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Sara Schoenbeck :
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A document of bassoonist Sara Shoenbeck's collaborations recorded between 2019-2021 in recording studios across North America, showing the inspired curiosity she brings to improvisation through a diverse set of duos performed with Harris Eisenstadt, Nicole Mitchell, Nels Cline, Roscoe Mitchell, Matt Mitchell, Mark Dresser, Wayne Horvitz, Peggy Lee and Robin Holcomb. ... Click to View

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William Parker (Parker / Carter / Drake):
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Gay - Wir Saunawirt (Euphorium)

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Rodrigues / Parrinha / Hencleeday / Valinho:
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Two extended acoustic improvisations of reductionist approaches recorded in the studio in Parede, Portugal in 2021 from the quartet of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Bruno Parrinha on bass clarinet, Andre Hencleeday on piano and Joao Valinho on percussion, guided by a poem from Rodrigues as they slowly and exquisitly explore a "Closed Window" and an "Open Window". ... Click to View

Florian Wittenburg :
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Using a metasynth, a software instrument that allows the user to draw or paint music, and a photograph of a small tree observed at a former train station in the German town of Kranenbur, composer Florian Wittenburg generates complex sound structures from the simple structures of the tree's branches used as a template for four rich sonic sketches. ... Click to View

Eva-Maria Houben :
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"Trios" refers to the relationship of two keyboards and the pedals of an organ, as performed by accomplished American composer Carson Cooman as he patiently unfolds Eva-Maria Houben's three minimal compositions exploring the relationships between three melodic lines or three-tone chords, presented on the Organ Probsteikirche St. Ludgerus, in Billerbeck, Germany. ... Click to View

Aaron Breylin Foster / Luke Martin:
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Excerpting part of an eight-hour performance recorded over an amplified live environment of a text score for two pianists using one piano, each positioned at the opposite registers of the piano, one player creating a block of note phrases using intervals of a 2nd or 3rd with each note allowed to decay before the next, repeated by the other player following a set of rules. ... Click to View

Leo Genovese:
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Essentially a piano trio, Portuguese pianist and composer Leo Genovese leads his trio with Demian Cabaud on bass and renowned drummer Jeff Williams (Lookout Farm, Dave Liebman), also joined by Argentinian vocalist Nadia Larcheron for four pieces, Genovese's compositions using interesting structures that balance warmly lyrical and experimental approaches to modern jazz. ... Click to View

Ming Bau Set (feat Gerry Hemingway / Vera Baumann / Florestan Berset):
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Meeting regularly since 2018, these three Luzern, Switzerland improvisers have developed a shared language of collective creative improv, the best known of the three being drummer & percussionist Gerry Hemingway working with two younger generation musicians, acoustic & electric guitarist Florestan Berset and vocalist Vera Baumann, here in their first wonderfully paced album. ... Click to View

Whit Dickey / William Parker / Matthew Shipp:
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An exemplary piano trio of compatriots who have collaborated in configurations since the 1980s--drummer Whit Dickey, bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp--three New York legendary free players in their first record as a trio since 1992's Circular Temple, here in six studio group improvisations demonstrating their easy confidence in profound collective conversation. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp:
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A fascinating solo piano record from New York free improvising luminary Matthew Shipp, a contemplative album that surprised even the pianist himself as he thoughtfully dissected harmonics to wring melodic fragments that bring sense to discursive streams of thought, his playing both investigational and charming, drawing an unlikely comparison to Bill Evans. ... Click to View

Andrea Parkins:
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Using piano, synthesizer, electronic feedback, field recordings and amplified objects, sound artist Andrea Parkins' long-cycle installation composition explores time and space in an 8-channel, multi-room work designed so that adjacent acoustical spaces respond to each other, creating shifting and unexpected sonic juxtapositions; CD package include a link to "The Third Room". ... Click to View

New Old Luten Trio:
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A 3" CD-EP of the New Old Luten Trio, expanded into a quintet by the addition of two double bassists--John Edwards and Robert Landfermann--to the lineup of Euro Free Jazz reedist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, pianist Elan Pauer (aka Oliver Schwerdt) and drummer/percussionist Christian Lillinger, in the warm-up set before the concert yielding the album Tumult!. ... Click to View

Konstrukt feat. Thurston Moore:

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Vanessa Rossetto / Lionel Marchetti:
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Three distinct compositions from the collaborative work of sound artists Vanessa Rossetto and Lionel Marchetti, the first a wonderfully complex work of musique concrète and acousmatic sources guided by the composers' instincts; "The Tower" expands their concepts through the addition of 18 voices, while the final track features the violin of Anouck Genthon. ... Click to View

Michael Pisaro-Liu :
Revolution Shuffle [2 CDs] (erstwhile)

Alarmed by the warning signs of social deterioration, political overreach and planetary damage warning of an imminent need for revolutionary change, composer and sound artist Michael Pisaro-Liu sought and plundered references in sound from historic and current sources, producing 53 tracks that are arranged to tell a story in a mosaic form; an incredible achievement. ... Click to View

