AMN Reviews: Michael Nicolas – Transitions [Sono Luminus DSL-92202]; Mari Kimura – Harmonic Constellations [New World Records 80776-2]

When joined to electronics, the solo acoustic instrument enters into a potentially complex and pointed relationship with itself. The instrument becomes its own double, its voice both converging on and diverging from self-identity as it undergoes modification, metamorphosis, multiplication and whatever other types of manipulation or accompaniment electronics afford. The effects can be modest or dramatic, depending on the degree and kind of interaction in question, but in all cases the translation of the solo acoustic instrument’s voice from its native language into an electronically-enhanced  dialect creates a dialogue between self and other in which the self is other, and vice versa. Two new releases, one of solo cello and electronics and one of solo violin and electronics, show the diverse forms this dialogue can take.

michael-nicolasTransitions features cellist Michael Nicolas in a variety of electronic settings that demonstrate the different kinds of partnerships acoustic and electronic elements can form. Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronisms No. 3 for Cello and Electronic Sounds is a duet that draws on an extended modernist vocabulary for cello and matches it to splashes of electronic sound. The acoustic nature of the cello is thrown into high relief as it confronts itself against the artifice of uncompromisingly electronic timbres. In David Fulmer’s Speak of the Spring the electronic component intervenes to modify the sound of the cello, its processing opening up a gap between the cello and itself; from this self-alienation an intriguing soundscape emerges. Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s austere Transitions, written in the contemporary language of fragmentary melody and microtonal harmonies, is the one track that dispenses with electronics. Because of its use of an expansive timbral palette, though, it doesn’t at all feel out of place. In contrast to the works made of discontinuous sound events, Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint, which transforms a multitracked Nicolas into a cello section in perpetual motion, and Annie Gosfield’s Four Roses for cello and synthesizer, are constructed around a more conventional rhythmic continuity. The album closes with Jaime E. Oliver La Rosa’s flexura, a tour de force duet for hypermodern cello and MANO. (The latter is a touchpad controller that generates and modifies sounds.) The piece draws on a thick repertoire of extended techniques, including pressure bowing, multiple harmonic effects and sound clusters, all of which weave in and out of the electronic tapestry with ease and a profound sense of belonging.

mari-kimura-harmonic-constellationsThe sonic center for all of the works on violinist Mari Kimura’s Harmonic Constellations is to be found in Kimura’s warm, singing tone, no matter what the larger context. Often, this latter takes the form of a pre-recorded backdrop, as for example in Eric Moe’s Obey Your Thirst. There, Kimura plays a frantic, irregularly accented pulse against simulated metallic and liquid sounds before falling back onto long, slow tones and double stops. Eric Chasalow’s Scuffle and Snap sets out an electronic background of popping, pizzicato-like sounds to complement Kimura’s actual pizzicato playing or to contrast with her smoothly bowed lines. Kimura’s own composition Sarahal, an exciting piece for two violins and live processing, represents the most forceful intervention of electronics into the violin’s natural sound world. An uncanny multiplication of sonic images, the performance consists of Kimura’s virtual duet with herself within an otherworldly thicket of pitch shifting, flanging and delay. The CD’s center of gravity lies in Michael Harrison’s seven part Harmonic Constellations, a microtonal piece for overdubbed violin and sine tones. As its title suggests, the piece is made up of harmonies arising from knots of coincident tones. A study in undulating, incremental harmonic movement, much of its sound derives from the choric effect of juxtaposed, nearly-identical pitches which beat against each other. The violin is woven directly into the shimmering drone to such an extent that it seems to be just another electronic tone—a submergence of identity that isn’t a loss of identity so much as the inspired creation of a new hybrid.

Daniel Barbiero

The (Near) Complete Han-earl Park Boxed Set Available

Source: Buster & Friends.

Get Han-earl Park’s (near) complete discography! (And help fund Sirene 1009’s debut album.)

