Sunday, August 24, 2008

I go into music/video events with a certain amount of trepidation. For myself, the success rate has been fairly low, generally on the video part as I'm probably far more critical of visual art than of musical and, with regard to video, having seen my share since the art-form blossomed in the early 70s, a large percentage of what I've encountered has struck me as stale, shallow and gimmicky.

Last evening was a happy exception, a performance at Issue Project Room by Brendan Murray, Asher and Richard Garet. The show was presented in two halves, the first three duos by (in music/video order) Murray/Garet, Asher/Garet, Garet/Asher, the latter a sound performance by all three.

While the trio set was fine, a thick matrix of steady state sound ranging from tonal drones to noisier elements, it was the duos that I went home thinking about. I had little idea what to expect from Garet, though what I'd seen of his visual work seemed centered around geometric abstraction in luminous colors. What was presented last night showed a far wider field. The first video stemmed from a 16mm source, which film had been marked and painted in various ways then processed via computer onto a DVD then reprocessed live (if I have this all straight, which I might well not). The images had that "upward" movement betraying its celluloid source, all abstract splotches and lines, the colors varying quite a bit, tending toward combinations that might loosely be described as psychedelic (ie, chartreuse and purple). This isn't my favorite sub-genre of video but by virtue of sitting rather close, the image's large size (projected on a screen some 8 x 12 feet) and the reflection of same off the white walls to either side, I was able to lose myself in it without much difficulty, especially when the video blurred somewhat. I did find that the video overpowered Murray's music which was dark and brooding and likely fine on its own but I had trouble melding it with the images and ended up more watching than listening. (Balancing these senses, I find, can engender some difficulty and, obviously, may be more my problem than that of the performers).

Gears were drastically shifted for the second piece. I've long held the general view that, in music/video works, extreme abstract/concrete poles often serve the form well. That is, the more abstract the music, the more "realist" (in conventional terms) the video, and vice versa. Not always the case by any means (see the glorious Block/Encoder/Gibson DVD recently discussed) but more often than not. Here, the images were from black and white footage shot by Garet from a helicopter over a particularly raw and rugged stretch of glacial territory in Alaska. The camera never caught the horizon line, lending a delicious confusion between the brutal realism of the images and the abstract patterns they'd create; it was almost impossible to get a sense of scale, for instance, due to the fractal nature of the barren cliff-sides. Garet processed this film on the fly, contributing flickers (both "black" and "white", if I'm not mistaken) and a kind of horizontal smearing that evoked Richter. These effects didn't overly distort the image, rather imparting a dreamlike aspect to it, or one of a decaying memory. Beautifully done, in any case. Asher's music was softer, with subdued bell-like tones. As I've said in the past with regard to some of his work, I'm reminded of Eno circa "On Land" once in a while, and was so here, especially given the video. All to his benefit though, as this was richer and deeper. Garet's website, btw, can be found here

Still, it was the final work that really stuck with me. I hadn't heard Garet's music before and you can roughly place it (or at least what was played last night) in an area adjacent to Murray's and Asher's, that is, a rich steady-state zone where sound is constant though fluctuating. He sourced BART subways for one element and you could discern train rumblings in much of the piece; it was excellent work. The video by Asher was a piece from several years prior. It consisted of five or six "scenes", each lasting a few minutes, of an elevated highway shot from a fixed position camera, often on a divider mid-road. The views were beautifully composed, with something of a wide angle, recalling (to me) Rackstraw Downes' painting. They were shot, apparently, at either dusk or dawn in somewhat foggy weather (in b&w), the streets wet, the traffic occasional (It looked like could almost be part of the BQE, though there's never that little amount of traffic). The shots emphasized the wide sweep of the off-ramps and the different levels of the roadbeds. Headlights would appear fuzzily in the distance before arcing by. They had an everyday eeriness and calm beauty that would serve Lynch well, or even Tarr; I could've watched them for hours. Here, to a greater degree than with the prior offerings, the music and film meshed perfectly, each balancing the other, allowing one to experience them as a unity. One of the finest live sets I've encountered recently; love to see/hear on disc.

