AMN Reviews: Chinese Cookie Poets + Nicolau Lafetá – Danza Cava

By Dan Coffey

If you’re a committed seeker of music that is as exciting as it is unclassifiable, you can only hope to be able to stumble across a band like the Chinese Cookie Poets maybe a dozen times in your life, if you’re lucky. I had plenty of reservations going into this listening experience, as I tend to recoil when told “you’re gonna love this,” (it’s part of the same coding in my DNA that makes me seek out this kind of music in the first place). These reservations were unfounded, as it turns out. I’m happy to have gone into the short CCP discography and come out the other end a changed listener.

So, what’s the big deal? When discussing any kind of art that’s as different as this is, it’s forgivable to grasp for comparisons as reference points. And indeed, on the surface, they do bear a resemblance to certain rock trios that lie in the avant-garde end of the spectrum: Massacre comes to mind, as does the group the (EC) Nudes.  To compare them to any number of “post-rock” bands would do them a disservice – there is just so much more going on.

The bass player often has a sound reminiscent of John Wetton during his stint in King Crimson, but it’s as if he was under the spell of Derek Bailey instead of Robert Fripp, and the guitarist intersects in a musical Venn diagram with Fripp, Bailey, and Fred Frith, but is completely unique. I don’t have words to describe the drummer. It’s not all “Rock in Opposition” or out-improv, though. The noise aesthetic plays a huge role in the CCP sound – you can hear The Boredoms and Melt-Banana, and there are the (relatively) quieter moments that might remind one of the Minutemen.

Chinese Cookie Poets hail from Rio de Janeiro, and consist of Marcos Campello on electric guitar, Felipe Zenícola on electric bass, and Renato Godoy on drums.  Their first recording was a self-titled EP released in 2010, which consists of edited pieces that are mixtures of composition and improvisation. Their second release, Dragonfly Catchers and Yellow Dog, was also an EP, this time of live performances, slightly more brutal in the attack, and with somewhat longer songs.

CCP released a “full-length” (23 minutes!) album in 2012 titled Worm Love on the Sinewave Records label, and it is by far the most engaging, confounding, and harrowing release I’ve heard by anybody in quite some time. The rhythm section is relentless, teasing the listener into thinking they’re about to settle into a familiar rock groove before taking a sharp turn into the unexpected. They’ve upped the effects on this album, too: lots of “glitches” and juddering stop/start edits color the already dense canvas, especially in the “Three Worms” trilogy. Oh, and some guy named Arto Lindsay adds his DNA to one of the tracks.

So, I’ve told you all that to tell you this: the brand new Chinese Cookie Poets album is excellent, in a spacious and sublime way that marks quite a departure from their earlier albums, if only in their decision to let silence play a much larger part In their songs. The unabashed experimentalism is still there, but it’s not as rampant. Doubtless this is because they’ve included a fourth musician on their latest album, Danza Cava, out this month on Mansarda Records: Nicolau Lafetá on trumpet.(In their live performances, they frequently play alongside a fourth musician, so this is nothing terribly new to the band.)  Lafetá drives the band into territory they don’t seem to be used to going to (on the song “Tiao Yue,” guitarist Campello’s playing is comparatively gentle. For all the comparisons above, AMM can be added to this one. CCP do bring the noise, to be sure, but they are generous with the space, allowing Lafetá to shine in his own way, a sort of mixture of Steve Lacy “freak register” skronking as well as less outré playing. The guitar, and the effects thrust upon it, makes it a delicious companion to Lafetá’s blowing, and while Zenícola and Godoy never let you forget the mayhem they’re capable of, they opt for a more serene backdrop.

