Six Recent Releases

reviews by Caleb Deupree


Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble Drawn Inward (ECM)

Lawrence Casserly comes on as an additional member, bringing the total roster count to seven.  I like this one even more than their first.  For a seven piece group, their sound is surprisingly delicate at times.  There's not much overt soloing, but much more sonic creation.  Sometimes Parker or Wachsmann will start something, and the processors will spin out extensions of the original.  Very well done, and with excellent liner notes by Simon Emmerson.
 

Fred Frith & Ensemble Modern  Traffic Continues (Winter & Winter)

This disc contains two pieces (Traffic Continues I and II) Frith wrote for the Ensemble Modern, both somewhat aleatoric, consisting of "a number of cells of composed music which can be juxtaposed with improvisation of various kinds."  The first piece is for the ensemble alone, and repeats melodic fragments, sometimes stretching out the notes to form long chords, sometimes breaking the melodies up in a klangfarben way among the various instruments.  The second piece is a tribute to Tom Cora and not only features samples of Skeleton Crew, but the addition of Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori as soloists.  The addition of so much electronics changes the fabric of the piece dramatically.  Very complex music, very rewarding on repeated listenings.
 

Horatiu Radulescu  Piano Concerto The Quest (CPO)

After a recent discussion about spectralists, I thought I'd try this piece.  Radulescu shows a great debt to Messaien in the rhythmic and harmonic structures of the piece, which has little of the overt virtuosity I usually associate with concerti.  And I also understand better the term spectralists (which could apply to the Parker album above as well), as he doubles the piano part with high strings and glockenspiel playing the overtones.  One of the more imaginative and effective orchestral pieces I've heard from the 1990s.
 

Chris Cutler and Thomas Dimuzio  Quake (ReR)

After the Lehn/Hemingway improv album last year which I liked so much, here is another percussion/electronics duo improv session, but very different from the Lehn/Hemingway outings.  Cutler and Dimuzio get a lot messier, pretty much along the lines you'd imagine from Dimuzio's solo electronics outing Headlock and Cutler's other duo improvs with Fred Frith and Zeena Parkins (all recommended as well).  I hope this combination of improv outings becomes a more common format, there's lots of room to move around and lots of opportunity for great imaginative sonic creation.
 

Derek and the Ruins  Saisoro (Tzadik)

I'll put in a quick word, even though probably most everyone has this.  It's everything that Guitar Drum n Bass on Avant should have
been.  This is my first Ruins album, and the pace is very energetic throughout, but a little more variety than GDnB.  Occasional vocalizing, but all three players are great.
 

Jazzkammer  Jazzkammer (RuneGrammofon)

Although the performance information is slim, this is probably a series of hard disk recordings rather than live improv sessions between a guitarist/noisemaker/turntablist and electronics player.  The final sounds come out somewhere between Oval and Merzbow -- Oval for the skittering, almost recognizable sounds that self destruct fairly quickly, and Merzbow for the occasional onslaught and roar.  RuneGrammofon brought us Supersilent albums last year, which I thought were an interesting extension of jazz, but this album has *nothing* to do with any jazz tradition I know or imagine.


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