Thanks, gentlemen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Went to see Magda Mayas and Andy Moor at Issue Project Room last evening. I'd heard Mayas ins a couple of group contexts, most recently with Michal Renkel in phono_phono, I think, had enjoyed what I could pick out of her playing and knew she was working with Annette Krebs.

She performed on an upright piano that had both faceboards, upper and lower, removed as well as having been prepared in numerous ways (non-electric) and attacked it with various implements, giving a three-level visual sense ranging from standing to sitting to crouching. Moor (of The Ex) played electric guitar.

Much of the music straddled that oft uncomfortable borderline between eai and efi. Moor was often in post-Bailey mode, reminding me once again how tough that area really is and how generally fruitless it turns out for anyone not named Derek Bailey. As is often the case, the more tonally oriented Moor became, the better the music; some musicians simply aren't suited for high levels of abstraction and there's nothing wrong with that. When he reined himself in somewhat, things bubbled along rather well.

Still, it was Mayas' work that stood out and held things together. She seems to be one of those whose touch retains musicality no matter how far afield she roams. IF anything, I wished she stayed with a given approach longer than she often did instead of switching back and forth (see comments on percussionists in the Cooper post below), but she had some stabilizing motifs, small chunks of sound that she'd go back to periodically, forming a nice linkage between sections. Near the beginning they got into a percolating, carbonated groove-let that was giddily enjoyable though when they veered toward the overtly brutal, usually courtesy Moor, the music stumbled. There were some individually striking moments, as when Mayas strummed certain strings and generated a sound astonishingly like a harmonica, which result, when combined with some tangentially bluesy playing from Moor, was eerily evocative.

As the set went on, Moor settled down from his skronkier moments and the last couple of sections grew very ethereal and quite lovely. I'd like to hear more of Mayas on her own (or with a more interesting partner--Krebs would certainly do--but maybe someone like Dorner) but it was fine to hear this much for now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I haven't read the literature but I'm generally aware that the relationship between the olfactory sense and memory/nostalgia has been established as a phenomenon though whether or not its neurological basis is known, I've no idea. It's uncanny enough how a whiff of something can instantly transport oneself back decades to a specific place and time. I'm wondering if the locales thus visited tend to cluster around one's adolescence; I'm guessing that's the case. With myself, aside from smelleportation, I also experience a somewhat more specific occurrence when listening to the pop or rock that transfixed me as an early teen.

A few years ago, I was up in Poughkeepsie and my Dad mentioned that, while cleaning in the basement, he'd found some old vinyl of mine. I was a little surprised as I thought it'd all been traded in but I guess my brother Glen took a bunch before they disappeared and saved them. There were only a handful, including my Doors collection, which I couldn't quite work up the interest to give a re-listen so declined to take them. But also on hand was Cream's 'Wheels of Fire'. "Hmmm", muses I, "Wonder how this would sound to me today?" I had a soft place for it in my heart as it was the first Double-LP I ever owned, plus I'd liked enough of Bruce's and Baker's subsequent work (hated most of Clapton's) to pique my curiosity.

On the strictly musical front, my relative likes had flip-flopped since first hearing this at about 14. Now, the long, bluesy things sounded half-decent (not compared to their sources, of course, but in and of themselves) whereas much of the shorter, song-oriented material struck me as dated; not all, but most. Overall, it's still rather fun to hear.

However, those shorter songs, "As You Said", "Deserted Cities of the Heart", "White Room", plunged me right back to 1968 to a specific scene: lying on my bed, listening to Cream while immersed in Marvel comics. This is a really common reaction I get with music from this period: Rock music and Marvel. I can't imagine the number of hours I spent in that situation, reading and listening. Not very different from what I do now, to be sure so I'm guessing it has something to do with acquiring certain kinds of knowledge at a certain point in one's development, things that will turn out to be crucial building blocks for future areas of fascination. Comics (we're talking the classic Marvels, Steranko's Nick Fury, Adams' X-Men, Buscema's Avengers and Inhumans, Kirby's Silver Surfer, Barry Smith's Conan, etc.) were my intro to visual art, for better or worse. Things like Cream led to Crimson, Beefheart and on out. My future aesthetic life was in kernel form right then and there, waiting for some heat to pop. Not too surprising that simply hearing some of the same music resonates so much though each time it happens, I get giddy.

