Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'll be taking another hiatus for about a week. Betsy's mom passed away last week and we'll be flying to Asheville tomorrow for a memorial service on Saturday and general tidying up of affairs, back on Thursday. As ever, apologies to all those kind enough to send music my way and I promise to get to them as soon as possible.

Jim Denley/Cor Fuhler - Truancy (splitrec)

The cover image, scrawled by Denley, shows a configuration of artists from many ages and genres, arrayed in a gridlike pattern presumably trying to establish some kind of connection, or perhaps simply a set of influences. It's intriguing, though I can't discern any effect on the music herein, which is excellent in any case. It's "simply" Fuhler on piano (with preparations) and Denley on alto saxophone (again, with preparations) but sounds far more vast and intricate. While my preferential tendency is decidedly more toward the sparer, post-AMM notion of improvisation and while I've recently heard much music on disc that was, for me, over-cluttered and rushed, it's always interesting to hear work that, while certainly informed of that more considered area, chooses to fill the space, be quite active and succeed very well in this endeavor. The two tracks here are fine examples, Fuhler and Denley molding an elastic, tensile space where something is almost always occurring, usually three or four things, where "placement" or necessity seems less of a concern than maintaining a certain thrust and textural variation. Denley's alto, always a problematic notion given my personal prejudices, doesn't shy away from its fundamental properties even as its palette is greatly enhanced via his preparations. Hard to quantify, except to acknowledge the instrumentalist's inherent musicality, why it works so well here and is, again for me, rare elsewhere. Fuhler, not surprisingly, spends more time inside the piano (though standard notes percolate through every so often) and, one presumes, is also responsible for some radio work and other electronics, all of which handled with his customary deftness and depth (I miss hearing more of his work since his transference to Australia). The music never gets frenetic, more going from medium to a nice, grainy, rough-edged, slow flow, the latter always full and grimy, with that wonderful sense of air circulating around the sounds.

An excellent recording, don't miss it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jacques Demieree - the thirty and one pianos (Flexion)

[couldn't locate a cover image larger than pea-size, so...]

Yes, some thirty or so pianists gathered together to have at the work, recorded live in 2012 (you can see a video of the part of the performance here. I recall in the far distant past when the Stanley Cowell-led Piano Choir released a two-record set on Strata-East: great excitement at the prospect, some substantial disappointment at the result. Perhaps inevitably, in 1973, the sound was muddy and murky, the contributions of the seven pianists blurred and indistinct. Well, I'm guessing that cloud effect was one of the things explicitly sought for by Demierre with so many hands at the keyboard and within the piano frame.

As can be seen in the video, during at least the second of three portions of the piece (perhaps for all), the performers are wearing gloves, some of which appear to be rather thick (the inner sleeve sports a photo of one such pair, much the worse for wear having gone through the paces of the composition). No pianistics as such take place, more several kinds of piano massage, the performers enacting broad, muffled glissandi up and down the keyboards (which range from toy pianos through uprights and grands), varying their attack at the behest of Demierre, who wanders the stage providing numerical hand signals. The first section seems to be all inside the piano and the sounds issued are relatively distinct, a slow progression of chiming plucks and trills over a misty base, the envelope gradually altering due, one assumes, the instructions of Demierre. The second section, as you can see in the clip above, is all swirling clouds with various unique textures emerging and receding. It's enjoyable listening to on speakers but one can easily imagine the greater effects inside the hall. That said, the music more of less sits in one place; comfortably enough, and clearly there's minimal concern with large scale "movement" but how long one can remain absorbed will vary from person to person. The last part seems to combine the two approaches (I could be wrong); at this point, the overall sameness of the piece begins to take something of a toll though, again, that could well be an artifact of the recording as opposed to the live experience. Nestled into, not thinking of the particulars, Demierre has created an enjoyable, billowing and slightly prickly environment.

A solo piano work is appended, amusingly titled "free fight". It's quite percussive with, I think, unison key strikes and string plucks at first, frenetic and engaging throughout, producing sequence after sequence of varied textures including some delightful bubbly/wooden sounds. An impressive work, one I enjoy more than the "main" set.


