Despite the genre’s name sounding definitive, free improv falls along a spectrum. At one end, there is loosely-structured improvisation. At the other, you have all-out spontaneity. Eris 136199, the second album from the sax and dual guitar trio of Han-Earl Park, Catherine Sikora, and Nick Didkovsky, operates toward the latter extreme. Recorded live during the group’s tour of Europe last year, the album offers 10 tracks of innovative sounds and textures.
It is strange to say this, but saxophonist Sikora’s playing is relatively familiar and grounded when compared to that of her bandmates. Of course, she is known as a monstrous extemporizer and fully explores the tonal features of her instrument. Many of her contributions are rapid-fire notes not unlike what one might expect from Anthony Braxton or David S. Ware. But she also stretches her palette into noisy blasts and extended techniques.
Didkovsky’s guitar playing is a modified version of the avant-metal that he was known for in mid-1990’s Doctor Nerve. His riffing and speed picking are more subtle, forming a base over which Sikora and Park further explore. But he is not afraid to bend a few notes and bring a jangling, twisting uneasiness to bear.
Park is the more outside of the two guitarists, with innovative fingerboard techniques and a nod or two toward Derek Bailey. There is nothing conventional about his playing, as he explores the tonal and expressive extent of his instrument. His contributions are both incidental and percussive, and seem to involve some degree of preparation (de-tuning?). Still, Didkovsky’s more unorthodox efforts collide with Park’s and the differences between the two melt away.
To that point, Eris 136199 is much more than deconstructivistic listening. Putting these three explorers together results in a surprising pleasant, if not angular and abstract, experience. Sikora and Didkovsky are a wonderful stylistic matchup – a sax player who is both aggressive and understated with a guitarist who seems to be fighting an internal battle of self-restraint. Park hangs around in the background, adding texture and an ephemeral context for their parts.
Great stuff and highly recommended.
Reports are coming in that C.W. Vrtacek (real name Charles O’Meara) has passed away. He was a member of Forever Einstein and a collaborator of Biota.
Macedonian Jeton Hoxha recorded a live performance just a few months ago for this 44-minute, single-track album. His process was described as “based on loopy electro-acoustic sound created by sources like field recordings, computer & synthesizer being processed through various filters, plug-ins and hardware signal processing.” The auditory effect of this is a long, multi-faceted drone with an ominous feel.
The track begins at very low volume and slowly ramps to a dense layer of eerie noise with a lilting high-frequency melody. Gradually, the intensity grows and the main drone takes on a sinusoidal character. Multiple walled voices join in, along with patterns of bells. Following this is a long, rumbling drone that morphs into processed machine noise with the aforementioned high-frequency elements. Eventually, the bells return, as does the melody, but this time in a lower register and clear enough to be reminiscent of a twisted take on Phillip Glass. In particular, the falling pattern of notes is (perhaps unintentionally) similar to the coda of Koyaanisqatsi.
Fans of Lustmord and the darker side of Robert Rich will find much to like here, as will those who enjoy post-ambient / industrial crossovers. Vowel is an oppressive and baleful journey through a rift in spacetime – and well worth the effort.
Source: Taran’s Free Jazz Hour. Highlights include Ivo Perelman, Don Byron, Vinny Golia, Jimmy Bennington, Kyoko Kitamura, and Andrew Lisle.
Source: bassist Kyle Motl.
10/30 7pm – UC Irvine, Motion Capture Studio (MM220) – solo
10/31 noon – UC Riverside, Wednesday@Noon series, ARTS 157- solo
10/31 8pm – Battery Books and Music, Pasadena – trio w/ Patrick Shiroishi and Paul Carter, solo set by Garrett Wingfield
11/1 8pm – Luggage Store Creative Music Series, San Francisco – solo, duo set by Chris Brown and Soo Yeon Lyuh
11/2 5pm – CSUMB Salinas Center for Arts and Culture – solo & lecture/masterclass
11/3 8pm – Sunnyvale – house concert (contact for address) – solo, solo sets by Patrick Talesfore Jr and David Lechuga-Espadas
Source: Cold Spring Records.
BOW GAMELAN ENSEMBLE ‘Great Noises That Fill The Air’ CD
VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘Earthen – A Cold Spring Sampler’ 2CD
MERZBOW / GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE ‘A Perfect Pain’ CD/LP/Ltd LP
ZENI GEVA & STEVE ALBINI ‘Maximum Implosion’ 2CD