The Squid's Ear Magazine
Squidco's Record Store Day Sales, Save 10%, 15% or 50% Fri-Sunday!

Arnold, Martin: Flax (Another Timbre)

Commissioned in 2020 by pianist Philip Thomas, whose health prevented him from performing the work, Canadian composer Martin Arnold's 79-minute hypnotic solo work for piano emphasizes the keyboard's upper register in slow moving textural melodies influenced by innovative 50's & 60's bop pianists, performed in 2022 at the University of Huddersfield by pianist Kerry Yong.

Price: $14.35
Price Was: $15.95
Squidco RSD 2024 Sale!:
Save $1.60


In Stock

Quantity in Basket: None

Log In to use our Wish List
Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Sample The Album:

product information:


Martin Arnold-composer

Kerry Yong-piano

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at221
Squidco Product Code: 34335

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at the University of Huddersfield, in the UK, in October, 2022, by Simon Reynell.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

Another Timbre Interview with Martin Arnold

Can you tell us how this project came about?

I feel like the beginning of this story is as much yours to tell as mine. On January 3, 2020, I received an email from our friend and colleague, the wonderful musician Philip Thomas, asking me if I would like Another Timbre to commission me to write a CD-length piano piece for him. I think you were reinvesting money made from Philip's astounding boxset of Morton Feldman's piano music. Of course, I was over the moon. My first thought was that I wanted to write a piece that really would fill up a CD, something around 78 minutes. Given that, I knew I wanted to make a piece that had a kind of obsessive but relaxed focus, that would involve material and ways of playing that wouldn't vary much. I really think for the kind of music I can offer, the longer the duration, the less the texture should change. The texture can be thick or thin or you name it, but there shouldn't be even a hint of epic narrative (therefore, little formal change and certainly no dramatic juxtapositions).

Then I remembered discussions I had with Philip about my music; in particular, I remember him saying something along the lines that I made him rethink the top register of the piano. So I decided I would write something where the right hand would stay in the upper range of the instrument for a really long time. That reminded me of my love for the recordings jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal made with his trio in the late 1950s, especially ones from the Pershing Lounge in Chicago in 1958. He improvises a lot of spare, spacious melodic lines, yet still with a polyvalent chromatic invention out of bebop (certainly Thelonious Monk did this as well, but Jamal's inventions are more demure, less overtly strange, though still very subtly mind-bending). But he keeps a lot of these melodies in the top two octaves of the piano; he doesn't use that register for embellishment, as a change of colour, he stays up there as if that's where a piano normally sounds. Thinking about Jamal, thinking about jazz, was the spark that got me thinking more specifically about this piece. Pretty much all of my music embraces some kind of continuous melody - and I could think of no good reason this should change with this piece - but I decided to engage more fully a kind of melodic invention that, while always influential to me, had only obviously surfaced a couple of times in my music previously. I love a lot of jazz, but I'm particularly enthralled with innovators of the 1950s and early 60s, who, while still playing over chord changes, carrying on from bebop, improvised lines that had only a viscously oblique relationship to the harmonies (I'm thinking about Monk, Herbie Nichols, Elmo Hope, Lennie Tristano, Paul Bley, Andrew Hill, Dick Twardzik, Misha Mengelberg... just to name a few pianists; and some pianists who came later: Connie Crothers, Geri Allen, Pandelis Karayorgis, Tania Gill...). Listening to that music, when they're playing lines, I want those lines to continue indefinitely. And, when they're bopping, I wonder what those lines would sound like slower, much slower.

In part, Flax addresses these desires: over half of the piece plays with that sweet-and-sour polytonality before it slowly morphs into the kind of modality and organum-like texture that my music more commonly explores. Flax never swings (I don't know if it even sounds anything like jazz; it's certainly not trying to); it's a slow-motion swaying, staggering unfurling of lines of pitches. I guess one other related feature that distinguishes Flax is that over half of it has a reoccurring set of chord changes; it's not a contrafact, the changes don't come from any standard I know, but they do emulate that harmonic world, along with the substitutions jazz musicians add to standards. While I was working on the piece, on December 12, 2020, composer-performer "Blue" Gene Tyranny passed away. I was really saddened by this; I'm a fan! I got thinking about how close his music could be to lounge jazz while still being utterly, singularly psychedelic. Thinking about that gave me the permission, the nerve, to use a pretty standard chord progression without much extra textural adornment.

