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Thanos Chrysakis / Chris Cundy / James O'Sullivan: Asphodels Abide (Aural Terrains)

Sophisticated and interactive electroacoustic improvisation from the trio of Chris Cundy on bass clarinet, James O'Sullivan on guitar, and Aural Terrains label leader Thanos Chrysakis on laptop, synth and radio, performing the six part "Asphodels Abide". ... Click to View


Machinefabriek: Loos (self-released)

A live performance at Ephemere, Studio Loos in The Netherlands from Rutger Zuydervelt, AKA Machinefabriek, in a set that mixes his sources with recordings from the room, creating a dynamic and vibrant recording that ranges from subtle near-silence to thick electronic excitement. ... Click to View


Nickolas Mohanna : Phase Line (Run/Off Editions)

Digital sound processing oscillating through a variety of media saturated sources including electronic billboards, kiosk stations, traffic control devices and other city environments, knotted into sculptural arpeggiation by sound artists Nickolas Mohanna. ... Click to View


Chris Dadge: Pith [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Bug Incision label leader Chris Dadge steps away from his drums for a live performance at Pith Gallery in Calgary, using field recordings and amplified objects to create intriguing and compelling environment of concrete sound, tinted from a percussionist's perspective. ... Click to View


Chris Dadge : Bin 15 [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Percussionist Chris Dadge recorded these two drones using amplified cymbals, violin, and snare drum inside a replica of a Saskatchewan-prairies-style grain silo erected by artist Mark Lowe at the 2011 Calgary Folk Festival. ... Click to View


Benoit Hughes: Crescent Road [3-inch CDR] (Bug Incision Records)

Autodidact Benoit Hughes recorded these improvisations to a mini-disc recorder on auto-volume, adding unusual sonic qualities to inventive playing on the piano and half-clarinet, where the physical ambiance mixes with his unbridled machinations. ... Click to View


Roger Turner & Otomo Yoshihide: The Last Train (Fataka)

UK free improvising drummer Roger Turner meets Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide at the Hara Museum, Tokyo in the winter of 2013 for a performance that balances introspective improvisation with assertive and authoritative playing, making a captivating and dynamic album. ... Click to View


Harris Eisenstadt (w/ Moore, Schoenbeck, Dresser): Golden State II (Songlines)

Live recordings at the 2014 Vancouver International Jazz Festival from drummer Harris Eisenstadt's excellent and lyrical Golden State chamber jazz ensemble, here as a quartet with Michael Moore on clarinet, Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, and Mark Dresser on bass. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Peter Brotzmann / Jim O'Rourke: Two City Blues PT 2 (Trost Records)

One of two sets recorded on one intense night at Tokyo's Shinjuku Pit Inn from the trio of Japanese improvised rock legend Haino Keiji, European Free Jazz saxophone master Peter Brotzmann, and versatile American composer and musician Jim O'Rourke. ... Click to View


Mattin : Songbook #5 (Disembraining Machine )

... Click to View


Hong-Kai Wang and Mattin: Collapsing Ourselves (Mount Analogue)

A unique album of self-aware conversation from Hong-Kai Wang and Mattin, who record themselves responding to their own dialog, addressing those responses to the audience and adding their response to the final recordings, creating an abstract spoken ambiance. ... Click to View


Sun Ra Arkestra, The: Live in Nickelsdorf 1984 [VINYL 4 LP BOX] (Trost Records)

A sturdy 4 LP box set documenting Sun Ra's 1984 European Tour, here performing live in Nickelsdorf, Germany at Jazzgalerie, for an ebullient set of Sun Ra originals and standards with the Arkestra including John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, Danny Ray Thompson, Eloe Taylor, James Jackson, &c &c. ... Click to View


John Zorn: John Zorn's Olympiad The Early Game Pieces (Tzadik)

New York electric guitar quartet Dither (Gyan Riley, Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, James Moore) initiate John Zorn's Olympiad series, recording Zorn's early pre-Cobra game pieces "Fencing", Curling", and "Hockey". ... Click to View


