|J A Z Z W O R D R E V I E W S
|Reviews that mention eRikm
Monotype Records mono043
Michel Doneda/Jonas Kocher
Flexion Records flex001
Adroit realizations which balance reed blown textures with atonal actions from either a standard accordion or a trio of electronic implements are the connections that unite these masterful duos. Both feature French soprano and sopranino saxophonist Michel Doneda, but action mécanique is a single improvisation created with Swiss squeeze-box specialist Jonas Kocher, while Razine, recorded a few months earlier, consists of three improvisations that involve the Toulouse-based reedist and erikM from Marseilles, whose sound sources are turntables, electronics and live sampling
Doneda, who has been perfecting this bare-bones approach to reed instruments since the late 1970s, has performed with other sonic explorers raging from fellow Gaul, baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro to British guitarist John Russell. Younger, Kocher, who has worked with among others, Swiss pianist Jacques Demierre and German percussionist Burkhard Beins, plus M, who has collaborated with such distinct personalities as Swiss-American turntablist Christian Marclay and German industrial music pioneer FM Einheit, like Doneda share a similar interest in textural dislocation. M tries to play on several levels, capturing each moment of the present in clear focus, while Kocher explores the relationships between tone, noise and silence as well as the listening process.
Certainly his session with Doneda, recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria, is about as far away as the customary reed instrument and accordion session as Jupiter is from Pluto. While Kocher’s exposition is concerned with bellow actions, broken-octave oscillations and frequent smacks and quivers, the saxophonist’s initial strategy centres around reed-sucking, back-of-throat growls and panting through his horn’s body tube. Fortissimo split tones do meet pumping shudders at points, but the resemblance between respired and manipulated reeds is such that the 42-minute piece stays chromatic. Silences are overt, but more as place markers than sectional transitions. At the same time the accordionist’s powerful whacks on the sides and tops of so-called objects make it sound as if he’s playing percussion instruments on occasion. Meanwhile his usual intermezzos range from nearly endless tremolo extensions to swift buzzes pumps and yelps. His instrument shudders widen at junctures to mix with vibrations produced by Doneda’s pressurized multiphonics. Elsewhere the squeeze box’s blended glissandi taper to narrow tones in order to meet shrill, fortissimo cries from the sopranino’s highest register.
By the penultimate series of variations, the two push back from textures as thin as to almost dissolve, to intense tandem improv. As Kocher’s glissandi quiver and pump, Doneda responds with piercing whistles, guttural snarls and air expelled with no finger movement. Complementary, staccato yelps and echoes from both sides signal the finale.
Quiet is not part of M’s game plan, since the rumbling textures, processed static and rattling friction that arises from his live sampling and turntable motion create a continuous undercurrent. Additionally this crackling, blurry undertow often causes the reed man to unleash circular-breathed glissandi, while the resulting staccato lines are given additional textural context with M adding vinyl scratches and Doneda segmented voices from the radio. This is especially notable on “Raz” and “Rain” extended tracks which take up the majority of the CD’s running time. Nonetheless some snatches of radio-sourced conversation, plus fragments of pre-recorded instrumental and vocal music that lodge unexpectedly in the mix are from M’s sampling. So is the omnipresent crackling static that at times is nearly so opaque that Doneda must use staccato flattement to cut through the aural haze. Still, M is experienced enough in sound mixing to oscillate and process the vinyl samples as well. Instrumental sounds and lyrics are exaggerated, repeated, cut off, flanged and run backwards to contrast with the reed man’s multiphonics.
When compared to “Raz”, with its pounding wave-form pulsations and drum-like thumping, “Rain” is more temperate, although the saxophonist’s multiphoniccs and M’s electronic quivers are cast in even bolder relief. Backwards-running tape samples, inevitable radio wave static and split-second interjections of vinyl-sampled bells, piano, bands and bird cries are heard. Meanwhile, circular breathing on Doneda’s part give him space for reed kisses, staccato bites and continuous tone expansions which showcase partials as well as root notes. Eventually the two reach a climax of dual staccisssmo cross tones that finally downshift to a summation of abrupt reed bites and scratched turntable pressure.
