AMN Reviews: Maryam Sirvan – Untamed Terror (2018; The Committee For Sonic Research)

Maryam Sirvan is an experimental sound artist currently based in Tbilisi, but originally from Iran. Untamed Terror is her first solo release. From the outset, it is abundantly clear that Ms. Sirvan is focused on forging her own musical path. While loosely invoking dark ambient stylings, she also adds in scraping, static, pitch-shifting, electroacoustic noise, overlapping synthesized rhythms, droning voices, and undulating walls. Often, the two pieces on this album have five or six (maybe more) layers interacting simultaneously. The result is a deceptively complex effort that straddles a number of genres without fitting neatly into any.

The title track is nearly 30 minutes and encompasses all that is mentioned above and then some. But beyond the raw techniques used, Ms. Sirvan composes these sounds to evoke a certain atmosphere – shattered landscapes, dark caves with falling water, and haunted villages. And, staying with the view of her music as a whole, one can make out anthropomorphic elements – footsteps, breaths, and vocalizations on the edge of audibility. Needless to say, all of this in line with the Lovecraftian nature of the title.

Under the Full Moon rounds out the album at 15 minutes. Slow inhaling and exhaling is accompanied by a growing wave of static and white noise as well as bassy rumbling.  Sounds of people talking and laughing lurk in the background while the wave is manipulated and twisted. The voices evolve into a maddened babble as the electroacoustic elements become fractured. This eventually leads to a processed amalgam that steadily fades.

Music from a nightmare…soundtrack to a psychological horror movie… Untamed Terror is all of that and much more. Ms. Sirvan’s work exploits the fact that we are more afraid of what we cannot identify than what we can. Much of this album’s impact is subconscious and unknowable.

A perfect candidate for late-night listening at high volume. Strongly recommended.

AMN Reviews: FIMAV 34 – Thursday and Friday Performances


VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – True to its mission, the 34th Festival de musique actuelle de Victoriaville kicked off its four-day celebration of music that is “out there” Thursday night, breaking conventions, expanding auditory horizons, and exploring new aesthetic values.

The welcoming speeches for visitors and musicians who flock to this city, 87 miles north-east of Montreal, from across North America, Europe, and Asia were short. The music in the first eight of 19 scheduled concerts said it all, from avant rock, to pure improv, and free jazz, with unusual instrumentation and lots of experimentation.

The opener, in the town’s bright and modern downtown auditorium, was a two-part tribute to Montreal-based saxophonist and composer Walter Boudreau, beginning with a cover band of a dozen younger musicians playing Paix (Peace), considered his first major work. The music was a throwback to the late 1960s when the piece was conceived, with elements of heavy rock, jazz, and contemporary classical. Considered revolutionary in the early 1970s, the piece suited the festival’s adventurous. Unfortunately, because of an unresolved mixing-board issue, the words and tunes chanted by two vocalists were drowned out. In the second part, Walter Boudreau conducted his own composition, Solaris (incantations VIII-IXh), a contemporary classical suite, with a 15-member Société de musique contemporaine du Québec ensemble. It is a sombre work, conjuring some apocalyptic visions, and without the propulsive elements of the previous work.

The next gigs were played in the nearby hockey coliseum, transformed into concert spaces, with convenient bar, tables and chairs. Lan Tung, the Vancouver-based composer and vocalist who plays the two-stringed erhu violin with virtuosic skill, showcased her Giant Project. It combines her own Proliferasian septet and Taiwan’s five-member Little Giant Chinese Orchestra, with traditional instrumentation and directed by her friend from their student days, Chih-Sheng Chen. Their jazzy, often swinging tunes were fun to hear, demonstrating that Chinese traditional and Western instrumentation can co-exist, with the right direction.

The midnight closer was a collective improv effort called David and the Mountain Ensemble, a Montreal-based crew of mainly younger musicians, reflecting the city burgeoning creative energy. The 12-member group is led by drummer David Dugas Dion, who shepherded it through the hour-long visceral experience, dominated by its wall of rhythm and sound. With his back to the audience, Dion used John-Zorn style flags to call up new directions for the band. Repetition and dense sound rather than rhythmic or melodic variety tended to have a numbing effect, especially as the clock neared 1 a.m.

