Four extraordinary improvisations by musicians spanning 3 countries and 3 generations, a dark, brooding, swirling music from a remarkably tight and unified ensemble.
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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at19
Squidco Product Code: 11899
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded in the Church of St. James the Lesser, Midhopestones Village, Near Sheffield, January 10, 2009.
Michel Doneda-soprano saxophone
Lee Patterson-amplified objects & processes
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1. Strines 11:07
2. Crow Edge 18:20
3. Wharncliffe Side 19:57
4. Deepcar 9:45
Related Categories of Interest:
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Unusual Vocal Forms
lowercase, micro-improv, sound improv
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
Objects and Home-made Instruments
sample the album:
"Midhopestones is a village near Sheffield within which lies a church used by Simon Reynell to record the quintet of Rhodri Davies, Michel Doneda, Louisa Martin, Phil Minton and Lee Patterson in January of this year. The resulting album, just released on Simon's Another Timbre label takes the name of said village as its title. I guess to some degree it was a little inevitable that I would like this album, but trying to describe why that might be is a little harder.
There is a lot of disguise in this recording. Rhodri Davies' harp doesn't sound much like a harp, the same can be said for Michel Doneda's sax. Lee Patterson's use of amplified objects is all about finding hidden sounds where you wouldn't expect them and Phil Minton seems here to be making sounds as far from what we recognise from a human voice as he possibly can, in fact he seems to be trying to hide his input amongst the sounds the others create around him. Perhaps only Louisa Martin's laptop makes sounds as we might expect, but even then were laptop computers primarily designed to make buzzing hissing sounds?
I mention all of this because for me this music is all about a group of musicians working in harmony together, perhaps testing and nudging each other from time to time, but on the whole merging their individual sounds to create a thriving mass of detailed, quite beautiful sound. It doesn't sound like the sum of five different instruments, as maybe an improv record made fifteen years ago might do, but an amorphous mass of indefinable sounds that shifts and moulds itself into a series of interesting shapes. It is as if the instrumentation itself, and the individual histories attached just don't matter, they are all just ingredients that combine to create something else again.
The music is generally slow, and is most often devoid of sudden events, it gradually changes, with sounds slipping in and out of our attention rather than making dramatic entrances. It is a very vertical music, something to be listened into rather than along with, the sounds made interacting with other sounds of the moment rather than what came before or will come after. Like studying a tiny detail of a Pollock painting, any one moment on Midhopestones has its own little world of textures and colours not dissimilar to those found in other places throughout the album but is also individual and fascinating in its own right. Stepping back and viewing / listening to the whole work then reveals how so much layered detail all comes together to form a co-ordinated, very beautiful statement.
The playing on Midhopestones is all very gentle and soft, as if Pollock chose to just work only in grey pencils. Phil Minton's vocals rarely rise above deep gurgling murmurs, and actually for me really make the CD, providing a sprinkling of character to the otherwise delicate structures. It is above all very beautiful, not threatening, not challenging the rules of improvised music, just very finely crafted, delicate and really very beautiful music.
Its late here now, gone 2AM, obviously dark outside and with a room lit only softly this recording adds the perfect soundtrack. Maybe there isn't the same degree of playful creativity as featured on say Rhodri Davies' last AT disc with Annette Krebs, but Midhopestones is up there with Dropp Ensemble's Safety as the most simplistically gorgeous album of the year and sometimes that is more than enough.
I should also mention the mixing /mastering here which is superb. An album like this one needs to be well engineered and very carefully mastered, and Simon has done a fantastic job. While all of the sounds come together as one they can also be clearly picked apart by the ear if you stop and listen closely. There are five more Another Timbre releases sat here waiting for me to get to them. Its about time I really disliked one of them but I haven't found it yet."-Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
At The Squid's Ear!
• Show Bio for Rhodri Davies
"Rhodri Davies was born in 1971 in Aberystwyth, Wales and now lives in Gateshead in the northeast of England.
He plays harp, electric harp, live-electronics and builds wind, water, ice and fire harp installations. He has released four solo albums: Trem, Over Shadows, Wound Response and An Air Swept Clean of All Distance.
His regular groups include: a duo with John Butcher, Common Objects, HEN OGLEDD: Dawson - Davies, a trio with David Toop and Lee Patterson, Cranc, The Sealed Knot and a trio with John Tilbury and Michael Duch.
In 2008 he collaborated with the visual artist Gustav Metzger on 'Self-cancellation', a large-scale audio-visual collaboration in London and Glasgow.
New pieces for solo harp have been composed for him by: Eliane Radigue, Phill Niblock, Christian Wolff, Ben Patterson, Alison Knowles, Mieko Shiomi and Yasunao Tone.
In 2012 he was the recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Grants to Artists Award."-Rhodri Davies Website (http://www.rhodridavies.com/words/)
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• Show Bio for Michel Doneda
"Michel Doneda (F) soprano saxophone, born in 1954, comes from the French South-West. He is a self-taught musician.
In 1980 he founded in Toulouse a reed trio: HIC ET NUNC, a group that toured quite a lot in France, playing mostly improvised music. At the same time he founded with musicians, dancers and actors a place called IREA (Institute for research and exchange between arts of improvisation).
In the following years, he participated in music projects with other artists and he became a regular guest of the Chantenay-Villedieu festival. Meeting other artists he developed a very personal approach with his music and his instrument in improvised music. During this period he played with Europeans musicians: Fred Van Hove, Phil Wachsmann, Max Eastley, Steve Beresford and Americans: John Zorn, Eliott Sharp, Elvin Jones
In 1985 he made his first record under his own name: TERRA (Nato record). At the same time he started playing regurlarly with Lê Quan Ninh, Daunik Lazro, Benat Achiary, Martine Altenburger, Barre Phillips, Paul Rogers, Tetsu Saitoh, Kazue Sawai. More recently he developed his work with Keith Rowe, Gunter Muller, Bhob Rainey, Giuseppe Ielasi and dancers as Masaki Iwana, Yukiko Nakamura, Valérie Métivier and poets, actors.
Since then, he has been very involved in the international improvised music scene, toured in Africa, Japan, Asia, USA, Canada, South America, Russia and with a lot of improvisers in Europe. In 1992 he founded in Toulouse with musicians, actors, poets, dancers the association: La Flibuste. As of today he recorded almost 50 records for European, Americans and Japanese labels."-Timeart Ensemble Website (http://www.zeitkunst.eu/ta/)
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• Show Bio for Phil Minton
"Phil Minton comes from Torquay. He played trumpet and sang with the Mike Westbrook Band in the early 60s- Then in dance and rock bands in Europe for the later of part of the decade. He returned to England in 1971, rejoining Westbrook and was involved in many of his projects until the mid 1980's.
For most of the last forty years, Minton has been working as a improvising singer in lots of groups, orchestras, and situations, all over the place. Numerous composers have written music especially for his extended vocal techniques. He has a quartet with Veryan Weston, Roger Turner and John Butcher, and ongoing duos, trios and quartets with above and many other musicians.
Since the eighties, His Feral Choir, where he voice-conducts workshops and concerts for anyone who wants to sing, has performed in over twenty countries."-Phil Minton Website (https://www.philminton.co.uk/8-2/)
^ Hide Bio for Phil Minton