Posts Tagged ‘improvisation’

Mike Khoury, Ernesto Diaz-Infante – “Hymns for New Fathers”

August 17, 2008

An opportunity for a long-distance collaboration has prompted me to start pulling out many examples of such work from my shelves for re-examination. There’s no shortage of folks working through e-mail, but the fact that it’s even more of an imperfect science than ordinary improvisation means a good lot of it is somewhat lacking.

That’s why I’m happy to report the general success of this 3″ CDR from Mike Khoury’s “Detroit Improvisation” series. A rough-edged little thing, it features twelve untitled sketches of violin and guitar. As is his custom, Khoury employs a variety of techniques for playing his violin; Diaz-Infante often contrasts Khoury’s more blunt approach with a layer of ringing and droning guitar.

The sound quality is better than you might suspect, with interesting stereo effects adding greatly to the overall enjoyment for listeners. On the eleventh track, Diaz-Infante’s pluckings bounce back and forth across the stereo field, while Khoury takes up residence in the middle. The final track explores instrument resonance, with a thrumming pulse spread out before the staccato pops of like a crackling radio tuner.

Initially available in a small run of 50 copies, “Hymns for New Fathers” may be difficult to find. Cross your fingers, and contact Mike Khoury directly to see if there are any copies remaining.

Nils Bultmann – “Terminally Unique”

August 9, 2008

I like the aim of this album, and I like its relative simplicity. For “Terminally Unique,” Nils Bultmann constructs an independent track (partly from improvisation and partly in Pro Tools) for each line of a short poem. Bultmann, playing viola on the majority of songs, is joined by Roscoe Mitchell for a handful of tracks– most noteably on “the madness,” where he provides a dark saxophone bed for Bultmann’s viola and Parry Karp’s cello can become increasingly paranoid. Paddy Cassidy’s contribution to the track, his sole appearance on “Terminally Unique,” is a memorable djembe counterpoint with an unusual finish.

Bultmann seems willing to adapt new methods in order to conjure the appropriate mood, though the process can occasionally yield uneven results. “Marched Upward,” begins with a rather obvious martial flavor, and some heavy-handed keyboard technique. However, Bultmann’s introduction of Wurlitzer organ changes this track immensely. What was previously quite predictable quickly shifts into something more interestingly surreal, with dissonant held tones and fluttering arpeggio lines.

More exciting for me are Bultmann’s varied use of field recordings. “Again” makes fine use of a spinning coin, and “Reverently” fuses an indistinct sermon with Bultmann and Mitchell’s slow pas de deux on viola and flute. This all flows very well into “the pulsing,” an apt description of the tremolo effect employed here, as well as the general push-pull of one line into the next. In contrast, “Primal” is crude and blunt– it has a place, but thankfully not a focal one, in this album.

In all, “Terminally Unique” is a much more enjoyable album than I would have initially guessed. In truth, I don’t often feel that I connect well with program music, so I’m pleased to have found so many instances where that feeling subsided and I could just take it in. I would have liked to hear more in the way of extended techniques and greater use of field recordings throughout, with the caveat that they step too far from Bultmann’s evocative playing.

“Terminally Unique” is available as release 17530 on the Mutable Music label.

Daniel Godston, Eric Glick Rieman live guests on “ITDE”

August 4, 2008

I just confirmed Daniel Godston and Eric Glick Rieman as live guests on my upcoming broadcast, this August 9th– obviously you’re going to want to tune in.

With guidance provided by a graphic score co-composed by a trio of garden snails, Rieman and Godston will be improvising on  deconstructed/reconstructed Rhodes piano, trumpet, and “small instruments”. If you’re in the area, I welcome you to drop by the station.

Please be aware that I may attempt to draft you to take us all out for breakfast afterward, so bring your wallet.

This is going to be a fantastic broadcast, and I really don’t want you to miss a minute of it. Be sure to tune in this coming Saturday, from 4-6:30 AM, CST to catch the whole thing. Feel free to call in at: 618-457-3691 to show your support for experimental and improv music, and of course, for your favorite DJ.

