AMN Reviews: John Zorn – The True Discoveries of Witches and Demons (2015, Tzadik)

This is the second release from John Zorn‘s organ-based metal trio Simulacrum. Featuring core members John Medeski on organ, Kenny Grohowski on drums, and Matt Hollenberg on guitar, the group is joined by Trevor Dunn on bass and Marc Ribot on guitar. With the expanded lineup, the overall feel of this album is more full and dense, at least in the textural sense, than the group’s debut.

Particularly, while the self-titled Simulacrum release was essentially very well-done technical metal with organ, this album leans more in something more of a hard rock direction. Zorn’s compositions still move at frenetic speed, shifting rapidly from theme to theme, but Ribot’s playing adds a bluesy element in contrast to Hollenberg’s more straight up speed riffing. Together, they combine for dual guitar leads, as well as prickly lines and discordance that would not be out of context on a King Crimson recording.

Ribot’s influence also seems to bring the group downtempo from time to time, focusing on atmospherics rather than an all-out sonic assault. It is in these moments that Medeski also shines, contributing thick chords and swirling themes. Dunn makes notable contributions, especially on Sorcerer, which moves in a thrash / speed metal direction. If anything, Grohowski’s role is downplayed, perhaps due to the drums being deemphasized in the mix. Nonetheless, he remains busy in the background.

The True Discoveries of Witches and Demons ends with two longer tracks, each exhibiting the aforementioned atmospherics in a controlled-improvisation setting. This is new ground for Simulacrum, and emphasizes the significance of Ribot’s contributions and how Zorn may have crafted these pieces for Ribot’s presence.

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Suzanne Ciani in Philadelphia Reviewed

Source: Hyperallergic.

Sound zoomed around the darkened auditorium in the Lightbox Film Center at International House. Atmospheric and enveloping, a deep timbre grew to a growl, before shifting to electronic beeps, then seat-shaking bass. Suzanne Ciani, a pioneer of electronic music in the 1970s and ’80s, was playing her Buchla 200e (a modular electronic music system) in a rare improvised performance in this small Philadelphia theater, and it was completely packed. People who were likely familiar with her trailblazing work in the ’70s were there, alongside millennials, cramming into the theater in a way I had never seen in seven years of patronizing the place.

5049 Records Podcast Episode 111 – Bill Frisell

English: Bill Frisell, moers festival 2010

Source: 5049 Records.

For episode 111, it is a tremendous honor and pleasure to welcome one of the greatest musicians of the past fifty years, Bill Frisell. In addition to being one of the most important and vital guitarists of his generation, Bill Frisell is also one of the kindest and most humble people that we’ve ever had on the podcast. For this episode Bill takes me back to his childhood studies of the clarinet in Denver to becoming the house guitarist of ECM Records, to his days in Naked City, to his recent return to New York City. Bill is an absolute genius and mensch and this is a wonderful conversation that I am beyond psyched to present.

Chuck Bettis Interviewed and Profiled

Source: Jazz Right Now.

Chuck Bettis was raised in fertile harDCore soil, nourished within Baltimore’s enigmatic avant-garde gatherings, and is currently blossoming in New York’s downtown musical tribe. His unique blend of electronics and throat has led him into various collaborations. He has performed live with John Zorn, Fred Frith, Jamie Saft, and Afrirampo to name a few. Some of the musicians Bettis has recorded and played live with are as follows; Ikue Mori, Nautical Almanac, Audrey Chen, Yellow Swans, Toshio Kajiwara, Mick Barr, etc, plus a long history of punk bands he was in (most notably the experimental punk band Meta-matics as well as the enigmatic All Scars). Currently he is working on many of his experimental projects such as Snake Union with Dave Grant, Die Trommel Fatale with Brandon Seabrook/Marika Hughes/Eivind Opsvik/Henry Fraser/Dave Treut/Sam Ospovat, Mossenek with Mick Barr & Colin Marston, Chatterblip with Dafna Naphtali, and Pretty Clicks with Berangere Maximin, in addition to improvising, recording, or composing with an array of musicians from around the world.

Ostrava Days Festival 

English: Muhal Richard Abrams, moers festival 2009

Source: Ostrava Center for New Music. This fest takes place in Ostrava, Czech Republic starting in late August. The lineup is extensive, but here are a few highlights.

