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Biliana Voutchkova / Michael Thieke: Blurred Music (elsewhere)

Berlin-based violinist Biliana Voutchkova and German clarinetist Michael Thieke (Magic I.D., International Nothing) present a stunning achievement in blending compositional, pre-structured material with live improvisation, creating a blurring of virtually identical sections that create microtonal anomalies in timing, rhythm, timbre and motive, as heard in 3 amazing performances. ... Click to View


Matthew Revert / Vanessa Rossetto: Everyone Needs A Plan (erstwhile)

The second collaboration between sounds artist Vanessa Rossetto and writer and sound artist Matthew Revert is a monumental work that studies the evolution of communication through fragments of spoken words, and a rich tapestry of sound from acoustic and electronic instruments, field recordings, and perplexing and dramatic sources of sound. ... Click to View


Lucio Capece / Marc Baron: My Trust In You (erstwhile)

Two electroacoustic improvisers and composers--Lucio Capece on reeds, analog synths, effects, field recordings, drums machines, speakers in motion, and Marc Baron on field recordings and analog devices--developed these 6 extraordinary recordings that blend motion, perspective, sound and noise, and concrete references in a mystifying and mesmerizing journey in sound. ... Click to View


Melaine Dalibert : Musique pour le lever du jour (elsewhere)

Inspired by the work of Hungarian-born French media artist Vera Molnar, and by the vicissitudes of natural phenomena, French pianist and composer Melaine Dalibert developed algorithmic procedures to compose this work, translating to "Music for the Daybreak", as an illusory "endless piece" of meditative layered, resonant music in the mode of Morton Feldman. ... Click to View


Otomo Yoshihide / Paal Nilssen-Love: 19th of May, 2016 (PNL)

An intensively diverse and thrilling game of "cat and dog" between Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, performing live at Dom Cultural Center, Moscow, Russia in 2016 for two extended improvisations that exemplify incredible technical skills, reflective and introspective dialog, and cathartic release; absolutely impressive. ... Click to View


Marker (w/ Ken Vandermark): Wired For Sound (Audiographic Records)

The debut from this Chicago band merging strong grooves with free playing, with 2 guitarists--Andrew Clinkman & Steve Marquette, plus Macie Stewart on keys & violin, Phil Sudderberg on drums, and Ken Vandermark on reeds, each of the 3 tracks dedicated to an artist: Belgian movie director Chantal Akerman; German choreographer Pina Bausch; and Anthony Braxton and Bernie Worrell. ... Click to View


Vandermark / Kugel / Tokar: No-Exit Corner (Not Two)

the second CD by the trio featuring the tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Vandermark, the drummer Klaus Kugel, and the bassist Mark Tokar has the band back at Krakow's Alchemia Club, bringing these three Chicago and European players together for a skronky, energetic romp of commanding playing alongside unorthodox approaches and powerfully creative intent. ... Click to View


Bobby Zankel & The Wonderful Sound 6: Celebrating William Parker at 65 (Not Two)

Celebrating bassist and composer William Parker's 65th birthday at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia in a band led by Bobby Zankel on alto saxophone, Muhammad Ali on drums, Dave Burrell on piano, Steve Swell on trombone, Diane Monroe on violin, and William Parker himself on bass, in a 4-part suite of beautifully turbulent and masterful free jazz. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Fred Marty / Carlos Santos: Jardin Carre (Creative Sources)

French double bassist Fred Marty joins Creative Sources core performers, violist Ernesto Rodrigues, cellist Guilherme Rodrigues and electronic artist Carlos Santos for an extensive improvisation exploring both lyrical and pointillistic improvisation, themed loosely around a garden quartet or frame, the music detailed, active and formidably sophisticated. ... Click to View


Urlich Mitzlaff : Ten Sonic Miniatures about the "Scream" by Edvard Munch (Creative Sources)

Using Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" as his muse, German cellist living in Portugal, Ulrich Mitzlaff, presents 10 acoustic miniatures from just over a minute to 4 1/2 minutes in length, including wildly interactive moments of delirium to darkly melodic bowed passages, using his impressive technique to create vivid depictions of Munch's work. ... Click to View


4! (Patrizia Oliva / Carlo Mascolo / Domenico Saccente / Felice Furioso): Factorial (Creative Sources)

Free electroacoustic improvisation from the Italian quartet of Patrizia Oliva on voice, electronics, bawu, objects, Carlo Mascolo on prepared trombone, Domenico Saccente on accordion and prepared piano, and Felice Furioso on drums, cupa cupa, contrabbassa, sounded objects, using voice and unusual instrumentation to guide unusual and forward-thinking improv. ... Click to View