Look below the fold for tour info:

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Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/8/07

December 8, 2007

Update: The download for this broadcast is now available. As always, I implore you to turn from your churlish ways– please visit the linked musicians and labels in the playlist below– and most importantly, support those you enjoy by purchasing their albums. Feel free to name-drop your favorite DJ when placing your order. I can’t guarantee you a 75% discount on your bill, but philosophers assure me that things can’t be proven not to exist, either.

I don’t have a lot to say this week, so I’m leaving the commentary rather sparse. Earlier, I answered the phone: “Yes, your radio is broken, whaddya want?” so you can see how it’s going around here. On the upside, I might have turned someone on to the Last Visible Dog label with the Vapaa disc– and that’s always a good thing.

Had to play a little Stockhausen on today’s show, obviously… gets me thinking about the media term “gatekeepers,” and how difficult it must have been to hear someone like Stockhausen when he was younger. I imagine if you weren’t in a major city, you probably couldn’t even order one of his recordings, could you? It’s a wonderful world in some ways now– it’s going to be very interesting to see how the simple availability of materials such as these affect our collective appreciation and understanding of the greater “whole” of art.

Some new stuff arrived from Lona Records yesterday. I had to check out the Maurizio Bianchi album “Zyklusters” first. I’m really digging it, but I’m not certain the description on the back isn’t a put-on, at least not without a dictionary. If anyone is “seeking the tumorigenic antithesis of the embryonal context in the dissonant framework,” please stand up.

I keep promising to write reviews, and I keep being a chump about following through. Can I call a truce? I’m tired out! My next review will definitely be Charlie J. Moneybags’ “An Evening With…” disc, even though it may not be a proper release. I don’t care. I have things to say about it, but I also have a lot of dishes to do. Surely, you can see the problem: Dishwater + Keyboard = Electrical hazard

Hot damn. George Korein/Naked Mall Rats is so much fun to listen to. Gotta love the track “I Just Wanna Pwn You,” with all the variations on how to pronounce “pwn,” lol. Speaking of things I can’t pronounce– “Phon°noir,” anyone? Seriously, folks… why do you do this to me? Between the Finnish, the pseudo-electronic IDM track titles, and the ASCII symbols; you’re killing me.

You can type degree symbols at home, though, and be just like your favorite experimental music blogger: activate your number lock button, hold down ALT, and type “167” on your number pad. º, easy!

Garth Kunkle — Shake it Like Jello and Make it Say Hello
Metis Yeti — Verdun Massacre
Hong Chulki — Without Cartridge 1
Mike Hallenbeck — Eventualities 01.1: Voice
Mike Hallenbeck — Shuffletronics #1: A Beginning, A Middle, And an End
MurmurDiscovery of Mother Voidness
Vapaa — Varjoista
Muck — On Any Given Day The Inspection From Within
Karlheinz Stockhausen — Kontra-Punkte Op. 1, For 10 Instruments
Maurizio Bianchi — Zyklusters
Charlie J. Moneybags — Hope
Naked Mall Rats — There Must Be Somewhere
Naked Mall Rats — I Just Wanna Pwn You
Naked Mall Rats — Moved By Your Emoticon
Naked Mall Rats — Stop Trolling My Life
Phon°noir — Embryo
Phon°noir — From Time to Time We Change Our Minds
Phon°noir — Airplane Traces in the Sky
Phon°noir — No More Sad Dreams
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:04
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — from Henry who just wrote
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:03
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — :57
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:05
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:02
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 3:08 Cranking up it’s pathos
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:02
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:03
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — 1:05

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/1/07

December 1, 2007

So far, today’s broadcast has been a lot of fun. I was surprised to learn that yet another DJ has been given the killer timeslot just before “It’s Too Damn Early,” this being “Sweet Action Radio Hour,” with Nick. Of course, I say “killer” because this timeslot seems to feed on the blood of DJs– between being trainwrecks of one show following another (remember when I came on after hip-hop and before vintage cowboy songs?) and the late hour, a lot of otherwise-fine shows have gasped their last in the early hours before ‘ITDE.”

