AMN Picks of the Week: Dan Phillips Trio / Magma / E. Millar / The Attic / Gjerstad, Dyani & Stevens

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Dan Phillips Trio – Sound Energy in Space (2019)
Magma – Zess (2019)
E. Millar – No Instrument Machine, Air (2019)
The Attic (Amado / Almeida / Govaert) – Summer Bummer (2019)
Gjerstad / Dyani / Stevens – Day Two (1982)

AMN Reviews: Elliott Sharp – Plastový Hrad (2019; Infrequent Seams)

Sharp_Plastovy_Hrad_COVER_1400x1400_James_IlgenfritzComposer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp has been a major voice within the downtown New York music scene for decades. Timbre, dynamics, motion, shape and rhythm are always in play in Sharp’s compositional and improvisational practice. His music is a kind of avant-garde “groove” that combines algorithmic thinking with interpretive and improvisatory intuition. His latest album “PLASTOVY HRAD” presents three very different compositions that feature the bass clarinet.

 

“Plastovy Hrad” is for chamber orchestra with bass clarinet soloist. The composition was commissioned by the Brno Contemporary Orchestra as part of the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the formation of the Czech Republic. In this piece Sharp builds a kind of labyrinth that is somewhat dark and relentless. The bass clarinet soloist is a lone voice that wanders the labyrinth commenting and questioning as it moves through its ever changing surroundings. The cimbalom is prominently used to provide a counter voice to the bass clarinet.  The use of the cimbalom also gives the piece bits of Czech folk sounds that pierce the dark textures often revealing bits of light.  It’s a really interesting piece that is well recorded.  Both the soloist Lukasz Danhel and the ensemble perform with a great deal of power, conviction and subtly.

“Turing Test” premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2012. It is performed by the voices of the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart and the bass clarinet of Gareth Davis. It is a kind of mini-opera where disembodied voices try to understand who they are and where they are. While many of the techniques in Elliott Sharp’s musical language such as cells and looping appear to be at work here, they are used very differently than in other works by Sharp. In this piece Sharp uses these techniques not to construct actively evolving dense textures but clear melodic segments of counterpoint and chords for the voices. Gareth Davis’s wonderful bass clarinet is used to comment and question the voices as they continue their test. It’s a wonderful piece that is beautifully performed. I look forward to hearing more work in this vein from Elliott Sharp.

“Oumuamua” is a graphic score for bass clarinet and electronics. In this piece the bass clarinet is processed by the electronics in real time. In many ways this piece resembles Sharp’s solo electric guitar work, in that there are repeated fragments overlaid in a constant forward motion that occasionally collapses into a sustained sound mass.  The use of electronics here is really interesting in that they are both transformative and interactive. The bass clarinet transforms into clusters of floating sounds that dissolve into duets between the bass clarinet with sounds that resemble berimbau, saxophone and organ. It’s an interesting and wild romp that features Elliott Sharp’s excellent bass clarinet playing.

All in all, “PLASTOVY HRAD” is a really interesting and diverse album that presents three different faces of Elliott Sharp, one of America’s most interesting contemporary composers.

Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara

The Noise-Arch Archive Up for Free Download

Source: Internet Archive. Over 30GB of recordings.

This collection is a compilation of underground/independently-released cassette tapes from the days when the audio cassette was the standard method of music sharing… generally the mid-eighties through early-nineties. The material represented includes tape experimentation, industrial, avant-garde, indy, rock, diy, subvertainment and auto-hypnotic materials. Much of this material defies category, and has therefore not been given one.

The bulk of the tapes in this library were donated to the project by former CKLN FM radio host Myke Dyer in August of 2009. The original NOISE-ARCH site was hosted and maintained by Graham Stewart and Mark Lougheed.

AMN Picks of the Week: Sonologyst / Zwitschermaschine / Rowden, Gilgore & McColm / Reid & Monico / Ranaldo, Jarmusch, Urselli & Pandi

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Sonologyst – Phantoms (2019)
Zwitschermaschine – System For Us (2019)
Rowden / Gilgore / McColm – First Lapse (2019)
Tomeka Reid / Filippo Monico – The Mouser (2019)
Ranaldo / Jarmusch / Urselli / Pandi – Ranaldo / Jarmusch / Urselli / Pandi (2019)

Newsbits: Derek Bailey / Harry Partch / Alice Coltrane / Cafe Oto’s New Series

A new monograph on Derek Bailey, as well as a translation of Bailey’s book Improvisation into Chinese, have been announced.

A new Harry Partch release is out.

A new and previously unreleased Alice Coltrane live album is reviewed.

Cafe Oto in London has announced Music and Other Living Creatures, a new series running on various dates between 23 June and 5 December. It’s dedicated to “music about, with, or by other living creatures”. That’s birds, tigers, chickens, insects and more explored through a variety of methods from sound-walks and commissioned performances to live responses and discussions.

AMN Picks of the Week: A Half With Tinnitus / Common Eider, King Eider / Biota / Danketsu 9

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

A Half With Tinnitus – A Half With Tinnitus (2019)
Common Eider, King Eider – Égrégore (2019)
Biota – Counterbalance (2019)
Danketsu 9 – Towards a Walk in the Sun (2019)

AMN Picks of the Week: Mike Barber / Martina Bertoni / PCP Trio / Jon Crompton / Llyn Y Cwn

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Mike Barber – Duets for Saw and Deviated Septum (2019)
Martina Bertoni – The Green EP (2019)
PCP Trio – Internal / External / Broad / Focused (2019)
Jon Crompton – Intuit (2019)
Llyn Y Cwn – Twll Du (2019)