Frantz Loriot : Reflections on an Introspective Path (Neither/Nor Records)

French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot's first solo album takes the viola into unusual territory, using an acousmatic approach to create music and sounds with no visual reference by transforming the sound of the viola through preparations and remarkable extended techniques, layering and assembling his works to create concrete statements of movement. ... Click to View


Costa's Acustica, Carlo: Strata (Neither/Nor Records)

New York composer and drummer Carlo Costa assembled this accomplished ensemble of NY improvisers for a live performance at IBeam in Brooklyn, capturing his piece "Strata" that evolves layers of sound from very sparse to densely yet accesibly stacked sound, varying recurring material to change perspectives in the aural space as the piece progresses; impressive. ... Click to View


Flin van Hemmen (w/ Neufeld / Obsvik): Drums of Days (Neither/Nor Records)

Debut album as a leader from drummer and pianist Flin van Hemmen, an evocative album of original compositions and improvisations recorded in a trio with Eyvind Opsvik on double bass and Todd Neufeld on acoustic guitar, with Tony Malaby on alto and soprano sax on one track; a beautifully cinematic and poetic album that allows for space and reflection. ... Click to View


Peter Blegvad : Bandbox [6 CD BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

Starting with Blegvad's "Downtime" LP, this box traces the evolution of the Peter Blegvad Trio into a quintet with Karen Mantler and Bob Drake, released in a solid box with a double CD of alternate versions, unreleased material and live performances, plus a 72 page book of photographs, memorabilia, drawings, documents and recollections; the ultimate reissue! ... Click to View


Roberto Musci / Giovanni Venosta: Messages & Portraits (2018 Edition) (Recommended Records)

A welcome reissue of two 1980s, forward-thinking albums of electronic compositions from Milanese ethnomusicologist composers, sound engineers and performers Giovanni Venosta and Roberto Musci, incorporating exotic field recordings from their world travels into accessibly sophisticated pieces, creating unexpectedly innovative, novel and melodically rich hybrids. ... Click to View


Vitor Rua & The Metaphysical Angels: When Better Isn't Quite Good Enough [2 CDs] (Recommended Records)

Guitarist Vitor Rua (GNR, Telectu) recorded the 15 pieces of this 2-CD set first as a series of overdubbed solo improvisations, using his virtuosic skills to create intriguing and compelling works, which he orchestrated and recorded with the quintet of Hernani Faustino on bass, Luis San Payo on drums, Manuel Guimaraes on organ, Nuno Reis on trumpet, and Paulo Galao on clarinets. ... Click to View


Allen Ravenstine : Waiting For The Bomb [VINYL] (Recommended Records)

Many years after Pere Ubu and his work as a pilot, one of the world's most unique synth players, Allen Ravenstine, releases an album of composed works, 18 discrete hybrid miniature sound worlds that blend acoustic, real-world and synthetic sounds in unorthodox ways that elusively twist conventional approaches with unexpected elements and narrative twists. ... Click to View


Lance Olsen Austin : Dark Heart (Another Timbre)

Four fascinating and detailed compositions from Canadian composer and painter Lance Austin Olsen, each work giving the performers space to collaborate on the results, using graphic scores and Cage-like elements from recordings; performers include Terje Paulsen, Gil Sanson, Ryoko Akama, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Katelyn Clark, Patrick Farmer and Apartment House. ... Click to View


Alex Jang : Momentary Encounters (Another Timbre)

Four fragile and mostly minimal works by Victoria-based composer Alex Jang, performed by the Apartment House ensemble, with solo pieces by Heather Roche on clarinet + field recordings, one with Cristian Alvear on guitar, an acoustic quintet, and "any three players" designed for any mix of instrumentation, here on melodica, vibraphone & cello. ... Click to View


Linda Smith Catlin: Wanderer (Another Timbre)

Eight sophisticated chamber pieces composed by Linda Catlin Smith and realized by the Canadian Apartment House ensemble, including a solo piano performed by Philip Thomas, a piano duo with Thomas and Mark Knoop, and works for percussion & cello, 2 quintet pieces for strings, percussion and winds, and two 7-piece conducted works with two percussionists, strings and brass. ... Click to View


Cassandra Miller : O Zomer! (Another Timbre)

Two ensemble works and two solo pieces by Christian Wolff's favourite contemporary composer, Cassandra Miller, who is blazing a very personal trail through the experimental music world, with brilliant performances by Apartment House, Mira Benjamin, Philip Thomas, and Charles Curtis with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov. ... Click to View


Cassandra Miller : Just So (Another Timbre)