Limited in number, my (near) complete discography is for sale at a special price. The set comprises of four glass-mastered CDs, and one limited edition CD-R (plus, for the first two lucky listeners, another limited edition CD-R). Available for €25 plus shipping, you can consider it €5 per disc (and a bonus CD-R for the first two customers).

Musicians featured on these albums include: Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky, Josh Sinton, Richard Barrett, Franziska Schroeder, Bruce Coates, Charles Hayward, Ian Smith, François Grillot and Lol Coxhill (plus Paul Dunmall, Jamie Smith and Mark Sanders for the first two customers).

In addition to offering many, many hours of stupendous listening, as I’m furiously raising funds for the upcoming release by Sirene 1009, you’ll also be helping the production of more.

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559)
Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet).

‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd)
Performers: Richard Barrett (electronics) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531)
Performers: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528)
Performers: Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn) plus Lol Coxhill (saxophone).

Tracks in the dirt (Clockwork Mercury Press 003)
Performers: Catherine Sikora (saxophone), Han-earl Park (guitar) and François Grillot (double bass).

and, for the first two customers, another cd-r

Live at the Glucksman gallery, Cork (owlcd002)
Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar), Paul Dunmall (saxophone), Mark Sanders (drums) and Jamie Smith (guitar).

Henry Grimes, Darius Jones and Others in NY for Matana Roberts’ Exhibition

English: Matana Roberts, moers festival 2010

Source: Fridman Gallery.

July 5 (Tue), 2O16: Mendi & Keith Obadike (spoken word, electronics), Daniel Carter (saxophone);
July 6 (Wed): Fay Victor (vocals), Joe Morris (guitar);
July 7 (Thu): Henry Grimes (bass, violin), Darius Jones (saxophone).

Fridman Gallery is pleased to present the first solo gallery exhibition by the renowned cross-disciplinary artist and experimental composer Matana Roberts, who spent most of 2015 in residency at the Whitney Museum of American Art, creating both visual work and musical compositions, responding to the Whitney’s new building and its inaugural exhibition, “America is Hard to See.” The residency culminated in a one-night installation and orchestral performance on December 31st, aptly titled “red, white and blues,” which questioned, in Roberts’s words, “the perplexities of what it means to be American in the twenty-first century.” The present exhibition offering an expanded version of the Whitney exploration. Matana Roberts’ visual work consists of several large-scale videos and tapestries, enwrapping the gallery in a kind of multi-media quilt. In conjunction with the exhibition, a program of musical performances will offer some of New York City’s leading improvisers a chance to interpret Roberts’ work and share their own takes on the contemporary state of the American ideal.

At Fridman Gallery, 287 Spring St. betw. Hudson & Varick St’s on the west and east, halfway betw. Houston & Canal on the north and south, NYC (Manhattan) 10013, a couple of blocks north of the Holland Tunnel. C or E train to Spring St., or 20 bus to Hudson & Spring. 646-345-9831,,,

Greg Ward Interviewed

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Source: Burning Ambulance interviews Ward about his new Mingus-inspired recording.

Alto saxophonist Greg Ward‘s new album, out this week, is his first in five years. Touch My Beloved’s Thought, credited to Greg Ward & 10 Tongues, is an interpretation of Charles Mingus‘s 1963 album The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. But rather than simply re-record the music, Ward and the rest of the group (tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman, tenor and baritone saxophonist Keefe Jackson, cornetist Ben LaMarGay, trumpeter Russ Johnson, trombonist Norman Palm, bass trombonist Christopher Davis, pianist Dennis Luxion, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Marcus Evans) take fragments of Mingus’s epic composition and use them as jumping-off points. Some of the bits are major themes on Black Saint, and will be immediately recognizable to fans; others are smaller, and require Ward and company to head into territory all their own.

This Week in New York


The Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble teams up with composer Austin Wintory to present an original, interactive live performance of his Grammy-nominated score to the video game Journey.
Friday, July 8 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $60
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Czech violinist/singer/composer Iva Bittová is featured on the program.
Sunday, July 10 at 3:00 PM
Free with museum admission
Noguchi Museum, 3338 10th St, Queens, NY