Hyperreality (Evil Clown)

An offshoot of the Boston-area collective Metal Chaos Ensemble featuring multi-reedist PEK, also on percussion & electronics, Eric Woods on analog synth and Bob Moores on space trumpet, guitar and electronics, with guests Grant Beale on guitar & electronics and William Middlemiss Jr on guitar and electronics, in an electronic and clamorous extended improvisation. ... Click to View

Arcane Device:
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The darker side of David Lee Myer's Arcane Device project, six lettered works from his Noisewall Sessions 2020-2021, using feedback and controlled glitch, delicate noise and drone in long-form extended improvisations; six incredible sonic journeys, each copy of the 2-CD album a in an individual and numbered monoprint package, each copy unique from the other. ... Click to View

Arcane Device:
Ruins (No Rent)

Four mysteriously untitled and extended works of electronics subtitled Impressions From the Next Era, using feedback, aberrant sound, glitch, rich synthetics, bi-directional sound and indescribable sonic sources to fuel David Lee Myer's latest in his long-running and essential listening project Arcane Device; shimmering, inscrutable, and awe-inspiring. ... Click to View

Big Bad Brotzmann Quintet:
Bambule! (Euphorium)

An intense concert of collective European Free Jazz in two extended improvisations recorded at naTo in Leipzig, German in 2019 from the quintet of Peter Brotzmann on tenor saxophone, clarinet & tarogato, Oliver Schwerdt on grand piano, percussion & little instruments, John Edwards and John Eckhardt on double bass, and Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion. ... Click to View

Ornette Coleman :
New York Is Now & Love Call, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

An overlooked chapter in Ornette Coleman's recording career, these two Blue Note albums recorded in NY in 1968 and issued in '68 & '71 feature the innovative alto saxophonist joined by West Coast tenor saxophonist recently moved to NYC, Dewey Redman, and Coltrane sidemen, drummer Elvin Jones & bassist Jimmy Garrison, for two sessions of inventive and accomplished free jazz. ... Click to View

New York Contemporary Five:
Copenhagen 1963, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Originally released in 1964 on The Sonet label as Volumes 1 & 2, this CD remasters this exceptional 1963 concert of original material and pieces by Ornette & Monk, complete in sequence as performed at Jazzhaus Montmarte in Copenhagen with Archie Shepp on tenor saxophone, Don Cherry on cornet, John Tchicai on alto saxophone, Don Moore on double bass and J.C. Moses on drums. ... Click to View

Keith Tippett / Julie Tippetts / Philip Gibbs / Paul Dunmall:
Mahogany Rain (577 Records)

Originally recorded in 2005 for a small 100-copy release, the single extended track on Mahogany Rain offers an hour of mesmerizing improvisational sound, sparsely composed and deeply experimental and performed by Keith Tippett on piano & percussion, Julie Tippetts on xylophone & voice, Philip Gibbs on guitars, and Paul Dunmall on soprano & tenor saxophones. ... Click to View

Josh Sinton:
b. (FiP recordings)

The third solo saxophone record from Brooklyn improviser Josh Sinton, and his first recorded solely on the baritone saxophone, an instrument for which Sinton explains he has dedicated half his life, heard in this remarkably diverse set on the lower horn that he approaches lyrically, technically, emotionally and with startling singularity. ... Click to View

Krokofant w/ Stale Storlokken / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten:
Fifth (Rune Grammofon)

As on their prior album Q, the Nordic Krokofant free improvising jazz/rock trio of Axel Skalstad on drums & vibes, Tom Hasslan on guitar and Jorgen Mathisen on saxophone are joined by bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (The Thing) and Stale Storlokken (Elephant9, Supersilent), cementing their lineup as they forge adventurous and spectacular playing on this Fifth album. ... Click to View

Sex Magick Wizards:
Your Bliss My Joy (Rune Grammofon)

The sophomore release from this Norwegian instrumental rock band, with all members of the quartet coming from an improvisation/jazz background that fuels their diverse interests in the rock format, from blistering runs, dark blues grooves and even a nod to Swedish folk jazz; a dynamic album of great technical playing but more importantly, a strong commitment to rock. ... Click to View

Michelangelo Decorato / Leo Cicala:
Thauma (Creative Sources)

An introspectively lovely and reflective album of electroacoustic composition through minimal electronics, piano, samples and electronics, from the collaboration of Italian sound artists Michelangelo Decorato and Leo Cicala, with trumpeter Luca Calabrese joining on one piece; sophisticatedly languid, alluring and detailed ambient music. ... Click to View

Pascal Battus / Michel Doneda:
Miracle (Potlatch)

Dovetailing and combining the rich harmonics of Michel Doneda's soprano and sopranino saxophone with Pascal Battus' rotating surfaces--mechanisms from small consumer electronics and their like put in motion and in contact with resonators and vibrators--this French improvising duo create fascinatingly shifting, unusual textures and sonic environments. ... Click to View

