AMN Reviews: Francisco Lopez Live in Chicago, April 18, 2015

By Michael Eisenberg

srv346-lopezFrancisco Lopez is a sound artist I’ve heard about for years, and I knew he has a ridiculously large body of work…but I’ve never actually heard anything by him. When I learned that he was coming to Chicago, I jumped on tickets. The scenario was a medium sized cinder block room that was very dead (good for a show like this I think). Lots of mixers and other electro detritus piled up in the center of the room, initially covered in a black silk blanket. Circles of concentric chairs blossoming out from the center, getting progressively larger the further out they went. All chairs were facing outward, AWAY from the center…so no one was actually looking at Lopez who was doing his thing in the center. There was a black silk blindfold draped over each chair.

After a short intro from the curator of the particular series that was presenting this performance, Lopez made a little speech about “why the blindfolds?” The gist of it was, while he would never force anyone to wear it, it’s purpose was to block out any extraneous light that may compromise your sensory system, preventing you from giving your full attention to the sounds…in effect, forcing you to listen. He ensured everyone that “he knew what he was doing”, “everyone was perfectly safe” and “he highly recommends you wear the blindfold if you can.” I guess I can understand how some people would be hesitant about this, but in the interest of full immersion, and knowing exactly who I was sitting next to…I donned the thing.

First of all, this performance was short…way to short, only about 40 minutes at most. That being said, it was 40 minutes of very unique sounds, all recorded naturally and environmentally and then sliced and diced the Lopez way, creating something really unusual. I’ve been to lots of acousmatic shows but this one stood out as more unique than others. I thought I heard recognizable sounds but, after the few seconds it took my mind to process, it came to the conclusion that…nah, I don’t know what that was. Horses walking down cobblestone paths? Cascades of sparks falling all around? Human heartbeats? Animal heartbeats? All possibilities I guess, but it was organized into something that was, not exactly linear, but almost. I wasn’t sure if the blindfold accomplished what Lopez intended, but I guess, at least in this case I will never know since I did not take it off till the performance was over.

Great show, one of the better acousmatic / soundscape / musique concrete outings I’ve been to in a while. So, to all of you that this may appeal to…if he’s in your town…go!


AMN Reviews: Dariusz Mazurowski – Non Acoustic Symphony [Neuma 450-111]; Back in Time [Mathka]

Seventy or so years ago, Pierre Schaeffer and others experimented with composition based directly on sound rather than on notated pre-compositional structures. Using the then-new technology of magnetic tape, they laid the foundation for a tradition of concrete, acousmatic music. Polish composer Dariusz Mazurowski continues that tradition with neo-acousmatic music that carries some of the outward marks of classic postwar experiments with sound composition.

Mazurowski (1966) was born in Gdansk, Poland. He began composing in the 1980s and after moving to Prague in the 1990s he returned to Gdansk, where he currently lives and works. What makes his acousmatic work “neo” isn’t the sound so much as the methods behind the sounds. Rather than relying on the manipulation of tape or other mechanical means of sound registration and reproduction, his work takes advantage of more recent analogue and digital technologies to sculpt works combining electronically-generated sounds with sampled sounds of acoustic and electronic origin.

3042292--mazurowski-back-in-time-mathka-2013--1-300x269p0Back in Time, a set of ten electroacoustic pieces released last year, surveys Mazurowski’s work for the period 1992-2012. Much of it is sound montage in which the sources are more or less transparent, even when chopped up and mixed together. Mazurowski juxtaposes fragments of speech, shards of recorded music, vintage recordings, electronic tones and stuttering turntables into a kind of mosaic or quick-cutting non-linear narrative. Individual sound elements appear as discrete entities—the audio equivalent of the hard-edged, geometric shapes in a Suprematist painting that collide and occasionally overlap but never lose their distinctive profiles.

Mazurowski’s Non Acoustic Symphony, recorded between 2011 and 2013, is a seven part work for electronics and electronically-altered sounds. In contrast to Back in Time, the Non Acoustic Symphony tends to obscure its sound sources, leaving a residue of sonic qualities that in many cases can’t be traced to their origins. Most may be purely electronic, but some clearly are sampled. From time to time hints of acoustic instruments can be detected, if speculatively: Here could be a note struck on a piano, there possibly a gut string instrument being plucked. Through it all Mazurowski makes generous use of sound manipulation by way of analogue, digital and granular processing.

What both Back in Time and the Non Acoustic Symphony share is a strong sense of linear continuity. Sound objects give way to one another in sequence and with a minimum of vertical organization. Mazurowski’s emphasis on a predominantly horizontal layout makes for a clarity of “orchestration” as individual sounds, functioning as the equivalent of instrumental choirs, come through as distinct, sharply defined objects. This orientation helps to maintain forward motion in the absence of pitch relationships or harmonic implication.

As with any successful acousmatic music, neo or otherwise, this is music of character—a character directly derived from the qualities of the raw materials it contains.

