January 16, 2010
Lawrence Casserley/Adam Linson
Edgetone EDT 4086
Matching and blending innovatively the timbres and tones available from electronics with acoustic instruments has become one of the touchstones of 21st Century improvising. Both these Euro-American sessions pinpoint successful adaptations of these techniques.
Swiss violist Charlotte Hug and Mexican unique instrument creator gal*in_dog (Guillermo Galindo) decided to collaborate after meeting at Newfoundland’s Sound Symposium in 2006. There they discovered that their shared background in notated music had expanded to encompass unconventional electro-acoustic textures and unusual locations. Hug is a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, for instance, has played with stylists like guitarist Elliott Sharp, in theatres and in spaces ranging from the icy caverns of the Rhône Glacier to an acoustically insulated S&M torture chamber. An instructor at post-secondary California arts institutes who has composed film scores, soundscapes and for theatre and dance companies, gal*in_dog improvises with the Maiz. It’s a computer-controlled kinetic sonic structure made from hybrid recycled industrial materials and found objects.
A similar urge to join forces suggested itself to veteran British signal processor Lawrence Casserley and younger California-born, Berlin-based bassist Adam Linson after meeting as members of saxophonist Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Although the seven tracks of Integumen are mostly consecrated to interaction between Linson’s strings and Casserley’s electronics – like Hug and gal*in_dog do on their CD – they also add sprinkling of vocal textures as well.
Perhaps it’s the periods Linson and Casserley spent together in the past, exchanging musical ideas, but the word that resonates most clearly from Integument is interconnectivity. Throughout the two instantaneously react to each other’s sonic impulses, often even before the other has completed his own movements. On “Chromatophores” for instance, Linson’s ear-wrenching sul ponticello rumbles meet resonating loops of clanging, pitch-sliding reverses that turn out to be pumped and abrasive runs from the bassist.
Soon Casserley’s sleek and sibilant electronics wiggles not only reflect Linson’s pulled and vibrated timbres, but also the overtones created by signal processing. With the harshness of the electronic instrument’s attack producing almost visible granulation, the bassist’s strings begin resonating coarsely as well. Reaching a climax of spiccato wood rubs, bell-like peals and voltage-swollen buzzes, the bonded multiphonics dissolves into near-inaudible gurgles and scrapes from both acoustic and electronic instruments.
Similarly “Stratum Spongiosum” and “Squamous Epithelium” seep into one another without a perceptible break. Here buzzing loops pulse to react with Linson’ tough, sul tasto variations. As blurry undercurrents ruffle, rebound and swell, cumulative wave forms scatter and eventually reduce. More dynamic, “Wandering Leukocytes” introduces delays in the form of processed overtones which further widen the bassist’s string sweeps. As broken-octave flanges clash, Linson turns to near legato phrasing, allowing Casserley’s machines to splutter, splash and whistle. Later on, however, the bassist interrupts this granular synthesis with staccato circular bowing.
Officially more programmatic, with all of the CD tracks grouped into short suites, Lift develops in a different fashion as the duo ignores track separations. Thus the second part of “alt” fades cunningly into the first section of “citalin”, while the last part of “citalin” locks in with the first part of “tletl”. Then again these suite designations may be an after thought as well, since the tracks are also numbered from “I” to “VIII”.
Despite this there’s nothing artificial about the Hug-gal*in_dog meeting, save perhaps the artificial intelligence associated with the latter’s syncretic cyber sonic interactive cyber-totemic musical instrument. In practice that jargon-laden descriptive mouthful translates into irregular wave form wiggles, abrasive pulls, distorted oscillations plus loops of granularly synthesized or spinning signal processing. Meeting the fluttering electronic timbres are interludes of acoustic sul tasto bowing and scrapes plus lightly breathed verbal laughter and bel canto warbling from Hug.
Broadening and mixing tracks “VI” and “VII” – or the final section of “citalin” and the first of “tletl”– first involves mandolin-like twangs from the fiddler mixed with pizzicato strums and rasping bow rubs. As gal*in_dog’s Maiz adds vibrations made of punts, pops and push, these repeated tunnel-echoing processes bring forth first legato then staccato sweeps from Hug – alongside vocal signs, pants and burbling syllables. Wrapping up, the clicks, cracks and flanged modulations ricochet from both playing partners and settle as connective interface.
Satisfying in its communication, this duo’s output, plus the Linson-Cassserley CD prove that in the right hands mixing any sort of sound sources can create memorable performances.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Lift: 1. alt (part i) 2. alt (part ii) 3. citalin (part iii) 4. citalin (part iv) 5. citalin (part v) 6. citalin (part vi) 7. tletl (part vii) 8. tletl (part viii)
Personnel: Lift: Charlotte Hug (viola and voice) and gal*in_dog [Guillermo Galindo] (Maiz, a kinetic sound structure)
Track Listing: Integument 1. Stratum Spongiosum 2. Squamous Epithelium 3. Wandering Leukocytes 4. Basement Membrane 5. Cycloids 6. Stratum Compactum 7. Chromatophores
Personnel: Integument: Adam Linson (bass, live processing and sampling) and Lawrence Casserley (signal processing instrument and voice)