MATTHEW EARLE/WILL GUTHRIE/ADAM SUSSMAN

Bridges
Antboy Music 03

KYRIAKIDES/MOOR
Red v Green
Unsounds 08U

Although Australian percussionist Will Guthrie is the centre of these and other releases on the Antboy label, like all truly engaged in rhythm men, he meshes his sound with the others for a complete aural picture. Someone who performs on homemade and found instruments as well as a regular traps set, he’s interested in developing an original Australian improvised music identity. But that hasn’t stopped him from playing with overseas improvisers like British reedist John Butcher as well as locals like flautist Jim Denley. Both his associates have a rock background, with guitarist Adam Sussman splitting his time between free rock and sine wave collaborations. Electronics manipulator Matthew Earle, works regularly with Sussman and has played in Japan with Onkyo musicians.

On the other CD, guitarist Andy Moor from Edinburgh, has been guitarist with the Dutch anarcho/punk/improv band The Ex since 1990. Besides writing for dance, he often plays in different improv situations with folks like Australian drummer Tony Buck, German synth player Thomas Lehn and Butcher. Yannis Kyriakides, who plays live electronics here, is a British-raised Cypriot who studied with progressive Dutch composers like Louis Andriessen and Dick Raijmaakers. Utilizing physical space on this disc, Kyriakides has also been in the Icebreaker and MIMEO aggregations.

Boasting as many sound differences as Down Under has geographical differences, all three Assisi help sculpt the lapidary contours of BRIDGES. The nearly 19 minute first track includes timbres that suggest matches being struck and sticks being rubbed together, although they vie for space with snaky guitar reverb and scraped string pressure. Neither in the background nor the foreground, Earle’s electronics move from a wavering buzz to watery bubbling tones to what could be a car motor turning over on a chilly day.

Eventually the uniform, whirling hum adds to the mix, reverberating building blocks that themselves are shaped by additional machine-like vibrations. Although the overall drone is so dense that not one instrument is fully defined, sometimes percussion-like clatters and clucks can be heard — as can the barest pressure on a resonating string. Finally as the tempo speeds up, juicy bird-like trills and whistles, pebble rolling tones and sawing on unyielding surfaces are noticeable through the undulating drone.

“Bridges 2” and “Bridges 3” are more abrasive. Intersecting buzzes and percussion rattles characterize the former, with clanging bells, anvil resonation and jackhammer drilling appearing out of the oscillating waveforms. They too head towards industrial noise, with only the odd guitar arpeggio peeping through.

“Bridge 3” is constituted when the descending shrill that ends the previous track reconstitutes itself into a protracted Bronx cheer of buzzes. Cylindrical, motorized and metallic sine waves echo, with a snatch of melodic finger picking and what sound like unselected cymbals being propelled across a floor make their appearance through the gigantic bee-like drone. Guthrie’s thunder-like drum beats show up after higher-pitched crackling and hissing radio wave fluctuations meet the basso drone, finally submerging all other tones into a solid mass.

Featuring 15 tracks to BRIDGES three, RED V GREEN offers more scope for well-delineated musical statements, even though one fewer performer is present. On “Time Files[sic]” for instance, over the hiss and cackle of Kyriakides’ electronics, Moor plays what sounds like a fretless guitar line that could be country blues filtered through punk rock. As reverberations resonate back onto themselves, Kyriakides’ looping hoofbeat percussion reconstitutes itself as claves or ratchet tones.

Microtonal flat-picking makes its appearance on “Carrier Wave” as well, part of guitar fingering that at other times resembles clawhammer banjo picking. Here the electronics are no more than near-silent static. That’s some contrast with “Luther”, where the unorthodox sound sources appear to arise from the cranking of a metallic barrel organ. Bronx cheers and toilet-flushing recreation seems to figure as well.

Then there’s “In Dreams I Talk to You”, where whirling, rocket-launching sounds morph into droning echoes that became as much reflections of deep water as the cosmos. Midway through, the rhythmic guitar thumps and organ-like echoes are interrupted by sounds of a radio being played just out of hearing range. After mechanically repeated fluttering, ululating static comes to the foreground as the intonation fades even more into the background.

Elsewhere, the versatile sine waves constitute themselves into the sounds of what could be a tape recorder played backwards, quacking and quaking percolating pulses that build up from hisses, plus squeezed noises powerful enough to reflect overtones created by responses to original unheard vibrations.

Tracing an arc that includes rock, folk and improv timbres, the guitarist at one point appears to be playing lead while taking the axe apart with a screwdriver. Bouncing from light taps on the guitar’s neck to galvanizing reverb, he uses slurred and splayed fingering to result in cockatoo-like whistles. Recalling 1960s American guitarist Sandy Bull, some of his work on “Dead Bee” evolves from folk to a rasping bass string ostinato that almost presages a foot tapping rock tune. Meanwhile the shifting speeds in Kyriakides radio static provide unobtrusive buffering.

This understated hiss is also on show during “Nocturnal”, the final and longest tune. Built around a LaMonte Young-like repeated pattern, these microtonal bits are reflected both in synthesizer-like chords and echoing, single string pulses and scratches. Adding the additional suggestion of marching feet in a military parade, the repetition becomes almost mind-numbingly repetitive until it dissolves into silence.

Short and long, both CDs bear investigation. But the casual visitor may choose to cross BRIDGE before becoming involved in RED V GREEN.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Bridges: 1. Bridges 1* 2. Bridges 2* 3. Bridges 3+

Personnel: Bridges: Adam Sussman (prepared acoustic* and electric guitar+ and electronics); Will Guthrie (percussion); Matthew Earle (electronics)

Track Listing: Red: 1. 3 Lobed 1 2. Luther 3. Snow 4. Time Files 5. Dead Bee 6. In Dreams I Talk to You 7. Eels 8. Little Bittern 9. Hardboiled 10. Possible Wheels11. Negative Cast 12. Boriska 13. The Eye on its Side 14. Carrier Wave

Personnel: Red: Andy Moor (guitar and radio); Yannis Kyriakides (live electronics)