A reduction of composer Simon James Phillips' 5 hour improvisation performed with Tony Buck (drums), Werner Dafeldecker (bass), BJ Nilsen (electronics), Liz Allbee (trumpet), Arthur Rother (guitar) & Simon James Phillips (piano) exploring time, perception and place.
Label: Mikroton Recordings
Catalog ID: CD 39 | 40
Squidco Product Code: 20849
Format: 2 CDs
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded in Berlin, Germany in 2011 by Falco.
Tony Buck-drums, percussion
Werner Dafeldecker-double bass
Simon James Phillips-piano
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1. Untitled 59:08
1. Untitled 43:06
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"Exploration of time, perception and place is the recurring theme of the work of Simon James Phillips. Blage 3 was an extended installation and performance piece curated by Phillips - a one-off five hour uninterrupted improvisation with an ensemble of six of Berlin's most visible experimental artists - Tony Buck (drums and percussion), Werner Dafeldecker (double bass), BJ Nilsen (electronics), Liz Allbee (trumpet), Arthur Rother (guitar) and Simon James Phillips (piano).
The ensemble was placed in the centre of a large dance studio. Borrowing from a concept used by Berlin electronic trio Groupshow, the audience, free to come and go, were admitted only once the work had begun - the five hour duration unknown to the audience. The ensemble created sonic atmospheres that incorporated outside concrete noise, extended techniques and a sense of gradual overlapping thematic development. Communicative and responsive yet with a continual sense of consensual disconnection between the artists."-Mikroton
"Here's one for fans of first-rate, long-form electro-acoustic improvisation, a recording that sits somewhere on a drift continuum between The Necks and MIMEO.
Blage 3 (Mikroton) is the part result of an installation and performance piece curated by pianist/composer Simon James Phillips: a double CD presenting two long extracts from an uninterrupted five hour improvisation.
Playing alongside Philips are two colleagues from Berlin's Splitter Orchestra, trumpeter Liz Allbee and double bassist Werner Dafeldecker, BJ Nilsen on electronics, guitarist Arthur Rother, and The Necks' Tony Buck on percussion.
Both The Necks and Dafeldecker's group Polwechsel provide useful and apposite touchstones for this music as all three projects focus on slowly unfolding structures, albeit with varying degrees of subtlety and implacable intent.
The performance took place in the centre of a large dance studio, with an audience, who had no idea how long it would last, admitted only once the work had begun, and free to come and go. Philips then edited two long excerpts from the full five hours of improvisation, each with its own character. Any audible evidence of the audience has been carefully excised.
The first hour-long excerpt begins with a warm, hazy strumming of processed piano and combined harmonics, turning on a diminuendo through which more lyrically arpeggiated pianism emerges in counterpoint to individuated electronic drones and an ominous underlying rumble of percussion and bowed bass. Through overlapping movements, those bass reverberations operate in counterpoint to queasy, high-frequency tones until both fade, yielding again to Philips' pianism.
Fluctuations in the balance of power between inputs produce a tension between the music's lulling and discomposing aspects. It holds the ear.
Philips' playing, rippling over collaged drones, has a hypnotic mellifluousness that's reminiscent at times of Charlemagne Palestine's 'strumming music' but twenty two minutes in, and Tony Buck's rainforest shakers and vibrating snare drum herald a darkening of mood, with Rother's guitar abstractly dark-hued against bowed contrabass and harmonious grains and pulses of electronic texture. As always, the piano seems to draw the music onward, exerting a calming influence, but as electronic textures fade away Buck's percussion becomes dominant, establishing a restive tension between pulse and abstraction.
Allbee's trumpet is now clearly audible for the first time, binding the music with strenuous sustains, shaping melody, but sounding clarion only when Rother chimes in with a simple guitar motif. Still, there's an inevitable slip back into abstraction, with Allbee heard only in occasional clucks and smears amid a constellation of electro-acoustic microsound, all bolstered by washes of cymbal and irregular contact static. From here, there's a slow but sure wending of convergences to a subtly-drawn conclusion.
This is restless music, characterised by a constant tension between the acoustic, purely electronic and/or electro-acoustic facets of an always-recombinant ensemble sound. The second, 43-minute long excerpt is more tightly structured.