How much did you take account of Philip's playing when you were composing the piece, and did you revise it at all when it became clear that it'd be Kerry rather than Philip who was going to perform it?

Since we started collaborating, Philip has mentioned that I write the kind of music he really knows how to play, that he relates to deeply in connection to how he sounds the piano (the first piece he played by me was in 2009; the first piece I wrote for him was in 2012). That's how it sounds to me when he's playing, and I'm so grateful for this! I've written a lot of upper register melodies for him over the years so I could profoundly imagine him playing Flax as it unfurled (I believe and will continue to believe that one day I will actually hear this!). I also knew he would whole-heartedly embrace the peculiar challenges of the piece (the duration and how that duration is articulated). When it became clear that Philip would be unable to perform the piece in the foreseeable future, I wanted someone I knew personally in Britain to play it. I had the pleasure of working with Kerry in 2016 when he played reed organ in my piece Stain Ballad as a member of Apartment House (Philip played the piano part). It was evident that Kerry was a fantastic musician; it was also great to work with him and to hang out and talk music with him. As much as anything, it was those conversations that convinced me he had the breadth of musical experience and perspective to engage and embrace Flax and all its idiosyncrasies. I was right (gratefully so)! No revision required!

Why the title Flax?

I was thinking about melodic lines and I love etymologies; "line: Old English līne 'rope, series', probably of Germanic origin, from Latin linea (fibra) 'FLAX (fiber)', from Latin linum 'FLAX', reinforced in Middle English by Old French ligne, based on Latin linea." [the caps are mine] It's also a tasty grain and a great sounding word and linen is made from it!

I find Flax really hypnotic; it circles around its own dreamy soundworld according to rules that remain opaque. Is that sense of creating a unique soundspace something you consciously attempt when composing?

I think trying to imagine a soundworld I wanted to hear, that was different than other ones I was already able to visit, used to be more of a conscious desire, a creative impetus for me (I just wanted it to be different; it didn't have to be unique in any exemplary way). But that has receded as something conscious; now, the soundworld emerges from, is constituted by, more specific material, contextual speculations that are banging around in head while composing the piece. However, I continue to want my music to encourage the listener to feel that they're on on a trip, paying close attention to their lifeworld, exploring details in a space their imagination is moving through, rather than feeling they need to understand a message that's being delivered to them. With Flax, having adopted some initial propositions about texture, I was really just fixated on pitch and rhythm. And pitches in rhythms can make weird, subversive magic, can be dream-works (yep, I'm thinking about Freud here) that give rise to intense, obsessive dreams (keeping in mind that "hypnosis" comes from Greek hupnos 'sleep').

You don't seem to write many short pieces (ie less than 20 minutes), and I wondered why? And at a very long CD length (79 minutes) is Flax the longest piece you've written to date?

Well, I do have some shorter pieces: Stain Ballad is 13 minutes long, Slip is 15, Lutra is 17; there are a few more pieces 15 minutes or less on my Soundcloud (although, none of them have any drama, any narrative tension, so for some, everything I write is too long). Flax is my longest continuous composition. However, the two movements of Burrow Out; Burrow In; Burrow Music add up to an hour and 51 minutes; one can listen to my sound installation Fancy for as long as it keeps playing wherever it's installed, without it ever repeating; and I recently collaborated with Scott Thomson on Enamel, an open-ended piece for solo trombone - 5 hours of it just was released by the label Rat-drifting on Bandcamp (I really thank Scott for that! I listened to him play Enamel for 3 and 3/4 hours, live in Montréal! - that's right: solo trombone!). I think about, care about the duration of my music a lot, but it's always arrived at in relation to the context in which it is being written for, usually (to different degrees) in conversation with whoever has asked me to write the piece (I don't produce music unless I'm asked). Flax is 79 minutes long because Philip wondered if I was interested in writing a CD length piece.

