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Sprawl: Sprawl [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Intense and beautifully harsh improvisation from drummer Michael Wertmuller (16-17, Alboth!, Full Blast) with Peter Brotzmann (reeds), Stephan Wittwer (guitar), Alex Buess (reeds & electronics), and William Parker (bass), originally released on CD in 1997. ... Click to View


Russell / Beresford / Edwards / Liavik Solberg: Will It Float? [VINYL] (VA FONGOOL)

Norwegian drummer Stale Liavik Solberg leads this quartet with prominent British improvisers, guitarist John Russell, bassist John Edwards, and Steve Beresford on electronics and objects, the latter adding an unusual edge to superb interactive playing. ... Click to View


Gallio / Rupp: Fasane Hula Punk (Rapid Moment)

The duo of electric guitarist Olaf Rupp and soprano saxophonist Christoph Gallio in a set of 13 studio improvisations, restrained and thoughtful dialog of great technical skill and unusual tonal approaches to both instruments. ... Click to View


Yannis Kyriakides + Andy Moor: A Life Is A Billion Heartbeats (Unsounds)

Yannis Kyriakides and Andy Moor's exploration and mining of the rich and mysterious terrain of Greek rebetika music from early 20th century, using a combination and juxtaposition of rebetika elements with their own distinct sonic explorations. ... Click to View


Charlemagne Palestine & Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra: ggrrreeebbbaaammmnnnuuuccckkkaaallloooww!!! [VINYL] (Important Records)

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SAKA: Posh?! (FMR)

The free improvising trio of bassist Jon Rune Strom (Frode Gjerstad Trio, Paal Nilssen-Love, &c), tenor saxophonist Kristoffer Berre Alberts and percussionist Dag Erik Knedal Andersen, fiery free jazz with great technical skills and an oddly playful side. ... Click to View


Ian Watson / Susie Hodder-Williams : The Tao Of Homeopathy (FMR)

A meditative double CD with subtle flavours of flute and gamelan accompanying a reading by Ian Watson, the author of "The Tao of Homeopathy" exploring the philosophies and practices of homeopathy and Taoism."-Susie Hodder-Williams ... Click to View


Marcin Masecki : Variations (Bolt)

Composer & pianist Marcin Masecki wrote this work, inspired by Frederic Rzewski and presenting variations on the Chilean song "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido" (The town united will never be defeated) and invited pianist Piotr Nowicki to perform it for this recording. ... Click to View


Gintas K: Blind Man Tales (Bolt)

Gintas K, in a moment of frustration, took more than 40 elements from some recent work he was preparing and put them into multichannel software which, with a few corrections, became this surprising and complex work of organized and detailed sound. ... Click to View


Candelaria Valiente Saenz / Marcin Masecki: Hymnen (Bolt)

Based on the anthems of nations that have endured recent struggles, from the duo of Marcin Masecki on keys and Candelaria Saenz Valiente on vocals and percussion, embraceable songs with unusual structures paying tribute to the beautiful themes for each nation. ... Click to View


Arturas Bumsteinas : Different Trains (Bolt)

A collection of experimental, electroacoustic, and comprovized works from composer, sound artist, performer, and improviser Arturas Bumsteinas, inspired by Central European cultural landscape, including a radio play commisioned by Bolt Records. ... Click to View


Joanna Sokolowska Halszka: Msza (Bolt)

A chamber opera by Joanna Halszka Sokolowska at Opera// REMIX at Komuna// Warszawa, using sung and spoken voice, piano, and a variety of tonal instruments to present an intriguing set of variations informed by numerological methods, scientific statistics, &c.. ... Click to View


Alexander Schlippenbach Von Trio: Pakistani Pomade [VINYL] (Cien Fuegos)

One of saxophonists Evan Parker's favorite recordings from the long-running trio led by pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach with drummer Paul Lytton, the powerhouse free improvised "Pakistani Pomade" alubm is reissued on 180 gram vinyl with its original cover. ... Click to View


John Butcher / Andy Moor: Experiments With A Leaf (Unsounds)

Since working together in Thermal, saxophonist John Butcher and The Ex guitarist Andy Moor have collaborated in live performance, here recording in a cathedral in Berne, Switzerland in 2013, using its natural reverb to augment their impeccably paced and inspired dialog. ... Click to View


L'Ensemble Volta: Les Nuages de Magellan (Recommended Records)

ReR's 3rd collection featuring the ondes Martenot, an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by cellist Maurice Martenot; this volume, performed by the 4 piece L'Ensemble Volta + Antoine Alerinie is dedicated to Spectralist composer Tristan Murail. ... Click to View


John Greaves / Peter Blegvad / Lisa Herman : Kew Rhone (Recommended Records)

