The Squid's Ear Magazine


Void Patrol (Sharp / Stetson / Martin / MacDonald): Live @ Victo (Victo)

A wild and adventurous concert and one of the highlights of the 39th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville from the electric improvising quartet of Elliott Sharp on electric guitar & electronics, Colin Stetson on bass, alto & tenor saxophones, Billy Martin on drums & percussion and Payton Macdonald on marimba, vibraphone & African xylophone.
 

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Personnel:



Elliott Sharp-electric guitar, electronics

Colin Stetson-bass saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone

Billy Martin-drums, percussion

Payton MacDonald-marimba, vibraphone, African xylophone


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UPC: 777405013620

Label: Victo
Catalog ID: VICCD135
Squidco Product Code: 34518

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: Canada
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at the 39th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, in Victoriaville, Canada, on May 20th, 2023.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The quartet sounded like they had been working together for many years. Everyone got to solo and stretch out at some point and all four members shined at different times. This was a near-perfect set and one of the highlights of this fest. This quartet was fabulous and should have a live recording out!"-Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG, June 2023 from his review of the 2023 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville


Artist Biographies

"Elliott Sharp is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer.

A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over 30 years, Elliott Sharp has released over eighty-five recordings ranging from orchestral music to blues, jazz, noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He leads the projects Carbon and Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and Terraplane and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction.

His collaborators have included Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt; pop singer Debbie Harry; Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Kronos String Quartet; Ensemble Resonanz; cello innovator Frances Marie Uitti; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; pipa virtuoso Min-Xiao Feng; jazz greats Jack deJohnette, Oliver Lake, and Sonny Sharrock; multimedia artists Christian Marclay and Pierre Huyghe; and Bachir Attar, leader of the Master Musicians Of Jajouka.

Sharp is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 Fellow at Parson's Center for Transformative Media. He received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition from the American Academy in Berlin. He has composed scores for feature films and documentaries; created sound-design for interstitials on The Sundance Channel, MTV and Bravo networks; and has presented numerous sound installations in art galleries and museums. He is the subject of a new documentary "Doing The Don't" by filmmaker Bert Shapiro."-Elliott Sharp

-Elliott Sharp website (http://www.elliottsharp.com/bio.html)
4/10/2024

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

"Some things, they say, are meant to be, and certainly it sometimes looks that way for Colin Stetson, whose recorded output, not to mention studio and live collaborations - with, among others, Lou Reed, LCD Soundsystem, The National, Chemical Brothers, Bon Iver and Bill Laswell - has proven as prolific as it's praiseworthy. There's the story of how, though he began playing alto saxophone aged nine, his formal studies only started at 15, when he quickly learned the tricky art of circular breathing in a single afternoon. There's another about how one day, before his lesson even began, he stunned Donald Sinta, his renowned University of Michigan professor, with a warm-up technique so mind-bending the teacher simply walked out, returning a week later, relieved, to declare, "See, I can do it too!" Then there's the time he ended up working with Tom Waits. "I literally moved to San Francisco," Stetson recalls, with no little amazement, "because I wanted to be closer to where he was in the hopes I might cross paths with him. A year and a half later, he called me out of the blue."

Whatever the old adage, none of this is unearned. Since the early years of the 21st Century, Stetson has gained a well-deserved reputation as an exceptional musician, his devotion to his craft consummate, his commitment to innovation indisputable. Known for assertive, powerhouse performances on the saxophone - chiefly bass and alto, but also soprano, tenor and baritone - for many years he was a wrestler, a sport whose "insane physical extremes" he credits with his style, alongside, among other things, a love for acts like Pixies and Fugazi. He's similarly at home, though, whatever the musical context, on clarinet, flute, French Horn and cornet. One might even say he operates in a field all his own.

This is something to which albums like New History Warfare Vols. 1-3 (2007, 2011, 2013) and 2017's All This I Do for Glory powerfully attest, not to mention his striking - and diverse - contributions to film, TV and game scores. These include most recently 2018's Hereditary and Red Dead Redemption 2, 2021's Among The Stars, and 2022's Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Menu, though his favourites, he confesses, are 2020's Barkskins and 2021's Mayday. "I actively shun notions of category and genre in my life and appetites, and most definitely in my own music," Stetson says. "They're definitionally contrary to creativity and freedom, and corral the listener and musician alike into a kind of predesignated automaticity I prefer to avoid."

Stetson's nature then, is definitely, defiantly single-minded, and his dogged focus is always evident in his work, his swooping, circling and soaring motifs displaying as much sensitivity as strength. Even the very body of his instrument - not to mention his own body - provides a source of vital sounds which defy the imagination, not least on All This I Do For Glory, Among The Stars and Mayday, where his saxophone is often mistaken for electronic instrumentation. Such steadfast resolve extends to his daily routines, too. "I generally listen to the same type of music in the mornings," he reveals. "Historically that's been Bach, mostly Glenn Gould, mostly the Goldberg Variations, mostly the 81' recording. Saturdays tend to be for Irish or Scandinavian folk music, and on Sundays I listen to the Soul Stirrers SAR years recordings, or the Goodbye Babylon compilation of pre-war gospel music. I don't know... I just like rituals."