PS. Just put on Curlew's 'Live in Berlin' and really can't tolerate it.

Speaking of solo percussion records...not sure how I came across this, maybe picked it up on our first trip to Europe (including Amsterdam) in 1983: Pierre Courbois, 'Independence' on Timeless Records. Again, no cover image I could find.

I'm not real familiar with Courbois otherwise but this one is actually OK if a bit "of its time" with regard to electronics usage. Doesn't have the conceptual rigor of Cooper's work but each piece is a self-contained idea, no flailing. He has a nice sense of musicality, a little Roach-ian. Ultimately forgettable, I guess, but not bad of its type. (!)

Now, you see, there's an album cover. When I pulled this out, I was trying to remember why it was still in my collection. When I purged all the rock, fusion and other stuff back in the mid 70s, I also included a lot of my more mainstream jazz albums, including a bunch of things on Strata East, among them Cowell's Piano Choir and (most unfortunately) several Music Inc. albums. I would've thought "Regeneration" would have been part of that exodus, but no. Playing it, I'm sure its saving grace has to to with an affinity to the kind of music Marion Brown and John Betsch were doing around the same time, albeit with a poppier edge. Brown's on the recording, in fact, along with Ed Blackwell, Billy Higgins, the late John Stubblefield, the fine percussionist Nadi Qamar, Jimmy Heath and Spike's dad, Bill Lee. Interesting mix of African, rural blues, avant jazz and soul-pop, relaxed and enjoyable.

For fun, I googled Psyche Wanzandae, who plays flute and harmonica here. His name always...intrigued me and I don't believe I've ever come across him otherwise. Well, he has a myspace page, laden with Egyptological nonsense.

Really one of the great AACM recordings that rarely gets mentioned, this took place in NYC at the Washington Square Church on May 19, 1970 (released by Muse in 1975), a sextet of Jenkins, Braxton, Leo Smith, Muhal, Richard Davis and Steve McCall. Volume One is a single piece by Jenkins called "Muhal", with a gorgeous theme of long, oddly harmonized tones followed by inspired improv. Very reined in for the most part, great to hear Davis with these guys; his lead-in to the theme is a classic morsel. And that Jenkins lyricism.... (just realized it has to be Muhal playing cello on that theme). Ornette is listed as "recording supervisor".

Vol.2, form the same concert, consists of another album-length piece, "No More White Gloves", apparently another Jenkins piece (listed under his publishing on the disc label--sounds more Muhal-ish). This performance is more raucous in large part, perhaps not quite as strong but still vibrant and rather amazing for 1970; I'm not sure I heard better than this from the same musicians in the last half of the decade.

The covers were painted by one P. Givens, who's also responsible for the fine portrait of Rahsaan on the record I mentioned in the previous post, 'Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata' on Atlantic. Vol 1 is rather attractive, imho. Vol. 2 however, is certifiably in the running for Worst Jazz Album Cover Ever. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Among the handful of musical ideas developed by the jazz avant-garde of the 70s that had a direct bearing on my future appreciation of post-AMM improvisation, one was surely the solo percussion work of Jerome Cooper. I was familiar, of course, with his playing in the Revolutionary Ensemble and with Braxton on the latter's first Arista release (I still think Cooper and Steve McCall were the two most simpatico drummers to work with AB) but when I saw him do a solo performance at Environ, probably in 1977, it was a revelation. I'd already had ingrained a visceral dislike of percussionists who would surround themselves with 85 small hittable or shakable objects and, in the course of a given feature, utilize each and every one for several moments. Seemed an utter waste of time to me. So imagine my joy when Cooper played a solo piece lasting 1/2 hour or more for, say, bass drum, balaphone and sock cymbal or for saw and snare drum.

