Tickmayer, Stevan Kovacs – “Cold Peace Counterpoints” – [Rer Megacorp]
A crazy cut-up tour de force of keyboards, string instruments, percussion, and sampling, all whirled together in Tickmayer’s compositional blender. Piano, organ, and harpsichord-type sounds are heard throughout, but it’s not all about keyboards; Track 7 goes heavy on electric guitar, and Track 9 features violin. Chaotic arrangements keep the surprises coming, with Tickmayer holding the throttle wide open for most of this 50-minute CD. Tracks 6 and 8 give us a bit of a breather before we dive back into the madness. Among the guests is Chris Cutler (Henry Cow, Art Bears) on drums/percussion.
Ellman, Liberty – “Ophiuchus Butterfly” – [Pi Recordings]
Album is named for the Butterfly nebula in the Ophiuchus (Oh-fee-YOU-cuss) constellation. Former Bay Area resident Liberty Ellman is a fine guitarist who now lives in New York City. This is not a guitar album, however; guitar interplays with alto and tenor saxes, tuba(!), bass, drums. Some electronics on “Snow Lips” and Borealis.
Halvorson, Mary and Walter, Weasel – “Opulence” – [Ug Explode]
Virtuoso playing from Brooklyn based composer and improviser Mary Halvorson on guitar and Oakland based Weasel Walter on drums (and clarinet mouthpiece!) makes for eight tracks of energetic, madly improvised insanity. Humorous, mostly fast-paced, genre defying – is it rock, jazz, experimental? Simultaneously strange and a good listen.
Emeralds – “What Happened” – [No Fun Productions]
Ambient drone: John Elliott (synth), Steve Hauschildt (synth), and Mark McGuire (guitar) form Emeralds, a Cleveland-based improv group who have been compared to Tangerine Dream. Shimmering synths leave you awash and “Alive in the Sea of Information”