Attitude! (Tang / Ishito / Wu):
Pause & Effect [VINYL] (ESP-Disk)

Combining free jazz and post-punk rock forms with pointed commentary about issues of race, gender, the pandemic, and political autonomy, through provocative vocal works expressing modern angst, from three Asian-American female performers living in NYC: tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito, drummer Wen-Ting Wu, and activist and Tiananmen Square survivor Rose Tang on voice, guitar & piano. ... Click to View

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  Éric Normand 
  Démission définitive du patron  
  (Tour de Bras) 

   review by Dave Madden
Éric Normand: Démission définitive du patron (Tour de Bras)

My first assignment for Squidsear in 2009 was Face à la derive, an album that features Éric Normand on "bass, loudspeaker, percussion, and voice." It's a field recording project lead by electroacoustic musician Sébastien Cirotteau wherein a quartet of players weaves throughout a wordless, arboreal narrative (source material collected near Saint Lawrence River while on tour). A murky, who's-making-that-noise augmented reality, the only mention of Normand I offered here was, "...while Normand bangs on whatever he can find until a niente." Nailed it.

To be present but not obvious is intentional on Normand's part, however. He once suggested that his path is an echo of interactive media artist Serge Lemoyne in that, "The artist of today is a producer; he is not the skilled craftsman, but the one who makes things happen." Normand: "I can relate to this. I make no distinction between playing my own music or bringing great musicians to the same room." (And then disappearing into the mix.)

Likewise for the title work, you wouldn't imagine that five permutations of the bass guitar + manipulation via electronics and acoustic "extended" accoutrement could stay largely anonymous and keep out of the way of flautist (and electronics, motors, objects) Camille Brisson. The aesthetic during the warm-up is that the sonic output of a clutch of trees all gently vibrating in synchronization, ebbing without rising above a rumble.

(I frequently advise, "This is best experienced with headphones," and I mean it this time. At a glance — only hearing the louder bits due to multi-tasking at one's desk or raking leaves — the piece appears to be a series of "lines" in loose homage to what Scelsi did on the symphonic level; other than going forward due to time's pull, the form isn't concerned with direction as much as being a nebulous display of sound design and pauses. But there's more to it to than that.)

Digging in with headphones, there is a teeming ecosystem chattering at ppp a few octaves down. Regardless of dynamic marking, there is no hierarchal preference of background or foreground; each strata is crucial and united in Klangfarbenmelodie, the twelve-tone technique where "melody" is split and shared across the ensemble — à la the baton handoff in a decathlon. In this way, Normand herds the often aleatoric, self-organizing participants with a tether to clutch — even if it's thread-bare, such as slight brushes across a surface or the groan of bass guitar when its strings are stretched and squeezed. With regard to the sound design comment, there are hundreds of these instances where a new timbre will pop in, politely introduce itself, hold until completion and never return. Rattling bowls, sudden and overwhelming clouds of reverb and electrical pings, fleets of tin ratchet noise makers, fuzz pedal depravity, lap steel emulations, and strings plucked and left alone to decay with the brazen attitude and matching guitar face of anyone who has felt the power of plugging into an amp can all be heard and examined equally.

The final piece, "Le saxophone est un media" (for soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone), begins with a juicy, warbling four-part chord that dabbles in ahooga car horns as it swells and deflates. The pitch-focus is playful and somber, lingering near Bartok and Messiaen with an equal tap into the intimacy displayed in both composer's chamber works; the most interesting moments are rhythmic and come when bell burps, thin hisses and key clacks assemble into multi-metered drum loops. There is relatively more interaction between performers, though the work still follows Normand's penchant for staggered scenes of different sizes delineated like a slide show.

I have to share this. It takes a while to absorb and then offer an educated, accurate account about niche art, especially under conditions where all I want is familiarity and security between my daily book-ends. In an effort to distract myself that day, I added a splash of monochrome to my wall with a framed sleeve of Cage and Tudor's Variations IV. I then pressed play on a video performance of Démission définitive du patron while reading about Normand's affinity for Cage's "something from nothing" lesson. I don't hear anything, turn to focus on the screen, and marvel at the visual urgency of movement these players were giving to what might be an intentional, exciting, tense, tribute to Cage's 4' 33". While scribbling, "Saying nothing to an audience who expects something is the last punk rock flex," I note that my speakers are muted and text a friend, "I liked this record better before I heard it" (I rescind this statement). "Is that a self pwn, John Cage style?" he asks. Possibly, but I'm more inclined to believe that I ticked off the boxes of an obscure Black Mountain College ceremony to earn a nerdy, personalized visitation from The Trickster himself. He eschewed typing "Dave, you are special" and the low-hanging supernatural spell-check to instead reach out a heavenly finger and deliver a base, inside joke I can appreciate. I could imagine his gregarious laughter erupting as he and Kurt Vonnegut plan their next gift for this holiday season of our discontent. The power of Cage and his Canadian acolyte can compel me anytime.

Éric Normand: Démission définitive du patron
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:

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