May 23, 2013
Hinterzimmer Records HINT 16
Setola Di Maiale SM2410
While dogged experimenters in so-called ecstatic or trance-inducing music may think they’re inventing the genre, sounds such as these precede modern musical notation and the use of electronics by thousands of years. That’s why the projects of Scottish drummer Ken Hyde are often so fascinating. His knowledge of both ancient folk forms and contemporary improvisation exposes both the primitivist history and futuristic impulses of such sounds.
A Dundee native, and now a frequent visitor to Tuva, Hyder studied Celtic Irish and Scottish music, founded the Celtic Jazz group Talisker in the 1970s and has recorded with the likes of Scottish vocal improviser Maggie Nichosl and Russian pianist Vladimir Miller. Equally arresting, each of these trio CDs featuring him outline a variant of the ecstatic tradition.
Overwhelmingly acoustic, Black Sky is a new take on Tuvan shamanism. Besides the drummer, who also chants realistically, the participants are British lap steel guitarist and clarinetist Tim Hodgkinson, who was in the avant-rock band Henry Cow, but who is now often found in the company of improvisers. Even stronger links to Sino sonic history come from K-Space’s third member, Tuvan shaman and overtone singer Gendos Chamzyryn who also plays percussion and the doshpuluur or long-necked Tuvan lute here. Electronics, which are sparingly used on the first CD, dominate the sound field on Ghost Time, creating ultramodern shamanistic sounds. Hyder’s partners here are British trumpeter Andy Knight who mutates his tone through electronic processing; and American-born, Amsterdam-based sound artist Z’ev, who studied music in Ghana, Bali and India music and has worked with a variety of fellow experimenters like British rocker Genesis P. Orridge and French sound duo, K.K. Null. On Ghost Time, Z’ev uses alto and baritone rolmos or Tibetan ritual cymbals, while Hyder plays tenor rolmos as well as drums. His vocals mix Scottish and Tuvan overtone singing.
Black Sky’s 40-minute-plus single track cunningly melds a collection of broken-octave outreaches into an ever-shifting phantasmagoria. Besides the vocal incantations which range from echoes of melismatic davening, exerted panting, fulsome near-retching and what could be Native Indian rhythmic chanting, mouth-and-throat gymnastics share space with instrumental intimations. Hodgkinson’s reed strategies morph from fierce overblowing to simple clarinet puffs while the combination of his lap steel and Chamzyryn’s doshpulur encompass fierce Jew’s harp-like twanging as well as lick-trading that could come from a Bluegrass banjo and mandolin showcase. On his own the Tuvan’s strums are a bit artless. On the other hand he and Hyder work up percussion passages that add a steel-drum-like lilt to the proceedings. With the narrative’s final variations driven by a backbeat that is half Pow Wow and half Hard Rock, distant reed smoothness unites with bell-tree-like shakes, wooden lute picking and basso chants, creating a finale that never loses the plains-like spaciousness of the exposition.
Spaciousness is one adjective that could be applied to Knight’s trumpet strategy which reveals its slivers of muted brass vibrations among the splashes and quivers of the signal- processed electronic whooshes. Throughout Ghost Time’s four mid-length tracks his grace notes make their presence felt, appearing from among ring modulator-like gonging and quivering, buzzing, repetative cymbals loops and similar vocalized textures from Hyder.
Overall the CD reaches distinct crescendos with “Faint” and “Glimpse” as the osmosis of grace-note brass leveling and layered scrapes on Tibetan cymbals combine pleasantly alongside concentrated oscillations that resemble waves lapping against the shore. These contrapuntal pulsations finally climax on “Glimpse” as multi-fold colors from each instrument becomes apparent. With the final miasmatic variant including a melancholy dirge as well as highly synthesized flanges, this trio’s interaction posits a novel approach to shamanistic sounds. As up-to-date as it is time-honored, this new concept allows electronics to explicitly extend the more traditional-oriented program of K-Space.
Track Listing: Black: 1. Black Sky
Personnel: Black: Tim Hodgkinson (lap steel guitar, clarinet and electronics); Ken Hyder (drums, voice and electronics) and Gendos Chamzyryn (voice, percussion and amplified doshpulur)
Track Listing: Ghost: 1. Pasty 2. Another 3. Faint 4. Glimpse
Personnel: Ghost: Andy Knight (pocket trumpet); Ken Hyder (voice, snare drum, cymbals, stainless-less discs and tenor rolmos); Z'ev (alto and baritone rolmos, stainless-less discs and bass lines)