AMN Reviews: Pet the Tiger and Co. – Gaze Emanations [Public Eyesore PE145]

On Gaze Emanations, the sui generis ensemble Pet the Tiger and Co. respond to a series of eleven drawings by artists Brian Lucas with a set of twelve elaborately crafted, abstract soundscapes.

Pet the Tiger & Co. is an unusually configured octet comprising three players of invented instruments (Bryan Day, Cheryl Leonard, and Tom Nunn); two players of prepared and found percussion (Suki O’Kane and Gino Robair); saxophonist Philip Greenlief, trumpeter/electronics artist Tom Djll, and vocalist David Samas, who also produced the album. On paper it’s a potentially rich and varied mixture of timbres that in reality proves to be exactly that. Much about these performances is abstract in the way that acousmatic music is abstract—unusual sounds whose provenance is either obscure or obscured—which isn’t surprising, given the predominance of invented instruments or modified acoustic instruments. The textures of these performances are akin to mosaics made of multicolored, loosely joined tiles—even though the group is large, the sound rarely gets cluttered or overly dense. Samas’ voice is in keeping with the overall acousmatic feeling, consisting as it does of overtone singing, pre-verbal utterances and speech in some indecipherable language. On Ally the acoustic voices of Greenlief’s saxophone and Djll’s trumpet come to the foreground in a way that slyly acknowledges the conventionally musical and, given the context of the other performances, comes as a peculiar kind of shock.

Lucas’ drawings, which the group interpreted as graphic scores, are included in the CD’s booklet. They are colorful geometric and stylized works that seem to allude to astronomical, mythological, and metaphysical subjects—arcane provocations that Pet the Tiger and Co. aptly bring to sonic life.

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AMN Reviews: Albert / Day / Kreimer – Mutations [Public Eyesore PE 142]

Mutations is the product of the virtual collaboration of sound artists and instrument builders Bryan Day of San Francisco and Jay Kreimer of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Marco Albert, an Italian-born musician now based on Oaxaca, Mexico. The three played together in Queretaro, Mexico, in 2018 at the Festival Internacional de Improvisación y Música Extrema, where they had the idea of continuing to work together via file sharing. For Mutations, each recorded his part at home; Albert provided the final mix.

The six tracks give evidence of the trio’s fine chemistry and obvious compatibility of approaches to sound, as well as the willingness of each to build an uncluttered audio space in which the others can thrive. Consequently, Day and Kriemer’s invented instruments combine with Albert’s electronics and voice to create richly colored environments telling of unlikely sounds: imaginary objects ricocheting off of mirrors amid electronic glisses bringing news of yesterday’s vision of the future. Albert’s voice grounds several of the pieces as he whispers coded messages against a background of kalimba-like, ad hoc percussion and scraped metal, delivers a lecture on modern art and objectification to an increasingly raucous—skeptical?—Greek chorus of noise, or chants over burbling sounds recalling the reaction of baking soda with hot water.

http://www.publiceyesore.com

http://bryanday.net/

http://jaykreimer.com/

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Public Eyesore’s Twentieth Anniversary

Summer 2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of Public Eyesore, the experimental music label founded and run by instrument maker and sound artist Bryan Day. Public Eyesore began as a part of the DIY cassette underground, a network of artists like Day who were creating sounds far removed from the mainstream and thus were in need of distribution channels of their own. Public Eyesore was originally located in the US Midwest—Day started it when he lived in Decorah, Iowa in the 1990s—and over the course of moves through several states ended up in the San Francisco Bay area, Day’s current home base. Originally a vehicle for Day’s own work and for congenial artists from the Midwest, it now features improvisers and other experimentalists from around the world both on its regular Public Eyesore imprint and its Eh? CDR sublabel.

Guitarist Bill Brovold’s Michael Goldberg Variations [PE 142] answers the challenge Brovold’s friend Goldberg posed to him in the early 2000s: could Brovold create a minimalist work that wouldn’t be repetitive and “meandering?” Brovold’s response is this set of eleven duets and one trio. The variations in question are variations based on the very minimal, basic material of two notes a fourth apart. They serve as theme, framework and foundation: sometimes as a simple melody or melodic fragment, sometimes as an ostinato or quasi-arpeggio, sometimes as a harmonic guide. Each of the twelve variations introduces changes of texture, instrumentation, arrangement, and so forth, giving each individual piece its own character while at the same time binding them all with a common, recognizable likeness.

Michael Gendreau’s Polvo serán, mas polvo enamorado [PE 140] is—mostly–an essay in liminal sound. Gendreau is an acoustician working on noise design in built environments; the raw material of much of his work consists of low frequency vibrations and their relationship to the resonances of rooms. His recording features long stretches of sounds that exist at the margins of perception, some of which are more felt than heard. But beware: the apparent silence may be broken by an unexpected and jarring upsurge of loud sounds.

Live in Japan [eh?102] is a duo set from Tania Chen and Jon Leidecker, recorded in Osaka, Chiba and Tokyo in May 2017. Chen, a UK pianist who also makes sound with found objects, toys and lo-fi electronics, and Leidecker, an experimental electronics musician from San Francisco, both appear on a recently released recording of John Cage’s Electronic Music for Piano (which also includes David Toop and Thurston Moore); they also collaborated in 2016 on Chen’s Colour Fields for video and electronics, which is in some respects a foreshadowing of Live in Japan. As with Colour Fields the performances here are about the color and textural properties of electronic sounds (and occasionally Chen’s voice): their tone, saturation, density, and reciprocal cross-shadings.

Happy twentieth, and many more.

http://www.publiceyesore.com

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Collision Stories – Those Missing Will Complete Us [Public Eyesore 137]

Collision Stories are a quartet of San Francisco sound artists concocting an unorthodox mélange of sounds from an appropriately unorthodox set of instruments. Individually, the four—Jorge Bachmann, Bryan Day, Michael Gendreau and Mason Jones—bring highly varied backgrounds to their collective work. Jones, for example, is a guitarist; at the other end of the instrumental spectrum, Day coaxes sounds from handcrafted intonarumori made of metal measuring tapes, radio transceivers, springs and a miscellany of contact mic’d wood, wire and metal. Put together, the group’s sound, as captured on this CD of ten tracks recorded live and in the studio, is an aggregate of elements that are as unclassifiable as they are unidentifiable. Common to all the pieces is a sonic plasticity made of carefully juxtaposed and spaced timbres—sounds of obscure generation impacting each other and then dispersing in a heavily reverberant environment. This is sound that comes very close to the condition of abstract painting: irregular shapes of pure color held together with a finely-tuned dynamism.

http://www.publiceyesore.com

Daniel Barbiero