The two afternoon concerts on Friday were shimmering examples of individual creativity when it comes to spontaneous improvisation. Charlotte Hug, the classically trained Zurich-based viola player, opened her solo show in the beautifully renovated, late 19 th century St. Christophe church. Using her soft-bow technique on a viola built in 1763 by J.G.Thir, Hug emerged from behind the church altar weaving subtle sounds from both her viola and her voice, clucking and whispering as she played with the viola, never bowing it in any conventional way. She struck the strings with her bow, loosened it, then bowed the strings to lay out long descending and ascending tones. She alternated from three different bows as she sculpted sounds from her instrument, always with a mischievous smile, prancing on stage in bursts of creative energy. Part improv and part performance art, every sound and silence spoke of spontaneous creation.

Free improv was the guiding force in the trio featuring long-time Montreal-based collaborators Malcolm Goldstein (violin), Rainer Wiens (prepared electric guitar and kalimbas), and joining them for the first time Liu Fang, playing the pipa, the four-stringed instrument known as the Chinese lute. There was an evident caution in the encounter, with Goldstein playing melody fragments, Wiens playing with sound, and Liu, sitting in the middle, with a more traditional approach as she bridged with harmonic excursions.

The evening concerts featured two American avant jazz groups, starting with the Rova Saxophone Quartet – Larry Ochs (tenor), Bruce Ackley (soprano), Steve Adams (alto, sopranino), and Jon Raskin (baritone). Rova was founded 40 years ago, but the current personnel have been together since 1988 and it showed in the tightness of their collaboration, the level of communication, and precision in their balancing of charts and improvised solos. Though structurally complex, everything they played sounded smooth and sophisticated, more like classical contemporary than a jazz unit.

There were no doubts about labels when it came to the next show, featuring bassist William Parker and his In Order to Survive quartet, with drummer Hamid Drake, Rob Brown (alto sax), and veteran pianist Dave Burrell. Parker set the scene with his consistent and persistent pizzicato in tandem with Drake, then Brown embarked on his voyage with fluid and imaginative theme development, and Burrell took over with his percussive attack on the keyboard. The first piece lasted a full hour, and they continued with two more for another half hour. “In order to survive, you must keep hopeful lives,” Parker said in his parting message.

The midnight gig featured the Swiss trio known as Schnellertollermeier – described by their label, Cuneiform Records, as a “brutal-jazz power trio” – electric guitarist Manuel Troller, electric bassist Ani Schnellmann, and drummer David Meier. This is a super tight group, offering high-volume unison playing of repeated motifs, propelled by drummer Meier’s pulsating polyrhythmic attack. It was so loud, some of us covered our ears. Though well past midnight, the enthusiastic audience bopped their heads to the beat, and were ready for more.

The festival continues Saturday and Sunday.

Chicago Scene: May 19-26, 2018

Mwata Bowden

This is a weekly overview live avant performances in the Chicago area. Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, May 19th 2018

7:00PM at the Rhythm Room, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston IL, 847.491.9723
Jimmy Bennington Colour and Sound Trio with Jim Baker, Davi Priest

Sunday, May 20th 2018

6:00PM at the Fulton Street Collective, 1821 W Hubbard
Unsupervised : Chicago’s Conductorless Orchestra

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western (Free)
ExclusiveOr, ICE, Architeuthis Walks on Land : Rebekah Heller, Ryan Muncy, Jacob Greenberg, Peter Evans, Nate Wooley, Ross Karre, Katherine Young, Amy Cimini, Sam Pluta, Jeff Snyder

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10 suggested donation) (wheelchair-accessible)
Jacob Wick, Phil Sudderberg
Jacob Wick, Phil Sudderberg, Jason Roebke, Jeff Kimmel, Ryan Packard

