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London Experimental Ensemble: Child Ballads [VINYL] (Split Rock Records)

Drawn from 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland alongside their American variants, anthologised by Francis James Child during the second half of the nineteenth century, are here sung by Ed Pettersen in the fascinating intersection of traditional lyrics and experimental interpretations of melodies, performed by the 11-piece London Experimental Ensemble.

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product information:

UPC: 600793190027

Label: Split Rock Records
Catalog ID: SR19002
Squidco Product Code: 27006

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at the Pool Studios, in London, England, on March 25th 2018, by Shane Shanahan and Jamie McEvoy.


Jordan Muscatello-double bass

Antonio Acunzo-electric bass, piano

Keisuke Matsui-electric guitar

NO Moore-electric guitar

Tony Hardie Bick-guitar, effects, piano

John Eyles-saxophone

Joe Wright-saxophone, electronics

Daniel Kordik-synthesizer

Ken Ikeda-synthesizer

Edward Lucas-trombone

Carole Finer-violin, cumbus, objects

Ed Pettersen-vocals, resonator guitar

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Artist Biographies:

"Jordan Muscatello is a London-based bassist predominantly active in improvised music. A frequent attendee of Eddie Prévost's weekly workshop, he has performed with many members of London's community of improvising musicians and is a regular member of Rick Jensen's Apocalypse Jazz Unit."

-Iklectik (

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Keisuke Matsui is a London, UK-based guitarist, known for the groups London Experimental Ensemble, and Officer!

-Discogs (

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"NO Moore's guitar playing combines elements wrenched from the short history of the electric guitar, from the Blues to Free Improvisation, and combines them with a love of early electronic experimentalism, synthesis, and musique concrète. The result is an often surprising sound world for electric guitar, encompassing both a loose respect for its traditions and an absolute commitment to the new and the consequences that follow."

-Cafe OTO (

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"John Eyles: The first record I owned was "Twist & Shout" by The Beatles. The first album I bought was "Smiley Smile" by The Beach Boys, in 1967. The first jazz album I bought was "Filles de Kilimanjaro" by Miles, in 1968. The first CD I bought was "Gaia" by Marilyn Crispell, in 1989. I haven't yet paid to download an MP3... I started writing about jazz in 1992 when a friend asked me to be the jazz columnist for Murdoch's TODAY newspaper. (Thanks, Nick.) TODAY closed down late in 1995. Since then I have written for many print-based and web-based media, although I have an uncanny knack of writing for publications that close down! (The Independent Catalogue, Rubberneck, Avant, Opprobrium, One Final Note, Paris Transatlantic, BBCi ...) As well as AAJ, I currently write for The Squid's Ear -- currently in good health! I have only ever parted from two publications on bad terms, the first a British-based magazine that asked me to write a good review of a mediocre album as the label had bought advertising space in the magazine, the second a US-based website whose editor asked me to rewrite my review of an old album because my view of it did not agree with his; in each case, I refused and never wrote for them again. When reviewing an album, I do not start writing until I am sure--usually after at least ten listenings. I could never write a review after one or two listens. If I really don't like an album, I'll usually leave it be. I would prefer poorer music to be neglected and fade away gracefully than to be panned. If I'm not 100% sure, I'll include some suggested improvements. For recreation I enjoy improvising using voice, alto or sopranino saxophone, being a regular participant at AMM drummer Eddie Prevost's weekly Friday evening workshop, and a founder member of the Mopomoso Workshop group. I am a member of the improvising trio Bouche Bee, with guitarist Petri Huurinainen and vocalist Emmanuelle Waeckerle."

-All About Jazz (

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"Joe Wright began playing the saxophone in his early teens, and was soon playing across Scotland in various groups including the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. In 2007 he was awarded an entrance scholarship to study jazz saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating in 2011 with a First Class Honours Degree. His PhD research aims to create instruments with and for young people on the autistic spectrum that encourage a curiosity about sound, informed by his own experimental music practice.Music Career

Since graduating, Wright has recorded, performed and toured extensively across the UK in a variety jazz, experimental and improvising groups. He has also collaborated on installations, including the Dreamland exhibition at the Turner Contemporary in 2014. More recently his work has focused on exploratory improvisation, often using electronic systems to change the way in which he engages with the saxophone or saxophone-like instruments. Alongside this practice, he has also worked around the UK in performances for neurodiverse audiences. This has included tours with the internationally acclaimed theatre company Oily Cart, work as a sound designer, performer and musical director for sound/movement company aboutNOWish, and as a collaborator in neurodiverse theatre with Winston Churchill Fellow, Ellie Griffiths."

-IntegraLab (

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Daniel Kordik, born in Slovakia and currently based in London, is an improvising synthesizer player who co-runs the Earshots label and concert series with Edward Lucas. They have a long standing trombone and synth duo: Kordik / Lucas, and with Noel Taylor.

-Squidco 12/2/2022

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"Ken Ikeda is a video artist and composer born in Tokyo (1964) , currently a resident in New York. He has exhibited sound art and visual installations around the world and has collaborated with painter Tadanoori Yokoo and artist Mariko Mori. Mist On The Window is his third album, following Tzuki (2000) and Merge (2003) both from Touch label and Mist on the Window (2007) from SPEKK."