(See for samples of their previous recordings)

Pauline Oliveros’ Summer Schedule

Photo of Pauline at a dinner/concert in Oakland
Photo of Pauline at a dinner/concert in Oakland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Pauline Oliveros

May 2, 2013 at 8pm
Performance with Laurie Anderson
Screening of a silent film by Laurie Anderson to which Anderson and Pauline Oliveros play together.
Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)
RPI Campus
Troy, NY
For Tickets and Information Visit EMPAC

May 8, 2013 from 5-9pm
Pauline honored by Arts Society of Kingston
Join Pauline as she receives an ASKar from the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK)
Steel House Restaurant
100 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY
Contact ASK for ticket information

June 1, 2013 from 2-530pm
Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera
“First Take” scene presentation
A new work by Ione (concept/libretto)Pauline Olivero (music/sound design).
Presented by The Industry.
Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater
Los Angeles, CA
For More Information visit:
Nubian Word for Flowers website

Cicada Celebration – June 5-15, 2013
Deep Listening and friends welcome back the 17-year cicadas with music, art, and poetry in June 2013

Wednesday, June 5
David Rothenberg, Pauline Oliveros and Mikhail Horowitz with Cicada Invocation with Ione
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz NY

Friday, June 14, 5-8pm
Art Exhibit Reception followed by live performances
Curated by Mikhail Horowitz
Donskoj Gallery
101 Abeel St, Kingston NY

Saturday, June 15, 3-6 pm
Cicada Celebration outdoor concert featuring Pauline Oliveros, David Rothenberg and musicians, Mikhail Horowitz and Gilles Malkine, The Princes of Serendip (T. G. Vanini and Julie Parisi), Cicada Invocation with Ione, AUMI demo with Leaf Miller, and others to be announced.
Rotary Park, Kingston

Sunday, June 16, 1 – 3pm
Guided visit with naturalists Spider and Anita Barbour
Eve’s Point
Saugerties NY
For More Information Visit Cicada Celebration

June 22, 2013 at 8pm
Solo Concert at Harvestworks, NYC
Along the Way
A solo improvisation using the V accordion. Along the Way there are many diversions that may lead to unexpected locations. The Way is not necessarily familiar or unfamiliar. It is the Way.
596 Broadway #602
New York, NY
For More Information Visit Harvestworks

June 23-July 5, 2013
Deep Listening Intensive
This intensive offers opportunity to engage in Deep Listening and Sonic Meditations. Deep Listening is a practice founded by Pauline Oliveros to increase awareness of sound beyond speech and music. Sonic Meditations are sounding pieces that can be performed across abilities by groups from prose instructions. These performances will be preceded by Deep Listening meditations.
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
22 Church St
Deer Isle, ME
For More Information Visit Haystack Mountain

July 12-13, 2013
Deep Listening: Art/Science
Keynote Address at First International Conference on Deep Listening
Pauline will be delivering the keynote address as well as Auditory Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz, author of “The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind.”
Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)
Campus of RPI
Troy, NY
For More Information Visit Conference Site

August 1, 2013 at 630pm
Solo Improvisation in the MoMA Sculpture Garden
What’s the Score? by Pauline Oliveros
A solo improvisation for V Accordion
Pauline Oliveros invites the audience to score a sound during her improvisation. A sound might consist of one single note, chord, cluster or noise that is heard at any time during the piece. The scoring of the sounds will be collected and organized by Oliveros into a score to be performed. This score will be donated to MoMA.
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St
New York, NY
For More Information Visit MoMA

August 31, 2013 Time TBA
Solo Performance at Byrdcliffe Colony
Outdoor Solo Performance on the White Pines Lawn of the historic Byrdcliffe Colony
Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild
Upper Byrdcliffe Road
Woodstock, NY

For More Information Visit Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild

Newsbits: Brotzmann and McPhee in Orlando / Theater Intangible Podcasts / Diatribes and Others in Bristol / Axiom Brass in Chicago

Travis Laplante
Travis Laplante (Photo credit: mercurialn)

Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee appear at Timucua white house, Orlando on June 3rd.

Teathre Intangible is slowly releases podcasts of shows from last year. They have one of Softly, Gently, starring Jesse Kenas Collins, Lawrence Crow, Brady Sharp, Stephen Molyneux and Jeremy Bennett, as well as another of Peter Evans, Travis Laplante, Craig Schenker, and Jamison Sevits.

Diatribes, the Andy Keep, Chris Cundy & Stu Wilding Ensemble, and Two Compositions by Peter Ablinger will take the stage at Café Kino, 108 Stokes Croft, Bristol, UK, on Thursday 23rd May 2013.

Axiom Brass will appear in Chicago Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 7:30PM at the Buchanan Chapel, Forth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611, and Thursday, May 16, 2013, 7:30PM, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201.