Source: Pittsburgh Current.
Larry Ochs, the tenor saxophonist in the Rova Saxophone Quartet, says the group’s baritone man, Jon Raskin, once opined that the group should release an album called The Happy Few. “Because the few who do actually come [to see us] are really happy they came,” Ochs says. “We really should use that at some point.”
That comment might imply Rova is searching for an audience, but the Bay Area quartet has won admirers around the world over the past 42 adventurous years. That includes listeners in the Soviet Union, which Rova first toured in 1983, the first American new music ensemble to make such a journey. (Their travels were filmed for a PBS documentary at the time.) In addition to a wealth of original material, the group has embarked on ambitious projects like Electric Ascension, a reimagining of John Coltrane’s tumultuous “Ascension,” which Rova performed with a 13-piece group of A-list improvisers that included guitars and electronics along with horns.
With Halloween right around the corner, Eighth Tower Records offers this timely-themed release featuring UK-based dark ambient artists. Some have been previously discussed in these pages (Grey Frequency, Howlround, and Michael Bonaventure), while others not (Daniel Williams, Sky High Diamonds, Rapoon, and Satori). Regardless, the nine pieces on this compilation explore the haunting landscapes and fear-laden tension that one might expect from an effort of this nature.
Grey Frequency kicks off with Elegy for Vinegar Tom, which begins with sweeping loops overlaying a cracking foundation. This slowly morphs into a more conventional (yet still dark) set of synth drones. Rapoon’s The Village evokes mysteries with its use of church bells as well as an echoing bassy theme accompanied by a sax motif.
Howlround’s first contributed track provides drones as well as looped and rapidly manipulated electronics with a squeaky rasping, while the second is aqueous and otherworldly. Satori’s staticky drones combine with low-level percussive elements poking in and out of the background. Michael Bonaventure’s Coronach is an organ piece that captures a retro-horror feel using modern compositional technique.
Both Daniel Williams and Sky High Diamond’s pieces are spoken-word stories dealing with witchcraft. The former is accompanied by static, stringed instruments, organ, and electroacoustic sounds, the latter by soft ambient walls and comparatively more abrasive electroacoustic sounds.
Ultimately, Witchcraft & Black Magic in the United Kingdom is a compelling mix of fright-inducing atmospherics that is suitable for accompanying your trick-or-treat candy bowl – aside from the likelihood that it might scare off younger visitors and garner more than a few apprehensive looks from their parents.
Source: The Free Jazz Collective.
Louis Moholo-Moholo’s Five Blokes – Uplift the People (Ogun 2018) ****
Angles 9 – Beyond Us (Clean Feed, 2019) ****½
Sarah Gail Brand / Steve Beresford / John Edwards / Mark Sanders – All Will Be Said, All To Do Again (Regardless, 2019) ****
Deep Listening to Bruno Duplant: Recent Works
Zeena Parkins • Wobbly – Triplicates (Relative Pitch, 2019) ***
Nick Millevoi – Streets of Philadelphia Limited Edition music book (s/p, 2019)
Brötzmann/Leigh – South Moon Under (s/r, 2019) ****½
Source: Touching Extremes.
GRISHA SHAKHNES – Being There
DAVID WATSON / TONY BUCK – Ask The Axes