AMN Reviews: Various Artists – Visions of Darkness (In Iranian Contemporary Music) (2017; Cold Spring Records)

Visions of Darkness is a new 2CD release from Cold Spring Records that documents underground music from Iran.  As the album’s liner notes state, “[i]n a country where youth culture has been heavily restricted for so long, it’s significant when a cultural form such as this has an opportunity to reach a wider audience – aided by the abstract nature of dark ambient, drone, and noise.” The artists have suffered through limited funding opportunities due to economic sanctions, but have nonetheless persevered to offer their unique takes on a range of musical styles.

Several of the tracks recall early (1985-1995) Steve Roach, with slowly layered drones evoking a desert atmosphere, as well as echoing sequencers. Not necessarily dark, but fitting the “ambient” moniker quite well. But, in addition to these aspects, some artists include whiffs of techno, middle-eastern chants, spoken word, and electroacoustic elements. As an example, Longing to Return by Xerxes the Dark begins with throat singing that rapidly evolves into a scratchy palette of droning soundscapes. Industrial percussion and machine noises join in for the second half of the track, which ends with a distant choral chant. Hossein RangChi provides windswept synth work over a melancholy piano melody on Mute. Narcissa Kasrai’s Articulation sounds as if it came from the GRM school, while Nyctalllz’s Daeva is an oscillating set of post-modern background drones with subtle foreground pulses and crackles.

The sheer variety and consistent quality across this compilation make it a notable release. Combine that with its cultural importance, and Visions of Darkness is a welcome and enjoyable addition to the collection of anyone who is curious how non-mainstream artists of an under-represented country express themselves.

AMN Reviews: Invenciones – La otra Vanguardia Musical en Latinoamérica 1976-1988 [Munster MR CD 369]

Musically, the fifteen years from 1976 to 1990 were a time of aesthetic and technological change with far-reaching ramifications. In art music, tonality and simplified forms were beginning to assert themselves against the complexities and chromaticism of twelve-tone music; similarly, jazz saw neotraditionalism come to dominate the music’s public face. In pop the elaborate structures and virtuoso performances of progressive rock were coming under attack from the more elementary directness of punk.  At the same time, advances in electronics made synthesizers and sound recording and reproduction technologies unprecedentedly affordable and accessible. This led, among other things, to an upsurge in home recording activity and the formation of underground cassette distribution networks that helped facilitate a revival and democratization of music experimentation, much of it undertaken by dedicated non-professionals. Far from being limited to the United States, this was an international phenomenon.

Invenciones, a 2 CD set surveying musical experimentation in Latin America from 1976-1988, shows how some of these changes played out in the lower Western Hemisphere. What is most immediately striking about much of this music—besides its generally high quality—is the way it is regionally rooted and yet transcends limitations of region; many of these artists are notable for their engagement with indigenous or local musical forms as filtered through the refigurative influences of cosmopolitan avant-garde musical culture.

For example, the Chilean group Amauta’s 1980 Variaciones de Amauta takes folk song form and a standard instrumentation of nylon guitars and flute and gradually disassembles them into a free-associative sound mass before putting them back together again. Similarly, Miguel Flores, a Peruvian guitarist with a background in hard rock and free jazz as well as folk, is represented by 1983’s Pachacuti, a piece that reworks guitar arpeggios and melodies into what Luis Alvarado’s liner note aptly describes as “avant-garde neofolk.”

Music rooted in international styles, such as progressive rock, jazz fusion, and electronic impressionism, are here as well. Quilleihue by Chile’s Malalche is an instrumental, rock-based piece built around a regular beat and chord progression; Grupo Um’s Mobile/Stabile of 1976 is a high-energy fusion of free jazz and electronics that remains subtly but unmistakably Brazilian in the flavorings of its timbres. A robust Latin counterpart to Berlin school electronic music—call it música cósmica—comes out on a number of tracks. The Venezuelan trio Musikautomatika was known for experimenting with the unconventional sounds of amplified and processed objects, but here their Lluvias is a magisterial soundscape enhanced with a synthetic choir echoing in an abyss. Miguel Noyes, also from Venezuela, contributes Gran Sabana, a sequencer-driven work from 1984. Vía Láctea (Mexican synthesis Carlos Alvarado) pushes this kind of music into the harsher end of the spectrum, while the Costa Rican duo Autoperro go further by summoning noise from in between radio stations. Jorge Reyes of Mexico delves deeper into noise with the field recordings and musique concrete of Michoacán: Un Paisaje Sonoro.

The above is just a sampling of the music contained on Invenciones—a fine collection of work by artists deserving of greater renown.

Daniel Barbiero

Sound American 18 is Out

Source: Sound American.

My personal relationship to big-band music tends to spawn multiple and conflicting metaphors, depending on the memory I’m accessing. As a person who has no interest or business playing in a large ensemble of this type any longer, but whose roots remain firmly within its tradition, the ”big-band sound” conjures images of regimental drills, Quaker meetings, violent mobs, house parties, colorful images—but not always positive. Ultimately, I admit that I am confused about my relationship with this music and have, from time to time, sought out ways to recapture my early obsession with its history and tradition.