Stetson's singular approach, crucial on stage, was developed as he codified tailor-made rules over a decade of shows until, by 2007, when he first began recording seriously, he elected to adhere to them in the studio. "If performances were to be fully acoustic," he explains, "in that no FX, loops or additional recordings would be used, then so too must the album be all of that. Just me and the instrument and the moment. An audience member at a live performance sees the performer, feels the sound physically, and has that whole spectacle informing their experience. I sought to capture the recording in such a way as to be able to recreate the stereo field, to make a kind of 'surrealistic' imagining of the space, not through effecting or adding unnatural or foreign elements, but simply by taking what was there in the space and time of that recording process and slightly reimagining where in space it sits."

Oddly, Stetson didn't always imagine he'd be a musician. Born in 1975, he grew up in Ann Arbor, where he began painting aged 2, a talent cultivated by his parents throughout his childhood. "Up until 15 or 16," he admits, "I thought I'd pursue a career in the arts, in film, most likely, doing creature and practical effects in Hollywood on the sci-fi and fantasy films I loved. Music changed that trajectory, obviously." This re-evaluation was also facilitated by his parents, who arranged music lessons when he was in his mid-teens. "My mother was determined to make sure my siblings and I were taking on any opportunity for study we could, and she and my father devoted all of their limited resources to us and our upbringing." They certainly didn't spend as much on records: Stetson grew up mainly with "lots of Hendrix, Beatles, Jethro Tull, and one Queen album, The Game. I was very much raised on classic rock in those early years."

Nonetheless, he's part of the first MTV generation, and his subsequent, ferocious devouring of pop videos - he admits the solo in Men At Work's 'Who Can It Be' first inspired him to pick up a saxophone - led to a lifelong metal infatuation, itself a gateway to ever more innovative styles. "There was always Led Zeppelin and the ubiquitous Jimi Hendrix," he continues, "and I got into Mr Bungle through that metal and rock association, which in turn got me listening to John Zorn, which then prompted me to explore players like Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and legends like Ornette, Roscoe Mitchell, Dewey Redman, and Albert Ayler. That was all by about 15. Saxophone was always the instrument I had a real affinity for. The shape, the sound, the physicality, the versatility and dynamic possibilities: all of it has kept me searching and learning and striving on it for decades."

Given this hunger, it's unsurprising he won a scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, where he developed his idiosyncratic style, experimenting with multi/polyphonics, vocalisations, valve-work and his instrument's percussive sounds. "I was playing a ton of free improv, always blown away by the sheer breadth of sonic possibilities, and so was quite ravenous for learning and absorbing the techniques," he recalls. "I spent a fair amount of time the summer of my 19th year doing some musical deep dives on mescaline, and at that point started to refine my earliest solo sax concepts. A couple of those first patterns eventually made it onto New History Warfare Vol. 1."

It was at university he began playing regularly with Transmission (later Transmission Trio) "searching, reaching, and exploring the instrument," before heading to San Francisco after graduating and, six years later, Brooklyn. Contributions were made to other artists' recordings, not least Tom Waits' ­ - "I learned from him the preciousness of the present moment and our initial, honest reactions," Stetson states, "and that at its core what we are doing is storytelling" - and he made his own lowkey records too. It wasn't, though, until 2007 that his breakthrough album, New History Warfare Vol. 1, was released, and this coincided with his drafting by Arcade Fire, with whom he'd play until 2010. He also moved to Montreal that year to join his future (but now ex-) wife, the band's Sarah Neufeld, with whom he recorded 2015's Never Were The Way She Was, and the following year released Sorrow, an extraordinary reimagining of Gorecki's legendary Symphony of Sorrow later performed in the composer's hometown of Katowice.

In-between he completed his New History Warfare trilogy, a virtuosic illustration of the "world-building", as he calls it, that's critical to much of his solo work. "I started writing a sort of corollary narrative in my head - I think it most resembles a graphic novel - so that the narrative and imagery, themes etc. inform the shape and structure of the individual songs, whole albums, and the larger trilogy arc. I connect all of that work - the solo records and some of my collaborations - in the context of a greater narrative and ethos. It's not necessary that anyone know what these stories are, though. I think of it as something I do to help me create the clearest and most wholly realised world in the music."

