Having worked together for 40 years starting in the 80's in the Downtown NY scene, guitarist Fred Frith and electronic artist Ikue Mori recorded this album in Germany, using studio time left after recording the music for a radio play by Werner Penzel, using that work as an influence for these exceptional improvisations on home made instruments, toys and electronics.
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Catalog ID: ITK352
Squidco Product Code: 30132
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels w/ booklet
Recorded at Jankowski Sound Fabrik, in Esslingen, Germany, on January 24th, 2015, by Peter Hardt.
Fred Frith-objects, toys, home made instruments
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• Show Bio for Fred Frith
"Though the point of reference for many remains the iconic band Henry Cow, which he co-founded in 1968 and which broke up more than 30 years ago, Fred Frith has never really stood still for an instant.
In bands such as Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew, Keep the Dog, Tense Serenity, the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, Eye to Ear, and most recently Cosa Brava, he has always held true to his roots in rock and folk music, while exploring influences that range from the literary works of Eduardo Galeano to the art installations of Cornelia Parker.
The release of the seminal Guitar Solos in 1974 enabled him to simultaneously carve out a place for himself in the international improvised music scene, not only as an acclaimed solo performer but in the company of artists as diverse as Han Bennink, Chris Cutler, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Evelyn Glennie, Ikue Mori, Louis Sclavis, Stevie Wishart, Wu Fei, Camel Zekri, John Zorn, and scores of others.
He has also developed a personal compositional language in works written for Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ensemble Modern, Concerto Köln, and ROVA Sax Quartet, for example. Fred has been active as a composer for dance since the early 1980s, working with choreographers Bebe Miller, François Verret, and especially long-time collaborator and friend Amanda Miller, with whom he has created a compelling body of work over the last twenty years.
His film soundtracks (for award-winning films like Thomas Riedelsheimer's Rivers and Tides and Touch the Sound, Peter Mettler's Gambling, Gods, and LSD, and Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow's Thirst, to name a few) won him a lifetime achievement award from Prague's "Music on Film, Film on Music" Festival (MOFFOM) in 2007. The following year he received Italy's Demetrio Stratos Prize (previously given to Diamanda Galas and Meredith Monk) for his life's work in experimental music, and in 2010 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in his home county of Yorkshire.
Fred currently teaches in the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California (renowned for over fifty years as the epicenter of the American experimental tradition), and in the Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland."-Fred Frith Website (http://www.fredfrith.com/biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Ikue Mori
"Ikue Mori moved from her native city of Tokyo to New York in 1977. She started playing drums and soon formed the seminal NO WAVE band DNA, with fellow noise pioneers Arto Lindsay and Tim Wright. DNA enjoyed legendary cult status, while creating a new brand of radical rhythms and dissonant sounds; forever altering the face of rock music.
In the mid 80's Ikue started in employ drum machines in the unlikely context of improvised music. While limited to the standard technology provided by the drum machine, she has never the less forged her own highly sensitive signature style. Through out in 90's She has subsequently collaborated with numerous improvisors throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, while continuing to produce and record her own music. 1998, She was invited to perform with Ensemble Modern as the soloist along with Zeena Parkins, and composer Fred Frith, also "One hundred Aspects of the Moon" commissioned by Roulette/Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Ikue won the Distinctive Award for Prix Ars Electronics Digital Music category in 99.
In 2000 Ikue started using the laptop computer to expand on her already signature sound, thus broadening her scope of musical expression. 2000 commissioned by the KITCHEN ensemble, wrote and premired the piece "Aphorism" also awarded Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship. 2003 commissioned by RELACHE Ensemble to write a piece for film In the Street and premired in Philadelphia. Started working with visual played by the music since 2004. In 2005 Awarded Alphert/Ucross Residency.
