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Without referencing typical genre or style, the collaboration of sound artists Tim Barnes and Jeph Jerman moves a step forward with this 45 RPM LP release of texture and atmosphere, with assistance from Ken Vandermark, Jacob Duncan, Aaron Michael Bulter, Sara Saltau & Bret Berry.

Jerman / Barnes
Versatile Ambience [VINYL]

Jerman / Barnes: Versatile Ambience [VINYL] (IDEA Intermedia)

Label: IDEA Intermedia    
Released in: USA    

"The fact that two words sit next to each other does not automatically mean that they are related. The ambience given off by this LP full of coarse textures and lancing sounds isn't exactly versatile; it'd be easier to devise a list of places where it can't be played and people you know who would not sit still for it than to string together the places where its ambience would be appropriate. And just because two men with documented histories of hitting things get together and make records doesn't mean they'll turn in an album of percussion music.

In fact, Tim Barnes and Jeph Jerman only occasionally resort to directly striking anything on Versatile Ambience; they're too busy engaging in all manner of other interventions that confound perception and makes you think hard about just what constitutes music. If you consult Barnes' and Jerman's discography, you can find CDRs a decade old to which the Discogs website has assigned the designation free improvisation. Whatever you call the music on Versatile Ambience, you can't call it that. It is carefully constructed from collected outdoors sounds, wind and stringed instruments played by musicians such as Ken Vandermark and electronics of uncertain provenance; there's definitely a shortwave radio in the mix, but beyond that, take a guess.

It's probably more relevant to note that it's not immediately clear if the twittering high frequencies that lift away from a distant jet's quiet roar are played electronics or a field recording of bugs. Jerman has gone on record saying that he is not concerned with representing anything, he just uses sounds he likes to hear. Still, in a time when human activity is submerging islands and killing off species at a record rate, it's hard not to assign significance to music that challenges the listener to figure out where nature ends and man begins. No discussion of this album would be complete without acknowledging its particular physical qualities. The sleeve is hefty and substantial.

The vinyl is heavy and spins at 45 RPM; Rashad Becker's mastering conveys the high frequencies with amazing clarity and the rougher textures with such tactility that you'll swear you can feel the sounds coming through your fingertips."-Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine

"Jeph Jerman is a musician who began his musical career drumming and playing in bar bands. In the 1980s, he became aware of other sonic possibilities for his drum kit and started learning to improvise and record his own music. During this time Jerman was a frequent collaborator with other musicians who were also exploring improvisational techniques. In the mid-1980s, Jerman founded a cassette label for the distribution of music by himself and friends. The label released over 50 cassettes, several LPs, and a short-lived magazine.

After relocating from Colorado to Seattle, Jerman continued playing with local groups of improvisers and began giving solo performances where he improvised with mostly natural found objects, a practice he continues today. He founded the first animist orchestra dedicated to making larger scale works using natural object play. In 1999, Jerman moved to Cottonwood, AZ. He continues to investigate sound and recording in many forms including field recordings, the building of crude sound making devices, and the effects of age and other damage to analog tape. Jerman's 2014 Grants to Artists award funded recording and touring with Tim Barnes. Jerman continues to collaborate with Dave Knott in a band collectively known as The Yes, Well, and with Tim Barnes, with whom collaborated on an FCA-supported record released in 2015 (Erstwhile Records.) Other CDs and works are available on Anomalous Records, Semperflorens, and Trait Media Works."

-Foundation for Contemporary Arts (

"Tim Barnes is an internationally-known percussionist, electronic musician, and recording producer/engineer who has played and recorded with Sonic Youth, Wilco, Body/Head, Jim O'Rourke, Silver Jews, Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex, The Tower Recordings, The For Carnation, and MV+EE, as well as being featured in countless multiple other settings, from jazz-influenced free-improvisation to full-on rock n' roll. He is the Artistic Director of DREAMLAND, and also runs the newly-revived Quakebasket record label (best known for its mid-1990s archival releases of solo work by Angus MacLise, poet and original drummer for the Velvet Underground). A California native, Tim moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 2007 from his longtime musical base, New York City."

-The Other Side of Life (

"Born in Warwick, Rhode Island on September 22nd, 1964, Ken Vandermark began studying the tenor saxophone at the age of 16. Since graduating with a degree in Film and Communications from McGill University during the spring of 1986, his primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. In 1989, he moved to Chicago from Boston, and has worked continuously from the early 1990's onward, both as a performer and organizer in North America and Europe, recording in a large array of contexts, with many internationally renowned musicians (such as Fred Anderson, Ab Baars, Peter Brötzmann, Tim Daisy, Hamid Drake, Terrie Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Devin Hoff, Christof Kurzmann, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Paul Lytton, Andy Moor, Joe Morris, and Nate Wooley). His current activity includes work with Made To Break, The Resonance Ensemble, Side A, Lean Left, Fire Room, the DKV Trio, and duos with Paal Nilssen-Love and Tim Daisy; in addition, he is the music director of the experimental Pop band, The Margots. More than half of each year is spent touring in Europe, North America, and Japan, and his concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad. In addition to the tenor sax, he also plays the bass and Bb clarinet, and baritone saxophone. In 1999 he was awarded the MacArthur prize for music."

-Ken Vandermark Website (

Paper insert with recording information and images.

See all items in the Vinyl Recordings category

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Ken Vandermark
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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Price: $22.95
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Shipping Weight: 16.00 units

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Product Information:

Paper insert with recording information and images.

Label: IDEA Intermedia
Catalog ID: IDEA19
Squidco Product Code: 22923

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
No recording data listed.


Jeph Jerman-composer

Tim Barnes-composer

Jacob Duncan-bass clarinet, alto saxophone

Aaron Michael Butler-bass drum

Ken Vandermark-clarinet, tenor saxophone

Rachel Short-French horn

Bret Berry-guitar

Eric Lunde-performer

James Hoff-performer

Sara Soltau-violin

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Track Listing:


1. Untitled 19:17


1. Untitled 17:55