Artist Biographies

"Martin Arnold is a musician based in Toronto. His notated compositions are performed nationally and internationally. Martin is also an active member of Toronto's improvisation and experimental jazz/roots/rock communities performing on live electronics, banjo, melodica, and guitar. Martin is the Artistic Director of Arraymusic and he lectures in the Department of Cultural Studies at Trent University and the Department of Art, Culture and Media, at the University of Toronto, Scarborough."

-Continuum Contemporary Music (

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

"Kerry is a musician who lives in east London. He trained as a pianist and now also performs on keyboards and live electronics.

Kerry has performed at Audiograft, Chisenhale Arts Club, Kämmer Klang, Rational Rec, Borealis Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, Kings Place, City of London Festival, Music We'd Like To Hear, Nonclassical and in groups Apartment House, ELISION, Plus-Minus Ensemble and Ensemble Offspring.

Kerry studied piano with Stephanie McCallum at the University of Sydney (where he also studied composition) and at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He completed a doctorate at the Royal College of Music where he studied piano with Andrew Ball and researched Performance practices of music for piano with electroacoustics. He has also dabbled with the other side, playing with bands Apopalyptics, Casiokids and Half-handed Cloud and the Welcome Wagon.

Kerry also directs music at Grace Church Hackney (which meets in Hoxton), where they are happy to use ancient chants, traditional hymns and new works with choirs, bands, electronics, objects and the like."

-Kerry Yong Website (

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

Track Listing:

1. Flax 1:19:02

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Solo Artist Recordings
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
New in Compositional Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Search for other titles on the label:
Another Timbre.

