tst003. Graham Dunning/Edward Lucas. End of a Cable
Bandcamp Daily – The best experimental music, june 2019
The small, sparse sounds that Graham Dunning and Edward Lucas improvise on End of a Cable may qualify as minimal, but they’re never static. The album’s sense of constant motion is most clear in Lucas’s trombone playing, which punctuates so many moments that it feels like he’s conducting with his instrument. But more likely, he’s responding to Dunning’s array of noises—generated with turntable, drums, and various “objects”—which themselves become responses to Lucas. Dunning’s turntable sounds are field recordings which he pressed to acetate records to use as instruments, and there’s a buzzing environmental quality to the pieces here. But the best thing about End of a Cable is its balance of naturalism and control. It’s all organic and loose, but one always feels the presence of Dunning and Lucas, picking sounds at just the right moments.
A fiery static and fluttering trombone invite you to the End of a Cable, the just-released effort by Graham Dunning & Edward Lucas on a brand-new tape label out of Spain, TSSS Tapes. And this is a welcome effort on all accounts. These seven short pieces by the duo blend a peculiar mix of sound objects, instruments and the turntable. Do we hear bats as the two slough and drain their breath? The tactile surfaces, squawks and distortions all play well together in this collision of warp and recess.
There are dissonant ruptures along the way, as they rattle and inflate the conversation with ersatz, post-jazz flourishes, synthesizing a keen balance between whaling blurts and lil’ frenetic microsounds. At times a sort of quirky utilitarianism seems at play (Disorderly) and at others it feels as though Dunning & Lucas want to mock the droids that made so many modern day sci-fi classics sing. It’s perfectly imbalanced.
My standout track is the reserved Rotary, which has this snakelike in-wait style with these short blurts of coloration, coming off like a riddle unfurling slowly. Through the rubberized pangs and shallow silences, squall and drag, the lethargic and exuberant moments, is a record that begs to be heard.
Both musicians are great figures of experimental jazz scene. Musicians are playing together with famous jazz stars, they’re very well-known on world-wide jazz scene. Graham Dunning has interesting style, inspiring playing manner, unique sound and original point of view. His music is totally based on free improvisation, experimental jazz and some ethnic tunes of Italian and Southern Europe countries traditional rhythms. Edward Lucas is another one great improviser – his music is filled with passion, innovative ideas, expressive playing manner and modern expressions who fill all the musical pattern. Experimental, creative, free and avant-garde jazz, free improvisation and experimental music are joined together in his improvisations. Both musicians are open to new ideas, fresh tunes and inventive, radical or provocative ways of playing. Their music is based on fresh new strain and brand, original and inspiring sound.
Experiments, wild and radical ideas, synthetic and open forms and wide stylistic range are connected on “End of a Cable”. Both musicians are demonstrating their musical knowledge, bright and individual sound and authentic, specific, radical, expressive and driving ways of improvising. Musicians manage to create incredible instrumental section – it’s based on synthesis of experimental and traditional ways of playing, as well as special effects, expansion of technical abilities, extraction of strange, weird or peculiar timbres, gorgeous ornaments and coloristics. The music is wide and dynamic – musicians are going through different moods and expressions. Vivid, bright, sophisticated, frantic, furious, hollowing, angry, passionate, heavy, deep, light, flying, astonishing or surprising – it’s just impossible to predict the next turn of the music. The sound also changes – from natural, sweet and remarkable it gets rough, tough, heavy, ambient, striking, intense, low or filled with strange timbres and colorful expressions. Musicians create multi-colorful and illustrative musical pattern, which’s also enchanting, expressive, moving, vivid and bright. The musical pattern has open form, is based on free improvisation, sharp disonances at the harmonic pattern, dynamic rhythmic, gorgeous background and all kinds of rhythms, tunes, sounds and expressions. All music is a nice mix of experimental and contemporary academical music, experimental jazz and free improvisations. Musicians are experimenting on each case of musical language – especially on instrumental and timbral section. Edward Lucas is combining together heavy, deep and solid trombone’s tunes and all kinds of electronics. Stable, slow, cracking or solemn solos are contrasting to adventurous, hollowing, furiously powerful, passionate and sparkling culminations. These episodes are similar to full blasts of energy mixed up to repetitive rhythms, monotonic series, sharp disonances, strange tunes and peculiar chords. Special effects, imitations, alterated and modified timbres, loops, ambient, glitch, sonoristic and concrete music – that’s just a part of all wide range of expressions and playing techniques of electronics. Graham Dunning is experimenting with various instruments – his rhythmic section is leading, passionate and bright. Rare combos, eclectic pairs, exotic tunes, special effects, astonishing and fascinating experiments are the main compounds of his music. Low and high, slow and fast, furious and soft, peculiar and traditional, rare, exotic or bright, modern and original – musician manages to fuse together all types of rhythms, motions and sounds. Both musicians are improvising just marvelous – their music is a great mix of contemporary academical, experimental, concrete and sonoristic music, electronics, free improvisations, the innovations of experimental jazz and the roots of American and European avant-garde jazz. All these elements are perfectly joined together and make bright, modern and expressive sound.