Although both these discs consist of hard-core, uncompromising improv, they’re still captivating and can be explored for sonic rewards and pleasure by the adventurous.
Track Listing: action: 1. action mécanique
Personnel: action: Michel Doneda (soprano and sopranino saxophones) and Jonas Kocher (accordion and objects)
Track Listing: Razine: 1. Raz 2. Rain 3. Azine
Personnel: Razine: Michel Doneda (soprano and sopranino saxophones and radio) and erikM (turntables, electronics, live sampling)
May 16, 2012
Michel Doneda/eRikm/Jérome Noetinger
Benjamin Bondonneau/Daunik Lazro
Le Châtaignier Bleu No #
When it comes to French improvisers who bridge the gap between forceful Free Jazzers of the 1960s and that country’s newest generation whose approach is catholic and non-hierarchal, two saxophonists stand out. Soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda, 55, and baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro, nine years his senior, are perpetual reed explores, melding Jazz, ethnic and non-idiomatic sounds into separate personal methodologies and, in the face of changing fads and fashions, have done so for the past 30 years. Each saxophonist is featured on an exemplary CD that serendipitously demonstrates how distinctive abstract improvisations can be in settings that are as dissimilar as can be imagined.
Paired with fellow reedist and visual artist Benjamin Bondonneau – 30 years his junior – Lazro helps create a sonic portrait of the trees of Dordogne, mostly recorded in the fields of that French département. As mechanized and urban-sounding as L’Arbre Ouvert is organic, the three improvisations on Dos d’ânes were recorded in a city settings and feature Doneda’s soprano and sopranino saxophones paired with electronics maven Jérome Noetinger and CD manipulator eRikm. Equally fascinating, neither session sounds remotely like the other.
L’Arbre Ouvert is packaged in a perfect-bound volume about the size of a quality trade paperback. It includes an essay placing the idea of wood and trees within modern art history as well as full-color reproductions of 22 representative art works, paintings and assemblages, mostly in wood and acrylic.
In a case like this Bondonneau’s and Lazro’s playing would seem to be an afterthought. But the eight spatial improvisations, literally recorded off the Dordogne forest floor include the sounds of song birds plus the voices of humans wandering or working in the area. Bucolic but not pastoral, the improvising from Bondonneau on Sib [Eb] clarinet, contrabass clarinet and trompes [blast apparatus] plus Lazro on baritone saxophone and rubber hose, add agitato swells, glossolalia and stretched pulsations to the aural landscape. The only other harsh timbres heard are those produced by lumberjacks’ cross saws.
In contrast, Doneda’s vibrating undulations, tongue stops and reed maneuvering are the only true acoustic sounds on Dos d’ânes. During the CD’s three tracks, eRikm and Noetinger separately and together create capacious motor-driven, signal-proceed and droning static pulsations. Altogether the tripartite timbres add up to an abrasive and discordant aural replication of many metropolitan spaces.
Rousing and exhilarating, Dos d’ânes reaches its highpoints when each man’s textures are intermingled for the greatest effects. Aleatoric and pure, the saxophonist’s body tube vibrations on “Il fait nuit dans la tête” undulate then narrow until eye-of-needle thin as the other two create a signal-processed environment that explodes and diffuses with the primeval violence of a thunder and lightening storm. Bright electronic-pushed whooshes and flanges make rattling rapprochement with Doneda’s broken octave pitch vibrations, staccato tongue slaps and key percussion. By the conclusion when his flat-line trills overlay the others’ output, eRikm’s and Noetinger’s the sonic creations have replicated the ratcheting sounds of a busy factory complete with fan-belt slapping, repetitive hammer pounding plus scissor snips and bites.