Hypercolor: (Tzadik)

Eyal Maoz, James Ilgenfritz, and Lukas Ligeti make up Hypercolor, the NYC-based spastic jazz-rock hybrid whose ridiculous artsong craftsmanship alternately revels in complexity or brazen simplicity, favoring entropy and near-disaster over order or tidiness. ... Click to View


John Zorn: The Hermetic Organ Vol. 3. - Pauls Hall, Huddersfield (Tzadik)

The third in John Zorn's solo organ is performed live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2013, performing with unusual sonorities, spectral experimentation, hypnotic moods and stirring melodies. ... Click to View


Mike Osborne: Dawn (Cuneiform)

British Sax legend Mike Osborne in his earliest surviving recording as a co-leader with John Surman from 1966, and in 1970 with the first known recordings of his trio with the South African rhythm team of Harry Miller and Louis Moholo. ... Click to View


Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell: The Celestial Squid (Cuneiform)

Legendary UK free-jazz guitarist Ray Russell meets California avant guitarist Henry Kaiser to explore celestial squids with drummers Weasel Walter & William Winant, bassists Michael Manring & Damon Smith, and saxophonists Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief, and Aram Shelton. ... Click to View


Soft Machine: Switzerland 1974 [CD+DVD] (Cuneiform)

Innovative UK avant/jazz-rock band Soft Machine from their 1974 line up of Mike Ratledge on keys, Karl Jenkins on keys, Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Roy Babbington on bass, and John Marshall on drums, performing live at Congress Hall, in Montreaux, Switzerland. ... Click to View


Shoko Nagai (w/ Reynolds / Goldberger / Takeishi / Black): Taken Shadow (Animul)

Experimental electronics & improvisations from NY based composer/keyboardist Shoko Nagai, using multiple textures and an open sense of time to evoke rich aural environments, with the aid of Todd Reynolds (violin), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), Stomu Takeishi (bass) & Jim Black (drums). ... Click to View


Kinya Sogawa: Playing Bamboo (Animul)

Kinya Sogawa is one of the most outstanding shakuhachi performers in Japan today, and is also one of Japan's finest shakuhachi makers, here in an album of masterful performance on one of his own instruments. ... Click to View


Loren Connors: My Brooklyn (Analogpath)

The story of New York City told through the guitar from Brooklyn guitarist Loren Connor, performing solo live at The Stone in January 2012, and at Brooklyn's Zebulon in February 2012, intensely personal and reflective work that well echoes this magnificent borough. ... Click to View


Noah Kaplan / Giacomo Merega / Joe Moffett: Crows And Motives (Underwolf)

The NY trio of saxophonist Noah Kaplan, electric bassist Giacomo Merega, and trumpeter Moffett, in free improvisation focusing on texture and tone, applying traditional counterpoint to contemporary improvisation. ... Click to View


Giacomo Merega / Noah Kaplan / Marco Cappelli (w/ Anthony Coleman & Mauro Pagani): Watch The Walls Instead (Underwolf)

Italian electric bassist Giacomo Merega together with saxophonist Noah Kaplan and guitarist Marco Cappelli for a set of rhythm-less free form improvisations recorded in Brooklyn, NYC, with pianist Anthony Coleman and violin player Mauro Pagini joining for several tacks. ... Click to View


Dollshot: Dollshot (Underwolf)

An unusual and thickly strung album bridging dark rock and improvised music from saxophonist Noah Kaplan, bassist and prepared bassis Giacomo Merega, bassist and prepared painist Wes Matthews, and vocalist Rosalie Kaplan. ... Click to View


Leo Smith Wadada & Eco D'Alberi: June 6th, 2013 (Novara Jazz Series)

The Novara Jazz Series starts their label with this impressive live recording at the 2013 NovaraJazz Festival of the avant jazz quartet Eco D'Alberi (Antonio Borghini-bass, Fabrizio Spera-drums, Alberto Braida-piano, Edoardo Marraffa-sax) with US trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. ... Click to View


De Villiers Jr., Jerry: The Turning Point Archives (Timeless Momentum)