Spanish label Tsss Tapes are now present here with their third release and they become an interesting voice in improvised music, here with another duet. This time, Graham Dunning uses the unlikely combination of a turntable, snare drum and objects and Edward Lucas on trombone. I don’t think I heard of him before, Dunning has been in these virtual pages a couple of times. Lucas is also the one who did the recording and mix of this. There are seven pieces on this release, which is perhaps not what you hear when you play this. Perhaps it is part of the nature of improvised music that we can’t discern one piece from the next, even if there are a few seconds of silence in the music. The music here is pretty radical throughout. I am not sure what the turntable does here,
safe for some common scratch like affairs, the trombone sounds very much like one would expect a trombone to sound, and Lucas plays sustaining tones, but also at times hectic, short ones. The snare drum at times also fairly ‘normal’, but scanned with objects it takes on a more abstract form. It is a form I like a bit more than a more regular free improvisation approach. They do a fine job at that as well, but perhaps the surprise is not really there for me. Especially the second side of this I dug very well. It was pretty radical sounding and that’s what I like best. It might upset a few more regular listeners of this kind of music.
tst002. Masayuki Imanishi/Marco Serrato. Caura
The Quietus/Spool’s Out
One of the most beautiful aspects of free improvisation is the lack of inevitability. So much of music is about predicting the next beat, or following a melody along, but the deepest improvisations can practically turn time – in constant forward motion as it always is – inside out. This long distance meetup between Masayuki Imanishi in Osaka and Marco Serrato in Sevilla does just that, rejecting any ideas of what music, jamming, or sound are supposed to be and do. Imanishi wields an array of field recordings, plus “speaker and contact microphone”, while Serrato mans a double bass.
As a listener, feeling around blindly for the duo’s sonic crossover points throughout is where the proverbial ‘action’ happens. Distant engine-like low end rumbles open the record, and the similarities between rippling arco bass and some mysterious crackling field noise trigger all manner of pleasant sensory confusion. Serrato’s throttling bass bowing gives long passages of the record a hefty sense of muddy doom, while Iminashi’s recordings of construction work, city bleeps, and goodness knows what else, seem to come from a dystopic future metropolis. As an experience, Caura triggers all manner of sensory memories, from trudging through a rainy field to jumping at the sound of a car backfiring. As a duet piece, seems to push both parties out of any familiar comfort zones, and right out there into the unknown, which as ever is energizing and frightening in equal measure.
The New Noise
Non deve sorprendere che un contrabbassista “estremo” come Marco Serrato prenda parte a progetti di varia natura, imparentati solo alla lontana con quel connubio di doom metal e improvvisazione para-jazz che sono gli Orthodox, la band spagnola in cui milita da anni. È dunque un piacere ascoltarlo nella seconda produzione di Tsss Tapes, l’etichetta fondata a Siviglia dal batterista italiano Francesco Covarino, di cui abbiamo già scritto, occupandoci della sua compilation inaugurale.
In Caura, questo il titolo della casetta, Serrato fa il paio con il giapponese Masayuki Imanishi, dedito a quelle che sembrano essere due azioni in parallelo: da una parte imbastire un background instabile e precario aggiungendo rumori e forme d’onda essenziali, tra field recordings, feedback e l’impiego di microfoni a contatto; dall’altra, invece, attuare – così pare – un processo di trasformazione che, per vie dirette o indirette, coinvolge e riguarda le tracce acustiche inviategli da Serrato, tanto che in alcuni punti pare che Imanishi voglia quasi imitare, doppiare o prolungare il suono originale delle corde, come per un innato istinto di metamorfosi. Qui più evidente e lì più camuffato, ma già di suo parecchio sui generis, il contrabasso di Serrato – che fa uso di tecniche estese, suonando con l’archetto e spesso, suppongo, andando oltre il ponte – diventa il punto di partenza di una improvvisazione elettroacustica lunga all’incirca trentacinque minuti e divisa in due brani rassomiglianti, che sembrano il frutto di pratiche svoltesi in uno scantinato tenuto in malo modo.