Vinzenz Schwab - dings #1 (Canto Crudo)

A very interesting and thoughtful selection of computer music by a composer new to me. While pretty much operating in the Acousmatic space, Schwab, like scarce few other composers I've heard recently in the field (notably Giuseppe Ielasi and Philip Samartzis last year) manages to avoid homogenous, slick, overly processed results. Using sources both musical (pianist Gloria Damijan, percussionist FM Einheit, synthesist Dieter Feichtner and cellist Michael Moser here) and environmental (open environments, animals, a cess pit, bushes, a street demonstration in Athens, etc.), Schwab fashions six individual statements, almost all of them enticing.

The enveloping, complex welter of scurrying and ominous sounds and creaking trunks that make up "musik ist ein dickes waldtier (music is a fat forest animal) is a fine example, containing a fine balance of electronics and grittier, more obscure noises while the brief "walked by" succumbs to the temptation to include the kind of sliding sounds derived from 60s tape collage work. Matters are righted with "variations from piano", the work with Damijan, an initially hard-chugging, rocky piece that fragments as it goes, re-forming into a serious storm by its conclusion--very strong. The short piece with Einheit is appropriately dark and festering, replete with buzzing flies and allusions to steady rockish rhythms while "quartett für gruben & sträucher (quartet for pits and shrubs)" picksup on that dystopic idea and adds conflagration, buzzsaws and more; it reaches the verge of too-much but manages to maintain its poise amidst the drama and chaos. "expand.pique", the final cut, is perhaps my favorite with Moser's long, dark, elegiac cello lines twined amidst street sounds that begin with the everyday and quiet before erupting into violent demonstrations, sirens and shouts, explosions and chants. Impressive and harrowing.

I'm very glad to have heard Schwab's music, looking forward to hearing more. Well worth your time.

Canto Crudo

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adolf Wölfli/Nurse with Wound - Courte Autobiographie (Lenka Lente)

An intriguing release of both text (in small booklet form) and a disc (3") of music inspired by the text.

The French text is brief, some six pages in the English translation the people at Lenka Lente were kind enough to provide, and recounts a mini-recap of the early life of Wölfli (a major figure in Art Brut) up through his imprisonment on child molestation charges. Prior to that, he sketches out aspects of his miserable childhood and does so brusquely and vividly. His work has inspired work from several composers, including Wolfgang Rihm and, as presented here, Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton, Diana Rogerson and David Tibet). The two pieces collected for this project are "Lea Tanttaaria" and "Great-God-Father-Nieces", both of which were created around 1986. The first is a dreamy piece for, I think, piano, maybe clavinet and other keyboards (maybe music boxes) and plucked strings, bearing a Sun Ra-ish tonality, attractively vague and mysterious. It fits the text very well, lending an unanticipated, dark fairy tale quality that tinges the story in a somehow appropriate way. The second track involves multiple reeds (yes, Rahsaan is an inescapable reference), though they invoke, for me, more of the squeezebox tradition, unfurling long, harmonically unrelated tones, the awry sounds perhaps an apt soundtrack to the concluding prison sequence. The disc is "as short" as the text, only about eight minutes, but the pair form an effective little package, jewel-like yet disturbing.

Lenka Lente

David Michael/Slávek Kwi - Mmabolela (Gruenrekorder)

Two discs, one from Michael, one from Kwi (who often records under the moniker, Artificial Memory Trace), both containing recordings of fauna (and weather and, I suppose, flora) in the Mmabolela reserve in Limpop, South Africa, as part of a sound festival organized by Francisco López and James Webb. It's always a near-impossibility for me to attempt to evaluate efforts like this. I'm guessing there's a good amount of post-recording construction involved, so listening as "compositions" seems the way to go and, to that extent, things are fine. Michael's pieces move really well, are quite varied and, of course, contain sounds one's likely to have never before encountered, particularly those of an insectile nature (plus what I take to be bats on the 9th track). It's an interesting experience, "settling in" like that, approaching the pieces from a certain angle and these cuts lend themselves to it rather easily, very enjoyable. Kwi's disc is subtler, quieter, less overtly manipulated (if I'm correct about either's methods of construction, which might well not be the case; sometimes the density here, though transparent, is immense), imparting more a sense of place and time, less of a construction. It's all so marvelously recorded--turn up the volume and all sorts of sounds appear--that it's quite easy to lie back and bathe in. Both discs work very well on their own terms for me; I can only imagine how very enthusiastically listeners seriously into field recordings in this area would react. Recommended.