A retrospective album from Canadian fusion guitarist and composer Jerry De Villiers Jr, active in the Montreal jazz scene in the 1990s and known for the theme song to the Emmy Award winning show Arthur, sung by Ziggy Marley, here with 7 studio and 7 live tracks. ... Click to View


Cornell, Funf (Babin Crispo, Jacques...): La Regle (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Sporadic sonic exchanges exploring guidelines, graphic scores, or completely improvised with an expansive instrumentorium from the sextet of Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H Crispo, Anne-Francoise Jacques, Emilie Mouchous, and Erin Sexton. ... Click to View


Evidence: Cartier, Derome, Tanguay, Thelonius Monk: Monk Work (Ambiances Magnetiques)

After 14 years this Montreal trio dedicated to the works of Thelonius Monk, comprised of Jean Derome on alto and baritone sax, Pierre Cartier on electric bass, and Pierre Tanguay on drums, returns with 11 exuberant recordings including "Brilliant Corners", "Pannonica", &c. ... Click to View


Jean Derome : Chamber Music 1992-2012 (Ambiances Magnetiques)

25 chamber works composed by Montreal composer, multi-instrumentalist and improviser Jean Derome, presenting pieces from the wealth of projects he's involved in, including Dangereux Zhoms, Ensemble de flutes Alize, duos with Lori Freedmam, Quasar, quatuor de saxophones, &c. ... Click to View


Vertical Squirrels (Fischlin, Heble, Melville, Warren): Time of the Sign (Ambiances Magnetiques)

An incredibly informed instant-composing ensemble drawing on free jazz and post rock sensibilities with nods to Indian ragas, jazz-inflected minimalism, Zappa-esque bouts of sonic anarchy, and German rock music from the 1970s, captured live at Toronto, Guelph and Hamilton, Canada in 2012. ... Click to View


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  Richard Crandell 
  Spring Steel  
  (Tzadik) 

   review by Darren Bergstein
  2008-03-24
Richard Crandell: Spring Steel (Tzadik)

The mbira, or thumb piano, has broken free of its indigenous African origins for some years now, but few beyond its native inhabitants have mastered the instrument. White Plains, New York, musician Richard Crandell, however, has taken the mbira to heart and head, making the metallophone's chiming resonances very much his own. Self-taught, with a background well-steeped in the music of fellow minimalists and innovators such as Leo Kottke, Steve Reich, and John Fahey, Crandell's tightly designed and salubriously executed works are an absolute wonder, primarily because they're so damned beautiful to listen to.

One might think that the mbira has a limited tonal range, and to some extent it does, but here on Spring Steel, Crandell manages to sidestep both cliché and obviousness by exploring variable timbres, tunings, and tendencies. It doesn't hurt that he's sometimes accompanied by percussionist Cyro Baptista, who provides his own Latin American flavorings to the aural fiesta. Right off the bat, with the utterly sublime "Inner Circle," it's clear Crandell's onto something. Attaining a smooth flow of sound that feels like tumbling down a river of woodblocks, Crandell weaves a most definite type of trance music that might well suggest Reichian tropes; of course, thanks to Baptista's own sparse yet effective array of percussive accents (shakers, rainsticks, triangles, other myriad noisemakers), this "fifth-world" music, "minimal" that it is, says more about places and timeframes than most so-called pirated "world" music.

The rest of Spring Steel follows the same kind of moiré patterns Crandell sets up at the beginning of the recording. Of course, the art of keeping this all from becoming simply a one-trick pony is varying the speed of play or altering the clusters of notes in seemingly simple yet deceptively ingenious ways. The best example of this is throughout the nine-plus minutes of "Zen Dagger," where Crandell's labyrinthine thrums dance magnificently around Baptista's shaker tableau; only Nana Vasconcelos' little-known but extraordinary solo recordings approach these for sheer innovation. As it is, getting up close and personal with Crandell's unique soundworld nearly opens up Castaneda-like dimensions; it's zen and the art of mbira maintenance.



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