He'd "limit" himself to only two or three colors and wring awesome amounts of beautiful music from them, aided in large parts by the fascinating West African-derived rhythms he'd employ. It was a major breath of fresh air, in some deep ways not unlike the freshness I experienced with, for instance, Sachiko M's solo pieces.

"Root Assumptions" (what a great album title!) came out on Anima in 1982 (no cover image available, natch), though it was recorded in 1978--I'm wondering if it was in fact recorded at Environ; Peter Kuhn was the engineer and he did a good amount of recording work there. It's a 32 minute piece for balaphone (an antecedent to the marimba, made of bamboo), sock cymbal and bass drum. Endlessly inventive, intricately rhythmic, it's one of my very favorite pieces from that era.

A second solo recording was issued around 1980 by the small and excellent Boston-based About Time label (which also put out some of Threadgill's earliest work as leader), 'The Unpredictability of Predictability', recorded in 1979 at Verna Gillis' wonderful Soundscape loft in the West 50s. I believe I saw Cooper there, in fact, perhaps this performance.

The title suite, on side One, again isolates certain instruments for each part. The first uses flute, whistle, chiramia (a Mexican double reed), bass drum, sock cymbal; the second, drum set with mallets; the third, floor tom, bass drum, sock cymbal, voice. 'Bert the Cat', taking up side Two, adds the chiramia to the ensemble from the previous album and takes on something of a one-man band aspect. Reminds me a little of things like (the divine) 'Black Root' from Rahsaan's 'Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata', if not quite in the same league. Fun piece, if something more of a lark than the music on 'Root Assumptions', though it picks up quite a head of steam along the way.

In 1988, About Time released a quintet date of Cooper's from the previous year, the unfelicitously titled, 'Outer and Interactions'. The group is Vision-Festy before the fact, with Joseph Jarman, William Parker, Thurman Barker and Jason Hwang but the music came as a pleasant surprise, yet another fresh gust of wind in a time where I was already picking up how stultified the genre was becoming. The best pieces are extensions of Cooper's solo work, sometimes with him returning to minimal instrumentation in a group context. Cooper always had a light touch on drums, something that serves him well in a larger context, here with Barker occupying middle percussive ground; the whole group swings very trippingly (admittedly, something of a surprise in any band with Parker in tow). I don't recall this album garnering much press at all and it rarely comes up in discussions; if you're into this area at all, it's well worth checking out.


About ten years ago, we were invited to a birthday part for my childhood friend Cathy at someone's apartment on Prince Street in Soho. At one point, sitting around, I saw a guy from the rear, ambling toward the kitchen. "I'll be damned if that didn't look like Jerome Cooper", says I. I asked the hostess, "Are you by any chance acquainted with a fellow named Jerome Cooper?" Indeed she was and it was he. Had an lengthy, fairly enjoyable conversation with him up on the building's roof, enjoyable in the sense of recalling old stories from the Environ days. Cooper was somewhat spacey--I imagine the pot and drink circulating didn't help--; as 20 years earlier, he was an exceedingly pleasant individual but I had the sense the business hadn't treated him well, or possibly he it. I left thankful for his prior music but not really expecting much for the future. I notice he's been playing around a bit in the last couple of years, though I've not investigated.