Recommended & Related Releases:
Lonsdale, Eden
Clear and Hazy Moons
(Another Timbre)
Splitting the album between two ensembles, UK composer Eden Lonsdale's beautifully languid compositions are performed first by Apartment House, and then by the young Rothko Collective, the four pieces showing Lonsdale's development of writing for harmony, timbre and resonance into works focused on the passing of time and the integration of prominent melodic elements.
Other Recommended Releases:
Ogura, Miharu
Ogura Plays Ogura
(thanatosis produktion)
Following her 2022 album Ogura Plays Stockhausen, Japanese born, Frankfurt-based pianist Miharu Ogura turns her attention to her own compositions, presenting five uniquely creative works unfolding in pacing that surprises the listener, balancing silence and clusters of layered patterns that move at differing speeds and rhythms, from simple clarity to labyrinthine entanglement.
Denyer, Frank / Octandre Ensemble
(Another Timbre)
An exceptional collection of works by composer Frank Denyer written between 1973 and 2021, especially the monumental 5-part "Five Views of the Path", performed by the UK Octandre Ensemble led by composer Christian Mason and conductor Jon Hargreaves, which focuses on modern composers with an emphasis on works of timbre and ritual, Denyer's work being an ideal match.
Frey, Jurg / Apartment House
String Trio
(Another Timbre)
Reworking a piece for string trio originally commissioned by the Concertgebouw Brugge and premiered by the Goeyvaerts Trio as part of the 2019 SLOW Festival, this new version expands on the original composition to bring elegant calmness and clarity to the work, performed by UK's Apartment House members Mira Benjamin on violin, Bridget Carey on viola and Anton Lukoszevieze on cello.
Oliveros, Pauline / Apartment House
Sound Pieces
(Another Timbre)
Six sound-oriented compositions for acoustic ensemble performed by the UK ensemble Apartment House, beautifully reflective and rich works, the first six pieces being text scores for open instrumentation, along with Peace/Tree, a seven movement work for violin, cello and piano that specifies pitches while leaving room for interpretation and improvisation.
Johnson, Evan
L' Art De Toucher
(Another Timbre)
Five works from US composer often based in Amsterdam, Evan Johnson, in solo, duo and trio settings including a triptych titled "L'art de toucher" in three configurations, demonstrating his unique approach to writing using disparate musical influences from modern to Baroque, mated to anarchic experimentalism and a Wandelweiser sensibility; fascinating!
Cage, John / Apartment House
Hymnkus / Thoreau Drawings / Two
(Another Timbre)
The UK avant ensemble Apartment House performs three of John Cage's later works: Two (1987), a number piece using randomly-determined time brackets specifying pitch & dynamic; Hymnkus for up to 14 instrumental parts each of 17 elements blending the concepts of a hymn and a haiku; and Thoreau Drawings, the score twenty unnumbered pages on which Cage drew shapes onto a grid of six systems, each divided into 5+7+5 parts, following the form of a haiku.
Reeder, Kory / Apartment House
Codex Vivere
(Another Timbre)
A beautifully unfolding story in connected works forming a codex from Texas composer and Wandelweiser artist Kory Reeder, a long form work performed by the UK Apartment House Ensemble in a septet of strings, winds and piano, each section creating a loose narrative ark through several notational strategies envisioned with characters, scenes, diversions, and digressions.
Riley, Terry played by John Tilbury
Keyboard Studies
(Another Timbre)
There is uncertainty of when pianist John Tilbury recorded these three solo keyboard works by his associate and friend, legendary minimalist composer Terry Riley, performing "Keyboard Study #1" and #2, along with "Dorian Reeds" using piano, electric organ, harpsichord & celesta, captured with excellent quality in superb performances from Tilbury at the height of his powers.
Paiuk, Gabriel
Adjacent Sound
(Another Timbre)
Four works from Amsterdam-based Argentina composer Gabriel Paiuk, particularly "The Construction of an Imaginary Acoustic Space" about the intertwining of technology, affect, space and listening, performed by the New European Ensemble in a mix of strings, reed, brass, piano and tape; also a solo work for cello; a solo work for piano; and a piece for three clarinets.
Ellestad, Mark
Discreet Angel
(Another Timbre)
Three chamber works by Calgary, Canadian composer Mark Ellestad composed between 1988 and 1994 and recently retrieved by the composer, including the title track, a graceful solo guitar work performed by Christián Alvear; a meditative piece for pump organ & Hardanger fiddle performed by the composer; and a large work for violin and cello performed by Apartment House.
Sommes [3 CDs]
(Tour de Bras / Circum-Disc)
A magnificent triple-CD set from the Quebec creative ensemble GGRIL performing the works of Frederic Blondy, Robert Marcel Lepage, Lisa Cay Miller, Malcolm Goldstein, Caroline Kraabel, Allison Cameron, Martin Arnold, Lori Freedman, Michel F. Cote, Jean Derome and Gus Garside, a significant and beautifully packaged release from one of Canada's most important new music groups.
Smith, Linda Catlin / Apartment House
(Another Timbre)