Monday, May 21st 2018

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069
Jason Kahn Solo
Jason Kahn, Carol Genetti

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Ed Wilkerson Jr, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Thursday, May 24th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($12-$10)
James Sanders’s Proyecto Libre, with Joe Rendon, Edward Wilkerson, Joshua Abrams, Avreeayl Ra

9:00PM at The Owl, 2521 N Milwaukee, 773.235.5300
Wei Zhongle
Forced into Liminality
Matthew Mehlan

Friday, May 25th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Tatsu Aoki‘s Miyumi Project, with Mwata Bowden, Coco Elysses, Avreeayl Ra, Edward Wilkerson, Jaime Kempkers, KIOTO

Saturday, May 26th 2018

7:00PM at the Rhythm Room, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston IL, 847.491.9723
Jimmy Bennington Colour and Sound Trio with Jim Baker, Davi Priest

9:00PM at the Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia, 773.227.4433 ($10)
Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore, with Mike Pride, Jason Roebke — Album release

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,

A Pair of Henry Threadgill Releases Reviewed

Source: Popmatters.

For 2018, Henry Threadgill not only takes Ensemble Double Up back into the studio to record, but he has also formed a new 15-piece band named 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg to record a different album altogether. The results are Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus and Dirt…and More Dirt respectively. Fans of the Pulitzer-winning composer now have 86 minutes of new music into which to dive. That isn’t just good for jazz; it’s good news for anyone who has doubted our culture’s ability to produce new original works injected with a heart and a brain of its own.

Anthony Braxton / Tri-Centric Foundation Update

Anthony Braxton

Source: Tri-Centric Foundation.

We would also like to bring your attention to our other online label, Tri-Centric Forum, which has been quietly releasing recordings from the Tri-Centric Commissioning Series. Newly added is Rivers We Have Crossed by Joseph Daley which was performed by the Tri-Centric Orchestra in November 2015.

[Anthony Braxton European Tour]
Anthony Braxton ZIM Sextet with Jacqueline Kerrod and Miriam Overlach (harps), Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Adam Matlock (accordion), Dan Peck (tuba)

26 May 2018 – Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy
2 June 2018 – Porgy and Bess, Vienna, Austria

Anthony Braxton ZIM Septet with Jacqueline Kerrod and Miriam Overlach (harps), Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Adam Matlock (accordion), Dan Peck (tuba), Jean Cook (violin)

28-30 May 2018 – Cafe OTO, London, UK

Anthony Braxton and Jacqueline Kerrod Duo

27 May 2018 – Angelica Festival, Bologna, Italy
4 June 2018 – soliloquios, Porto, Portugal
[Face the Music]

Tri-Centric has been working with the wonderful students of Kaufman Music Center’s youth ensemble Face the Music which is dedicated to studying and performing the works of living composers. On June 10th at the Jazz Gallery (NYC), Face the Music student ensembles will perform Anthony Braxton works including Composition Nos. 55, 192, 69B and Language Music (more info here). Preceding the concert will be a workshop on Braxton’s musical systems led by Taylor Ho Bynum. Advanced tickets highly recommended for both events.

Coming to the Vortex Jazz Club

The Dalston Culture House now houses the Vorte...

Source: London’s Vortex Jazz Club.

SUN 20 MAY 2018
Sylvia Hallett (violin, electronics) / Ian McGowan (trumpet) duo plus Kay Grant (voice) and other musicians to be confirmed plus John Russell (guitar) / Stale Liavik Solberg (drums) / Alex…
Time: 2 – 6PM

WED 23 MAY 2018
“If Abraham Burton were to be drawn in a caricature, there would be flames coming out of his horn…” Approaching three decades as a prominent figure on the jazz scene, world-renowned saxophonist and educator Abraham Burton’s passionate sound can still ignite a room filled with patrons.
Time: 8 – 11PM

THU 24 MAY 2018
a trio with John Edwards bass and Roger Turner drums.
Time: 8 – 11PM