into real art!"

Christian Marclay
So is stealing from the "big guys" OK? Is it fine to make art out of corporately owned culture? Or someone else's work? Artists like Mark Hosler of the audio-collage group Negativland would tell you it is OK. He might even say that it's not stealing, that it's "transformative re-use," as he called it in a recent lecture at Anthology Film Archives. Using fragments of one thing to create another, potentially more interesting, work is a part of artistic freedom and shouldn't be silenced, Hosler said. What the Illegal Art Fest is exploring is the illegal use of images or sounds; mostly corporate or at least owned by corporations like record labels, toy companies and other media giants, and how they are being reinterpreted by artists.

In a society where creativity is to be rewarded but free and open access to ideas -- from music to journalism to art -- allowed, a conflict can arise, leaving lawyers to sort out questions of ownership and compensation. What are the copyright issues and who do copyrights really protect anyway? And, in the case of illegal use of images or sounds, who is actually getting hurt by the copyright laws?

At a recent short film showing at Anthology Film Archives, Hosler presented some (very) illegal short films he and the other members of Negativland made for some of their recordings. The screenings included a short called Gimme the Mermaid, which was made with help from Disney animator Tim Maloney, who created the film using Disney's equipment after hours. Mermaid combines the sound of a music industry lawyer with the voice of the Little Mermaid and Negativland's cover of Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme," Former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn was part owner of SST Records, the label that tried to force Negativland to pay the entire legal costs associated with a lawsuit brought on by Island Records regarding illegal use of a song by Irish megastars U2, which almost broke the band financially.

The U2 piece also included unauthorized a recording of Casey Kasem, a bootlegged outtakes from his American Top 40 show in which, during a dedication to a dead dog called "Snuggles," he cursed the sound engineer and insulted the band U2, saying, "these guys are from England and who gives a shit?" The piece -- featuring manipulated and deconstructed segments of the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -- was called "U2: Special Edit Radio Mix" and included on of Negativland's album "Negativland: U2," an album that U2's label, Island Records, thought looked a little too much like an actual U2 album since the letter "U" and the numeral "2" were featured far more prominently than Negativland's name. The 15-minute long album had barely been arrived in stores when Island Records slapped the group and SST with a lawsuit. And while Kasem didn't file a lawsuit, he and his lawyers did threaten Negativland with one if they tried to release the track again or in any way use the unauthorized outtakes of Kasem from the show.

This move may have seemed hypocritical, however. While being interviewed during a concert that was part of a protest against nuclear weapons testing outside Las Vegas in 1992, Kasem was asked about the Negativland record, and he wasn't going to take action against the band and that he was against censorship.

"No, I'm not going to complain about it, it's a free country and we have the First Amendment, problem," he said. "I'm against censorship of any kind...Nobody should be censored."Negativland chronicled the saga in their book Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2.

Legal actions aside, the song was one of the first, and certainly one of the most prominent, of a wave of art that steps on the toes of copyright control.

At CB's 313 Gallery in New York City, artists and photographers made creative use of corporately owned imagery. One of them, Tom Forsythe, stuffed the beloved Barbie doll in a blender and a martini glass and messed up her hair for good measure in his series of photographs entitled Food Chain Barbie. Forsythe received a letter from Mattel claiming the series of images he had posted on his Web site infringed on its copyright and trademark. Forsythe wasn't making any money from the images and decided to fight the case with help from the ACLU. A federal court ruled in favor of Forsythe and Mattel immediately appealed. A decision is pending in May, 2003. Freedom of expression is OK, but don't mess with Barbie.

Canadian copyright laws are even stricter than in the US and while our neighbors to the North enjoy other freedoms, fair play, the Canadian equivalent of fair use, does not allow for parody, as artists Diana Thorneycroft and Michael Boss discovered when their series of drawings Man, Dog, Husband & Wife, Dinosaur, Man with Large Nose, Mouse -- which portrays Marge and Homer Simpson, Barney Rubble, Burt of Sesame Street, Barney the Dinosaur, Goofy and Mickey Mouse in various stages of bondage and victimization -- was rejected by Gallery 1CO3 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the advice of the gallery's lawyer. The artists eventually showed their work at another gallery in Winnipeg and have not been sued as of yet.

While Thorneycroft and Boss were subverting known cartoon characters to bring to light the face of violence, Brooklyn-based artist Heidi Cody wrote the word "subvert" in letters from corporate logos. The piece is part of a larger work called The American Alphabet and not only has she not heard complaints from those corporations, but some advertising agencies have even paid Cody to use the letters, seemingly allowing some freedom of expression and perhaps freedom to profit.

When artist Kembrew McLeod decided to copyright the term "Freedom of Expression," he got his wish and 10 years of exclusive use of the term for his zine. McLeod, with the help of a friend posing as the publisher of an imaginary punk rock magazine also called Freedom of Expression, pretended to sue the magazine and even had a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to the "offending magazine." McLeod was later interviewed by a local paper, which quoted the frustrated copyright holder as saying "I didn't go to the trouble and expense of trade marking 'Freedom of Expression' to have someone else come along and think they can use it whenever they want."

Luckily for most artists, McLeod was just kidding, since freedom of expression and freedom to express yourself using many, many samples, was the thing at a night of music that was part of the Illegal Art Fest at Tonic in the Lower East Side.

Musicians and sound manipulators put on performances that would be a copyright lawyer's dream (or nightmare, however you choose to see it).The experimental music duo Spin-17 used noisemakers, toy horns, and electric pianos, a turntable playing sounds from science fiction movies like Godzilla and recordings from space shuttle launches. Motoko Shimizu sang from operas, while Ed Chang played guitar during their performance. "No genre is safe and the boundaries between art and doleful indulgence are blurred," the duo writes on their Web site.

The Thimbletron, an invention created by the one-man band Evolution Control Committee, could be considered the ultimate indulgence for an artist who likes to use samples. The group claims to have discovered the science of Thimbletronium, as well as its relevant subatomic particle, Superdupertron, and to begin the show, Mark Gunderson donned Thimbletron: a pair of gloves with wires and thimbles attached which trigger samples from a laptop when touched together. After applying olive oil to the thimbles "for conduction purposes," Gunderson, with his wild white hair and white jumpsuit, pressed his fingers together, but no sounds ca m e out. Afte r much fumbling and the further application of olive oil, the device sprang to life and the sounds ranging from AC/DC and Dan Rather to instructional records and meal menus pumped out of the speakers.

The quirky band is better known for their controversial single "Rocked By Rape", which features samples of Rather and resulted in a lawsuit against them by CBS and the record being pulled. Even in cases where a song might be protected as parody or freedom of expression, artists can scarcely defend their work against deep-pocketed corporations and their Philadelphia lawyers.

Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford University, said copyright laws have reached a level of control where even an educator, wanting to use a three-second clip from "The Simpsons" is required to pay $25,000 for the privilege.

"The problem is their insane rules are now being applied to the whole world," Lessig said in a speech he gave this past summer at the Open Source Convention in California. "This insanity of control is expanding as everything you do touches copyrights."

But is having a low profile, like Evolution Control Committee, the only way to get around the radar screen of the lawyers and avoid paying hefty usage fees? Are artists like Beck, Public Enemy and Beastie Boys and countless other "mainstream" artists who have the money to pay for rights (and lawyers) the only ones who can use sampling in their music? Not as long as Negativland and Evolution Control Committee and other "underground" artists continue to keep the samples and the music and humor coming, in hopes that the next piece of mail isn't another subpoena, but a fan letter.

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