Marc Spruit - Small bits of indigenous space between the grains (self-released)

Blistering abstract computer sounds done right. Pruitt, whose work on turntables I'd heard previously, both solo and with Michiel de Haan has begun working with various forms of audio synthesis and the results are invigorating. Perhaps its his affiliation with the Netherlands, but I pick up a little of the same spirit I hear in Dick Raaijmakers, albeit with a fairly constrained sound palette, Pruitt tending to stay in a spiky, gaseous range--you often get the sense of hyper-amplified champagne bubbles exploding. The sounds fly by with extreme rapidity, densely layered but air-light, as though one's inside a stretch of fiberoptic wiring. Even when the pace slackens, as it does now and then, you have the feeling of intense activity still taking place behind the scenes. The six tracks almost read as a single 35-minute piece and I guess you could quibble about the overall similarity in sound, but for me, there was more than enough imaginative variation within those confines to quell any doubts, the colors far more interesting than most of the music I've heard the past couple of year at INA GRM-type events. Good work, give a listen.


Monday, January 19, 2015

As always, apologies for the brevity of the following reviews but time necessitates such...the latest batch from Creative Sources

Gregory Büttner/Gunnar Lettow/Ernesto Rodrigues/Nuno Torres - Zwei Mal Zwei (Creative Sources)

Computer, prepared bass guitar, viola and alto saxophone, respectively. Soft improvisations, making nice use of resonant string qualities, skittering and slightly nervous, but never overcrowded. Büttner's electronics (I assume) project a gentle spray of thin tones with a particulate aspect while Torres quietly bubbles and burbles. The music can fall back into a squiggly kind of meandering (parts of "22") but by and large is well-contained and focussed, the sounds clearly articulated int heir microscopic world. Things really gel on the final, longest track, "42", where the combination of long held tones and fluttering ones meld perfectly, imparting a sense of drama and depth. A good, thoughtful session.

Great Waitress - Flock (Creative Sources)

My personal favorite out of this bunch of releases, a hitherto unknown (to me) trio, wonderfully named, comprised of Laura Altman (clarinet), Monica Brooks (accordion) and Magda Mayas (piano). Mayas' piano (inside and out) forms a strong spine around which Altman's ghostly clarinet and Brooks' quavering accordion wind. The first of two works, "Rites", is a sinuous, brooding piece, the trio presenting a wide palette of generally consonant sounds, one or two usually holding long lines, the other(s) wrapping themselves around the tones, slowly expanding outward, Mayas' plucked strings often evoking a koto. The other track, "Sownder", is sparer, more ethereal but equally strong, layers of high, ringing pitches beautifully placed. A fine recording, don't let it slip through. Hope to hear more from this trio.

Alexander Frangenheim - talk for a listener (Creative Sources)

He sports such a great name, I want to like his music but I've never been able to cotton to the sounds bassist Frangenheim creates and this recording is no exception. Eleven tracks, 52 minutes, solo acoustic bass, of the kind of overly-active, scratchy, squeaky free improv that always sounds, to me, derived from the drier reaches of post-serial music. Just not my cuppa.

IKB - Anthropométrie sans Titre (Creative Sources)

IKB - Rhinocerus (Creative Sources)

Two releases from the large ensemble named for Yves Klein Blue, bother recorded in early 2014 with 13-14 musicians including the Rodrigues', Nuno Torres, Carlos Santos and others. One operating ethos of this group is, I take it, to produce a fairly quiet overall sound (an innately enjoyable characteristic of any large configuration); whether the relatively busy level of activity is desired or simply the outcome of the individual predilections of the members, I've no idea. In any case, the result is engaging on both sessions, with a subtle forward-moving sense imparted, helped along by discrete and lovely single note contributions from pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and, I think, Ernesto Rodrigues on plucked baritone violin. "Rhinocerus" [sic] is more resonant (perhaps due to the space?), deep tones hanging in the air above the jittery, generally soft skittering below. While both recordings are fine, I enjoy the latter a bit more as it has a mysterious air about it, carrying subtle intimations of ritual.

Lauroshilau - s/t (Creative Sources)

Audrey Lauro (alto saxophone), Yuko Oshima (drums, sampler) and Pak Yan Lau (prepared piano, Hohner pianet, electronics).

Extrapolating from the apparent ethnicities of two of the participants is a dangerous business, but it's hard not to hear vestiges of Japanese and Korean traditional musics in these improvisations, a certain ritual dance quality, for example. Sometimes they venture into oddly jazzish forms, as on the fourth track, evoking something of a Jimmy Giuffre feeling, though the keyboard (is that the pianet?) conjures up spacey, 70s Fender Rhodes--I kind of like it. Most of the music is delicate, wispy, perhaps lacking in some degree of focus and intensity, but enjoyable and having a good sense of discretion and sound placement within a vaguely tonal atmosphere, the closing track especially so. Worth hearing, curious to know what else these musicians are up to (first I've heard any of them as far as I can remember).

