The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Roberts, Matana / Sam Shalabi / Nicolas Caloia: Feldspar (Tour de Bras)

A meeting beween two major musicans from the Montreal scene--Sam Shalabi (Shalabi Effect) and Nicolas Caloia (Ratchet Orchestra) and American saxophonist Matana Roberts (Coin Coin)--for a drumless trio uniquely balancing free and melodic styles in masterful ways. ... Click to View


Chenard, Sylvie / Alexandre Dubuc / Cathy Heyden / Remi Leclerc: Allochtone (Tour de Bras)

Montreal/Actuelle players Sylvie Chenard on guitar and voice, Alexander Dubuc on bass, Cathy Heyden on sax, and Miriodor's Remi Leclerc on drums, with all providing electronic, in an encompassing ea-improv journey that balances acoustics with sonic environments and wonderfully controlled chaos. ... Click to View


Prevost, Helene: A La Plage (Tour de Bras)

A mix of sound art and improvisation from Quebec/Actuelle musician Helene Prevost, 10 minimal "Plages", or luminous surfaces, created with Eric Normand, Stephae Claude, and Mario Gauthier. ... Click to View


Morris, Joe / Chris Cretella: Storms (Glacial Erratic)

Intense acoustic guitar interactions from frequent collaborators Joe Morris (NY) and Chris Cretella (New Haven, CT) a remarkable display of free fingerstyle guitar improvisations presented in a limited hand-assembled package. ... Click to View


Nordwall, Joachim: Concert (Confront)

Skull Defekts member and a part of Ocean Of Silver And Blood, Joachim Nordwal is captured in a 2008 concert in Oslo for this 17 minute lo-fi set of textured sound work, a grainy drone of howling sound. ... Click to View


Piiptsjilling (Kleefstra / Kleefstra / Mariska Baars / Zuydervelt): Molkedrippen (Spekk)

Piiptsjilling is the improvising quartet of Jan Kleefstra (poetry, vocals), Romke Kleefstra (guitars), Mariska Baars (guitar and vocals) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek, electronics), creating melancholic dreamscapes from abstract minimalism to dense drones. ... Click to View


Partch, Harry: Bitter Music (Music of Harry Partch Vol. 1) [3 CDs] (Bridge Records)

An amazing musical portrait of American microtonal composer and innovative instrument inventor Harry Partch, "Bitter Music" is a musical diary about eight months spent in transient shelters and camps, hobo jungles, basement rooms, and on the open road. ... Click to View


Partch, Harry: Plectra and Percussion Dances (Bridge Records)

The first complete performance of Harry Partch's major cycle in three parts, "Plectra and Percussion Dances", adding 3 missing movements from the original 1953 recordings, with a 7 minute spoken introduction from Partch himself. ... Click to View


Subotnick, Morton: The Wild Bull [VINYL][REISSUE] (KARLRECORDS)

Electronic composer Subotnick's 1968 followup to "Silver Apples of the Moon" refines his compositions for the Buchla Series 100 synthesizer with this album, inspired by an ancient Sumerian poem of the same name. ... Click to View


Nilssen-Love, Paal Large Unit: Erta Ale [3 CD BOX SET] (PNL)

Paal Nilssen-Love's Large Unit of some of Norway's brightest young improvisers in a solid 3-CD box set recorded live during their 2014 tour, performing Nilssen-Love's compositions that focus on interaction, free improvisation, sound, dynamics and energy. ... Click to View


Decoy with Joe Mcphee: Spontaneous Combustion [2 CDs] (Otoroku)

A 2 CD issue of the 2013 LP with 78 additional minutes, from the two day residency at UK's Cafe Oto of Decoy (bassist John Edwards, Alexander Hawkins on Hammond B3, and drummer Steve Nobles) with special guest Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet and alto sax. ... Click to View


Cymerman, Jeremiah / Evan Parker / Nate Wooley: World of Objects (5049 Records)

The trio of Evan Parker on tenor & soprano sax, Jeremiah Cymerman on clarinet & electronics, and Nate Wooley on trumpet, performing live at The Stone, NYC in 2013 in a remarkable concert intensified by Cymerman's studio processing to emphasize aspects of the performance. ... Click to View


Parker, Evan & Sylvie Courvoisier: Either Or And (Relative Pitch)

A powerful duo recorded in the studio after their 2013 performance at The Stone in NYC from NY pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and UK saxophonist Evan Parker, with extraordinary playing over eight pieces presenting an inspired range of technical and impressionistic styles. ... Click to View


Bohlen / Reimann Duo: 2nd Floor (Creative Sources)