Two works from Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith and performed by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze and pianist Kerry Yong: "Through the Low Hills" a piece for constrained variations like an object viewed from different angles as it is turned over; and "Ballad" a major work intended for performance that unfolds slowly, allowing for delicate melodic interaction.
Feldman, Morton (Philip Thomas)
Piano [5 CD BOX SET]
(Another Timbre)
Containing the majority of minimalist composer Morton Feldman's compositions for solo piano, 3 CDs of short works and 2 for the magnificent "For Bunita Marcus" and "Triadic Memories", performed by one of the foremost interpreters of Feldman's work, Philip Thomas, and presented in a sturdy 5-CD box set with a 52 page booklet of notes from the performer and artwork.
Eastman, Julius / Apartment House
(Another Timbre)
A live recording of Julius Eastman's 1974 work "Femenine" performed by Apartment House led by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, with Simon Limbrick on vibraphone, Kerry Yong on piano, Mark Knoop on keyboard, Mira Benjamin on violin, and Gavin Morrison and Emma Williams on flute, an ecstatic and intricate work using a repeating figure contrasted with both asynchronous and complementing backgrounds.
Taylor, Mark R.
(Another Timbre)
Works for solo piano by Mark R Taylor, beautifully played by Teodora Stepancic, the first CD release by a remarkable but neglected English composer whose piano works present a metrically rhythmicized exploration of a generative spectrum, here featuring works dating between 1979 and 2018 and performed by Serbian pianist Teodora Stepancic.
Barnyard Drama
Christmas Singalong Volume 7
Barnyard Drama continues their Christmas Singalong series, here in the 7th volume with an amazing lineup of Jean Martin, Christine Duncan, John Southworth, Justin Haynes, John Oswald, &c. &c.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought:
Djll, Tom
(Soul On Rice)
Using analog computers that "require a lot of real-time intervention to flesh out their neurotic narratives", the typically trumpeter Tom Djll (Grosse Abfahrt) turns his attention to a series of prickly sound works of strange intention and direction, through fourteen works titled like a series of math equations mashed into a dictionary; good weird fun.
Sikora, Catherine / Susan Alcorn
(Relative Pitch)
The first meeting of tenor saxophonist Catherine Sikora and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn was at the Zurcher Gallery in New York City in 2022, an inventive dialog of free improvisation split between three "Filaments", their interaction ranging from delicate dialog to asservite discourse in a wonderfully expressive concert of sincere affinity.
Djll / Perkins
(Artifact Recordings)
Expanding on their 2007 release Kinda Green, the decades-long collaboration of SF Bay Area improvisors Tom Djll on trumpet & electronics and Tim Perkis on "coding" and electronics presents six unusual spontaneous compositions of live trumpet, electronics and real-time manipulation, release by the Ubu, Incorporated project supporting experimental and electronic music.
Surplus 1980
Illusion of Consistency [VINYL + CD + DOWNLOAD]
(Surplus Industries)
Composed using an "exquisite corpse" method during the pandemic, where each player provided a partially complete track with instructions to expand their concept, enlisting an incredible set of musicians across the US & Europe, directed by Moe! Staiano, including Jesse Quattro, Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt, GW Sok, Amy X Neuburg, Darren Johnston, &c &c.
The Cassiber Box redux [6 CDs, 1 DVD and Book]
(Recommended Records)
Reissuing the 2013 box set of the 1980s UK/Euro improvising rock band Cassiber, including their 4 remastered studio albums + 2 additional CDs, a 2 hour DVD, and a 32-page color book, revealing an amazing band merging experimental rock, fringe jazz, punk, pop, plunderphonics, improvisation, & musique concrete with an energetic and complex form of studio composition - superb!
Cater, Seamus
A History of Musical Pitch
(Another Timbre)
Investigating the experimental legacy of Victorian polymath Alexander J. Ellis, author of the 1880 paper, The History of Musical Pitch, composer Seamus Cater uses 74 tuning forks tuned to represent Elliss research of just ratios of 480Hz, in three compositions focusing on the most consonant tones of the system, and balancing them through minimalist chamber work from a 7-piece ensemble.
Lamb, Catherine
Parallaxis Forma
(Another Timbre)
Two works for voice and chamber orchestra performed by the UK Explore Ensemble under the direction of Nicholas Moroz, and a multi-tracked vocal work by Lotte Betts-Dean, rich and understated works of rich harmonics and atmospheric overtones composed by Catherine Lamb, placing phonetic vocals in space and ambiance, eschewing words for tone, texture and motion; mesmerizing.
[ism] (Pat Thomas / Joel Grip / Aontonin Gerbal)
(577 Records)
Recordings from the Berlin club Au Topsi Pohl where the [ism] piano trio of Pat Thomas on piano, Joel Grip on double bass and Antonin Gerbal on drums played 4-nights in a row, May 18-21, 2022, Thomas performing on a Bösendorfer grand piano, creating an omnipresent and precise sound that drove the band to great heights of interactive, warmly diverse playing.

The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

© 2002-, Squidco LLC