I’ll admit, I hope “Sweet Action Radio Hour” makes it. I had a nice drive in to the station while listening to David Bowie, and got turned on to a new solo track from Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, who was apparently turned on by Penderecki.

Listening to this track, I knew I had to follow with Stockhausen’s “Helicopter Quartet,” having recently heard an excerpt of this at the master’s site. Just for kicks, I let the Greenwood track come back in afterward, and play to a close. Nice!

What was most interesting was how open Nick and company (he had a couple guests) were to experimental music and methods. As I’ve noted before, circuit bending seems to be reaching more and more people now, and Southern Illinois is apparently no different. We discussed noise a little bit, and Stockhausen, and netlabels

It’s nice to find new people willing to check these sorts of things out, so naturally, I’m inspired to continue bringing these sounds into the area– and yes, for you too. (link to more below pic)

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DaveX apparently has abandonment issues

November 27, 2007

With downloads of my most recent “It’s Too Damn Early” broadcast (11/24/07) quickly tapering off, I can only assume you all need some new listening material. Or you’re bogged down with my old shows. Or you hate me.

Anyways, despite your bewildering lack of interest in the link above, I’m going to take a chance and share *gasp* another radio show with you. One that’s not even my own!

Before you nominate me for “Most Selfless in a Dramatic Blog” let me make you aware that I have a vested interest in this other program– I’m on it! Yes, I’m referring to ~ORE~ Theatre Intangible, a program of experimental music and free improvisation hosted by Tony Youngblood.

As you may recall, I’ve been tapped to create an ongoing series of short experimental mixes for this incarnation of ~ORE~. This has resulted in my “It’s Too Damn Startling” mix series, the latest of which was broadcast during Tony’s 11/25/07 broadcast.

Original photography by Tony Youngblood

But wait, there’s more! My recent release, “Tenex,” also found it’s way into the broadcast– alongside the Evolution Control Committee, Gyorgy Ligeti, US Maple, John Cage, and an excerpt of some Nashville-based free improvisers from the previous week’s broadcast.I’d love for you to check this out. The show download is available here, with the complete playlist below. Enjoy! –DaveX

The Evolution Control Committee — 5000 BC
Louis Barron, Bebe Barron — Battle with Invisible Monster
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band — I Wanna Find a Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have to Go
US Maple — Mountain Top
The Evolution Control Committee — Toot
Davenport — Dear Skull
DNA — Not Moving
Teenage Jesus & The Jerks — Baby Doll
Mars — Puerto Rican Ghost
The Evolution Control Committee — Lunch
John Cage — First Construction (In Metal)
Gyorgy Ligeti — String Quartet 1-2, Metamorpho
Louis Barron, Bebe Barron — Robby Arranges Flowers
Karlheinz Stockhausen — Struktur IX
Pan Sonic — Groundfrost Being
Throbbing Gristle — Tanith
DaveX — Tenex
DaveX — It’s Too Damn Startling! #2
~ORE~ Theatre Intangible — Angry Beavers (episode 11/18/07, excerpt)

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 11/24/07

November 24, 2007

Update: This broadcast is now available for download. As always, I ask that you do not use this as a substitute for the actual recordings– instead, I encourage you to seek out the artists and labels linked throughout this commentary and playlist. Thanks for listening! –DaveX

I started today’s broadcast about 15 minutes early. With three hours of sleep, I’m actually feeling better than you’d think– of course, I did little yesterday except eat leftover tofurky and watch “The Office”…

I kicked everything off with Hong Chulki’s “Turntable” double 3″ set from Seoul-based label Balloon & Needle. I played from the “no cartridge” disc last week, so I aired the “with cartridge” disc this time around. I have a tremendous soft spot for experimental turntable work, and Chulki’s generous and straightforward recordings certainly fit the bill. Currently, I’m playing from “Hum and Rattle,” featuring more of Chulki’s turntable, as well as Choi Joonyong’s work with manipulated CD player.

Like Otomo Yoshihide‘s turntable recordings, these are both noisy without being “noise” recordings, and are seemingly quite interested in many of the smaller sounds able to be generated with such sources as well as the more obvious louder ones. As a side note, I’m also really impressed with the design of both releases– “Turntable” features a subtle set of triangles to help listeners match the otherwise-featureless discs to their respective sides; “Hum and Rattle” is displayed nicely in a bit of folding cardstock that cleverly grasps the disc on both sides.

