The Squid's Ear Magazine

Natura Morta (Loriot / Ali / Costa): Environ (Neither/Nor Records)

The trio of Frantz Loriot (violin), Sean Ali (contrabassist) and Carlo Costa (percussion), a grouping named for still life paintings that concentrate on composition and color, presenting three extended compositions of rich acoustic sound, extending their instruments through masterful technique to create exquisitely detailed and compellingly self-controlled conversation.

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product information:

UPC: 700261452067

Label: Neither/Nor Records
Catalog ID: n/n 008
Squidco Product Code: 26140

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2017
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Firehouse Space in Brooklyn, New York, on October 17th, 2015, by Nathaniel Morgan.


Frantz Loriot-viola

Sean Ali-double bass

Carlo Costa-percussion

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Implicit in the album title is the sonic endeavor that we have undertaken in our fourth album. The three pieces of Environ trace a textural mapping of an aural landscape. Sound heard as dust, slowly and steadily accumulating then wisped into a chaotic flurry that settles and layers the ground. Beneath, a fungal network sounds an invocation to the atmosphere - to listen outward as we hear inward."-Sean Ali

"Natura Morta’s Environ (Neither/Nor Records) released early this year, is a fusion of musical purity and avant-garde noise expression. Environ is pure in the way the band works with a limited amount of instruments to create such a wide range of sound. The album features Frantz Loriot on viola, Sean Ali on bass, and Carlo Costa on drums/percussion. There is a simplicity throughout the album; a product of three musicians and their stripped-down sound. While each instrument is discernible, Natura Morta reconstructs conventional sound and creates a kind of wild landscape, where we hear the strings and drums morphing into abstracted forms. Here, a strumming of the bass changes to a vigorous scraping and soon we begin to question whether we are still listening to the same instrument. Costa’s drumming on the album creates a similar effect. I couldn’t help listening to Environ and thinking about one of my favorite modern art museums. The textures of noise, producing a sense of complexity in its usage of basic musical elements remind me of the art at Dia Beacon (in Beacon, New York). Each piece is minimal in the application of color, line, and form, but the entirety of the museum commands such dramatic force in the way our senses are impacted. We see a vast and open gallery, filled with only natural light, and large sculptures, light installations, and paintings. While the pieces are completely unlike each other, their arrangement is powerful when viewed all at once. Environ works in this way too. The album is textured in a similar application of minimalism.

“Pulvis” opens the album, beginning in a kind of race. As strings mimic steps, we hear a hurried crawl interrupted by a distressed screeching comparable to a reel being wound. After 4:30, we hear a steady “dripping” which turns into a rushing of emptiness. We do not know what creates this silent noise breaking through our ears; a minute of soft scratching. This progresses to a synthesized, almost dystopic impression of chimes angrily moving in the wind. After the eleven minute-mark, we hear “beads” rattling, most likely an exercise on the drums. This sound lingers until the track ends with a slow drum beat and flick of bass strings. “Ventus” follows, drums galloping through the first few minutes. The track has a sense of organization in the way the instruments work together. One element is predominant and then fades out to allow the next sound a space to command the listener’s attention. “Environ” implements a musical grating throughout the entire album, and the scraping noise, present on the first track, is also a significant element of “Ventus.” The percussion is heavy and slow, developing a rhythm toward the song’s conclusion.

Environ’s final song, “Mycelia” (not including the digital bonus track) brings the album to a solid end. Each track is unique in the sounds produced, but the album also has a great sense of unified structure. The song’s use of instruments creates a similar synthesized sound as the other tracks. What I enjoyed most about this one, was the band’s ability to imitate spoons hitting glasses and running along smooth surfaces. The texture of sound was most apparent on this track, as the opening begins with imagery of glass and metal, and quickly gets rough with the flitting of strings and fingers moving against them. At 6:00, we hear something like a horn. This is most likely more string distortion. The album is wild, and I feel like I am standing in the earth barefoot amongst animals moving about. Sounds of crickets and small bugs buzzing in the night fill the air. It feels savage and intriguing. We are flooded by Natura Morta’s ability to mimic rain, rushing over us, as “Mycelia” comes to a silent close."-Jeanne Landers, Jazz Right Now

Get additional information at Jazz Right Now

Artist Biographies

"French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot performs solo as well as in various ensembles by way of improvisation and electronics, crossroads of different musical genres: improvised music, experimental, rock, contemporary music and electronics. He has contributed to multidisciplinary projects related to dance, image and poetry.