Covarino descrive Tsss Tapes e le sonorità che ha in programma di promuovere con tre semplici aggettivi: quiet and weird and free. Caura è molto weird e molto free, ma è anche un ascolto a suo modo inquietante, da vivere accovacciati nell’angolo buio della stanza, ché la quiete è soltanto apparente.
Imanishi uses field recordings as well but I think (no details provided on this cassette release) that they’re deployed in a realtime improvisatory manner, here accompanied by bassist Serrato. This creates an atmosphere that, going from what I can discern of Serrato’s attack (I don’t believe I’ve encountered him–or Imanishi–prior), has tinges of free improvisation, or even free jazz. Serrato uses plenty of extended techniques, sawing and agitating his bass in a manner that wouldn’t be out of place in a duo with, say, Han Bennink or Jack Wright. But embedded in the swirling, thick swarms of noise generated by Imanishi (from sources difficult to identify), the bass can possibly be heard as an anguished soloist in front of and within this quasi-orchestral morass, especially on ‘#1’. On the second side of the tape, the bass is more out front and Serrato evinces some impressive ideas, harsh and abstract. Imanishi’s contributions are lighter, more ethereal, even a tad spacey for my taste. But as the track progresses, this aspect dissipates and smoother, grainy and complex flow emerges, the bass settling in to scratch and paw behind and beside, and the music achieves a satisfying level of fluttery tastiness.
The four releases I reviewed by Masayuki Imanishi were all solo affairs, but here he teams up with another player for what is surely a duet of improvised music. I don’t think I heard of Serrato before. He plays the double bass, while Imanishi gets credit for “field recordings, speaker, and contact microphone”. It also says “recorded in Sevilla and Osaka by Masayuki Imanishi and Nacho García, December 2018/January 2019”, but I am not sure if that means that this is one or two concert recordings or perhaps some kind of collaboration through the mail. Perhaps the latter would be an odd thing for the world of improvised music, and certainly how this sounds, but you never know. Throughout the music is quite careful with lots of ‘small’ sounds from Imanishi, who also seems to be providing us with voice/mouth sounds and Serrato’s more traditional approach to the bass, via bowing, strumming and plucking the strings. Sometimes he leaps out to a more abstract playing of his instrument and scans the surface of the instrument to produce some additional sounds. Overall I would think that ‘#1’ is the quieter brother/sister of ‘#2′, which seems to be overall much more present, not allowing for much silence there. I enjoyed that more densely orchestrated piece over “#1’, which I found occasionally a bit too haphazard in the way it went. Too many small sounds but not yet a piece of music, if you get my drift.
tst001. Free Percussion
Noise Not Music
Free Percussion, the inaugural release on Francesco Covarino’s fledgling Tsss Tapes imprint, collects recordings by twelve abstract percussionists, each presenting an unrestricted improvisation using anything from a standard kit to toy instruments and bells. Claire Rousay, a San Antonio-based artist examining a wide range of concepts through her music, begins the set with an object-based kit performance whose unchecked scrapes, swirls, and rolls are mirrored by similarly whimsical later pieces such as Simon Camatta‘s “Concrete Love.” This is the best part about Free Percussion, that it both distinguishes and exposes similarities in these singularly creative musicians; comparisons can be drawn between the Tinguely-esque junk cacophony of Ted Byrnes’ “No” and the fluid drones explored by Tim Daisy on “For Ogden,” a kinship strengthened by their adjacent placing in the track list, even though it’s not as easy to conclude that the artists had anything alike in mind when they began playing. In addition to introducing and tracing connections between artists new to me, Free Percussion also gives me the opportunity to view pieces by my favorites in the context of their contemporaries; the intimate object orchestras of Rie Nakajima, the instantly recognizable malleted cymbals of Will Guthrie, and Covarino’s own quiet drags are even more captivating amidst kindred works.
Tiny Mix Tapes
Contributors to Tsss Tapes Free Percussion comp put their respective allsorts to work on what is the label’s inaugural release. Based in Granada, Spain, Tsss is a “tape label for quiet, textural, weird sounds.” The comp knocks to life with Claire Rousay precision, then shifts into metallic crab territory from Rie Nakajima. Seems like ball bearings are pattering on Chris Dadge’s kit while Hakon Berre gets a great dull-shears-cut-cans effect out of who knows what.
Can’t say enough about how well this tape is sequenced, often alternating between playing on what probably is a drum set, and what probably isn’t. For every Ted Byrnes continual junk-drawer overturn there’s a pinpoint flourish from Simon Camatta. For every atmospheric piece from Will Guthrie or João Lobo, there’s a gnaw-fest from Tim Daisy. There’s the aggregated density of Kevin Cocoran’s snare drums and bells, Skyler Rowe’s wave/particle exchanges, Francesco Covarino’s saturated rattlings.