But for his wonderful work with the Revolutionary Ensemble, Braxton and, especially, for his solo music: Thanks, Mr. Cooper.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Christopher McFall - The City of Almost (sourdine)

Another in a string of strong releases from McFall. I'm rapidly losing the ability to describe these sorts of things semi-coherently without repeating myself so suffice it to say that we have field recordings tempered with electronics and who knows what else. Can a critical language be developed for work like this? Dunno. But it tinges the atmosphere in a manner I find beautiful and thought-provoking, even if those thoughts remain impossible to nail down. Oh and the last of the four cuts, "all parts contained", does more than tinge, it kicks butt. Good work. sourdine

Asher - Instability (leerraum)

I believe I've described Asher previously as "indefatigable". Have to come up with a new term...relentless, maybe. "Instability" is an audio DVD release running some 146 minutes. Not so dissimilar from previous work although with a kind of sonic decay foregrounded. You get the sense you're hearing this through an iffy radio transmission which certainly adds some evocativeness. Makes me wish I had a better speaker set-up for my DVDs, as the ambient potential of this one seems very strong. Another sold release. leerraum

Asher, btw, will be playing with Brendan Murray and video artist Richard Garet at Issue Project Room on 8/23.


A few words on this.

I forget if I went into it when I played the vinyl release on Moers, "Factor X", that contained the original recording of "Guitar Trio". I'm sure I didn't know its history back when that came out and, though I knew Chatham had a tour going last year (I missed the vent at Issue Project, unfortunately), I don't think it sunk in that they were only playing this piece in city after city.

The story, essentially, is that Peter Gordon of LOLO fame, brought the rock-ignorant Chatham to see The Ramones at CBGB in 1977. Chatham minimalist soul was floored by the group's use of three chords, more or less, to hammer home their sound and figured, if they can do it with three, why not with one? Went and wrote "Guitar Trio" which uses one chord (Em7, I understand) over a rhythm that owes a little something to "My Baby Does the Hanky-Panky", allowing the ensemble to go from spare to explosive over the course of the piece, generally around 20 minutes.

So he took David Daniell and went from town to town, rounding up locals, teaching them the work in about an hour in the afternoon and performing it in the evening. I find that whole notion very attractive. That facet of "minimalism", scouring an ostensibly small area to produce an enormous amount of music has obvious parallels--even if the result sounds very different--with post-AMM musicians like Sachiko, Toshi, etc. and I really think you can listen to "Guitar Trio" in much the same way.

The rhythm is a hook, to be sure, but the interaction of guitars is quite often thrilling verging on the ecstatic. The ten pieces don't vary too much--they shouldn't really, but it somehow doesn't matter. If anything, I found that a couple of the drummers allowed things to drag a bit. But when they hit on all cylinders, as in both NYC performances, it's one amazing, transcendent piece of music.

Chatham was supposed to put on a work for 200 electric guitars outdoor at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park tonight. Thunderstorms are predicted however and, as I was already juggling this event with birthday dinner plans involving a few people, I'm guessing I won't be witnessing it either at its original locale or the vague, undefined indoor site that is supposedly in play (but which you'll only know about if you go early, get a wristband, etc., which is too much to handle).

In the meantime though, this is a glorious set to wallow in.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Annette Krebs/Toshimaru Nakamura - Siyu (sos editions)

In addition to the Block/Recoder/Gibson DVD mentioned below, sos editions has released yet another excellent disc, "siyu". Krebs has really hit her stride over the last year or two--this might be my favorite thing of hers yet, a marvelously strong, dense meeting with Nakamura. This is one of those electronic recordings where you actually feel the voltage surge, including several surprisingly loud and brutal arcs, a fine combination of rawness and, for lack of a sillier metaphor, the "roundness" of heat lightning. sos editions. Also available from erst dist.

Miguel Prado - Dios aborrece una singularidad desnuda (free software series)

Prado's latest (I don't see it up yet, but presumably it'll be available for free download at free software series sometime soon--once again, the above image is an approximation of what appears on the disc sleeve) is a set of six abstract, scrabbling guitar works, occasionally out somewhere beyond Bailey, sometimes with echoes of Hendrix and Frith, always maintaining a guitar sound. Maybe a bit much of that for my taste, though the 5th track hushes matters up very nicely, embedding the ratchety strings in some ambient noise. Crunchy enough, overall, but I wanted more meat.

