The Squid's Ear Magazine

Smith, Damon / Louis Wall / NNN Cook / Michael William / Fred Tompkins: Fire Point [CASSETTE + DOWNL (Notice Recordings)

A dark album of sound art from the quintet of mostly St. Louis improvisers--Damon Smith, Louis Wall, NNN Cook, Michael Williams and noted flutist Fred Tompkins on two tracks--starting through shrouded percussion and unidentifiable sources, the group's sessions are edited into a cohesive album that takes its listeners on a unique journey of electronic and acoustic interaction.

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product information:

Label: Notice Recordings
Catalog ID: NTR075
Squidco Product Code: 32698

Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cassette
Recorded in St Louis, Missouri, October, 2020, to May, 2021.


Damon Smith-double bass, cello, piccolo acoustic bass guitar, field recordings

Louis Wall-percussion, electronics

NNN Cook-synthesizer, electric organ, flute, ocarina, saxophone, small percussion, voice

Michael Williams-electronics

Fred Tompkins-C flute, bass flute

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Fire Point is multicolored and elusive. The sounds contained therein are agitated, fluid and amorphous, as if listening to the sonic realizations of various characteristics of multiple landscapes. Branches intersect, tree foliage collectively billows, and groundwater seeps into the encompassing substrate. The interactions of these three musicians are effortless, and is the result of both remote and physically-collaborative engagements.

Starting with percussion tracks laid down by Louis Wall, Damon Smith soon improvised upright bass over these tracks, and NNN Cook added such layers as synthesizer, electric organ, and saxophone. All members contributed deftly to edits and arrangements, and notably Fred Tompkins, a past Elvin Jones collaborator, played flute on "Spectre of Los" and the title cut of the album.

That this album exists so organically despite the variety of instruments and recording sessions used, is not only a testament to the musicians' prowess, but also to the current hyper-ability of long distance music creation."-Notice Recordings

Artist Biographies

"Damon Smith studied double bass with Lisle Ellis and has had lessons with Bertram Turezky, Joëlle Leandré, John Lindberg, Mark Dresser and others. Damon's explorations into the sonic palette of the double bass have resulted in a personal, flexible improvisational language based in the American jazz avant-garde movement and European non-idiomatic free improvisation. Visual art, film and dance heavily influence his music, as evidenced by his CAMH performance of Ben Patterson's Variations for Double Bass, collaborations with director Werner Herzog on soundtracks for Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, and an early performance with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Damon has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including: Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen (of Sun Ra's Arkestra), Henry Kaiser, Roscoe Mitchell, Michael Pisaro, Wadada Leo Smith, Marco Eneidi, Wolfgang Fuchs, Peter Brötzmann and Peter Kowald. After many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and five great years in Houston, Texas working regularly with Alvin Fielder, Sandy Ewen, David Dove & Chris Cogburn, Damon will move to the Boston area in the fall of 2016. Damon has run Balance Point Acoustics record label since 2001, releasing music focusing on transatlantic collaborations between US and European musicians."

-Balance Point Acoustic Website (

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"Louis Wall is a Saint Louis, Missouri based composer, collaborator, and percussionist. His work can be found on solo digital recordings and accompanying films. Prior to pandemic-shutdown, Wall was consistently performing live in St. Louis' vibrant local music scenes. Louis' most recent composition, Eye Contact is a free, partially improvised work for percussion, Where he explores expectations of time and duration. As a collaborator he has performed in improvised settings with the likes of Frank Rosaly, John Wiese (STL Ensemble work), and in The Luminary's ongoing displaced-immigrant benefit series, Drummers Only."

-Discogs (

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"Nathan Nolan Newrohr Cook is a St. Louis-based graphic designer, visual artist, illustrator, sound artist, photographer, experimental musician, and curator. His passion is working with educational institutions, museums, and nonprofit organizations in the arts to foster creativity, growth, and community in the St. Louis region and beyond."

-NNN Cook Website (

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"Fred Tompkins was born in St. Louis in 1943. After high school he played tenor saxophone in and around his home town for several years before beginning the formal study of music at the St. Louis Insitute of Music, in 1964. By this time his strongest influences were jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and the Jazz Messengers and the M.J.Q., and classical composers such as Paul Hindemith and Béla Bartók.

His earliest compositions, as originally recorded on the album, Compositions of Fred Tompkins, showed a natural tendency to combine those genres into his own style. Some of the pieces tended to exploit a dramatic contrast between genres, but soon the transitions became smoother and the styles more synthesized. The best of those early pieces and the best pieces from his subsequent and more fully developed album of 1975, Somesville, can now be heard on the compilation CD, FANFARE 8, The Early Works.

In 1967, Tompkins moved to New York City and began writing music which would involve the drumming of Elvin Jones and horn playing of Joe Farrell, Jimmy Owens and many other great musicians. Ultimately recorded, this music was reviewed favorably in such magazines as Down Beat, Jazz Forum and Ear Magazine.

Radio airplay sometimes included interviews, and frequent performances were given in New York and occasionally in St. Louis under the direction of the local presenting organization, New Music Circle.

By 1976, Tompkins had developed his own style and technique of composition. His harmonies and melodies would express the kind of variety, color and density found in modern classical music. His forms varied widely but were strictly controlled, yet the underlying jazz rhythms, propelled by drummers Elvin Jones or Rick Cutler, gave the music a sense of drive and urgency.

Also at about this time, he became involved with vocal writing. He set the poetry of E. E. Cummings and Emily Dickinson to music, but with his own rhythmic conception. His full scale instrumental works during this period became longer and yet able to maintain formal cohesion over a more extended period of time.

In 1990, married and with two children, he returned to St. Louis where he is now busier than ever - composing, leading his own groups, recording and performing with local musicians, serving on the board of the New Music Circle and announcing on local radio shows."

-Fred Tompkins Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Drawing Down 4:26

2. Meteoric Iron 4:33

3. Daggers From Heaven 6:09

4. Glass, Sand, Ash 4:02

5. Golden Bird 5:05


1. Fire Point 4:43

2. Specter Of Los 3:57

3. Bellows 2:46

4. Base Metal 5:00

5. Meld 4:06

Related Categories of Interest:

Physical Releases that include Download Codes
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Quintet Recordings
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Search for other titles on the label:
Notice Recordings.

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