Naturally more grand in performance, “Grandueur Nature” multiples the oscillated squeezes, blurry cross tones and granulized drones from the electronics as Doneda’s strident split tones equally accelerate. Reaching a crescendo where the electro and the acoustic impulses are almost identical, the interaction divides into gong-like ring-modulator expansions on one side and segmented altissimo reed squeals on the other. As Doneda continues to blow intensely, the electronics-manipulators reconstitute their timbres into splutters that individually could come from the random turning of a radio dial, factory whistles shrilling, two-ton trucks driving on rain-soaked highways or humans whistling. Aviary cries and static meld into a solid drone at the track’s climax, which concludes with the sound of footfalls walking away.
Footsteps can also be hard in the Dordogne forests, but more prominent throughout are the naturally lyrical asides of different nestling birds plus twigs snapping, as well as on “Dans ce haut souvenir” the cries and gurgles of a toddler reacting to the chattering and contrapuntal textures produced by the reedists. These pitches range from slide-whistle like shrills to internal echoing puffs to percussively propelled bullfrog-like snorts.
L’Arbre Ouvert is one of three CDs designed to capture and celebrate the sounds of the local landscape – the other two are published by Amor Fati – however this is actually the second volume of Lazro’s and Bondonneau’s sonic expression. While the other disc also featured bassist David Chiesa and drummer Didier Lasserre, on their own here the two concentrate on individual and unison responses to the forested landscape. Their descriptive onomatopoeia encompasses broken-octave chirps and breath exhalation as well as concerted harmonic pitch-slides and pointillist smears.
Sonically describing the countryside, they don’t fall into false romaticism either. Motors and electricity are as common in France’s rural areas as they are in the urban landscape. “On abat un grand arbe” (“We cut down a large tree”) for instance, begins with a pre-recorded speech about the proper treatment of forest land and then alternates between the low-pitched flattement, cross tones and diaphragm vibrations from the reed players with the squeals of a tree being felled in the forest itself. Appended at the finale is the snatch of a pop song with the vocalist intoning “au revoir”.
Nevertheless, since this CD is not an audio documentary on wood lot management, but a chance to hear accomplished musicians play, the key tracks are those such as “Cherchez, cherchez oiseaux” and “Tant qu’il murmure encore” alive with striking improvisations. The latter involves knife-edge mercurial split tones sharing space with harsh altissimo squeaks that gradually sluice into an opaque concordance. Before the piece concludes with rolling double counterpoint from both low-pitched reedists, one – probably Lazro – growls deeply while the other quickens his line to staccato shrills. Birds make only guest appearances on “Cherchez…”. However the polyphonic timbre search encompasses abrasive metallic runs, jagged vibrations and chalumeau-register wild boar-like snorts. By the finale, aviary chirps complement the horns’ wide-vibrato multiphonics.
United in their quality, these CDs give you a chance to hear two Gallic reed improvisers in top form in unusual circumstances.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Dos: 1. Grandueur Nature 2. Il fait nuit dans la tête 3. Nervures
Personnel: Dos: Michel Doneda (soprano and sopranino saxophones); eRikm (CD manipulations and electronics) and Jérome Noetinger (electronics)
Track Listing: Arbre: 1. La place de vos nids 1 2. Cherchez, cherchez oiseaux 3. La place de vos nids 2 4. On abat un grand arbe 5. .La place de vos nids 3 6. Dans ce haut souvenir 7. La place de vos nids 4 8. Dans la forêt sans heures 9. Tant qu’il murmure encore
Personnel: Arbre: Benjamin Bondonneau (Sib [Eb] and contrabass clarinets and trompes [blast apparatus]) and Daunik Lazro (baritone saxophone and tuyau [rubber hose])
August 22, 2010
Which Side Are You On?
Red Note 11
POIRE Z + PHIL MINTON
For4Ears CD 1551
Of all the weird and wonderful vocalists -- note not singers -- associated with Free Music, Britains Phil Minton, 64, probably has the most legitimacy, not to mention longevity.
