AMN Reviews: Far Rainbow – No Medicine That Can Cure A Fool (2015; Bandcamp)

Far Rainbow is the UK based duo of Emily Mary Barnett and Bobby Barry. With this, their first release, we get a (too) short sampling of their improvised drums + electronics aesthetic that left me wanting more, much more!

I don’t know the musical history of either of these folks, but when a chance (or not) meeting happens with the intent of making a sound statement that works— i.e. takes the listener from point A to point B in a way that triggers memorable and identifiable emotions whether positive or negative, with no preconceived road map (or maybe the bare bones of one…hard to say on this release), resulting in the successful fruition of said intent…that’s a jewel that needs to be preserved.

Since everyone experiences music differently, from my very own personal headspace when I took the deep dive into these two 13 minute tracks, I was whisked along on a highly enjoyable inward pointing journey. The electronic aspect seemed to favor that of the borderline “power” variety. Loud (but not harsh), continuous and propulsive…these sounds set my skull a-hummin and my mind free falling down a charged rabbit hole of black noise. But wait, there’s the drums. At times scrappy and time-free, they also morphed into regimented…martial even…time keeping that actually grooved, hard.

As stated earlier, this meeting, chance or otherwise worked. Not only was this percussion/electronic sound pallet highly appealing from a raw sound perspective (Addictive? Maybe) but the listener gets the added bonus of a possible glimpse into a netherworld of their own making. Indeed…no medicine for that…and thankful for it.

Michael Eisenberg

AMN Reviews: Quiet Music Ensemble – The Mysteries beyond Matter [Farpoint Records fp052]

quietmusicensemble_themysteriesbeyondmatter_jeThe Quiet Music Ensemble is a new music quintet from Cork, Ireland with the unusual makeup of low strings, trombone, clarinet and electric guitar. Since its first performance in 2008, it has commissioned and premiered works by contemporary composers from Europe and America. The Mysteries beyond Matter, their first CD, includes three pieces written for them as well as one composition by the group’s musical director and founder, electric guitarist John Godfrey.

With the opening track, David Toop’s night leaves breathing, the ensemble have a work living up to the promise of their name. A piece inspired by a moment when Toop was captivated by the nuances of sounds just audible, night leaves breathing is, quiet appropriately, a finely drawn sonic ambience of open audio space interrupted by rustling sounds and a hum impinging at the borders of hearing. The title of the piece, with its ambiguous use of the word “leaves”—verb or noun?—parallels the acousmatic ambiguity of the sounds themselves.

Alvin Lucier’s Shadow Lines, by contrast, calls for the full-bodied appearance of the instruments as voices in an elaborate, microtonally-informed tableau of rising and falling pitches pushing against static drones. While clarinetist Seán Mac Erlaine and trombonist Roddy O’Keeffe hold single tones Godfrey, double bassist Dan Bodwell and cellist Ilse De Ziah traverse the space of a major third with glissandi running up and down. The strings’ long-held notes approach and veer away from each other and the winds, creating as they do audible beats varying in speed and intensity with the microtonal distance between them.

The title track, Pauline Oliveros’s The Mysteries beyond Matter, is a work centered on natural and artificial resonances and the effects of live electronics on acoustic instruments. As with her Deep Listening Band’s recent Dunrobin Sound Gems collection, the piece includes an audio engineer as a member of the ensemble, and creates a rich, low reverberant roar that gradually resolves into a rocking pedal point on double bass and cello.

The CD closes with Godfrey’s Hand Tinted Soundscape, a work based on field recordings. Another quiet piece and the perfect complement and bookend to night leaves breathing, Hand Tinted Soundscape is a transparent sound texture broken by birdsong and the occasional spluttering of a passing motorbike.

An auspicious debut; one hopes for more from this group.

All About Jazz Reviews

From All About Jazz:

Max Johnson, Kirk Knuffke, Ziv Ravitz
Something Familiar (Fresh Sound Records)

Bryan Eubanks / Stéphane Rives
fq (Potlatch Records)

Grix (Creative Sources records)

Ran Blake
Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell (A-side Records)

Uminari (Circum-disc)

Lama + Joachim Badenhorst
The Elephant’s Journey (Clean Feed Records)

Lacerda / Manso / Nilssen-Love / Zenicola
Bota Fogo (Bocian Records)

Archival Evan Parker Interview

From James Saunders:

Known for his fluid development of multiphonic aggregates to produce a constantly changing patterning, Evan Parker has evolved an instantly recognizable sound. Despite the flux of the music’s surface, he talks of his recent exploration of limited interval types to underpin his improvisations, emphasizing the reduced nature of his approach. Here practise and memorization are important, allowing the development of sequence-building methods which inform subsequent performances. The impact of group work is also of note: specific developments in his technique arose from the necessity of responding to the musicians around him, leading to the possibility of working as a soloist. Recently, his exploratory work with different groupings of musicians, taking on ‘the specifics of time and space’, has allowed the further development of the research ethos that lies at the heart of improvisation. Finding new things in new or old situations is central to experimentation. There are moments which leave an indelible mark on your memory, and hearing Parker perform live for the first time was, for me, one of these. At the beginning of a workshop in Huddersfield whilst I was a student, he talked a little about what he did, and then played for five minutes: I was completely unprepared for the complexity of the sound, and the shape of the resultant performance, and it has stayed with me since then.