AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Three From Notice Recordings – Joanna Mattrey / Sandy Ewen and Jason Nazary / Zhu Wenbo and Zhu Songjie

With over 70 releases, Notice Recordings has a long discography that explores the edges of extreme improvisation and experimental sound art. This month they have three new releases.

Joanna Mattrey – Soulcaster (2023)

Joanna Mattrey has become one of the newer artists that I have been watching in the last few years. A violist by trade, here she employs that and the tromba marina (a long, cone-like medieval instrument with a single string) in a solo setting. These 11 free and open-ended pieces are textural, often harsh in nature, and unpredictably structured. Mattrey has a remarkable ability to extract unusual sawing sounds that can be pleasant, but typically border on the discordant (or cross that border). The sheer guttural audacity of her playing is a pleasure to behold.

Sandy Ewen and Jason Nazary – A Beaded Gesture (2023)

Veteran improvisers Ewen (prepared guitar) and Nazary (drums and percussion) teamed up for a live set at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in March 2021. The result is A Beaded Gesture, consisting of four tracks. While ostensibly free, Ewen and Nazery impose a loose order over their long improvisations. Ewen, in particular, plays with distortion and spikiness with her electric in a fashion that does not sound at all guitar-like. Nazary focuses on his kit but also introduces bells, chimes, and other objects in a dense and busy mixture. As a consequence, A Beaded Gesture is a compelling listen with many subtle details.

Zhu Wenbo and Zhu Songjie – Magnet Blues (2023)

Ostensibly a take on American Blues, this recording from Zhu Wenbo and Zhu Songjie is easily the most abstract of these three releases. Wenbo uses a toy cassette deck, sings, and plays harmonica while Songjie’s instruments are a Casio EG-5 electric guitar (with a built-in cassette deck) and harmonica. Their collective output does not resemble “songs” in any conventional sense and instead comes across as sparse electronic improv. Warbling and unintelligible vocals couple with feedback, sculpted distortion, and electronic noise. This is far from an easy listen and yet it is a rewarding one.

One reply on “AMN Reviews: Three From Notice Recordings – Joanna Mattrey / Sandy Ewen and Jason Nazary / Zhu Wenbo and Zhu Songjie”

Comments are closed.