Someone who started off as a trumpeter and vocalist with Mike Westbrooks Orchestra in the mid-1960s, hes long since abandoned the horn, along with most conventional songs. His usual output is a cornucopia of yowls, grunts, shrills, retches and gargles. Meanwhile his associations have expanded from the cream of BritImprov, including drummer Roger Turner, reedist John Butcher and -- regularly since 1987 -- pianist Veryan Weston, to interested players from the Continent, North America and Japan.
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? and the enigmatically titled Q are equally memorable because they show two little exposed sides of Mintons art. The former, recorded by the co-op band 4Walls -- Minton, Weston, Dutch bassist Luc Ex and American drummer Michael Vatcher -- is a extraordinary disc where the vocalist actually sings words -- and it includes a lyrics sheet so you can follow them.
As should be obvious from the title, this is a rare piece of agit-prop from the FreeImprov world, dedicated to, and featuring on four out of the 11 tracks, musical settings of the words of the late Paul Haines. As a salute to the poet who lived near Toronto and is described by Minton as one of the secret carnival workers it works spectacularly well.
Single letter Q is a different matter. Recorded at a French festival, Mintons vocal onomatopoeia is added to the cascading computer and machine manipulation of the Poire_Z quartet. Consisting of long-time electronic explorers, Günter Müller on ipod, minidisks, selected percussion and electronics and Norbert Möslang and Andy Guhl on cracked everyday-electronics -- all Swiss-based -- and Frenchman ErikM on 3k_pad.system, the band textures so overwhelm Mintons contributions that hes usually buried beneath the hardware and software.
Starting with the superior product, 4Walls adds music to an astonishing collection of lyrics. They range from the near-Dadaistic lyrics of Haines and Brit Lou Ganfield to the serious poetics of the late Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Mihn, plus songs by Jacques Brel, Robert Schumann -- in German [!] -- and the American folksong that gives the CD its title.
Perhaps its a nationalist tendency, but to be honest, Minton sounds most comfortable singing Ganfields The skunk hath farted [sic] and Class Struggle. Both feature a musical hall lilt, with Weston chiming in on the choruses, making the two appear like a couple of George Formby Sr. clones. The later is taken at a breakneck speed, while the former -- actually an anti-Ku Klux Klan mockery -- includes an outright swing section from the pianist, a walking bass line and balanced flams and bounces from the drummer.
Often sounding as if their incongruous imagery comes from an unholy collaboration between Ogden Nash and Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Haines four pieces can also be performed in vaudevillian fashion. His bizarre wordplay meshes with the bands natural musical anarchism. Not all olives have pits: An under funded sense of wonderment, for instance, is treated as a parlor ballad with Minton whispering the lyrics, that are amplified with sympathetic vibrations from Weston. Additionally, the wordplay on If there are individuals you can tell from a distance dont like garlic causes the vocalist to not only use his natural and falsetto voices, but to indulge in a few cackles and gargles at the end, as the band plays jazz-inflected accompaniment.
Even more remarkable are the Ho pieces. On reading, Anthology of 1000 poets features strummed bass guitar chords and flashing octaves from the piano, while Minton proves his natural tenor is quiet pleasant. On the other hand, A milestone almost turns into rock music complete with drum backbeat and simple strumming from the bassist, as Minton exposes his inner Ozzy Osbourne.
The other three performances are less appealing. Schumanns Im Rhein features the most extensive instrumental work with thundering drums and overactive piano. A deconstructed, metallic guitar run and pumping piano cadenzas detract from the title tune and Mintons delivery appears a bit too plumy and properly British to bring gravitates to lyrics written for the Kentucky miners union in 1931. Finally, when dealing with Ces gens-la written by an astute song genius like Brel, Minton reduces the portraits to a series of grotesques as he sing-talks the lyrics accompanied by near anthematic playing from Weston.