How’s this for a cool release? Uton and Valerio Cosi! I’m playing from their Fire Museum Records release “Kaarmeenkaantopiiri,” which I have no hope of pronouncing correctly on-air. This disc isn’t nearly as mysterious as previous Uton recordings I have encountered, with a much stronger musical bond between the two musicians than I would have guessed. This ends up sounding quite a bit like a more dramatically-layered My Cat is an Alien, very cool!

Moving to the Last Visible Dog release “Hum Hum Hum” from Vapaa… the track “Varjoista,” so we’ll have some time to get into Keijo Virtanen and company’s mindset– not always the easiest thing to do on radio.

It’s been a while since I last played an Ernesto Diaz-Infante/Chris Forsyth collaboratition– “Wires and Wooden Boxes” is actually among the first I heard from either artist, so I’m happy to be able to play from this one, “(As Is Stated… Before Known)” on Pax Recordings and Evolving Ear. I’m planning to do some new reviews this coming week, so look for some more information about this disc in upcoming blog entries.

Also new this week from Pax is another album from The Abstractions! Truthfully, this is a split-label effort, with help from Edgetone Records as well… so it’s a real pastiche of Bay-area improvisers and sound artists– Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Rent Romus, Bob Marsh, Marjorie Sturm, Matt Davignon… you see where I’m going with this!

There’s a lot of left-wing political lyrics here, which sort of turns me off– not that I don’t agree that Bush is a complete moron, I just don’t like mixing politics and music… it’s like putting dirt in a grilled cheese or something. On the other hand, for those of you who don’t mind a bit more fearsome gnashing at the bit of straight society, (and dig strange flavorings of music) The Abstractions’ “Novo Navigatio” might be just the thing for you.

I ended up playing a lot more of Frank Rothkamm’s “LAX” disc than I thought I would have– this is a real infectious release, and I’ll definitely have more of it for you next week. Don’t be surprised if some Rothkamm makes its way into my “It’s Too Damn Startling!” contribution to tonight’s broadcast of WRVU-FM’s “~Ore Theatre Intangible”

“Hey! You got Rothkamm in my podcast!” Sorry, I had to do it.

I also played a long selection from Gianluca Becuzzi and Fabio Orsi’s “Wildflowers Under the Sofa,” which is available through Last Visible Dog Records. This is a really enjoyable disc– a great blend of the drone and avant-garde elements LVD is known for.

Hong Chulki — With Cartridge 1
Hong Chulki — With Cartridge 2
Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong — hr
Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong — ua
Uton, Valerio Cosi — Silmaympyrakolmio
Vapaa — Varjoista
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — The Sun is Shining
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — How Little Observed… Half a Mile Distant
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — Tomorrow
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — Some Years Since (The Moon, Supposing It To Be Uninhabited)
The Abstractions — Lament the Fallen
The Abstractions — Take Off Leave Now Never Come Back
The Abstractions — Christian Bush
The Abstractions — Take Yourself Seriously
Frank Rothkamm — Temporarily Unavailable OR Descent into LAX
Frank Rothkamm — Los Angeles OR LATV
Frank Rothkamm — Beehive OR Focal Point of Masonic Meditation
Frank Rothkamm — Digital Signal Processor OR Earthquake
Frank Rothkamm — Still Random OR Burial of Music
Frank Rothkamm — Digital Feedback OR Highland
Gianluca Becuzzi, Fabio Orsi — No Flower
Gianluca Becuzzi, Fabio Orsi — Last Flower

Improvisation for killers

November 21, 2007

A while back, I got hooked on playing Grid Wars 2, a freeware PC ripoff of an Xbox game I’m not familiar with. I’ve never been much of a gamer, having very little patience for the gigantic time-wasting MMORPG’s so popular these days. My taste in games runs two ways– open-ended and self-directed wonders such as Armadillo Run, or classic arcade action where you can play until you’re sick of it and then just switch it off and forget it for the next six months. Grid Wars 2 is a perfect example of the latter.