A disc of extraordinary string works by Canadian composer Cassandra Miller, presenting four string quartets superbly played by the Quatuor Bozzini quartet of Clemens Merkel on violin, Alissa Cheung on violin, Stephanie Bozzini on viola, and Isabelle Bozzini on cello, including the large work "About Bach", awarded the Jules Leger Prize for New Chamber Music. ... Click to View


Bucher / Countryman (w/ Simon Tan / Isla Antinero): Extremely Live in Manila (ChapChap Records)

A live concert in Quezon City from the Manila based duo of Rich Countryman on alto saxophone and Swiss drummer Christian Bucher, who are joined on one track by acoustic bassist Simon Tan and trombonist Isla Antinero. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Adam Pultz Melbye / kriton b.: The Distant Sound Within (Creative Sources)

Three strings--cello from Guilherme Rodrigues, double bass from Adam Pultz Melbye, and viola from Ernesto Rodrigues--plus harmonium and objects from Kriton Beyer, in a live performance at Kuhlspot Social Club in Berlin, each of the 9 movements a concentrative work named with a three-letter onomatopoeia, as the players draw sound from a mysterious dark distance. ... Click to View


Akmee (Pedersen / Jerve / Albertsend / Wildhagen): Neptun (Nakama Records)

Debut album from this Oslo collective quartet of free improvisers led by drummer Andreas Wildhagen (Nilssen-Love Large Unit) with Erik Kimestad Pedersen on trumpet, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Erlend Olderskog Albertsen on double bass, a thoroughly modern band that balances more experimental playing with improv in the European tradition; a strong start. ... Click to View


Akmee (Pedersen / Jerve / Albertsend / Wildhagen): Neptun [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Debut album from this Oslo collective quartet of free improvisers led by drummer Andreas Wildhagen (Nilssen-Love Large Unit) with Erik Kimestad Pedersen on trumpet, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Erlend Olderskog Albertsen on double bass, a thoroughly modern band that balances more experimental playing with improv in the European tradition; a strong start. ... Click to View


Nakama: Worst Generation (Nakama Records)

Freely improvised and unusual collective improv from the quintet of Christian Meaas Svendsen (double bass), Andreas Wildhagen (drums), Ayumi Nataka (piano), Adrian Loseth Waade (violin) and Agness Hvizdalek (voice), an abstract yet energetic album with Hvizdalek's voice adding an exotic edge to extended techniques based in free jazz strategies. ... Click to View


Nakama: Worst Generation [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Freely improvised and unusual collective improv from the quintet of Christian Meaas Svendsen (double bass), Andreas Wildhagen (drums), Ayumi Nataka (piano), Adrian Loseth Waade (violin) and Agness Hvizdalek (voice), an abstract yet energetic album with Hvizdalek's voice adding an exotic edge to extended techniques based in free jazz strategies. ... Click to View


Machinefabriek: Engel (Machinefabriek)

Rutger Zuydervelt, AKA Machinefabriek, expanded the existing score for Marta Alstadsaeter & Kim-Jomi Fischer's dance piece "Engel", which is a contemporary piece combining dance and circus acrobatics, the new soundtrack a large work combining rich mirages of electronica, ambient sound, assertive noise, and even a section of Paal Nilessen-Love's drumwork. ... Click to View


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  Sound in the Balance  

Amplify 2003: Elemental


By Nirav Soni (photo credit: Nirav Soni) 2003-03-25
:  () Why it has taken so long for me to write this review:

1. Naming

The very first problem for the sort of music that was played at the AMPLIFY festival is what to call it. Many have proposed names to encompass the range of approaches that musicians as diverse as Toshimaru Nakamura, Jason Lescalleet and Tim Barnes take to their instruments, but as of now, none really satisfy me. The one that I hear most often is "Electro-Acoustic Improv"; it is likely the most commonly used because of the discussion list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Electroacoustic/) of the same name. Jon Abbey, founder of Erstwhile Records at one time called what he releases "dangerous improv." He now prefers to use "balanced improv" to describe his curatorial decisions. Electroacoustic-improv doesn't apply to everything that it covers; during this festival the first set was entirely acoustic, with the musicians forgoing all electronics, even amplification. The acronym "EAI" also refers to the organization Electronic Arts Intermix, who are a group of people devoted to preserving the legacy of video and multimedia art. I'm tired of confusing the two. "Balanced improv" makes a little more sense to me about the means of producing of this music, and more about what happens to the space.