Recorded on various floors and in different rooms at the music school Bochum in Germany in 2014, the duo of reedists Katharina Bohlen and Claudius Reimann add spring drums, gongs, cymbals, tubular bells, and sound plates to their understated and moody improvisations. ... Click to View


Badenhorst, Joachim / John Butcher / Paul Lytton: Nachtigall (Klein)

Belgian multi-reedist Joachim Badenhorst organized this trio with saxophonist John Butcher & percussionist Paul Lytton as part of a series of concerts in his home town, where they recorded this album, an impressive suite of extended techniques and intense dialog. ... Click to View


Mitchell, Roscoe / Mike Reed: In Pursuit of Magic (482 Music)

Chicago drummer Mike Reed and AACM legendary saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell reunite for two masterful extended improv pieces, recorded live at Constellation in Chicago in 2013. ... Click to View


Ambarchi, Oren & Eli Keszler: Alps [VINYL] (Dancing Wayang)

Guitarist Oren Ambarchi and percussionist Eli Keszler meet for two side-long pieces releaesed on 300 gram vinyl, mixing improv, noise, rock, and drone, journeys in assertive sound that keep the listener on the edge of their seat. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer Performs Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music [VINYL 2 LPs] (KARLRECORDS)

Zeitkratzer directed by Reinhold Friedl reinterpret Lou Reed's controversial album "Metal Machine Music", transcribing the sounds to create an acoustic music score for their ensemble to play live. ... Click to View


McDonas, Thollem / Gino Robair: Trio Music Minus One (For Dennis Palmer) (Setola Di Maiale)

Remembering Shaking Ray Levis' Dennis Palmer in a duo between percussionist Gino Robair and pianist Thollem McDonas on Rhodes and analog effects, a mind-bending display of technical brilliance and unexpected twists and turns, a fitting tribute to the late SRL keyboardist. ... Click to View


Yoshihide, Otomo / Paal Nilssen-Love (JVTLANDT)

The fiery, complex and exultant duo of drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and Otomo Yoshihide on electric guitar, performing at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse in May 2013, an intense and rewarding set from two authoritative improvisers. ... Click to View


Yoshihide, Otomo / Paal Nilssen-Love: [VINYL] (JVTLANDT)

The fiery, complex and exultant duo of drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and Otomo Yoshihide on electric guitar, performing at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse in May 2013, an intense and rewarding set from two authoritative improvisers. ... Click to View


Bad News From Houston (McDonas / Dieterich): In The Valley Of The Cloud Builder (Post Consumer)

Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich meets ups with keyboardist Thollem McDonas in an unusual duo created from amplified piano and acoustic guitar and feedback, creating compelling and inventive music and sonic environments. ... Click to View


Tilting: Holy Seven (Barnyard)

Bassist Nic Caloia (Ratchet Orchestra) with his Montreal based quartet of pianist Guillaume Dostaler, drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli and Jean Derome on baritone sax and bass flute, in an album of great compositional mood and creative playing. ... Click to View


TSIGOTI: Read Between The Lines...Think Outside Them (Post Consumer)

The TSIGOTI quarter brings together Italians Jacopo Andreini on guitar, Andrea Caprara on drums, and Piero Spitilli on bass with California pianist Thollem McDonas for critical avant punk with a technically brilliant flair. ... Click to View


Henriksen, Arve : The Nature of Connections (Rune Grammofon)

Featuring pieces composed by trumpeter Arve Henriksen's collaborators, and original material, this album is tinted with Nordic folk and contemporary, minimalist chamber music, beautiful pieces summoning the past in modern ways. ... Click to View


Zuydervelt, Rutger : Stay Tuned (Baskaru)

An adaptation of a multi-channel sound installation, inspired by the tuning of an orchestra, with contributions from 152 musicians including Jeb Bishop, Olivia Block, Werner Dafeldecker, Ferran Fages, Franz Hautzinger, Martin Kuchen, Annette Krebs, Nate Wooley, &c. &c. ... Click to View


Tank Of Danzig: Not Trendy (Music a la Coque)

Blending elements of punk, no wave and free improvisation reminding of Crass, The Ex, Gang of Four, &c., the cry of free jazz driven by strong bass lines and groove guitar riffs, this Italian band sings in English on a mix of socially conscious songs and observant themes. ... Click to View


Zorn, John : The Testament Of Solomon (Tzadik)