All About Jazz Reviews

English: Tobias Delius, moers festival 2010
Tobias Delius

From All About Jazz:

James Falzone
The Room Is (Allos Documents)

The Process
The Process (M.o.d. Technologies)

Tyshawn Sorey
Alloy (Pi Recordings)

Tobias Delius / Olie Brice / Mark Sanders
Somersaults (Two Rivers Records)

ICP Orchestra Track Review
East of the Sun (ICP)

Dom Minasi Multiple Reviews
Dom’s Duos: Dom Minasi Meets Blaise Siwula, Chris Kelsey, And Hans Tammen

Karen Mantler
Business is Bad (XtraWATT/ECM)

Steve Coleman And The Council Of Balance
Synovial Joints (Pi Recordings)

Dave Burrell / Steve Swell
Turning Point (NoBusiness Records)

Roscoe Mitchell Trio
Angel City (Rogue Art)

Barry Guy
Five Fizzles for Samuel Beckett (NoBusiness Records)

Olivia Block on Jason Lescalleet, Alvin Lucier, and Sonorous Vessels

From Night After Night:

As reported for my Newer Music column in the Boston Globe yesterday, sound artist Jason Lescalleet is launching a quarterly duo-concert residency at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH, this Saturday night with the world premiere of Sonorous Vessels, a composition jointly created with Chicago sound artist and composer Olivia Block. Inspired by Alvin Lucier‘s Music for Piano with Amplified Sonorous Vessels, the collaboration marks the first time that Lescalleet and Block have worked together.

As a part of the column, Block — whose most recent solo album, Karren, was among 2013’s most extraordinary achievements — kindly consented to answer a few questions about the project via email. As these things go, only a very tiny portion of her response made it into the final edit. But what she has to say about Lescalleet and the project is well worth reading, so with her permission, I’m posting the entirety of her response here.

Matthew Shipp Interview

From Dialogue Talk:

Well, I moved to New York in 1984. I joined the Ware Quartet in ’89. Now, David had been on the scene. After he played with Cecil Taylor, he played with the drummer Andrew Cyrille, did a series of albums, and then he kind of disappeared.1 And he was driving a cab in New York. And at the time, he was also — but he was practicing, composing, and starting to conceptualize a concept of what he wanted to have with his own band. And he just refused sideman gigs and things like that, because he really had this vision of having his own quartet. He just really kind of incubated the whole thing. And so, he got a record deal with Silkheart Records, which was a multi-record deal in around ’88, I think.

Creative Music in DC

Tim Berne
Tim Berne

Wednesday, April 22 @ 7pm
Paper Circus, featuring Father Murphy
Film by Luca Dipierro
Live scoring performed by Luca Dipierro with Father Murphy Q&A with animator Luca Dipierro
Admission $15
Angelika Film Pop Up at Union Market
550 Penn Street NE

Friday, April 24 @ 8pm
Solo Night!
James Wadsworth :: Martin Freeman
Nate Scheible:: Luke Stewart
James Wadsworth Strong (Homemade Instruments/Philly)
Martin Freeman (Homemade Instruments/Rochester, NY)
Nate Scheible (Tapes, Percussion/DC)
Luke Stewart (Upright Bass/DC)
Union Arts DC
411 New York Ave NE
Enter through the loading dock off the corner of 4th and Penn Street NE

Saturday, April 25 @ 7pm
Janel Leppin :: Nathan Bowles :: Boat Burning :: The Plums
Janel Leppin (Cello, Voice, Electronics/DC)
Nathan Bowles (Banjo, Voice, Objects/VA)
Boat Burning (Math Rock with 6 guitars/DC)
The Plums (Avant-Rock Trio/DC)
Babe City
Located in Dupont Circle

Sunday, April 26 @ 7pm
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil
Presented by Transparent Productions
Tim Berne – Alto Saxophone
Oscar Noriega – Bass Clarinet
Matt Mitchell – Piano
Ches Smith – Drums
Admission $15
Bohemian Caverns
2001 11th Street NW
Enter through the door at the corner of 11th and U Streets NW

Thursday, April 30 @ 9pm
Burnt Sugar – Rebellum
Mikel Banks & Mazz Swift – Frontline Vocals
Jared Michael Nickerson – Bass
Hiroyuki “Matsu” Matsuura – Drums
Ben Tyree – Guitar
‘Moist’ Paula Henderson – Baritone Saxophone
V. Jeffery Smith – Tenor Saxophone
Lewis ‘Flip’ Barnes – Trumpet
Leon Gruenbaum – Keyboard
Admission $12
Liv Nightclub
2001 11th Street NW
Second Floor
Located at the corner of 11th and U Streets NW

Saturday, May 9 @ 10pm
Natural Information Society :: Ancestral Duo :: Underdog and Native Sun
Natural Information Society
Joshua Abrams – guimbri and bass
Lisa Alvarado – harmonium
Emmett Kelly – electric guitar
Ben Boye – chromatic electric autoharp
Frank Rosaly & Mikel Avery – drums
Ancestral Duo
Jamal Moore – Saxophones, Flutes, Clarinets, Percussion, Objects, Electronics
Luke Stewart – Upright and Electric Bass, Percussion, Objects, Electronics
Admission is FREE
Capital Fringe Arts Space
1358 Florida Ave NE
Enter through the loading dock off the corner of Florida Ave and Staples Streets NE

Every 2nd Sunday of the Month
CapitalBop’s DC Jazz Loft
The DC Jazz Loft showcases and stimulates the talent and forward-focused creative thought that is occurring in the DC Jazz community. On the second Sunday of every month, at Union Arts DC, a variety of idioms and approaches to Jazz are presented by members of the diverse local scene.
Union Arts DC
411 New York Ave NE
Enter through the loading dock off the corner of 4th and Penn Street NE