Maybe one could call this "room improv. " In his essay, "Towards an Ethic of Improvisation" (found in Treatise Handbook, London: Edition Peters, 1971) Cornelius Cardew says, "it is impossible to record with any fidelity a kind of music that is actually derived in some sense from the room in which it is taking place- it's shape, acoustical properties, even the view from the windows.....The natural context provides a score which the players are unconsciously interpreting in their playing."

When I read this quote, I understood why it seemed to me like the set that Greg Kelley and Bhob Rainey ( collectively comprising the band nmperign) played with Le Quan Ninh sounded like it could have been composed. The form that I heard in the playing was not that of a pre-determined score, but a conforming,RWD, TK an adaptation of personal style to circumstance, in this case the venue Tonic, on a frosty winter evening, with a very respectful audience. That one could detect this form within the music speaks volumes about the maturity of the players, and their immense discipline, focus and concentration

2. Profundity:

Amplify 2003: Elemental

Wednesday, Feb: 6th (Diapason Gallery)
Tim Barnes/Okkyung Lee/Toshio Kajiwara
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tetuzi Akiyama/Ben Watson

Thursday: Feb 7th (Tonic):
Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe
Tim Barnes/I-Sound
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura

Friday: Feb 8th (Tonic):
Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh

Saturday: Feb. 9th (Engine 27):
Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura
On the Tuesday before the festival, Keith Rowe held a discussion at Columbia. Rowe introduced the talk with an excerpt from a work by Jean Cassanea de Mondonville, a French composer from the baroque period. After playing the music on a small stereo that betrayed the size of the music, he asked whether or not electronic music can approach the level of profundity that the piece by Mondonville did. During the discussion, I was the only person who mentioned religion (being a non-musician, I have a tendency to talk about other thing s in the way of my talking about music). It seemed to me that profundity is not a quality that music (or for that matter, anything, really) can possess; one instead has a relationship that is profound, with a piece of music, a painting, a cat, or a dish that only mom cooks just so.

Rowe mentioned Mark Rothko during the discussion, which got me to thinking about the relationship of the abstract and the profound. What strikes me upon reflection on all of the artwork I've come across by Rowe (which can be seen on a number of album covers, including his discs with AMM and on Erstwhile) is how so little of it is entirely abstract. His paintings certainly aren't, and one can easily look at his use of the radio as a way of distancing the listener from the sensual surface of the music. Rowe's radio brings the music towards the exterior, towards the social, but always in a tangential, distant, often fleeting way. He seems to be, both in his words and in his music, alluding to the ethical, to the engaged.


3. Performance

I was eagerly awaiting the Keith Rowe/Le Quan Ninh performance on the 8th after seeing such intense performances by both of them the night before. Upon reflection, it makes sense that the collaboration was less than harmonious. Where Rowe's sound-image recalls for me the moral and the conscientious, Ninh's style is very different. His performances were more about the erotics of the "surrounded bass drum". His playing is supremely graceful, precise, delicate, and extraordinarily sensual. One cannot help but reference the libidinal when you watch him rubbing his thumb across the skin of the drum.

It is entirely appropriate that it was Ninh who was touring with butoh dancer Yukiko Nakamura. Nakamura performed onstage during the during the first and last sets of the Tonic nights. I would comment about her role during the first show, with Ninh, Kelley and Rainey, but she spent the vas t majority very low to the stage, and thus obscured to me by a friend's head. I do recall that somewhere around a third of the way into the set, she dramatically rolled onto the floor, whereupon I completely lost sight of her. During the Müller/Ninh performance, she was completely visible. She went through a series of very, very slow movements, which made it seem like she was crumpling to the ground in slow motion. It was, however, bristling with tension and intensity, entirely in key with the tenor of the music.

I am generally critical of visual accompaniments to music, and, possibly because of that, my favorite person to watch play during the festival was Tim Barnes. Barnes is the perfect foil to Ninh. Where the latter is classical grace and fluidity, eminently measured and controlled, the former's gestures are more intently muscular, more about the grain of the kit; coarseness. Watching him slowly scrape the cymbals across his kit was pure pleasure, it had the same visual rhythm as a turnstile.

4.Günter Müller

I do not understand how this man is completely capable of making almost every situation I've heard him play in work. I've been worrying about how to write about what he does for weeks, and I give up now.


Instead of attempting to describe the music played, I ask you to accept this list of adjectives that I will append to the bottom of this review, in correspondence with the performance they apply to:

Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey - open
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe- earthy
Tim Barnes/I-Sound- split
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- still

Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh- discordant
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey- near
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama- spare
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh- thick

Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama- long
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet- wide
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- de e p

Relevant links:
http://www.l-m-c.org.uk/texts/rowe.html
http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem1751.html



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