Gunnar Lettow/Korhan Erel - Bad Falling Bostel (Creative Sources)

Twelve tracks from Lettow (prepared bass guitar, electronics, objects) and Erel (computer, controllers). As has often been the case with this set of releases, the music here is quiet but busy. There's a consistent presence of bell-like tones--not sure who's responsible--delicate patterns arrayed over sandy washes, not-quite-rhythmic. The "purer" computer activity I find less interesting--too much of the old vernacular, 60s tape collage sounds. The shortness of the pieces often work against them; there's a feeling of rushedness (perhaps intentional) that gets in the way a bit for me, despite the often attractive aural colors. By the disc's conclusion, there's something of a treading water feeling; I'd like to hear more extended work, see if they can fill a longer space and keep up interest.

Wade Matthews/Javier Pedreira/Ernesto Rodrigues/Nuno Torres - Primary Envelopment (Creative Sources)

Matthews on digital synthesis, field recordings and amplified objects, Pedreira on guitar, Rodrigues on viola and Torres on alto saxophone.

A bit dissimilar to much of the above in terms of an increased textural richness, due I think to Matthews electronics, which form a nice, constantly shifting blanket of sound throughout, into which the others weave their threads, Torres a little more vociferous here (but not unduly). This is the type of session that falls, for me, into a category frequently found on Creative Sources: an improv date that's very competent, no particular problems, but not standing out in any real way, with no (perceivable by me) really interesting ideas in play. It's fine but, by this point, I understand that this can be achieved and am seeking more. Not to harp unfairly on this particular release, just a general comment.

Tensil Test - s/t (Creative Sources)

Tensil test (Joe Rehmer and Paul N. Roth) list among their array of instruments "a beard" and "mayhem". You shouldn't do this. While I can't speak for facial hair contributions, there's little mayhem involved, just a decent improv set that utilizes space and sonic depth fairly well, often apposing deep drones (presumably bowed prepared bass) and foreground clatter. The longest piece, still less than 10 minutes, works the best and, as with some others in this CS bunch, I'd've liked to have heard an attempt at longer forms. The final piece, a strong combination of heavy bass plucks and tingling metals, practically begs for expansion....

Ariel Shibolet - 132 Work for Multiphonics (Creative Sources)

A single piece for solo soprano saxophone, a concentrated, calm investigation of, yes, multiphonics. One has the impression that a system of sorts is in play, but that's a guess. Shibolet unfurls single-note lines, one after another, held fairly uniformly, with little pause between. I thought of single color slides being presented, the colors very complex though not necessarily related to those coming before or after. I also remembered Richter's "color sample" paintings, though there's a graininess in play here not found in the visual analogy. The singular focus makes the recording more absorbing than it might have been otherwise, providing a strong sense of the player's identification with his instrument and his patience in extracting the precise sounds he wants. Good work.

Konstantin Sukhan/Yury Favorin/Alexey Sysoev - It Don't Mean a Thing (Creative Sources)

Trumpet, piano and no-input mixer, respectively. In a way, I think of this the same as "Primary Envelopment" above--well laid out, no obvious missteps but also playing it, in 2014, too safe, Sukhan's trumpet takes on any number of extended techniques, though he's more full-throated than most, Favorin stays within the piano, activating and buzzing strings and Sysoev deploys the nimb ably enough though, I sense, without the concentration and care of a Nakamura. Again, fine but not essential.

Un - s/t (Creative Sources)