2017's All This I Do for Glory consolidated his reputation, earning multiple nominations for critics' Album of the Year lists, but if fans have had to wait for its promised sequel - though he confirms it's on its way - that's largely to do with the mass of scoring work he's attracted over the last decade. "I love the puzzles involved in designing a score," he says, "cracking certain codes for what each story needs and how best to bring it together in a way that's novel, effective and exciting." And all the time he's continued to enlarge upon his enviable reputation for live performances that match his intense technical prowess with exhilarating and emotionally gripping songwriting skills. "I'll always push myself physically in the making of this music," he adds. "There's something about the energetic state of being in the limits of our grasps, manoeuvring through extremities, that I find not only cathartic and hugely satisfying but which imbues the music with a quality that cannot be fully quantified."

Still, if his astounding physical engagement with his instruments has helped provoke headlines and draw audiences, Stetson remains dedicated first and foremost to his art. "I've always wanted to eschew the whole 'geek show' aspect of my performances," he concludes, "and just play in total darkness. To be there, present with the music, with the audience. It's still a kind of dream for me to not have the music be understood and experienced in any way through the lens of the physical feat of it, but just felt in that honest, visceral and immediate way." He needn't worry, though. Some things, after all, are meant to be, and anyone who's heard Stetson's music will verify that there's no other way to experience it than honestly, viscerally and immediately. As distinguished broadcaster Mary Anne Hobbs once observed, "he's an artist that can change the way you actually think about music." "

-Colin Stetson Website (https://www.colinstetson.com/bio)
4/10/2024

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

"Billy Martin was born in NYC in 1963 to a Radio City Rockette and a concert violinist. At age 17, he devoted himself to music and dove into Manhattan's thriving, eclectic musical landscape. In the years to follow, he honed his craft everywhere from Broadway orchestra pits to Brazilian nightclubs and burgeoning underground performance spaces.

From the roots of the downtown scene he emerged with Medeski Martin and Wood, bridging the harmonic complexity of jazz, the conversational fluency of free improvisation, and the groove and swagger of classic R&B and funk. A series of albums and high-profile collaborations with John Scofield, John Zorn, iggy Pop, Natalie Merchant, and others, brought the band international acclaim.

Martin has relentlessly pursued diverse musical contexts, from free improvisation to chamber compositions to film scores. Much of his work is available via his Amulet Records label, which recently released the Road to Jajouka-a series of collaborations (produced by Martin) between the Master Musicians of Jajouka and such artists as Ornette Coleman, Flea, Marc Ribot, John Zorn, Lee Ranaldo, Bill Laswell, Mickey Hart, MMW and more.

Martin is also an accomplished filmmaker and visual artist, whose work has been exhibited in solo and group installations around the world including 2014's Cartegena de indias Bienal in Colombia and the Drawing Sound series at The Drawing Center in NYC (2015)

What began for Martin as tireless enthusiasm for music, percussion, and improvisation evolved into a wide ranging search for the roots of inspiration. Among the most valuable undertakings in this ongoing exploration is teaching. "When I teach," he explains, "I learn and discover methods to build my vocabulary and style, and I love to help others do the same"

His experiences as a teacher, student, and musician led him to create and direct Life on Drums, a cinematic exploration of percussion and the creative process with his childhood drum instructor, Allen Herman.

Billy is currently Executive Artistic Director and CEO of the legendary Creative Music Studio

He also owns and manages his own record label Amulet Records."

-Billy Martin Website (http://www.billymartin.net/about/)
4/10/2024

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

"Payton MacDonald is a composer, percussionist (specializing in marimba), singer, and filmmaker. He explores the frontiers of art in a variety of settings, from Carnegie Hall to remote wilderness locations. He spent his early years drumming along with jazz records, while exploring the Rocky Mountains near his home in Idaho by foot, bicycle, and skis. Eventually he was shaped into a percussionist who plays marimbas, snare drums, bicycles, plants, pots and pans, and anything else that might produce an interesting tone. Along the way Payton discovered Indian classical music, and has studied that music for over 20 years. He often dreams up and executes large-scale, ambitious projects, such as his film Sonic Divide, which shows Payton pedaling his mountain bike 2,500 miles along the Continental Divide, while performing 30 new pieces of music, or his Sonic Peaks project, in which Payton hikes to the summit of hundreds of mountains and creates new music reflecting those experiences. Since 2020 he has released one full-length recording every week, including marimba music, electronic music, and various collaborations, and he continues to release a recording every week to the present day. Payton studied music formally at the University of Michigan (BFA) and Eastman School of Music (MM and DMA), as well as with the legendary Gundecha Brothers (Dhrupad vocal) and Pandit Sharda Sahai (tabla). He teaches music at William Paterson University, and tours nationally and internationally as a percussionist, singer, and speaker."

-Payton MacDonald Website (https://paytonmacdonald.com/complete-biography/)
4/10/2024

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


Track Listing:



1. Canis Major 10:07

2. Lyra 14:36

3. Tania Borealis 14:01

4. Atik 8:34

5. Kaus Australis 10:43

6. Ran 13:07

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Jazz
Electro-Acoustic
Electro-Acoustic Improv
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Victo
Quartet Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Search for other titles on the label:
Victo.


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