AMN Reviews: Kelly Ruth – Forms (2019; Pseudo Laboratories)

Kelly Ruth affixes contact microphones to a weaving loom and other fiber-related tools, and then plays them as instruments. She runs the resulting tracks through effects and mixes them down to the results we hear on Forms, her debut. Some of the source material is arranged, some of it is from live improvisations. Her stated goal is “in how the sounds invoke imagined histories and futures” as well as exploring “the object’s connection to labour, economics, and environmental collapse.”

Sonically, Ruth is in her own category. Each of the eight pieces on the album features overlapping, though not interlocking, abstract structures. Though each of these on their own is repetitious, her combinations thereof are ever-shifting, and she rapidly retires one to introduce another. As an amalgam, they present a form of layered “minimalism” where the addition to new recordings to the mix has a generative impact on the piece as a whole.

These underlying compositional elements include pulsing rhythms, dense waves, and echoing abrasions. While Forms is not out of line with what might come out of the GRM style of electroacoustic recordings, there is a freshness to this release that belies its industrial-era source material. Moreover, her singular approach has a dark moodiness that makes it even more compelling.

This is a remarkable effort that provides much to unpack. Words fail, so take a listen. You will not be disappointed.

AMN Reviews: The Nent – Vulner (2019; Cyclic Law)

The Nent is Vince Gagliardi, based out of Berlin, and Vulner is his debut release. While ostensibly falling into the dark ambient bucket, the music on this three-track EP is primarily a set of atmospheric samples and abstract field recordings that are live-triggered from a drum set. This results in a series of pulsing themes, fractured waves, and distorted effects driven by drum beats and other percussive elements.

But rather than cobble together these constituent pieces, Gagliardi structures them into distinct compositions, each with a logical progression and a sense of purpose. If anything, Vulner exhibits a cinematic ponderousness, with clearly discernable melodies and rhythms. But underlying its occasional catchiness is a menacing darkness replete with tension.

Comparisons? William Basinski, for one. In particular, the emphasis on percussion-based activation of sounds provides a set of oscillating and hypnotic offerings. But while Gagliardi’s namesake wanders in a few familiar spaces, Vulner is its own animal and resists any strict categorization into a genre. Strong recommendation.

Amina Claudine Myers Solo Concert in Houston, April 18

Source: Nameless Sound.

Amina Claudine Myers (New York, NY) – Hammond B3 organ and voice
Thursday, April 18, 2019
at TBH Center
333 South Jenson Dr.

The first-wave artists comprising the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) encompassed a breadth of what would later become the organization’s motto: “Great Black Music, From the Ancient to the Future”. The groundbreaking initiative of self-determining musicians was born in 1960’s Chicago, and its early members constituted a vital nexus of musically and geographically diverse histories and futures.

Among these first-wave artists, none expresses their deep roots in Southern African American traditions quite like the virtuosic, versatile and emotionally moving pianist, organist, vocalist and composer Amina Claudine Myers. Born in a small Arkansas town of about 250 and raised in Arkansas and Texas, Myers was only four years old when she began playing the piano. While a teenager, the young prodigy was directing choirs and playing organ in her Dallas area church, while also beginning her studies of European classical piano repertoire. Already an experienced professional when she started college, Myers began making jazz, r&b and gospel gigs while attending Philander Smith in Little Rock. At Philander Smith, she majored in music education, played in a college jazz ensemble and studied classical piano. In 1963, a public school teaching job brought Myers to Chicago. There, she would join the AACM, while also working as accompanist to such jazz greats as Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.

For this appearance, we will experience Myers accompanying her own singing on Hammond B3 Organ. Bearing a voice with the depths of her gospel and the blues roots, and accompanying herself with virtuosic technique, Myers has earned critical acclaim for her vocal performances since her landmark 1980 release Amina Claudine Myers Salutes Bessie Smith.

Coming to Philadelphia

Source: Ars Nova Workshop.

Sunday, March 24, 8pm
YoshimiO – drums
Susie Ibarra – drums + percussion
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – electronics
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue
$18 General Admission
Please join us for the Philadelphia premiere of Yunohana Variations, an engrossing new collaboration from three improvisational legends. Yunohana Variations brings together a trio of experimental luminaries, each of whom has built their own towering reputation on transgressing stylistic and performative boundaries: drummer and singer YoshimiO from the mighty Boredoms, avant-garde composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra, and singer and synthesizer master Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, known to many as Lichens.

Wednesday, March 27, 8pm
Mats Gustafsson – tenor & baritone saxophone + electronics
Johan Berthling – bass
Andreas Werliin – drums
Ruba Club, 416 Green Street
$15 General Admission
Fire! is the Swedish power trio of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling, and Andreas Werliin, formed in 2009 and drawing from free jazz, drone, and psychedelia and featuring members of The Thing, Tape, and Wildbirds & Peacedrums to meld ferocious improvisatory skronk with the slow-burning grooves of doom laden ‘70s rock. The group soon joined forces with Jim O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi, touring and recording albums with each in 2011 and 2012, respectively, before assembling a 28-person ensemble from the spectrum of the Scandinavian avant-garde. The resulting Fire! Orchestra’s colossal jazz ranks among classics by experimental big band forebears like Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra or the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, the latter of which Gustafsson is a veteran. Fire!’s latest, 2018’s “The Hands”, returns the group to its original formation, with Gustafsson’s anguished sax slithering away atop a rhythm section possessed with the menace of Fun House-era Stooges. By turns delirious and elegant, after 10 years it is clear that Fire! have moved beyond their supergroup status to blaze a voice of their own. This will be their first-ever performance in Philadelphia.

Thursday, March 28, 8pm
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue
Monday, April 1, 8pm
JAJOUKA BARAKA (Master Musicians of Jajouka)
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue

Friday, April 26, 8pm
Ruba Club, 416 Green Street