* The Opening Night concert, launching the 80-piece international Ostrava New Orchestra (ONO) with a program featuring world premieres by Phill Niblock and Rolf Gupta, Salvatore Sciarrino’s virtuosic Giorno velato presso il lago nero with violinist Hana Kotková, and Iannis Xenakis’ rarely performed AÏS with baritone Holger Falk and percussionist Tamás Schlanger. (August 27 at Trojhalí Karolina)

* A double bill featuring key figures from the internationally acclaimed Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), which played a major role in the history of American experimental music: pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and trombonist George Lewis. Featuring Ostravská banda with live performances by these pioneering artists, the program also includes Christian Wolff’s Five Songs (sung by baritone Thomas Buckner), the world premiere of Petr Bakla’s Summer Work (commissioned by the festival), Richard Ayres’ NONcerto for horn (with Daniel Costello playing the solo part), and Marc Sabat’s Lying in the Grass (featuring pianist Daan Vandewalle). (August 28 at Trojhalí Karolina)

* “Radical Past,” an evening showcasing pioneering composers of the 20th century, whose work radically change the direction of music: Richard Strauss, Charles Ives, Edgard Varèse, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Jan Rychlík, Petr Kotik and Philip Glass. Ostrava New Orchestra (ONO) will perform the works at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre. (August 30)

* Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, a 60-minute set of 36 variations on a Chilean song, performed by pianist Daan Vandewalle. (August 31 at Hlubina Coal Mine)

* Two operas: Kate Soper’s acclaimed Here Be Sirens for three soprano and grand piano, in which three sirens kill time on an island as they await an endless procession of doomed sailors (August 25 at Hlubina Coal Mine); and the Czech premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s Make No Noise, featuring a libretto by Tom Holloway, based on Isabel Coixet’s critically acclaimed screenplay, The Secret Life of Words. A co-production with Bregenzer Festspiele festival (Austria), Make No Noise is sung by soprano Measha Brueggergosman and a cast of German and Austrian singers. (September 1 at Trojhalí Karolina)

* The Closing Night concert, during which ONO will give the world premiere of Muhal Richard Abrams’ Textures, commissioned by the festival, and the Czech premieres of Bernhard Lang’s Monadologie XIX for large orchestra and Olga Neuwirth’s Trurliade – Zone Zero for percussion and orchestra. (September 2 at Trojhalí Karolina)

* The Minimarathon of Electronic Music, curated by Martin Klimeš (August 26, in cooperation with Bludný Kámen Association and Art Gallery in Ostrava).

* An evening curated by composer Christopher Butterfield (University of Victoria, B.C.), paying homage to the legacy of Czech-born Canadian composer Rudolf Komorous, who taught in Victoria from 1971 to 94 and strongly influenced generations of composers on the West Coast of Canada. The program will feature the European premieres of works by Martin Arnold, Linda Catlin Smith, Owen Underhill, Christopher Butterfield and Rudolf Komorous. (August 31 at Hlubina Coal Mine Area)

* Recitals by pianist Joseph Kubera (music by Christian Wolff, Lejaren Hiller and Muhal Richard Abrams) on August 25; String Noise (world premieres of Alex Mincek’s Way and Petr Cigler’s Nothing is Free) also on August 25; Momenta Quartet (Kotik’s String Quartet No. 2, “Torso,” and Petr Bakla’s Major Thirds) on August 30; and Neue Vocalsolisten (Music by Enno Poppe, Friedrich Cerha and Salvatore Sciarrino) on September 1.

* A performance/installation evening, including Alvin Lucier’s Love Song for two violins and string; the film An Gléacht by the late Irish visionary artist Caoimhín Breathnach, with original live music by Walshe and friends; and Walshe’s Zusammen I for 10 performers and film. (August 26 at the Gallery of Fine Arts)

Jaimie Branch on Tour in May

Source: International Anthem.

Jaimie Branch and the core quartet from her forthcoming International Anthem LP Fly or Die (i.e. Branch on trumpet, Tomeka Reid on cello, Jason Ajemian on bass, and Chad Taylor on drums) are doing a short run of celebratory shows the week of the album’s 5/5 release date.

May 3rd // New York, NY @ NUBLU 151
Fly or Die NYC release party
with Jamie Brandon Lewis Trio + Anthony Pirog
and SOGHOST (Jason Nazary solo)

May 4th // Beacon, NY @ St. Andrew’s Church
17 South Avenue, Beacon, New York 12508

May 5th // Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
presented by Suoni Per Il Popolo & CKUT 90.3FM
tickets via La Vitrola

May 6th // Toronto, ON @ The Jam Factory
Feast in the East 6 Year Anniversary
w/ Phedre, Zones, Fake Humans
and Tenderness w/ Brodie West’s Sax Quartet

May 7th // Cleveland area @ St. John’s
2600 Church Ave, Ohio City, OH
presented by New Ghosts & Syndicate for the New Arts

May 8th // Lafayette, IN @ Spot Tavern
409 S 4th St, Lafayette, IN 47901
Two sets !!

May 10th // Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
Fly or Die Chicago release party
with Wei Zhongle
and Ben Lamar Gay