Taking Rock In Opposition into difficult territory, Peter Blegvad and John Greave's song cycle is a perplexing and rewarding album blending literature with rock and jazz forms, performed in an ensemble including Carla Bley and Michael Mantler; an intricate masterwork. ... Click to View


Stepmother (Simonis / Visser / Gilonis / Kerman): Calvary Greetings (Megaphone / Knock 'Em Dead)

Bringing together members from RIO-oriented bands like Vril, AA Kismet, The Work, Hat Shoes, Hail, 5uus, Present, & Thinking Plague, Stepmother presents a strange conglomerate of styles in short songs with twisted elements, strange intent, and superb playing. ... Click to View


Motorpsycho: Demon Box [VINYL 2 LPs] (Rune Grammofon)

Still the favorite of many Motorpsycho fans, the iconic "Demon Box" was also this Norwegian rock band's breakthrough album from the early 90s, hard-edged prog oriented rock (think Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), presented in its original 2 LP format on 180 gm vinyl. ... Click to View


Beatriz Ferreyra : GRM Works [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Electronic composer Beatriz Ferreyra was a pioneer alongside Pierre Schaeffer, developing the famous Music Theory of the Sounding Object in the 50s, and continued to compose with Bernard Baschet and his Structures Sonores, holding residencies at Dartmouth College. ... Click to View


Michel Redolfi: Pacific Tubular Waves/Immersion [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Electroacoustic landscape composer Michel Redolfi in a work for Synclavier digital synthesizer recorded between 1979 & 1980, attempting to musically translate his research on underwater sound in the Pacific, from the movement of rolling waves to its depths. ... Click to View


The Necks: The Necks Box [8 CD BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

Formed in Australia the late 1980s by Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck and Lloyd Swanton, the Necks play post-jazz, post-rock, post-everything, slowly morphing improvised music, here in a limited numbered box set presenting 8 of their CDs from the UK Recommended Records label. ... Click to View


Reinhold Friedl : Golden Quinces, Earthed For Spatialised Neo-Bechstein (Bocian)

Reinhold Friedl performs on one of the last remaining of 150 Neo-Bechstein amplified Grand Pianos, using unusual recording techniques to find unexpected sonic aspects to the instrument, producing a dark ambient and industrial work of great intensity. ... Click to View


Alva Noto: Xerrox Vol. 3 (Raster-Noton)

Alva Noto continues his Xerrox series with the 3rd volume,"Towards Space", using the process of copying and manipulation of data as a basis for sound compositions, here showing a warmer music inspired by film memories, creating an imaginary soundtrack. ... Click to View


Eric La Casa: W2 (1998-2008) [2 CDs] (Herbal International)

A journey in sound from composer Eric La Casa, who organized these recordings of water and wind captured over 12 years as a sonic journal of the various geographic locations he visited, transforming them into an absorbing story about the living world. ... Click to View


John Zorn: The Song Project Live At LPR (Tzadik)

In celebration of his 60th birthday Zorn asked his most acclaimed vocal collaborators to write lyrics to select compositions from his vast musical catalog, first released as a 7" box set, and now here in red velvet covered CD package from a live performance in NYC, 2015. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman & the Council of Balance: Synovial Joints (Pi Recordings)

Composer and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman in a superb modern jazz album, written by applying characteristics of human synovial joints to compositional process, and using "camouflage orchestration" to orchestrate players into the fore-, middle- and background. ... Click to View


Graham Lambkin / Michael Pisaro: Schwarze Riesenfalter (erstwhile)

Balancing active organized sound worlds from Graham Lambkin with Wandelweiser discretion from Michael Pisaro in five tracks that punctuate concrete sound compositions with Feldman-esque piano progressions, bound together by a short poem; captivating and elusive. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman / Tim Barnes: Matterings (erstwhile)

The pairing of eccentric sound artist Jeph Jerman with Quakebasket label leader/percussionist Tim Barnes, using unidentifiable sound sources, field recordings, and the occasional acoustic instrument to create unique, curious and absorbing environments. ... Click to View


Eric La Casa / Taku Unami: Parazoan Mapping (erstwhile)

Using "recordings" and "devices", this is the first release from the long-standing collaboration of Eric La Casa and Taku Umani, 15 untitled tracks of curious and subtly discursive sound work recorded in a diverse set of locations. ... Click to View


Ingar Zach / Miguel Angel Tolosa: Loner (Sofa)

Using electronics, field recordings, and acoustic percussion, the duo of Ingar Zach and Miguel Angel Tolosa (Ubeboet) create murky soundscapes punctuated and driven by percussion and ringing tones, rich ea-improv using tone and drones to envelope the listener. ... 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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