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Parkins, Andrea / Matthew Ostrowski: Elective Affinities (Infrequent Seams Records)

The first recording of the playfully detailed improvisation of two NY collaborators with nearly two decades of work together--Andrea Parkins on accordion, objects & electronics, and Matthew Ostrowski on electronics--improvising in the studio for eight explorative works that seamlessly mesh acoustic and electronics, seemingly forward and backward at the same time!

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product information:

UPC: 767311404728

Label: Infrequent Seams Records
Catalog ID: CD-IS-1021
Squidco Product Code: 28341

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Harvest Works, in New York City, New York, by Paul Geluso.


Andrea Parkins-accordion, objects, electronics

Matthew Ostrowski-electronics

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Artist Biographies:

"Andrea Parkins is an American composer, sound artist, performer and improvisational musician based in New York. She is known for her inventive explorations on the electric accordion, generative sound processing, and arrangements of objects and sound. Parkins received a BFA from Tufts University and MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

Andrea Parkins's work is influenced by the compositional strategies of John Cage and Fluxus and pays homage to musique concrète and 1970s analog synth. Parkins often incorporates electronically processed accordion, customized sound processing, live tape manipulation, analog effects boxes, laptop electronics, acoustic piano, sampling, and amplified objects. Her method and sound were characterized by LA Weekly as: "The big, varied, confidently conceived abstractions Parkins yanks from her squeezebox, laptop, effects devices and maybe piano - cloudy and cranky one minute, surgically sharp the next." With an unconventional approach to instruments, Parkins "fragments the instrument's traditional vocabulary and expands its capabilities with electronics and extended techniques."

Recently Andrea Parkins has been developing a series of interactive sound and image works inspired by the structures of Rube Goldberg's circuitous machines. Describing this organizational approach Stephen Bezan remarked: "the individual sounds manipulated by Parkins seem to interact and influence the outcome of the other, crafting a goal-oriented structure based on timbre, not harmony or rhythm. This approach transcends the inherent cacophony of the material and reveals a genuinely organic, even playful quality to her work." Parkins has described her Rube Goldberg approach as a means for examining slippages between object and meaning. She observed: "An important conceptual thread running through these pieces is the discovery and expression of metaphors for the slippage and tension between object and meaning that occurs through the passage of time." Describing her intentions, Parkins noted: "As both a sonic and visual artist, I try to build and layer idiosyncratic systems and structures that point to these shifts in meaning."

Andrea Parkins has toured and exhibited internationally and has been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Kitchen, Experimental Intermedia, and Diapason Gallery for Sound and Intermedia. She has collaborated with musicians such as Nels Cline, Jim Black, Ellery Eskelin, David Watson, David Fenech, Fred Frith, Thomas Lehn, Günter Müller, and Otomo Yoshihide and choreographers Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad from the BodyCartography Project. Parkins has been the recipient of various grants, awards, and residencies including Meet the Composer, New York State Council for the Arts, Harvestworks Media Art Center, in New York City, Frei und Hanseastadt Hamburg Kulturbehoerde, in Germany, and CESTA in the Czech Republic."

-Wikipedia (

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"A New York City native, Matthew Ostrowski has worked as a composer, performer and installation artist, exploring work with music, multimedia, video and theater. Using digital tools and formalist techniques to engage with quotidian materials - sonic, physical, and cultural - Ostrowski's work explores the liminal space between the virtual and phenomenological worlds. His work, which has been seen on six continents, ranges from live electronic performance to installations incorporating video, multichannel sound, and computer-controlled objects. He is a freelance developer of interactive technology for artists, and teaches at NYU and Columbia University.

Ostrowski's productions have been seen or performed on six continents, including the Wien Modern Festival, Transmediale and Maerz Musik in Berlin,the Kraków Audio Art Festival, Sonic Acts in Amsterdam, PS 1 and The Kitchen in New York , the Rencontres Internationales video festival in Madrid, and Yokohama's dis_locate Festival. He has received numerous awards, including a NYFA Fellowship for Computer Arts."

-Matthew Ostrowski Website (

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track listing:

1. Substance & Mixture 4:11

2. Collisions 5:22

3. Intrication 4:13

4. Eclipse 7:00

5. Valence 4:20

6. Discontinuity Function 3:14

7. Solubility 5:54

8. Closure 5:09
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"After nearly two decades of collaboration, both in live performance and installation projects, Elective Affinities marks the first recording project from Andrea Parkins and Matthew Ostrowski.

These eight works represent the current state of their shared sonic explorations, which have been driven by their philosophical as much as their musical interchanges over the years. A shared fascination with physical and musical gestures, densely interwoven meshes of events, and the aesthetics of interruption and breakage lay the groundwork for this album of intricate assemblages, recorded in real time.

Incorporating concrete sounds, both live and sampled, cutting-edge synthesis techniques, live processing, and instrumental and acoustic feedback, Elective Affinities is a study of valences, of molecular combinations and recombinations, of forms in states of development, flux, and collapse."-Infrequent Seams


The result of two decades of collaboration, Elective Affinities melds interactive technology developer and academic Ostrowski, who has worked with David Behrman and John Butcher, with Parkins, whose playing experience encompasses groups with Ellery Eskelin and Ute Wasserman among others. Beginning with harmonized watery splashes that are designated by granular synthesis plus percussive chunks evolved at super collider speeds and vocalized cries in different pitches, it isn't until "Collisions", the second track that tremolo glissandi from Parkins' accordion becomes audible and is soon interrupted by powerful smacks that could come from a jackhammer. As swift accordion glissandi move across the sound field, occasional ring modulator pings and synthesized space tone variations swell and dissolve into timbres that seem not quiet human verbalization or in fact any animal's noises. Midway though, during "Discontinuity Function" and then "Solubility", the dual emphasis speeds up, decisively splintering, as Parkins' bellows-expanded stings and pushes or paralleled by Ostrowski's guitar-like twangs at a slower speed until the joint motorized flanges take on backwards-running tape qualities. Finally, the aptly named "Closure" is just that, synthesizing the dual challenges that have preceded that track. Before field-recorded voices signal the ending with rebroadcast human comments, accordion glissandi and stops have vanished within the polyphonic mass which otherwise is characterized by synthesized vibrations that resemble mutated pipe-organ tones.

Consistently more abstract than Elective Affinities is Intraspect's single track Here the guitar qualities of Thompson's Moog guitar are buried among washes of juddering textures issuing from Durrant's the modular synthesizer. Durant who has collaborated with Butcher and Burkard Beins among others, and also composes dance music, puts aside any terpsichorean inferences to produce intermittent shakes and oscillations. Contained in these concentrated vamps is a backdrop of steady drones divided among various sound layers. As the performance reaches its final climax, among the ever-shifting droning oscillations, guitar-like twangs from American Thompson, who also collaborates with choreographers finally, make their agreeable presence felt. Linking understated string fills and frails, the slowed down tremolo interface fades into reassuring hums. [...]"-Ken Waxman, JazzWord

Get additional information at Jazzword
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Electronic Forms
Objects and Home-made Instruments
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Duo Recordings
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New in Improvised Music
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