Ikue received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2006. In 2007 the Tate Modern commissioned Ikue to create a live sound track for screenings of Maya Deren's silent films. In 2008 Ikue celebrated her 30th year in NY and performed at the Japan Society. Recent commissioners include the Montalvo Arts Center and SWR German radio program and Shajah Art foundation in UAE. Current working groups include MEPHISTA with Sylvie Courvoisier and Susie Ibarra, PHANTOM ORCHARD with Zeena Parkins, project with Koichi Makigami and various ensembles of John Zorn. New duo Twindrums project with YoshimiO workshop/lecture in various schools include University of Gothenburg, Dartmouth Collage, New England Conservatory, Mills Collage, Stanford University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago"-Ikue Mori Website (http://www.ikuemori.com/bio.html)
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1. Bodaishin 1:07
2. The Biggest Lie 0:57
3. Stirred By Wind And Waves 1:23
4. Nothing To It 5:11
5. Fushiryo 1:42
6. The Biggest Idiots 2:12
7. Nothing At All 3:16
8. Shodoka 3:03
9. Good For What? 2:39
10. The Same Moon Sometimes Seems To Smile 2:13
11. Things As They Are 1:56
12. Hishiryo 3:51
13. A Thief Breaks Into An Empty House 2:17
14. Now Here 5:17
15. Samadhi 5:29
sample the album:
"A Mountain Doesn't Know It's Tall. The title reflects the mood of this duo record of Fred Frith and Ikue Mori - playful, poetic, mysterious and open. The guitarist and the sound-artist have been working together for forty years. Live excerpts from their work are documented on Fred Frith's 3 album box set Live at the Stone (Intakt CD 320).
In January 2015, Frith and Mori met in Germany to record the music for a radio play for Werner Penzel, the filmmaker and longtime friend of Fred Frith, for his film Zen for Nothing. After finishing their work, they used the free studio day to record their first duo album together. Influenced by the film music and inspired by the long friendship 15 pieces were created that are both wonderful sound sculptures and fascinating dialogues. Fred Frith writes: "Air moving through ears and hair and lungs and pores, through songs, and scrapes, and scraps of this, that and the other." And Ikue Mori writes: "... it was about playing with the every-day noises that arise when cooking, playing ping-pong, and especially when laughing. There is a lot of joy in working with these recordings, interacting with them and making music." -Intakt
"Fred Frith and Ikue Mori are not just big names in the world of experimental music, they've both held that status for ages, so their early 2021 release A Mountain Doesn't Know It's Tall is a welcome meeting of old pros. Frith co-founded the Canterbury ensemble Henry Cow that thrived in the 70s and all I can think of when I listen to my Unrest CD is how much Frith's guitar sounded like some forward-thinking guitar player of the 21st century was dropped into 1974. Since then, he's built an exhaustive catalog of wide-ranging material under his own name and teamed up with a number of liked-minded avanteers.
Mori was the drummer in that groundbreaking no-wave band DNA for a few short but critical years with Arto Lindsay in the late 70s around the time Henry Cow was splitting apart. Afterwards, she moved on to programmed drums and started dabbling into sampling, finally settling on the laptop computer. There, she completely mastered the art of creating on the fly from an arsenal of an endless array of noises. She's collaborated with many fellow prominent experimentalists and filmmakers over the years and lately we've been getting a heaping helping of her skills on recordings involving fellow Japanese native Satoko Fujii.
A Mountain Doesn't Know It's Tall is collaboration of artists very familiar with each other; Frith and Mori have worked together for more than four decades. They were even in the same band in the 90s along with bassist Kato Hidek, called Death Ambient. That was back when Mori was playing drum machines; Mountain pits Frith one-on-one against Mori - now on laptop - for the first time.
Most of these tracks run less than three minutes; several of them under two. But it's best to take in this record not as a discreet set of "songs" but a continuous string of extemporaneous performances. Frith's clinical, yet chaotic approach to guitar, along with home-made instruments, "various toys and objects" with all its unusual timbres makes it such an impeccable fit for Mori's randomized menagerie of bent circuit sounds both tonal and percussive. Often, it's hard to pull the two apart.
"Nothing To It" is only one of a couple of occasions where Frith is playing guitar. It's also the first track that runs long enough to evolve and amid Mori's symphonic, threatening backdrops and random chirping is Frith's heavy fuzztone articulating the tension suggested from the laptop. "Nothing At All" shows that these artists of noise can deftly create and manipulate silence and hushed moments. "Hishiryo" is a Japanese-sounding title and similarly, the music has a distantly Japanese folk flavor to it, a reminder us that this synthetic music is organically inspired.
"Now Here" begins with a church-like solemnity while Frith noodles on his guitar as the later sounds of a guitar looped backwards contrasts with it. The concluding track "Samadhi" runs through a succession of trippy phases where Mori's laptop mimics the resonance of an organ from hell.
This is obviously not music for all tastes but if you know about Fred Frith and Ikue Mori, then you know how good they are at making noise; for A Mountain Doesn't Know It's Tall they make beautiful noise together.
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