Un is a large ensemble, some 22 musicians, almost all of the unfamiliar to me apart from David Chiesa. This recording presents six compositions by various members. In violinist Julien Sellam's "L'Acceptation d'Élizabeth" the Elizabeth in question is Kübler-Ross and the piece deals with aspects of mourning via approaches to A440 that never arrive and complex rhythms coming to accord and balance. It works quite well, very subtle, with the mournful attributes implied rather than hammered in. "Beb", by snare drummer Didier Lasserre, dedicated to bassist Beb Guérin, is quiet and somber, vague, low orchestral masses rubbing against one another in the darkness, ending in a funereal procession. Another impressive piece. Chiesa's "The Blue Yonder" attempts a sonic portrait of Werner Herzog and I can imagine it working better with imagery but, as is, comes across as a fairly routine, post-Cage orchestral exploration, isolated sounds appearing and subsiding but using the kind of semi-academic vernacular that never quite appeals to me. Languages are at the core of the brief "Hein!!!" by bassist Bruno Laurent, using game rules and group divisions, asking members to incorporate various idioms and approaches, including popular ones; not so effective, a bit too Zorn-reminiscent. Chiesa returns with a much more effective work, "Masses", the light, higher pitch sounds floating in longer lines,very spectre-like and beautiful. The disc closes with drummer Mathias Pontevia's "Tenir par là: 174,6 Hz et ses multiples", a powerful crescendo for ensemble, starting with an ultra-quiet hum and building to a roar, lovely plucks, pings and bangs ornamenting the drive, a bit Branca-esque. A strong work and an intriguing ensemble.

Naoto Yamagishi - Hossu no Mori (Creative Sources)

Solo percussion, quite active and containing a high percentage of rubbed surfaces. Any number of like-minded approaches come to mind, from Lê Quan Ninh to Seijiro Murayama and others. The dynamics vary widely and there are some nice sustained effects but by and large, I don't hear much that distinguishes the music from any number of free percussionists and, as is often the case, there's an insistence on activity that grates on me, never the sense of producing a sound because it's necessary. Again, it's all well done, not a problem, just a bit too routine by this point in history.

Creative Sources

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Order from Noise Ensemble - Feedback (Mikroton)

In 2004, a formidable group of musicians assembled, briefly, for a tour of England, ostensibly centered around the use of feedback. They included (at various times, I think) Knut Aufermann, Xentos Fray Bentos, Nicolas Collins, Alvin Lucier, Toshimaru Nakamura, Billy Roisz, Sarah Washington and Otomo Yoshihide. This release offers two discs worth of music performances and a DVD of Roisz' video with musical accompaniment/interaction, curated by Aufermann.

Disc One opens with Lucier's "Bird and Person Dyning", always a joy to hear. This is the only appearance of Lucier on the set and I'm wondering if he actually ever performed with the rest of the ensemble or only realized this piece, which he apparently did at each of the seven tour stops. A quartet of Aufermann, Bentos, Roisz and Washington offer a crunchy, hum-filled noise-fest, followed by a solo by Yoshihide in hyper-noise and, yes, feedback mode, raucous, thick and uncompromising. Aufermann and Nakamura present a more somber duo, dark buzzes with small, silvery sounds flitting through, very attractive and the disc closes with a sextet(sans Lucier and Roisz), "Lullaby"; soft but not exactly lulling, it's a fine exercise in control, the six members retaining composure, contributing solidly to a thick, complex whole that traverses its twelve minutes with tenseness, an outstanding piece.

Disc Two begins with a Nakamura "nimb" work, all quiet sizzle and pop, vintage Toshi. A groaning, gnashing snippet from Yoshihide and Washington leads to a solo work by Collins, "Pea Soup + Mortal Coil". I almost always want to enjoy Collins more than I end up doing so; not this time. Gentle waves of feedback escalate into a wild, complex array of electronic moans and screams, wonderfully unconstrained, not nearly as "tight" as his music sometimes gets. A short, scratchy solo from Aufermann feeds into another performance by the sextet above, "Block 3". It's far less concentrated than the other performance, more in the cracked electronics/Voice Crack area and not as special, more of a routine performance from that time.

I've never quite warmed up to Roisz' video work though a couple of the five presented herein go some way to correcting that. Her solo piece, "BÖRST" exemplifies what I don't care for, both in the chunky, pulse-driven electronics and the ragged, pale green on black videography who's flatness and sharpness puts me off. Far better, visually, is "TILT" (set to music by the quartet listed above, which doesn't do much for me), where four thin, gray verticals form a kind of framework for the dancing and meandering of red uprights that begin as near-matching overlays but mutate throughout, creating an interesting tension. Presaging their duo formation as AVVA, we see a collaboration between Roisz and Nakamura, my favorite of this set both musically and visually. Toshi's sounds are subtle, thoughtful and concentrated while Roisz' video, all black and white, anticipates the work of Kjell Bjørgeengen (at least, my awareness of same) in its usage of minimal input to generate complex patterns that veer between regular and irrational. The sextet is once again represented, giving a performance rivaling "Lullaby". The accompanying images recall Richter's smear abstracts but, as I often find, lack the depth to really draw me in. Finally the quartet is melded with image system unusual in my limited knowledge of Roisz' work, sixteen monitor-shaped, gray lozenges with red and then green amoeba-like forms making inroads to various degrees, each different though related.

