Reviews that mention Phil Durrant

June 11, 2020

Phil Durrant/Emil Karlsen

Noumenon N 005

Among his other achievements as a Free Improviser which stretch back to the late 1970s, Phil Durrant now introduces another. Playing the common doubled metal stringed mandolin he produces a sound almost identical to the spiky, microtonal jangles pioneered by Derek Bailey’s guitar. Ably partnered by percussionist Emil Karlsen, the two extended live improvisations from London are both timeless and original. Moreover they could fit on discs recorded in 1969 as easily as 2020.

Classically trained as a violinist, Durrant has also utilized software, synthesizers, samplers and live electronics over the years in ensembles featuring everyone from Bertrand Denzler to Mark Sanders. But this appears to be his debut as a mandolinist. Approximately four decades Durrant’s junior, Norwegian-born Karlsen plays with fellow sound explorers of many generations including Mark Hanslip and Phil Wachsmann. MORE

January 13, 2020

Phil Durrant & Bill Thompson

Burning Harpsichord BHR 003

Andrea Parkins & Matthew Ostrowski

Elective Affinities

Infrequent Seams 21

Michel Wintsch & Benoit Piccand


Wide Ear Records WER 038

Udo Schindler & Korhan Erel


Creative Sources CS 486 CD

Expanding within the community so it has become almost commonplace, one of the prevalent challenges for exploratory musicians in the 21st century is the integration of electronic and acoustic sounds. Without abandoning acoustic instruments completely as some have done, the tension engendered by craftily emphasizing both currents is exciting in itself, as these sessions prove. Since improvisation is involved though, each duo here shades the electro-acoustic divide somewhat different. The sessions by Americans Andrea Parkins and Matthew Ostrowski and UK-based Phil Durrant and Bill Thompson are the most committed to electronic expression, while the discs by Germans Udo Schindler and Korhan Erel and Michel Wintsch and Benoit Piccand from Switzerland emphasize acoustic qualities. MORE

October 21, 2018

Trio Sowari

Third Issue
Mikroton Records 5056


Bird Saw Buchla

Clang DL 061

Two trios mix electronic instruments with acoustic ones on these attractive discs, although the melding and instrumental identification appears to work better for one than the other. Already an established international entity is as advertised the third iteration of Trio Sowari, with Swiss tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler, German percussionist Burkhard Beins and British software synthesizer Phil Durrant. An ad hoc, first-time grouping, Bird Saw Buchla joins the skills of American clarinetist David Rothenberg, German guitarist Nicola L. Hein and German-American Hans Tammen, who uses his textural guitar skills on the Buchla musical easel, a vintage analog synthesizer. MORE

November 8, 2013

Festival Report

Crak Festival Paris
By Ken Waxman

Completed in the mid-16th Century in the flamboyant gothic style, the mammoth and solid Eglise St-Merry characterizes the Beauborg area on the right bank of Paris as much as the nearby ornate 19th century Hôtel de Ville and the brutalist, high-tech architecture of 1977’s Centre Georges Pompidou. During the second annual Crak Festival September 26-29 however, St-Merry’s musty arches, pulpits and 30-foot-high ceilings served as an unexpected backdrop for sounds from the 20th and 21st centuries and beyond. MORE

September 5, 2011

Pres Revisited:

Józef Patkowski in Memorium
Bolt Records DUX 0812/13

Fascinating in its bravado, this set joins one CD of 1960s and 1970s recording of important musique concrete by five Polish composers with another CD of acoustic improvisations on these themes by three British and two Polish players. The result not only captures cerebral variants of the compositions but also affirms the originality of the sounds created in the days of bulky tape recorders and thick coaxial cables.

Honoring Józef Patkowski (1929-2005), co-founder of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio (PRES) in 1957 and its director for 28 years, the original recordings revisit the musical freedom offered by PRES during those Cold War years. For instance Krzystof Penderecki’s Psalmus (1961) uses electronic filtering and flanges to deconstruct vowels and constants initially created by the bel canto gurgles and quivering yodels of male and female singers. John Tilbury’s contemporary piano version is more chromatic, with vibrating and strumming strings resonating on top of basso keyboard rumbles. After the tune reaches satisfactory linearity, he shatters the mood by shrilling a lifeguard’s whistle. MORE

January 3, 2011


The King of Herrings
Jedso Records #3

Undulating, abrasive, concentrated and distanced textures characterize this live soundscape, conceived of and recorded in London by free improvisers from three different countries. Over the course of two 20-minute plus, and one shorter, tracks, laptoppist Phil Durrant from the United Kingdom, Canadian bassist Joe Williamson and Swede David Stackenäs using guitar and preparations, contrast and connect timbres, which are flanged, deconstructed and granulized in such a way as to present a completely unique interface. If there is any criticism of this strategy, it’s that only on the third track are the actual sonic qualities of the instruments’ audible for extended periods. MORE

August 21, 2006


News From The Shed

By Ken Waxman

Twenty years after the News From The Shed quintet was first constituted and about a dozen since it stopped playing concerts for good, a CD like NEWS FROM THE SHED takes on historical as well as musical importance.

Released as an LP on reedist John Butcher’s own Acta label in 1989, the session confirmed that the second generation of British Free Improvisers had established themselves as firmly as the first. Perhaps it’s comparable to HORACE SILVER AND THE JAZZ MESSENGERS or Max Roach and Clifford Brown’s DAAHOUD of the 1950s, which served notice of a hard bop renaissance spearheaded by younger players. MORE

March 17, 2003


Still point
Rossbin RS 007

Confront 12

Silence and the overtones associated with near silence are the guiding factors of these CDs, which both include British cellist Mark Wastell. With textural space on show and protracted electro-acoustic wheezes characterizing many of the abstractions here, neither of the two chamber-style quartets could be confused with conventional jazz, rock or New music ensembles. Neither sounds like the other either. All of which proves that there are as many variations of near silence as there are types of noise. MORE