Paper Wings - Ash Field (Black Petal)

Speaking of guitars, Paper Wings is the guitar duo of Anthony Guerra and Anthony Milton, this session from September, 2005. This one's more in the "death of the universe", feedback-moan-with-noise end of the field which I admit to having some small partiality toward. I haven't brought up Fripp & Eno for at least a couple of months, right? Well, "Ash Field" might be heard as another extension of same. At least until the last of the four tracks, where something closer to...dunno, late Fahey combined with God Speed!?...surfaces, a vibrant, heady strum-affair that deltas out into a supremely rich layers of variegated silts. Great track. If this sounds remotely up your alley, check it out.

black petal

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I never had any real pets growing up. My Dad wasn't fond of having dogs or cats around the house. My Mom had a parakeet or two and I remember having some fish and several of those two-inch diameter turtles that would last a few weeks. Occasionally a dog would follow me home and I'd bring it inside, Mom warning me to make sure it was gone by the time Dad came home from work. There was a small woods and pond behind our house. On the other side was the back of the Lampell's, who had a big dopey black Lab named Divot. When we'd be in the backyard and see Divot resting on his lawn some hundred yards away, we'd yell, "Divot!" and he'd come galumphing through the woods, ever ready to cavort.

Linda never had a dog either. It's changed now a bit, but dogs as "pets" in the Philippines weren't so common in the recent past, though you'd see these ratty creatures skulking around homes, "alarm dogs" if anything. When I first visited, in 1985, we'd be sitting around outside, one of these pitiful creatures would amble up and I'd pet it, much to the shock of family members; you just didn't pet these things. I asked its name and was met with a blank look. "Name?"

In the early 90s, when it became apparent we weren't going to be having kids, we started talking about the idea of getting a dog. In the summer of '93, we decided to go for it. We first figured we'd adopt an abandoned one and went out to the North Shore Animal League in Long Island only to discover their policy of not giving up dogs less than six months old to couples who both work. I'd happened to have visited a pet shop a week prior so I suggested to Linda we stop in, if only to get an idea of what was around. This was in midtown Manhattan, no parking, so I idled in the car while Linda went to the store. About a half-hour later, she reappeared all a-twitter, "Ooh--ooh, you have to go and see this puppy!" Hence, Nanook, an American Eskimo dog, the lovely creature you see in my blog pic.

Nanook was an exceptionally sweet dog, pampered to an absurd degree, always ready with a friendly lick and cuddle. Didn't mind listening to eai. About a year and a half ago, she began to age noticeably, developing arthritis in her hindquarters, getting a bit mentally dizzy. As these things go, it gradually worsened, taking a big downturn a couple months back when her muscles began to atrophy, a worse one last week.

This morning, we had her put to rest, a very tough decision but, I'm sure, the correct one. Very, very hard thing to do.

A wonderful dog, we'll miss her terribly.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Six releases on another timbre

My very first exposure to European free improv came about when, around 1973, I picked up the Music Improvisation Company's recording on ECM. I'm quite sure my main impetus for doing so was the presence of Jame Muir on percussion, with whom I was familiar from King Crimson's "Lark's Tongue in Aspic". So that was my initial hearing of Derek Bailey, Evan Parker...and Hugh Davies. I think it was the last time I heard Davies for a number of years, into the mid 90s. Firstly, after my dalliance, I'd given up on EFI in the late 70s, trading in the handful of vinyl I owned along with all my rock whilst in my all-black-avant, all the time phase (quelle erreur!--the trade-ins, not the AACM etc. appreciation). Secondly, his work wasn't easy to come by.

Even so, when encountered, it's given me some amount of trouble. I'm all for rawness, but Davies' brand of same, at least in my limited exposure to it, never quite convinced me. Still, as he was held in high esteem by a number of musicians I admire (Keith once mentioned that, of all the improvisers who had never been asked to play with AMM, the one he most regretted was Davies), I was interested to experience a sampling of his work which is what's provided on this another timbre release.