An uneven but intriguing compilation, then, and a worthwhile documentation of this particular, one-time nexus of sight and sound.

Casey Anderson/Jason Kahn/Norbert Möslang/Günter Müller/Mark Trayle - Five Lines (Mikroton)

A 2010 performance from Los Angeles, I find it hard not to compare with various releases on 4FourEars earlier in the decade, many of them involving Müller and Moslang, most of which gradually became all but indistinguishable from one another. A certain level had been reached and the musicians seemed willing to dwell there, entirely capably but with little sense of exploration or danger. The burbling electronics and implicit pulses provided a ready-made bed in which to frolic but one had the impression of routineness, of being able to pull off a given show one arm tied behind the back. This didn't mean the music was "bad" just, for me, less than exciting. Listeners who enjoyed those many mid-oughts releases by that cadre will doubtless like this one as well. I find it a bit nondescript, though. (Another fine cover by Kahn, though!)

eRikm/Martin Brandlmayr - Ecotone (Mikroton)

Admittedly, this trio of Mikroton releases is problematic for me, each involving contributors I've not been terribly fond of in recent years. Here it's eRikm, someone who I've never quite cottoned to and, heard last year in concert here in Paris in an acousmatic context, I found almost unbearable. On the other hand, I tend to enjoy Brandlmayr, so....

The album begins well with "L'Hinterhof", eRikm's effects mixing well with Brandlmayr's brushwork, the latter still very controlled but not as (fascinatingly) mechanical as his past work with Radian. There's a welcome restraint on the part of both, an interest in non-flashy color for the most part, though the thundery sounds that surface a few minutes in are a bit over the top. The mix between the two works well throughout, it's just that the choices made (more overtly, due to the nature of the electronic sounds) by eRikm seem routine more often than not, reminiscent of the acousmatic school referenced above, an area that generally holds little appeal for me (the fabric of the processing tends to have a blandness to it that I equate with Photoshop). That said, the interaction can reach some level of excitement, as on the spiky, blistering portions of "Repercussion" and occasionally elsewhere. My fears of bombasticity were largely allayed but on the other hand, while ably performed, not so much stood out for me. Those more enamored than I of recent work from, for example, Jérôme Noetinger and like-minded electronicists could well find plenty to their liking.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Bryan Eubanks - From the Cistern (Gruenrekorder)

I'm not sure if I've ever been inside a real cistern (unless the old, circular Issue Project Room space counts as one), but I've always had the notion that they're amazing things. The one discovered by Eubanks in Washington state seems to be especially interesting. A squat, underground cylinder, 14 feet in height and with a diameter of some 200 feet, it also features a 45-second delay and an array of columns every 12 feet that offer a "variety of diffraction, refraction, and reflection phenomena".

This download only release finds Eubanks conducting three long explorations of that space. "Pulse" consists of sine tones (tuned to the "1788th partial of the fundamental"--I've no idea what this means) sent out into the subterranean void, reverberating and resonating for almost a half hour. Perhaps it's due to one's knowledge of the situation, but there's a wonderful sense of darkness achieved, of the pulses assuming the character of light blips disintegrating into the far reaches of the cistern. It's extra haunting when you hear an airplane passing overhead, the thrum of its engines seemingly amplified below ground. The equipment used in "Five Tuned Tubes" (played with a tenor mouthpiece) produces very different sounds, naturally enough, Eubanks setting them out in discreet, low-pitched batches with silence between. Each is tuned to a different partial, resulting in overtones that, like the sines, curl into the depths of the cistern, gradually absorbed. Inevitably, one misses the reality of being in situ but as is, it remains a fine, deep experience. "Sine Series" (for James Tenney) lasts upwards of 78 minutes and uses four overlapping sets of sine tones (partials involved, once again). Here, the sounds are round and organ-like, cottony layers threading through one another, Eubanks using a tonality that might remind one of slowed down Terry Riley (or a hyper-slow alap). On this piece, it's more difficult to discern the effects of the vault, the tones filling the space rather than snaking through it. But it's gorgeous, abuzz with rich, undulating pulsations, splintering into subtly dissonant shards at points, coalescing into new harmonics subsequently. I could listen for another 78 minutes, easily. The textural depth is really something to hear--so is this recording.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Music I really liked in 2014

OK, I was going to wait until I'd given at least a listen or two to everything that found its way to my doorstep in the calendar year 2014 but a combination of an ill-timed (as far as this stuff goes) US vacation and an utter deluge of items received (for which I deeply thank the senders) meant that were I to do so, this list would appear among the summer beach reading recommendations. So any worthy contenders that are still sitting here on my desk will just have to wait until the 2015 results are in, sorry.

