Jeph Jerman round-up. Releases listed in reverse packaging size order. Cover images when available.
Jeph Jerman/Doug Theriault - all be right with you (tandjrec)
A 3" disc. As it lists recording dates from 1996 to 2009 and three locations, one can safely assume these 20 minutes have been assembled from various situations; once in a while it even sounds that way. Actually, the occasional shift in spatial resonance is one of the more attractive features here, close mic'ed to booming. Sounds like Theriault pretty much on guitar (probably processing?), Jerman on percussion. Very energetic throughout, inching more toward free improv than eai, the air aflutter with squeaks, clicks, taps, twangs 'n' bangs. Well constructed, not essential.
There's a site, tandjrec but it doesn't seem to be functioning at the moment.
Jeph Jerman - Vinyl (easy discs)
Described on the insert as simply, "collaged recordings of old vinyl records being played with cactus needles and dried agave leaves". It sounds like it and sounds fantastic. "Sere" was the term that first came to mind. The dryness, not as in sterility but as in lack of moisture and enhanced clarity, is all over this music. There's a true tactile aspect as the needles and leaves race across the tracks. You even seem to pick up faint ghosts of recorded music; I'm not sure if this is even possible or if I'm suffering audio hallucinations. Actually, the third of four tracks manages to evoke a more aqueous feeling, the sounds more rounded and reverberant. Beautiful recording, highly recommended.
Jeph Jerman/Tim Barnes/David Daniell/Sean Meehan - Live 07/22/04 (CDR)
The two tracks contain the names of the performers in differing sequences and combinations: "jeph/david/sean & tim" and "tim/sean/jeph & david". This is in the small sound end of the spectrum and far be it from me to have any interest in parsing out who's doing what. More than most, it's the kind of live recording that begs to have been heard in situ, all the location acoustics in play. Upping the volume on disc would seem to miss the point. It's lovely, though, in its quietude and care. Especially fine ending to the second of the two tracks, a gentle, rocking back and forth sequence. Wish I'd been there.
Jeph Jerman/Tom Cox - If/When (CDR)
Four tracks of relatively active, highly concentrated shuffling around of stuff. Small stuff mostly, I think, on surfaces with some amount of resonance. You get a sense of stirring often, as though Jerman and Cox have placed objects with varying degrees of solidity, including things that might melt during the process and items with slight bell-like properties, and have taken to mixing them with utensils of differing materials, sizes, densities. Very enjoyable; oddly, very relaxing.
Jeph Jerman - @stuk (CDR)
[Cover from Patrick Farmer's review at Bags. Mine is different, as I imagine all are]
Three cuts, the first dealing with Jeph's radiator, its own and all the surrounding sounds, the second with his electric meter. They're quite wonderful, forming very large, densely detailed spaces in which to wallow. Not sure what else there is to say, just that they're fine ear openers. At the beginning of the live piece, it's difficult to say what, if anything, Jeph is doing (aside from counseling about cellphones) and what noise the audience is making, but soon he sets to sliding metal objects across one another, dropping them atop each other and generally creating controlled metallic havoc, later on switching to stones or marbles, rolling them in hand (maybe in his mouth?), letting them drop.
One pauses at this point to wonder about qualitatively differentiating Jerman offerings. They all tend to strike these ears as pretty "good", sometimes more than that but they're so clearly an expression of Jeph's gestalt that, in a way, they're of equivalent "value". Anyway...
Jeph Jerman - Prayer.Tactus (semperflorens)
Then again, something like this does stand out a bit. "Prayer" has Jerman on a Tinguely machine (not sure which one as there are a few. Here's an example), Tibetan prayer wheels, burden busket ([sic] I assume, "burden basket"?) and drum. It's fantastic. You're plunged into an entirely other world: mechanical, rumbling, moaning, percolating, electronic, stone-age. "Tactus" (for stones, volcanoes, shortwave, wire and vlf [Very Low Frequency?])--did someone say "rumbling"? This is one huge set of low-level, speaker-threatening growls, as though Jerman had lowered a mic a mile or two into the maw of Mount St. Helens. Very impressive, also in a way very approachable. Eventually, it splays out into a combination of shortwave bleeps and gamelan-like sounds. Of the Jerman I've heard, this might be the one I'd offer to someone looking for a taste. Marvelous release.
Jeph Jerman/Daniel Mithas/Nick Phillips - Ones/Hands (Palsy)
As reconstructed with the help of Nick Phillips, this LP consists of recordings Jeph sent the pair, Ones (Mitha & Phillips), in 2004 which may or may not include some of their work with him in the 90s. They then added in bits of their own, mixed things together. This was issued by White Tapes in 2005 on disc but the LP version was remastered by Scott Colburn. Got it? Who cares, it's an amazing recording, just gorgeous all the way through, the Ones duos presumably responsible for the bulk of the non-Jerman sounding (that is, more tonal) portions, though I wouldn't bet much on it. Very nice mesh, the displaced guitar sounds alongside the rustling noise, lovely episodic, cinematic feel to each side. When the acoustic guitar emerges full-on, almost Robbie Basho style, toward the end of one piece, it's pretty magical. The other swells into an enormous drone of cymbals and ringing bowed metal. Both are pretty great. Have turntable, get this vinyl.
To the best of my knowledge, all of these are available from erstdist