July 8, 2008
Creative Sources CS 194 CD
Andrew Drury/Sébastien Cirotteau/Wade Matthews
Creative Sources CS 078 CD
Splintering rhythmic timbres apart into their simplest, most primeval and discordant pulses, percussionist Andrew Drury isn’t bothered by the struggle involved in exploring textures beyond conventional melody and harmony to expose unique pulses and beats.
Seattle-born, but now Brooklyn-based, the percussionist has in the past distinguished himself both as a composer and as a participant in large ensembles led by the likes of arranger Laura Andel and in smaller groups with trumpeter Nate Wooley and violinist Jason Kao Hwang. But the two CDs here are even more revealing.
Stripping his kit down to little more than floor tom and un-lathed Wuhan cymbals, plus objects such as bow, dustpan, aluminum sheet and bamboo skewers, Drury uses sticks, mallets, hands, fingernails and palms to extend two traditions – one is energetic noise improvisation; and the other a personal one invoking family roots in building construction going back 600 years.
Featuring 12 solo percussion tracks recorded between 2004 and 2007 Renditions may be more nakedly illustrative of his art. But the advantage of Bszent Hun is that he mixes his percussion techniques with musical contributions from Toulouse-born experimental trumpeter Sébastien Cirotteau and Franco-American, Madrid-based Wade Matthews, who manipulates software synthesis.
Similarly reductionist in its output, Cirotteau’s brass instrument becomes no more than an arrangement of lead pipe, valves, bell and mouthpiece, any portion of which can operate separately and where timbres can be eviscerated at will. At points, staccato breaths and squeals make common cause with blurry whooshes and pitter-patter, dripping water-like tones from Matthews’ software, all of which is surmounted by Drury’s percussion.
Expressing unforced variants of a percussionist’s art, Drury’s strokes also encompass scrapes, buzzes and drones from drum tops; plus more delicate interface that could be glass tubes gently struck or perhaps caged hamsters whirling a wheel on a hard surface. Elsewhere slaps and rolls play up the percussion’s rough wooden finishes, with similar discord created by gouging drumsticks on unattached cymbals.
Overall, the inchoate friction correspondingly involves continuous growling tongue action and yips from Cirotteau’s horn as well as computer flanges that showcases fortissimo whirls, whirrs and buzzes from Matthews.
Polyphonically the interface brings these elements to a fevered boil with “Kyeur”, the longest and most descriptive track. As Drury noisily vibrates objects on the ground, the trumpeter expels high-pitched peeps and the software burbles aviary-like among a cloud of clicks and squeaks. When the percussionist introduces spiccato metallic friction Matthews responds with software-created pulses predominate whose chunky chords resemble a cross between a vacuum cleaner whine and the pulsations of a gigantic church organ. This undercurrent of ever-spinning looped sounds finally subsides as Drury wipes and swipes his objects and the trumpeter exposes a conclusive mouthpiece kiss.
No one else is around to take up the slack for Drury on the other CD, which forces him to find a way to credibly – and interestingly – utilize the textures he has ruminated about and produced in his jazz and improvised music work. Also utilized is what he learned leading more than 800 junk percussion workshops over the years.
Not content with the properties of his digits and drum implements, unique resonances beneath the decibel level of conventional drums are also created using lips, breath and his mouth cavity. Drury also confirms that delicacy isn’t missing from a percussion discussion since certain tones are as placid resemble those heard when pressure is gently applied to a balloon surface.
On the other hand, these pitch variations can be so strident and jagged that they become almost painful to hear – although this aural discomfort is rarely extended. For instance, fingernails roughly dragged across drum tops and cymbals create high-pitched metallic shrills and shakes. Additionally, as on “Extraordinary Rendition”, when a mallet, dust pan and bow are in use along with a floor tom, the single strokes transform from a resemblance to bell-pealing to speeding freight train pressure that is eventually characterized by continuous, identical tones sounding and echoing.
Bells’ resonance takes on another texture on “An Insidious Usage of the Word ‘Friends’” which at points appears to have been recorded within the confines of a gargantuan cathedral bell with the clapper tones reverberating around the drummer. Drury’s skill is such that this effect is produced by consistently smacking and hammering a small Wuhan cymbal. Meanwhile the whistling screech on “Other Priorities” that results from the confluence of floor tom, steel piece, bell and bow, not only reflects nodes from the originating tones, but also seems as if it could result from the aural manipulation of a recorder or slide whistle. Constantly drawing the bow sul pontiucello across these unyielding implements creates a crescendo of discordant tones that finally sprawl into silence.
Not for everyone – nor should they be – these CDs demonstrate how the definition of experimental, and creative percussion exists, is expressed and is extended by one talented drummer in the 21st Century.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Bszent: 1. skøp då 2. kaalsu bilf 3. dyenem 4. kyeur 5. tomaine dizette 6. saldi 7. huttig 8. kjoto
Personnel: Bszent: Sébastien Cirotteau (trumpet); Andrew Drury (floor tom and objects) and Wade Matthews (software synthesis)
Track Listing: Renditions: 1. The School of the Americas 2. Exhalations 3. More of Everything 4. Touchdown of the Century 5. Extraordinary Rendition 6. My Favorite Cereal Bowl 7. I would also like to mention aluminum 8. From a WW2 Veteran’s Garage 9. Other Priorities 10. An Advertisement for Civilization 11. An Insidious Usage of the Word ‘Friends’ 12. Quaint
Personnel: Renditions: Andrew Drury (floor tom, dust pan, bow, breath, large Wuhan cymbal, small Wuhan cymbal, bell, bamboo skewers, fingernails, mallet, shards of glazed stoneware, aluminum sheet, bronze gear, hands and faucet )