Percussively tap here for a tape and pssst…more Tsss.
The New Noise
Il titolo di questa compilation è talmente didascalico da non lasciare adito a dubbi: qui si tratta di percussioni libere, primitive, astratte. Dietro al banco di produzione c’è una neonata tape label spagnola, la Tsss Tapes di proprietà del batterista italiano Francesco Covarino, classe 1979, che vive a Granada insegnando la sua lingua madre. Covarino ha chiamato in causa dodici batteristi di stampo free, più o meno radicali; per cui da brani che mantengono un approccio fieramente percussivo – quantunque improvvisato, spontaneo e senza compromessi – si passa a esplorazioni decisamente meno prevedibili, là dove lo strumento perde ogni memoria della sua originaria funzione ritmica.
Più nel concreto: se un Chris Dadge, tra movimenti fugaci e timbri legnosi, ci fa assaporare il suono pieno e profondo della cassa, un Ted Byrnes sguaina invece le lame e con vigore dirompente genera una massa rumorosa. Appena meno veemente è la mossa di Tim Daisy, che apre e chiude il suo brano con dei gong in punta di sospetto: una sensazione molto simile a quella provocata da Will Guthrie nel movimento successivo, una stanza piena di risonanze armoniche naturali. Con Skyler Rowe (il quale, curiosamente, sul finale fa emergere una parvenza di struttura) sono ancora esibizioni di rumore spontaneo, mentre lo stesso Francesco Covarino si muove quieto tra suoni acquatici e feedback ronzanti. Altrove è tutto uno sfrigolare di sonagli, di spazzole, di piatti e piattini depositati sui tamburi o colpiti con il mallet, di campanelli e campanacci, di oggetti inusuali e atti di sfregatura, come nella proposta di Kevin Corcoran, che, appunto sfregando, ottiene un bordone instabile pungolato da accenti squillanti.
Se vi interessa la prassi strumentale sviluppatasi in seno all’improvvisazione libera europea, quella, per intenderci, nata e cresciuta con i vari Paul Lovens, Pierre Favre, Han Bennik e altri giganti delle percussioni, allora questa compilation fa decisamente al vostro caso. Avrete a che fare con larghe dosi di istinto riversate sulle pelli, come se ognuno dei partecipanti avesse qualcosa da sfogare, un sentimento o un’inclinazione da dichiarare senza ricorrere alle parole: qui infatti contano i gesti, il gesto, le gesta.
A cassette release containing twelve short solo pieces by twelve percussionists, with the exception of a handful (Will Guthrie, Rie Nakajima, Tim Daisy, Chris Dadge) previously unknown to me. The works are largely out of a free-jazz, kitchen sink approach, generally skillfully deployed. While I would often have preferred a less frenetic attack, what they do they do quite imaginatively, with clarity and precision, Nakajima’s careful work is a welcome exception to this more active approach as is the delicate dance of cymbals bells and bowed metals by João Lobo that concludes the album. An interesting array, overall.
Percussion music by twelve different artists, many names sounding familiar for the
readers of these pages (I should hope). We have Rie Nakajima, Chris Dadge, Will Guthrie, Joao Lobo, next to names that don’t show up often, such as Tim Daisy Simon Camatta, Francesco Covarino or Skyler Rowe. “Snares, bells, cymbals, pinecones, rattles, brushes, bass drums, mallets & other objects that make a sound if you hit them, stroke them, let them bounce” and one could safely say this is a very diverse compilation, each exploring their notion of ‘percussion’ differently. There is more traditional percussion playing with bits of the kitbashed around, but also the rattling of acoustic objects is not forgotten, and pretty much anything in between, crossing from one side over to the other. Only very few ventures out into something radically different; Francesco Covarino, for instance, sounds like he is doing the dishes including water sounds and Rie Nakajima has almost motorized scanning of surfaces going on (glass mainly). Ted Byrnes wins the prize for being the loudest here; its a close-miked recording of what seems to empty a crate of metallic objects. It’s not always easy to distinguish one piece from the next, but that’s a common thing in the world of cassettes.
WFMU, What Was Music? July 9th, 2019
WRCT, Radio Free Radio, June 29th, 2019
Free Form Freakout, FFFoxy Podcast #143, june 23rd, 2019
WFMU, Radio Ravioli, june 14th, 2019
WFMU, Strength Through Failure, june 6th, 2019
Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone, february 26th, 2019
Free Form Freakout, FFFoxy Podcast #137, february 23rd, 2019