Here are the recordings that I absolutely loved hearing and thinking about in 2014 (alpha order)

Lawrence Crane - Chamber Works (Another Timbre)
Delicate Sen - Four years later (since. why not) (Copy for Your Records)
Michael Duch - Tomba Emmanuelle (Sofa)
Morton Feldman - For Philip Guston (John Tilbury, Carla Rees, Simon Allen) (Atopos)
Morton Feldman - Two Pianos and other pieces (Another Timbre)
Anne Guthrie - Codiaeum variegatum (Students of Decay)
Haptic - Abeyance (Entr'acte)
Radu Malfatti/Jürg Frey - II (Erstwhile)
Andrew McIntosh - Hyenas in the Temple of Pleasure (Populist)
Michael Pisaro/Greg Stuart - Continuum Unbound (Gravity Wave)
Michael Pisaro/Miguel Prado - White Metal (Senufo Editions)
Eliane Radigue - Naldjorlak I, II, III (Charles Curtis, Carol Robinson, Bruno Martinez) (Shiiin)
Vanessa Rossetto - Whole Stories (Kye)
Toshiya Tsunoda/Manfred Werder - detour (Erstwhile)
Christian Wolff - Pianist: Pieces (Philip Thomas) (Sub Rosa)

Singling out any one, even any three or four, is a fool's errand; gun to head, maybe "detour". All are wonderful.

And, as ever, there were plenty more from which I derived immense joy and inspiration, including (again alpha)

Ryoko Akama - Code of Silence (Melange Edition)
Tetuzi Akiyama/Anla Courtis - Naranja Songs (Public Eyesore)
Thomas Ankersmit - Figueroa Terrace (Touch)
Ignacio Agrimbau - Anatomy of Self, vol. 2 (Decay, Corrosion and Dust)
Bayaka Pygmies - Song from the Forest (Gruenrekorder)
Marc Baron - Hidden Tapes (Potlatch)
Antoine Beuger - Tshirtner Tunings for 12 (Another Timbre)
Rasmus Borg/Henrik Munkeby Norstebo - 120112 (Edition Wandelweiser)
Seth Cluett - Wound of This Deep Blue (Notice Recordings)
Jacques Coursil/Alan Silva - FreeJazzArt (RogueArt)
Kevin Drumm/Jason Lescalleet - The Abyss (Erstwhile)
Jürg Frey - more or less ( ensemble) (New Focus Recordings)
Jürg Frey - pianist, alone (Andy Lee) (Irritable Hedgehog)
Jan-Luc Guionnet/Eric La Casa - Home:Handover (Potlatch)
Jack Harris/Samuel Rodgers - Primary/Unit 11 (Notice Recordings)
Takahiro Kawaguchi/Tim Olive/Makoto Oshiro - Airs (845 Audio)
Gregg Kelley/Jason Lescaleet - Conversations (Glistening Examples)
Tomas Korber - Musik für ein Feld (Cubus)
Annette Krebs - rush! (Another Timbre) (her portion of the split disc)
Catherine Lamb - matter/moving (winds measure)
Makoto Oshiro - Phenomenal World (Hitorri)
Partial - LL (Another Timbre)
Polwechsel - Traces of Wood (hatOLOGY)
Ernesto Rodrigues/Radu Malfatti/Ricardo Guerreiro - Early Summer (Creative Sources)
Keith Rowe - The Art of War (Hermes' Ear)
Keith Rowe/Ilia Belorukov/Kurt Liedwart - Tri (Intonema)
Craig Shepard - On Foot: Brooklyn (Edition Wandelweiser)
Danae Stefanou - [herewith] (Holotype Editions)
(Various) - West Coast Soundings - (Edition Wandelweiser)

There was, of course, much more fine work, but I gotta stop somewhere. Deep and sincere thanks, once again, for those who take the trouble to allow me to listen to their work.