Frantz Loriot leads two large ensembles, the European Notebook Large Ensemble, a 10 piece ensemble with Swiss, Japanese, Belgian and Italian musicians with which he released "Urban Furrow" on the Portuguese label Clean Feed (July 2015) and the NYC based 12 piece Systematic Distortion Orchestra in which Frantz reunites some of the finest NYC based improvisers and with which he released "The Assembly" on the NYC based label NowOut recordings.

Beside these projects, Frantz released his debut solo recording "Reflections on an Introspective Path" on the NYC based label Neither/Nor.

For the year 2016, Frantz got invited by the prestigious Météo - Mulhouse Music festival to be artist in residence for a new creation called Der dritte Treffpunkt. For this occasion, Frantz led and reunited a new French-Swiss quartet, Der Verboten, with pianist Cédric Piromalli, saxophonist Antoine Chessex and percussionist Christian Wolfarth.

Active in a number of international collective ensembles, his other personal projects include:

baloni - with Joachim Badenhorst (reeds) & Pascal Niggenkemper (contrabass), Natura Morta - with Sean Ali (contrabass) & Carlo Costa, duos with Jeremiah Cymerman (clarinet), Christoph Erb (saxophones) & Christian Wolfarth (percussions), the project Treffpunkt around international meetings with French pianist Cédric Piromalli.

He appears as a sideman in Joachim Badenhorst's Carate Urio Orchestra, Tobias Meier's Im Wald and Silvan Jeger

This Difficult Tree.

In addition to his own projects he has also worked alongside many musicians such as (a.o.), Barre Phillips, Joëlle Léandre, David S.Ware, Anthony Braxton & Walter Thompson Orchestra, Tony Conrad, Emilie Lesbros, Duane Pitre's ED09 ensemble, Ève Risser, Sabir Mateen, Michael Formanek, Andrea Parkins, Franck Vigroux, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Alexei Borisov, Theresa Wong, Ernesto Rodrigues, Hilmar Jensson, Kita Naoki, Simon Nabatov, Steve Swell, Yagi Michiyo, Yasumune Morishige, Mikko Innanen, Christian Weber and many others.

Frantz Loriot performs regularly in Europe, USA and Japan.

Frantz Loriot appears on CDs released on international labels such as Clean Feed, Creative Sources, Intakt, Peira, FMR, Sickcore, Impressus, Prom Night Records, Basses Fréquences, Quiet Design, Edible Onion, Komma Null, Klein, Neither/Nor, OutNow, Wide Ear etc.

Frantz Loriot studied music in Paris with several professors (Mari Yasuda-Raclot, the Pons brothers, Nicolas Dupin, Ivry Gitlis, Yukari Tate & Pascal Robault) and was brought to improvisation by Régis Huby, Joëlle Léandre, Barre Phillips, and David S. Ware.

He was initiated to soundmassage by its creator, Thierry Madiot.

While living in NYC, he created and curated Ze Couch Series in Brooklyn, NY, from 2009 to 2012. After having lived in Paris and New York City, Frantz Loriot relocated in Zürich (Switzerland)."

-Frantz Loriot Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Bassist, composer, and improviser Sean Ali from Dayton, Ohio has been living in New York City since 2003, where he participates in the city's vibrant experimental music scene both as a performer and curator. His current projects include: Fester, Hag, LathanFlinAli, Mattrey.Bordreuil.Ali, Natura Morta, PascAli, Phantom Circuit, While We Still Have Bodies, and solo performances. He is co-founder and member of the new music label Prom Night Records. He is co-founder and former curator at 65Fen Music Series. Sean Ali performs regularly in New York City and has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe."

-Sean Ali Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Percussionist and composer Carlo Costa was born in Rome, Italy. In 2001 he moved to Boston to study music. Since 2005 he has been living in New York City where he regularly performs as a leader and co-leader of various projects, as well as a sideman. Carlo is currently primarily involved with experimental and improvised music and is an active composer for his ensembles and ad hoc projects. He has performed throughout Europe and the US in a wide variety of contexts.

Carlo currently leads or co-leads Natura Morta (a trio with violist Frantz Loriot and bassist Sean Ali), the Carlo Costa Quartet (with trombonist Steve Swell, saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and bassist Sean Ali), Earth Tongues (with trumpeter Joe Moffett and tubist Dan Peck), the large ensemble Acustica, the trio Ancient Enemies (with alto saxophonist Nathaniel Morgan and violist Joanna Mattrey), and a solo percussion project. In November 2014 Carlo launched the record label Neither/Nor Records which is dedicated to experimental and improvised music."

-Carlo Costa Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Pulvis 14:00

2. Ventus 13:47

3. Mycelia 13:34

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Trio Recordings
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Canadian Composition & Improvisation

Search for other titles on the label:
Neither/Nor Records.

Recommended & Related Releases:
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(Tour de Bras / Inexhaustible Editions )
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