It begins with what sounds like interior field recordings of external weather, concomitantly creaky foley sounds, and a long, mellifluous and increasingly hypnotic piano solo, under which Buck slowly develops a rolling, rhythmic tattoo. Phillips' rapid, looping note series recall Lubomyr Melnyk's 'continuous music', but it's Buck's percussion that continues as pianism gives way to ambient harmonics.
Buck turns to peripheral percussion to emphasise texture over pulse, then patterns cymbals over thickening drones-BJ Nilsen meanwhile summoning long threads of muzzy but penetrating audio and a thin skein of tanpura-llke sound-before again breaking into rolling tympanic thunder. But then there's a turning of the tides, and those processes are reversed, with Nilsen's drones again predominant, reverberating loudly while Buck whips up a surf of cymbals, but all drawing ineluctably back to stillness and silence."-Tim Owen, Dalston Sound
• Show Bio for Werner Dafeldecker
"Werner Dafeldecker was born in Vienna in 1964 and studied the double bass which he plays with passion. As a musician, composer and sound artist he takes advantage of the manifold possibilities offered by electro-acoustics. His musical projects are often inspired and deduced by outside influences such as architecture, science, photography and film - partially resulting in the creation of graphical scores for various ensembles and instrumental performers. Werner also focuses on site specific projects, field recording and opposing natural and environmental sounds with synthetic variants. He has built up an extensive sound archive and created several electroacoustic pieces for radio and film. Around ninety sound-recordings are documenting his artistic framework. He held lectures and workshops presenting his work i.a. at University Bellas Artes-Madrid, Hochschule für Gestaltung-Karlsruhe, RMIT University-Melbourne and Edith Cowan University-Perth.
Commissions / Exhibitions / Performances:
Kammermusiktage Witten; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Berliner Festspiele Maerz Musik Festival; Sound field Festival, Chicago; Festival Wien Modern; Festival Hörgänge, Wien; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; What is Music Festival, Australia; International Music Festival, Vancouver; LMC Festival, London; Dundee Media Festival; Ultraschall Festival, Berlin; SWR; ORF; Salzburger Festspiele; Liquid Architecture Festival, Australia; Darmstädter Ferienkurse; Serralves Festival, Porto, ZKM, Karlsruhe; Museum of Contemprary Art, Zagreb; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Gronland Kammermusikk Festival, Oslo; Festival Mikromusik, Berlin; Borealis Festival, Oslo; Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Klangspuren Schwaz, Tirol; Transmediale Festival, Berlin"-Werner Dafeldecker Website (http://www.dafeldecker.net/information/biography-english.html)
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• Show Bio for Liz Allbee
"Liz Allbee (1976) is a composer-performer who works with the imaginarchic potential of sonic material. Recurring themes in her work include extensions & embodiments and their interplay with instruments, everyday objects, and high and low technologies. She is fascinated by the gutteral, protolinguistic qualities of musical voices and bodies. She performs often with her trumpet, quad-trumpet, voice, and electronics.
She has performed at Maerzmusik, Darmstadt, Donaueschingen, Huddersfield, Ostrava Days, Serralves, Bolzano Museum of Fine Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Berlin JazzFest, NorbergFestival, CTM, and Berghain, among others."-Liz Allbee Website (http://lizallbee.net/wp/liz-allbee/about/)
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• Show Bio for Simon James Phillips
"Simon James Phillips is an Australian composer and musician living in Berlin. He creates immersive work that explores the perception of time and place through sound by building an expansive sonic atmosphere. Simon takes particular care to tailor his compositions and performances to each individual context. He incorporates a method of collaborative composition that invites musicians to contribute creatively and always seeks to understand and utilise the site specific qualities available for each project. He is also an accomplished pianist with experience performing within both the classical and experimental/new music context.
Simon, as either performer or composer, has participated in the Approximation Festival (Düsseldorf), Audio Art (Krakow), Bend/Break Festival (Berlin), Borealis Festival (Bergen), Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Darmstadt), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (Huddersfield), Jazzfest Berlin (Berlin), Maerzmusik (Berlin), and the Sydney International Festival of the Arts (Sydney). He has performed in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. He has been artist in residence at the Banff Centre (Canada) and Teatro Maria Matos (Portugal)."-Simon James Phillips Website (http://www.simonjamesphillips.com/about-me)
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