-Spekk (

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Edward Lucas is an improvising tromboninst who co-runs the Earshots label and concert series with Daniel Kordik. They have a long standing trombone and synth duo: Kordik / Lucas.

-Squidco 12/2/2022

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Carole Finer is an original member of Scratch Orchestra, which formed in 1969 based around composer Cornelius Cardew's influence. She performs on a variety of instruments and objects, and is also a painter. Finer has also presented a radio show on Resonance FM titled "Sound Out", presenting ontemporary classical avant-garde to American old-time - and sometimes her own field recordings from her travels round the world.

-Squidco 12/2/2022

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"As an artist, Pettersen has worked long and hard to develop his craft and in doing so has achieved a depth and sophistication that is just now being recognized. An emerging Americana artist in the 90's still driven by the twin influences of Springsteen and the country rebel artists of his youth, Pettersen gained attention for his second release "Somewhere South of Here". Steeped in Americana and country rhythms, the album fell somewhere between the traditional sounds of Americana and the rocking slide guitar of country radio and the tongue in cheek single "DWIOU" (Driving While Intoxicated on You) found a place in jukeboxes worldwide and on the country line dance charts.

But Pettersen's passion for music of all genres was unlimited and led to forming the rock band The Strangely's with friend and drummer Pete Abbott, his brother Mike (one of the finest guitar players Ed knows to this day), and bass player Lori Adams. Despite the great sound of the band, without label support and the inability to tour widely, the Strangely's drifted apart leaving Pettersen with two of his finest rock cuts, the moody and dark "Broken Mirror" and the plaintive "Justine". Around the same time a mysterious illness hit Pettersen hard, sending him through a long odyssey of doctors and hospitals, and being felled by acute physical pain for which there was no visible cause. Temporary paralysis of the vocal chords was a recurring symptom and so for several years Pettersen concentrated on songwriting and production, producing the quirky and gorgeous voiced duo Rosasharn and developing the concept for the Song of America.

An innate drive to hone his craft and work with the best of the best led Pettersen to Nashville in 2002. There, working with the best meant assembling a crack recording unit dubbed The Great American Rhythm section, featuring Reggie Young, Bob Babbitt, Dave Hungate, Catherine Marx, and Ed Greene on drums. The unit played a key role in many of the recordings for Song of America and other Pettersen productions. The only explanation that Pettersen could come up for why they convened at will when called was "They liked to play with each other and I didn't tell them what to do. Am I going to tell Reggie Young who has more number one hits than any guitar player how to play?" So while other songwriters were networking with country artists in town, Pettersen started getting cuts like his marvelous "I Guess We Shouldn't Talk About That Now," on Bettye LaVette's Grammy nominated 2007 The Scene of the Crime and "I Don't Want Anything" on Candi Staton's Who's Hurting Now?, from 2009. The latter includes one of the most delicate and poignantly beautiful lines of all time "Like the beauty of a child's smile, the future on an angel's wing".

In just the last few years Pettersen has re-emerged as a full-fledged recording and touring artist and in the meantime his voice and talents have grown tremendously. Discovering his Norwegian roots and Scandinavian heritage is the catalyst for the hauntingly melodic acoustic tunes on I Curse the River of Time. But it is the amalgamation of his early years honing a few well-crafted words in advertising, working with playwright and mentor John Bishop, trying a hand at film production, overcoming hardship and illness, and through it all constantly studying music, art, literature, and life that makes Pettersen an artist of note and a poet worth discovering."

-Ed Pettersen Website (

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track listing:


1. Among The Blue Flowers 6:34

2. The Dowie Dens O'Yarrow 6:38

3. Three Ravens 4:47


1. The Elfin Knight 7:03

2. Bessie Bell And Mary Grey 10:00

3. Glenlogic 9:54
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Recently we spoke here of an exceptional recording by the London Experimental Ensemble, performing Treatise a composition by Cornelius Cardew. With their new release, recorded in March 2018 in a London studio they decided for something completely different. This time they take their turn to ancient folk songs of the Child Ballads, a collection of 305 songs from the British Isles, as catalogued by Professor Francis James Child between 1882 and 1898. Six of these songs are a point of departure for a free improvised session, where the improvisers leave the melodic material far behind them.

As on Treatise, they work here once again with American singer-songwriter Ed Pettersen. Pettersen sings the original lyrics, staying close to the original melodic structure. It is not unlikely that Pettersen came with the idea for using this old material, as he recorded earlier old Scandinavian and American folk songs. The 11-piece ensemble creates condensed sound-oriented textures that don't seem to interact very much with the melodies Pettersen sings. They move on as drifting sound clouds, embedding the solo vocals by Pettersen. Nonetheless, traditional ballads and improvisations make an interesting couple here and deliver a fulfilling and enjoyable assemble. An interesting experiment that I hope will be deepened in the future. [...]"-DM, Vital Weekly

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Song Based Music
Large Ensembles
Electro-Acoustic Improv
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New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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