This Week in New York 


Curated by Stephanie Griffin, this concert is inspired by her reexamination of the topicality of Arnold Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte, but is more about the fight for freedom than about the despots who encumber it. Along with the Schoenberg piece, the program will include Sin Tiempo, a string quartet by the Bolivian composer, Agustín Fernández, a work by Alvin Singleton, and an improvised duo by Griffin with bassist Hilliard Greene on the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.
Monday, October 2 at 7:00 PM
Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Curated by violinist Alex Shiozaki, this concert explores various creation myths. In addition to the world premiere of the revised version of Hiroya Miura’s physics-inspired quartet Singularity, the program includes Per Nørgård’s String Quartet No. 8 Night Descending Like Smoke, João Pedro Oliveira’s Magma, for violin and electronics, and Darius Milhaud’s La création du monde, op. 81b, in its version for piano quintet with guest pianist Nana Shi.
Wednesday, October 4 at 7:00 PM
The Center at West Park, 165 West 86th Street, New York, NY

An intimate evening of music ranging from baroque to post-minimalism features the New York Premiere of a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe, commissioned through BAC’s inaugural Cage Cunningham Fellowship. The program also includes solo works by Telemann and Suzanne Farrin, and Prokofiev’s playful score inspired by circus life, a masterwork of modernism.
Thursday, October 5 & Friday, October 6 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $20
Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street #501, New York, NY

Threefifty celebrates the release of their 4th album at ShapeShifter Lab.
Friday, October 6 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $12
ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY

Mivos String Quartet, Anna Weber, Matt Moran and Nate Wooley give the US premiere of Bojan Vuletić’s The strange library (of Babel).
Friday, October 6 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 70 Flushing Avenue, Garage A, Brooklyn, NY

From March to May 2015 John Zorn wrote 300 new compositions collected in a book of music called The Bagatelles. NYU Skirball is presents a two-day marathon concert of 20 different ensembles performing over 100 different compositions from Zorn’s expansive new book of music.
Friday, October 6 & Saturday, October 7 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $50
NYU Skirball, 566 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY

The Kitchen presents the world premiere of Yarn/Wire: Enno Poppe, where the acclaimed quartet will perform Feld, a new work by the Berlin-based composer. Combining the complex timbres of percussion instruments, all filtered through microtonal organs or paired with dense, perpetually moving piano complexity, and applied with the quartet’s skills, this concert give rise to the sonic universe of Enno Poppe. The evening will also feature a performance of 2009’s Tonbad, written in collaboration with the electronics guru Wolfgang Heiniger.
Friday, October 6 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20, $15 members
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY

Hotel Elefant launches its 2017-18 season at the cell with a split bill, led by two composer-performer members of the ensemble. The first half of the evening is the premiere of Hannis Brown’s Radio Free Music while the second half of the evening is the premiere of Shawn Lovato’s Microcosms.
Friday, October 6 at 8:00 PM
PWYW (pay what you want)
the cell, 338 West 23rd Street, New York, NY

Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra presents Lineage and Heritage II, featuring the NYC premiere of Jennifer Jolley’s Spielzeug Straßenbahn, Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s Nonet, and the world premiere of Evan Williams’s harpsichord concerto, Dead White Man Music.
Friday, October 6 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20, $12 students/seniors/veterans
Christ and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 120 West 69th Street, New York, NY
..:: Website

This concert features New York premieres by Randall Woolf, Gene Pritsker, Milica Paranosic, plus some other surprises.
Sunday, October 8 at 5:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 70 Flushing Avenue, Garage A, Brooklyn, NY

The center piece of the program is David Lang’s Death Speaks for soprano and chamber ensemble; other works included are by Icli Zitella, Ashkan Behzadi, and Meredith Monk. This performance is programmed around Max Porter’s novel Grief is the Thing With Feathers and will include readings from the novel between musical works.
Sunday, October 8 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 70 Flushing Avenue, Garage A, Brooklyn, NY

All About Jazz Reviews

David Fiuczynski, founder of Screaming Headles...

Source: All About Jazz.

Robert Black
Possessed (Cantaloupe Music)

Jason Kao Hwang
Sing House (Euonymus Records)

Jamie Saft
Loneliness Road (RareNoiseRecords)

David Fiuczynski
Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik (RareNoiseRecords)

Wadada Leo Smith
Najwa (TUM Records)

Rez Abbasi
Unfiltered Universe (Whirlwind Recordings Ltd)

Rova Saxophone Quartet
Steve Lacy’s Saxophone Special Revisited (Clean Feed Records)

Tomeka Reid
Tomeka Reid Quartet (Thirsty Ear Recordings)

David Virelles
Gnosis (ECM Records)

Tom Rainey Obliggato
Float Upstream (Intakt Records)

Dominic Lash
Extremophile (Iluso Records)

Coming to Portland

Source: Creative Music Guild.

False Face Society and Get Smashing Love Power
Oct 4th, 2017 — 8pm (over by 10)
$5-15, sliding scale
Turn Turn Turn
8 NE KIllingsworth

Tatsuya Nakatani’s Gong Orchestra
Oct 8th, 2017 — 8pm
$10, sliding scale
Leaven Community Center
5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland, OR

Patrick McCulley and Brogan Woodburn
Oct 18th, 2017 — 8pm (over by 10)
$5-15, sliding scale
Turn Turn Turn
8 NE KIllingsworth