AMN Reviews: Han-Earl Park / Catherine Sikora / Nick Didkovsky – Eris 136199 (2018; Buster and Friends)

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.

AMN Reviews: Jeton Hoxha – Vowel (2018; Eighth Tower Records)

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.

New From Tzadik

Source: Tzadik.

Wendy Eisenberg: The Machinic Unconscious
Improviser, composer and songwriter Wendy Eisenberg is a graduate of New England Conservatory and a founding member of the acclaimed band Birthing Hips. For her first Tzadik CD she is joined by the dynamic rhythm section of Trevor Dunn on bass and Ches Smith on drums and performs some of the nastiest guitar you’ve ever heard. The improvisations are powerful and intense and all styles and sounds are thrown into a cathartic blender as the trio channel an exciting new musical world. An outrageous project from these fabulous young lions!
Trevor Dunn: Bass
Ches Smith: Drums
Wendy Eisenberg: Guitar

Brian Marsella Trio : Outspoken–The Music Of The Legendary Hasaan
This remarkable project features three Philadelphia musicians paying tribute to one of Philly’s most enigmatic and important musical visionaries—the Legendary Hasaan. Hasaan Ibn Ali was born in 1931 and made only one commercial release in his lifetime which has of course become a cult classic. Combining the craggly dissonances of Monk with the spidery lines of Elmo Hope,and the muscular intensity of Cecil Taylor, his music and theories were a huge influence on Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and countless others. Here Brian Marsella, Christian McBride and Anwar Marshall interpret the quirky compositions of this obscure musical master with a deep respect and a fresh imaginative voice. Included are an unrecorded Hasaan original and a tribute piece by Brian Marsella.
Brian Marsella: Piano
Anwar Marshall: Drums
Christian McBride: Bass

Kyle Motl on Tour

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