AMN Reviews: Clem Leek – Lifenotes (Drifting Falling)

Clem Leek from Kent in the southeast of England is an ostensibly ambient composer who frankly invests too much emotion and melody in his music to be characterized as such. In less than two years since debuting as a recording artist, he has released an impressive amount of quality music and his international fan base is growing exponentially.

“Lifenotes”, according to his own notes, is composed of pieces new and old, all close to his heart. So close that he plays it close to the vest by offering us mostly barest-bone sketches. Having persued rich and dense soundscapes in his previous work, “Lifenotes” is equivalent of back-to-basics folk – suggestions of suggestive moods in the spirit of Brian Eno´s very short pieces collected on the various “Music for Films” albums. The improvised piano sittings are intimate – you can hear his feet shift on the pedals – as are the solo electric guitar meditations. State of the art electronics are employed but leave little discernable trace.

Opening appropriately with “Page One”, violinist Christoph Berg joins him to add a few deep strokes of the violin, but between that and his reappearance on “Closing (The End)”, the rest of the album is strictly a one-man show. Sixteen tracks scurry past in only thirty-five minutes. “My Little Boat” barely leaves the dock before it´s over. The rainfall almost drowning out “The Middle Part” is succeeded by an unseasonably warm “November 11th”, Remembrance Day, with a small choir of sparrows singing along with the piano and the drone which shadows it.

Leek´s “Lifenotes” are as pastoral as a Wordsworth poem but then again, so really are many of fellow southeasterner Eno´s short pieces. Some of the more richly textuted pieces are vaunted and expansive, others are reticent and lo-fi. He is finding his own voice among similarly-inclined, conservatory-trained young composers like Nils Frahm, Dustin O´Halloran and Max Richter, all of whom make refined but accessible music. It´s too well-manicured for folk, but still has too much dirt under its fingernails to be chamber music for the salon.

Stephen Fruitman

Upcoming Lost Civilizations Show in DC

From T. A. Zook:

Lost Civilizations w/Doug Kallmeyer, Loop 2.4.3 & Natura Morta

When: Tue, March 20 @ 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Where: Dynasty Ethiopian Restaurant, 2210 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Courtesy of Dave Mann’s “DC Booking” and made possible by the generous support of the fine people at Dynasty Ethiopian Restaurant, the Lost Civilizations experimental music project ( has a “Third Tuesdays” residency at Dynasty Ethiopian Restaurant, 2210 14th Street, N.W.

On March 20, the Lost Civilizations experimental music project will be joined by two phenomenal groups from Brooklyn: Natura Morta and Loop 2.4.3.

Natura Morta ( is a trio for viola, bass, and drums dedicated to exploring musical structures and relationships through collective all-acoustic improvisation. The ensemble creates acoustic sound-sculptures and sonic landscapes through the use of nontraditional techniques and instrumental preparations. The musical range of the trio stretches from heated silences to relentless drones to frantic hyperactivity. Natura Morta crafts a single sound into a stillness that gains density and momentum from an unwavering insistence upon non-development. It’s music is an experience that traumatizes as it soothes, cleanses as it soils, and wounds as it heals.

Loop 2.4.3 ( has been praised for their “taut compositions with a stunning improvisational sense” (Time Out Chicago) and their “intricate, energetic performances” (New York Times), the percussion-based ensemble Loop 2.4.3 creates original music and enthralls international audiences with vibrant performances on a vast array of drums, keyboard percussion, voices and electronics. Loop 2.4.3’s music has been described as “transportive percussion odysseys” (The Boston Phoenix), “dramatic, layered, colorful and brilliantly constructed,” ( and full of “action-adventures and reveries” (NPR). “Loop 2.4.3 redefines [percussion] as tuneful, melodic instruments capable of expressing more than base emotions” (Alarm Magazine). Often compared to the voices of Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Harry Partch, Loop 2.4.3’s music conveys a deep humanity and warmth that carries the listener from grounded primal energy to cosmic atmospheric reaches. “If Partch had been warmer, more linear and had a better sense of dramatic narrative, he might have made music like this.” (Fresh Air – NPR) Loop 2.4.3 is an original voice that resonates with American musical traditions of Jazz, rock and roll, and contemporary classical chamber music. “It all sounds like part of a well-thought-out tradition. Only the tradition has never existed until now.” (Milo Miles, Fresh Air – NPR)

Loop 2.4.3 is based on the New York Percussion Duo (composers and performers Thomas Kozumplik and Lorne Watson). After the release of their first album for percussion duo, Batterie, Kozumplik and Watson expanded their writing to encompass strings, electronics, and voices. Loop 2.4.3 has toured internationally as the New York Percussion Duo and in expanded formation in collaborations with Clogs, Newband (Harry Partch Ensemble), Dafnis Prieto, Belle Orchestre, the Books, Evan Ziporyn, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond, the Decemberists), Joe Morello, their late mentor Robert Hohner, dancer/choreographer Alan Good, and director John Jeserun. They have soloed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the BAM Opera House, and performed at Times Square in a collaboration with Robert Indiana, Michael McKenzie and Teresa Smith. They have performed for radio, theater, and television, including The Learning Channel and MTV, and have appeared at the Sydney Festival, the London Jazz Festival, Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Japan Society (NYC) among others.

The Lost Civilizations experimental music project (; is a duo comprised of Mike Sebastian (bass clarinet; tenor sax; saxello) and T. A. Zook (basscello; lap steel guitar and KORG Monotron synthesizer). It began in 2008 and has featured guests such as Larry Gomez (Tabla, Cymbals, Misc. percussion), Louie Rozier (Flute; Percussion), Fugazi’s Jerry Busher (percussion), Aaron Martin (Alto Sax, Soprano Sax), Doug Kallmeyer (bass; electronics) Emre Kartari (Percussion), Sam Lohman (percussion), Ben Azzara (percussion) and Angela Morrish (vocals).

For the March 20 performance, the Lost Civilizations experimental music project will be featuring bassist Doug Kallmeyer (;;;