Zorn's Gnostic Trio (Bill Frisell-guitar; Carol Emanuel-harp; Kenny Wollesen-vibes) in an album drawing inspiration from the Biblical Song of Solomon, intended as a companion to Zorn's vocal masterpiece Shir Hashirim, creating a beautiful blend of classical, jazz and folk music. ... Click to View


Zebrina: Hamidbar Medaber (Tzadik)

Canadian jazz pianist Jonathan Feldman leads this dynamic band blending 21st century lyrical jazz with klezmer influences, featuring West Coast clarinetist Ben Goldberg, in an album of compelling and dynamic compositions. ... Click to View


Maase, Lily Trio: The Suite Unraveling (Tzadik)

NY guitarist Lily Maase's The Suite Unraveling present their first release as a trio with Curt Garey on percussion and keys, and Michael Kammers on sax and organ, adventurous music bridging rock and jazz in Dowtnown NY ways. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales

Heard In

Reviews of artist releases:
cd's, books, magazines, &c.


Helen Stapinski 
Baby Plays Around  
(Villard) 

review by Kristen Persinos
2004-04-26
Helen Stapinski: Baby Plays Around (Villard)

December.  June.  Four Heads.  Recliner.  Star 69.  Speed Dial.  Bitter.  Panchino.  Gump.  Maraschino.  Tug.  Dish.  Reflector.  Stipend.  Slattern.  Slatternly.  Carmie.  Maxilla.  Shifter.  Resentful.  The Stevedores.

This is the pastime popular with musicians called the "name our band" game, as played by Helen Stapinski and her old bandmates in her memoir Baby Plays Around.  (My own band once considered "Jesus Streisand.")

The book chronicles a year or so in the life of 30-something Stapinski as she made her living as a freelance writer, played drums in an indie rock band based in the Lower East Side of New York City (with no prior band experience other than playing along to her favorite records as a kid) and faced marital problems.

Being a 30-something female in a rock band based in the Lower East Side myself, I was curious and armed for battle: What was her experience, her take on the male-driven popularity contest of the indie rock scene in NYC?  Would the book be much like most of the hipsters involved: puddle deep?  Would familiarity breed contempt?

Upon reading the first few chapters, it seemed that Stapinski and I share more in common than just age and the band thing. We both have older brothers who influenced our involvement with music. We both sometimes come off as tomboyish. We listened to some of the same records (REM's Murmur) growing up, and had some of the same rock heroes (Elvis Costello). And to top it off, much of the book's action takes place within a 10-block radius of my apartment. (One of her band's old haunts was a restaurant where I used to bartend.) After a few no shits - "no shit, that sounds familiar" and "no shit, that is a block from my house" - my claws began to retract and I ended up not being able to put the book down; not just for the cheap thrill of reading about my immediate surroundings and the things we have in common, it was Stapinski's self-effacing, wry sense of humor, her intelligence, and her sincerity.She is delightfully sarcastic, but also thoughtful, decent and ultimately fair. (Hey Helene, wanna play in my band?)  Her writing style is refreshing in its directness and its lack of masturbatory word play. She knows when enough is enough.

There are many witty moments in this book.  The chapter on her band's bass player auditions was funny and dead on, but you do not have to be a musician to appreciate the humor.

"There was another guy, who hadn't even listened to the tape.  'Why are you wasting our time?' Julie asked him.  He just shrugged, grinning like the teenager he actually was.  You could tell what was passing through his meager brain, as he nodded and looked us over: 'Chick band.  Cool.  Two chicks.  One guy.  Guy is me.  Hey.  Maybe I'll score.  Threesome!  Cool!'  I think he actually drooled on his bass guitar.  Unfortunately he was not electrocuted."

"Then there was the guy with the long ponytail who played New Age bass.  He was sent packing, back to the mother ship."

Later chapters in the book are touching as her relationships with her band mates and her estranged husband…well I wouldn't want to give it away, now would I?

So yes, I laughed ... I cried ... as her increasingly troubled marital life intertwined with her rocky (forgive me) band life, both marriages affecting each other with moments of ecstasy and despair as Helene powered through.

Readers who live in New York City, or just love it from afar, will enjoy reading about such landmarks as Katz's Deli, Ratners and the Lansky Lounge, as well as some of the popular rock clubs: Arlene's Grocery, Luna Lounge, and the now defunct Spiral and Brownies.

So, I'll do my best now to sound like a book critic and say that Baby Plays Around is a well crafted, entertaining book about the weathering of love found and love lost (and visa versa); dry but not without heart.





Comments and Feedback:



The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco






Squidco
Click here to
advertise with
The Squid's Ear






The Squid's Ear pays its writers.
Interested in becoming a reviewer?




The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (119)