Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A baker's dozen from Creative Sources. Briefer write-ups than usual even, but hell, thirteen! In alpha order...

Tony Dryer/Jacob Felix Heule/Jacob Lindsay - Idea of West

Strong, dark-hued free improv from this bass/percussion/clarinet (mostly low-pitched) trio. Actually, the pieces are to an extent based on structures, per the notes, and you do get a cohesive feel to that effect. Calmly and intently played; not exactly my cuppa but they do what they do very well; listeners more in the post-free vein will be well served.

Jacques Foschia/Mike Goyvaerts/Christoph Irmer/Georg Wissel - Canaries on the Pole # 2

Clarinets, percussion, violin, reeds in the order above. Scattershot free improv, more jittery than the prior disc, from this Belgium-based quartet. Most enjoyable on one long track where a mic is hung outside the window of the recording studio--nothing earthshaking but it makes for a richer experience. Even less my cuppa than the above, but competent on its own terms.

Nikolaus Ģerszewski - Ordinary Music vol. 3

For string trio and double bass (with the Rodrigues' and bassist Hernani Faustino as well as the composer on violin). Ģerszewski has developed notation purportedly playable by "musical laymen" as well as professionals. Perhaps so, but the net result seems rather indistinguishable from any number of string works from the 60s on, interweaving traditional and extended techniques.

Jean-Luc Guionnet/Ernesto Rodrigues/Guilherme Rodrigues/Seijiro Murayama - Noite

Alto, viola, cello, percussion. Now this I can get behind. Two pieces that make strong use of exterior urban sounds--the musicians are clearly listening to their surroundings, emerging from it, reacting to it. Guionnet, happily, reins things in more than is often his wont (well, there are a couple of eructations...) and the others are finely tuned in. Really good work, highly recommended.

Magda Mayas/Tony Buck - Gold

I'm guessing that with Buck, Mayas is compelled to be more forceful and loud than she is in other contexts I've seen or heard her, but I prefer it when she's quieter, even semi-melodic. That said, the two live pieces here are strong enough, varied and the inside piano/percussion mixture is almost always juicy, especially on the second, shorter track, which is quite fine.

Abdul Moimême - Nekhephthu

A nom de musique, I'm guessing, Moimême has at a couple of prepared guitars in what might be called a primitive Rowe-ian fashion in the sense of minimal means and, as he puts it, "the dry output of an old valve amplifier". He works steadily and generally finds things of value, tending toward the dulcet and low-pitched. The shortness of the tracks (11 in 46 minutes) might act against him--I'd like to have heard several pieces developed at greater length--but as is, it's an enjoyable recording.

Toshimaru Nakamura/Mark Trayle - Stationary

I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand, it's kind of like a more temperate version of the loud track on "between": rugged, irregular and interesting. On the other, the loudness and ferocity of that piece was part and parcel of its power and here, there's a restraint (which, of course, I normally admire) that seems a bit misplaced. I wanted to hear them more unleashed. Not at all bad though, and I can imagine this growing on me over time.

Paura - The Construction of Fear

A quintet with those Rodrigues' again, Alípio C Neto on soprano and tenor, Dennis Gonzalez on trumpet and voice and Mark Sanders manning the drums. To the extent they engage in incendiary free improv, it works very well, as well as anything in the area you're likely to encounter, due in no small part to Gonzalez whose innate lyricism is a lovely thing to hear. When they tone things down, it's OK, if less bracing. But a strong disc overall, well-balanced and imaginative.

Powertrio - What We Think When we Walk and What We Walk While Thinking

Could they have chosen a worse name? Eduardo Raon (harp/electronics), Joana Sá (piano/toy piano) & Luis Martíns (classical guitar) produce a good bit of spicky improv, leavened with some calmer stretches. The improv works reasonably well but, as with many such groups (at least as evidenced here), I find I prefer the music the "straighter" it gets; it seems to me that's where their strength lies, as on the title cut, one of two composed pieces (by Raon) and a fine one.

Dario Sanfilippo - Premio Malattia

Wielding a computer running a "Feedback Network Based Non-Linear Digital Signal Processing System" (sounds nimby-ish to me), Sanfilippo molds highly granular, diamond-edged wisps that slice through one's ears on one cut, linger on the outer edges of hearing on another. Fine control spiced with enough awkward surprise to keep things fascinating. Very nice job.

Udo Schindler/Margarita Holzbauer/Harald Lillmeyer - Rot

Soprano/bass clarinet, Cello & Guitar/electronics respectively. Quiet, scratchy improv. The one disc of the bunch that didn't do much for me at all on any level. Very tiresome.

Birgit Uhler/Heiner Metzger - Blinzein

Trumpet and soundtable (not sure what that is, but it makes raucous noise). Solid, harsh, drive-your-spouse-from-the-room racket, often tough and compelling, sometimes a bit scattered. By and large enjoyable, another good recording to add to Uhler's portfolio.

Giampaolo Verga - Fadensonnen

Ghostly pieces with sacred overtones for electronics, violin and voice. More of a spiritual tinge than I'm comfortable with, but carefully done, very serene with rougher undertones. Think variations on the quieter moments in George Crumb works like "Voice of the Whale", until the final two noisier tracks. Not bad.

The pick of this large litter, for me is "Noite", an excellent recording. Others are fine depending how much one is in to that particular branch of improv.


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