AMN Reviews: Workshop Concert at Café Oto

Workshop Concert at Café Oto [Matchless MRCD87]

In 1999 AMM percussionist Eddie Prevost founded what was to become a long-running weekly workshop in improvisation in London. After its move to the Café Oto, the series instituted a monthly workshop concert. This CD captures the workshop concert that took place on Monday 21 May 2012, curated by Seymour Wright. Wright invited a sextet of musicians which, in addition to Prevost on percussion, included Jennifer Allum on violin, Ute Kanngiesser on cello, Grundik Kasyansky on theramin and electronics, Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga on zither, and Daichi Yoshikawa on electronics.

The first improvisation on the disc is a 34 minute long round robin of duets involving all six participants. The substance of the piece arises from the textural contrasts afforded by the various pairings—strings with electronics, electronics with electronics, strings with percussion. Beginning with a stab of violin and short bursts of electronics, the improvisation winds its way through episodes of extended string technique, bowed metal, and a sometimes abrasive undertow of electronic sound. The round robin is followed by five shorter improvisations featuring different trio combinations. Here again the main focus is on the contrast of textures. The first trio, for instance, featuring Allum, Kasyansky and Prevost, combines the jangling of metal objects, plaintive notes from the violin, and the surge and rush of electronics. The fourth track’s trio of violin, cello and zither contrasts bow articulations and range, and adds to the mix the rougher, creaking sounds of pressured strings. The louder, more aggressive sound of the closing trio is bathed in a quasi-industrial ambience of rubbed, scraped and struck metal and feedback.

A workshop has something of the nature of a sketchbook—often, it’s a channel for work not made with public presentation in mind. But it does allow a view into the essential processes of creation, in this case listening and responding. And for that, this CD is a valuable document as well as the occasion for a listening experience interesting in its own right.

AMN Reviews: Beresford Küchen & Solberg – Three Babies

Steve Beresford
Steve Beresford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beresford Küchen & Solberg: Three Babies [PM 19]

This release captures the excitement and risk-taking of a trio performance recorded live at Café OTO. The three tracks, featuring Steve Beresford (piano and objects), Martin Küchen (sopranino saxophone) and Ståle Liavik Solberg (drums and percussion), document the being-in-the-moment of free improvisation free of edits and second guessing.

The group’s improvisational voice tends toward the aural likeness of a shifting mosaic, as fragmentary phrases and clusters of sounds and tones are assembled, disassembled, and put back together again in a different order. Küchen’s acute sopranino sax supplies a spikiness effectively complemented by Beresford’s restless exploration of the piano, while Solberg’s percussion undergirds the sound with a rumbling continuo or sporadic punctuation as needed. As with the best free improvisation, all three musicians interact with an organic sympathy, leaving each other openings or lending support as the unfolding situation demands.