sp32-70.jpg

A few weeks back, I decided to replace all of the sounds in my copy of Grid Wars with various sound samples so I could use the game as a musical source for improv work. After trying a variety of different sounds from around the net– guitars, bass, vintage drum machines, other video game noises– I ran into a webspace of the South Holland-based gamelan group Marsudi Raras, who offer public-licensed and full-resolution gamelan samples.Kyahi Paridjata gamelan, a 200+ year-old holding of the Museum Nusantara in Delft, is played by Marsudi Raras each Saturday… on the off chance I ever make it to Delft, I’m going to have to check this out.

Anyhow, back to Grid Wards. After checking out over 250 individual samples of Kyahi Paridjata, I settled on 36, all I needed to replace the original sounds. Technically, 37 sounds are needed, but I discovered early on that whatever sound was assigned to the “auto-fire” function would quickly grow annoying, so I had begun using a file of audio silence for this purpose.

Commonly, improvisational music is thought of in terms of constructive teamwork. An improv ensemble works together to build upon one another’s soundings, with listening being a key ingredient for players who wish to contribute something worthwhile. It is a rare work, such as John Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” or Al Margolis’ more recent “An Innocent, Abroad”; where sound elements and players are unaware of one another– it is far more uncommon that the players to be directly antagonistic.

But that’s how it was with my improvisational “partner,” the Grid Wars engine, constantly putting out a stream of cold-hearted villainous space creatures focused entirely on my destruction. How odd it was to find myself locked into this strange duet– with one half of my brain calmly allowing numerous enemies to sound into existence to create a more interesting ensemble, and the other half screaming “KILL! KILL! KILL!”

And of course, I had to pay attention to both. My enemy had to be listened to, and often, allowed to continue existing for the sake of the piece. On the other hand, if I wanted the piece to continue, I had to slaughter parts of the ensemble in order to survive.

In short, not exactly your usual performing environment.

In the end, I was pleased with many of the results, and decided to share my favorite recording with you– an 8-minute gamelan-sampled adventure pitting man against machine hilariously* titled “Game-lan”. Enjoy!

* Actual humor may vary.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 11/10/07

November 10, 2007

I’m getting off to a tiny bit of a late start this week, as I was trying to sleep as much as possible before I came in for the show. I’ve been a bit under-the-weather, and had to debate with myself whether I would come in at all. That’s the peril of such an odd-timed broadcast, so I hope this week is worth it!

I’m not in much of a writing mood this morning– I’m a bit worried about one of my dogs, who injured her eye somehow yesterday. First thing on today’s agenda is getting over to the vet… until then, my heart’s just not in the blogging. I’ll keep up the playlist, but don’t look for anything fantastic to happen otherwise.

Update: My dog’s eye is doing a bit better– the vet says its a simple eye infection, and not injured. Some meds should clear everything up. As for the downloadable mp3 of the show, it didn’t come through quite as well; it starts midway through Sabrina Siegel’s “Flutter: Embodiments,” though I’m not exactly sure in exactly which track. Enjoy it, and be sure to support the artists and labels listed below! –DaveX

Bob Marsh, Theresa WongLive at the Luggage Gallery
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.1)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.2)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.3)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.4)
Eddie the Rat — Lip-synching At Zero Gravity
Eddie the Rat — Calling Mr. Stratosphere
Bitrate — Disinformation

–following tracks taken from Public Guilt / Epicene Sound Systems / Underadar release “Untitled,” a 3-CD set–

Guilty Connector — H0wling at the Moon 39.2 As Emerges From the Depths of Ikoma Yama First Ikoma Attack
Teeth Collection – 1 Untitled Track
Wether — Sting & Sweat
Thurston Moore — dickraymakerz

–END “Untitled” 3-CD set–

Scott R. Looney — Rumination
Scott R. Looney — Janus
Scott R. Looney — Intermittent
Scott R. Looney — IuxtasEnTempore
Jess Rowland – The Waves Sound Sometimes Close and Sometimes Far Away


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