Frankly, his music still gives me some problems, though I ascribe that more to me than him. Part of me still likes to hear a given instrument transcend its inherent form--when you hear Sonny Rollins, you (or, at least, I) hear less a saxophone than Rollins himself) and with many a homemade, I tend to hear the springs, egg slicers, etc. rather than the musician. I realize this shouldn't really be a concern, that the sounds should be appreciated for what they are and, I get the feeling that if I didn't derive a kind of "improv-y" sense from Davies' music, ie, if it was more purely sonic exploration, that would be the case here. But to my ears, he straddles the two fields and a little uncomfortably. Like I say, my mishigas. That said, I can sort of tell this is a strong collection for those into Davies, heavy on the rough and brutal. Of the tracks here, 'salad' (1977) makes the greatest impression, probably due in part to its relative quietness and subtlety. I should work at enjoying this music more (!)

Hugh Davies + Adam Bohman/Lee Patterson/Mark Wastell - for Hugh Davies

Now here's the strange thing. The companion release to the above, which uses several of its tracks as a basis for improvisations on five of the six cuts, I find totally fantastic. With Davies' voice as one part in four (or three or two on two tracks), his ratchetiness is subsumed within a lovely blanket of work from Bohman (prepared balalaika/amplified objects), Patterson (amplified objects) and Wastell (unpacking his cello for the occasion). Each piece is something of a gem, including the final one, which is sans Davies, though dedicated to him. Beautiful recording.

Frédéric Blondy/Thomas Lehn - obdo

Another fine one. I've only heard Blondy sparingly in the past and was never entirely taken with his work and the louder side of Lehn has often left me cold. On the first of two tracks the tendency is quiet (though often quite sharp), with Blondy vaguely evoking Tilbury in Cage/gamelan mode and Lehn contributing lovely mists, hammers and chirps. Much of the second piece is bumpier, more rambunctious, but sounds just as carefully considered. Wonderful, spatial clattering and dense, insane chittering in the second portion of the "suite". Excellent job.

Clive Bell/Bechir Saade - \an account of my hut

I'm anything but an expert on the shakuhachi--I have several recordings that I like a great deal and what else I've heard I've also tended to enjoy. This duo of Bell on the shakuhachi and Saade on the ney, an end-blown flute of Arabic origin perform seven improvisations that strike my ears as having more in common with the Japanese form than not. They're fine, but nothing about them particularly moves me. There's a kind of shapelessness here which may be precisely what the pair were aiming for and devotees of the wider improvising flute arena may have a ball with it, but it left me unsatisfied.

Esteban Algora/Alessandra Rombola/Ingar Zach - las piedras

At the beginning, Algora's accordion is often a bit up front for my taste but when things are turned down a notch or two, as on the ghostly "Alabastro", the trio shines. The ensuing "Galena", rife with ringing tones, is almost equally lovely for much of its length. The clatter mid-disc is quite effective (not sure if it's Rombola on "tiles installation" or the always enjoyable Zach) but the finale brings back the organ-y accordion to the fore. A mixed bag, but good enough at its best that I'm interested in hearing more from these three.

Matt Davis/Matt Milton/Bechir Saade - Dun

Finally comes "Dun", a very fine, expansive and at the same time bracingly spartan set by Davis (trumpet. field recordings), Milton (violin) and Saade (here on bass clarinet and flute). Three longish cuts, each carving out a wedge of space, sharply defined as to overall shape even as the elements making up the volume are sparely distributed. The latter half of the second track, all a-twitter, is especially beautiful. Really enjoyable, intelligent music.

Nice batch of releases overall from an excellent label.

another timbre

Available from erst dist

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Because I don't have enough to get around to listening, I went out and purchased:

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - Morning Visions
Elodie Lauten - The Death of Don Juan
Kevin Drumm - Imperial Distortion
Tape - Luminarium
Rhys Chatham - Guitar Trio Is My Life!

Plus, I bought moongraphs [erm, sic] on Rothko (Skira), Richter (MOMA), Rauschenberg (Abrams) and Rackstraw Downes, as well as the Tarkvosky 'Sculpting in Time'.