Six mysterious soundscapes from Sophie Agnel's bowed, plucked, strummed and struck prepared piano timbres in duo with Minton's grunts, gurgles and growls.
Agnel, Sophie / Minton, Phil
Label: Another Timbre
Released in: UK
"Subtle and fragile aren't adjectives you'd usually use to describe the taproom brawl of grunts, gurgles and growls that usually makes up a Phil Minton performance, but these six untitled tracks, recorded in Poitiers in June 2006, are certainly that. The precision and delicacy of Sophie Agnel's prepared piano work make for a fine contrast with the energetic bravura of Minton's longstanding sparring partner on the 88 tuned drums, Veryan Weston. It's often hard to believe that such a wide range of sonorities could come from just one instrument, let alone be produced by one pair of hands in real time.
The woefully under-recorded Agnel is at her most impressive in the third track, whose intricate shimmering polyphony of bowed, plucked, strummed and struck timbres is as complex as it is haunting. British performer Minton is such a distinctive voice in improvised music that he tends to shine out in whatever ensemble he performs in, but here he's often content to hum and flutter discreetly behind Agnel's glistening curtain of harmonics. For the first six minutes he contributes little more than tiny gasps and whimpers, finally producing recognisable notes only at the beginning of track two, many the result of his trademark wheeze that allows him to produce - and, amazingly, control - two pitches simultaneously. At high volume this can sound as dangerous as a wounded lion, but here it's as forlorn as a kitten trapped in a cupboard."-Dan Warburton, The Wire
• Show Bio for Sophie Agnel
"If it's in Paris that Sophie Agnel was born in 1964, it is towards other sounding islands in the heart of a reinvented temporality that she dwells today, at the stern of a grand piano, an instrument that she turns into a real living & vibrating organism.
Classically trained, escaped from jazz (drawn away by the too strict treatment of harmony), Sophie Agnel boards the piano from every sonic angle this musical vessel can offer : keys, strings & board are simultaneously apprehended, in a mixed procedure (as we say of painting techniques) that would be understated if it was reduced to the cagian definition of the prepared piano. Considering the instrument - that she extends with several accessories, paper cups, balls or strings - as a poetic supplier of anamorphic textures, the musician takes it to be an equal match to the wider diversity of musical systems, whatever the craft they where conceived in (from physiological to electro-acoustic) ...
We would then no longer be surprised to notice her understandings with Michel Doneda and to find her to the side of the wet saxophone of Alessandro Bosetti, of the acoustified electric guitar of Olivier Benoit, of the voices of Catherine Jauniaux and Phil Minton, or the keyboard of Christine Wodraska...
The same seal of esthetic evidence marks all of her musical companionships, with this same taste, beyond the narrative, for the delicate sonic quests and blossoming of dimensions to which the auditor takes part through an active listening : in the heart of Jean Pallandre's phonographic worlds, of Jerôme Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti's small scale cinema, John Butcher or Axel Dörner's crimpy tissues, by the lovely machines of Erik M or Ikue Mori, the harmonico-stratospheric rustling of Stéphane Rives...
The originality of the research conducted by Sophie Agnel today leads her to develop, in solo or with significantly chosen companions, a most refined and highly poetic approach to sound that makes each of her concerts a moving construction filled with chiseled musical gestures, a soft and sumptuous irradiation."-Guillaume Tarche-Sophie Agnel Website (http://sophieagnel.free.fr/biographie.html)
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Related Categories of Interest:
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Unusual Vocal Forms
Piano & Keyboards
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
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Label: Another Timbre
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