If WHICH SIDE has a few missteps, Q may be mistaken journey. Salvageable is q oder z, which at fewer than five minutes gives Minton appropriate space in which to burble, buzz and whoop vocal tones on top of textures that range from the quivering sound of cicadas to the rhythmic drone of a car motor turning over on a damp day.
Most of the time, though, its difficult to find Minton among the liquid swizzles, oscillating highs and fluttering lows that make up the more than 39-minute w oder q. Oh you can hear some dark barks, strangled, drowning cries, guttural growls, stentorian mutterings, demonic laughs and his ever-popular duck quacking from time to time. But with four electro-acoustians going full blast, his vocals are an afterthought or an add-on.
Throughout, the timbres heard include vinyl record hisses, wiggling electronic buzzes, air raid siren explosions and turntable movements. The four instrumentalists are capable of coming up with the most hushed and delicate tones that can resemble a jews harp being vibrated, computer and turntable surfaces being scratched and crystal glasses sliding along a shiny surface. But they can also produce intermittent rhythmic sine wave patterns and buzzing, sped-up slinky loops, not to mention whistles that are mechanized, motorized and carefully modulated.
When in the final few minutes the scraped, bell-like resonation turns louder with splayed tones and shooting star echoes, Mintons verbal response sounds alternately like an old man muttering to himself and an infant crying. His final exhaled choke, which suggests a man being slowly squeezed within a cybernetic vise, may be as symbolic as it is metaphoric.
Poire_Z may rate an A or B+ for its work on Q, but Minton can only received a T for Trying, with cumulative realization closer to a C or D+. Meanwhile WHICH SIDE is not only a fine side of coated plastic, but a fitting vocal memorial to Haines, the lyricist of Carla Bleys ESCALATOR OVER THE HILL among other major projects.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: q: 1. w oder q 2. q oder Z
Personnel: q: Günter Müller (ipod, minidisks, selected percussion and electronics); ErikM (3k_pad.system); Norbert Möslang and Andy Guhl (cracked everyday-electronics); Phil Minton (voice)
Track Listing: Which: 1. Airport insecurity 2. On reading, Anthology of 1000 poets 3. Ces gens-la 4. Tales from the Hindu Tush 5. The skunk hath farted 6. If there are individuals you can tell from a distance dont like garlic 7. 8. Class Struggle 9. Not all olives have pits: An under funded sense of wonderment 10. A milestone 11. In Rhein
Personnel: Which: Phil Minton (voice); Veryan Weston (piano and voice); Luc Ex (bass); Michael Vatcher (percussion)
October 4, 2004
OREN AMBARCHI/JOHAN BERTHLING
My Days are Darker than your nights
Hapna H 10
Perhaps the key to really satisfying improvised electro-acoustic performances is related to the number of players present. At least the group grope that populates the final track on the Charhizma CD here provides more than enough tones and textures to differentiate -- and elevate -- it above the other selections.
Self-aggrandizement plays very little part of this music, which thrives on nicknames -- dieb13 and eRikm here -- and a conception of the program as undivided tonality. For instance the six tracks were recorded in Berlin, Granz, Austria and Vienna, but run together as if they were one performance.
Yet, with everyone on board -- Austrians Christof Kurzmann on clarinet and G3 and Werner Dafeldecker on bass and electronics plus American Kevin Drumm on guitar and synthesizer and Frenchman Jerome Noetinger on electroacoustic devices, not to mention eRikm on electronics and Dieb13 on turntables -- the soundfield suddenly becomes that much more expansive. Rather than the intermittent pulses and drones that characterize much of the disc, there are drum beat intimations, the sound of a jet taking off, the ricochet of a door stopper, something that could be triggered feedback, a fire drill siren, scraping noises, static rustle and an approximation of what seems to be a robot executing trampoline jumps.
Trying to ascribe individual sounds to individual instruments would be pointless. And it helps to note that the gang is made up of tricksters too. Although the final piece is timed at 5:10, after seven minutes of silence when it supposedly finishes, sounds suddenly radiate again for another four minutes or so, featuring bass chord echoes, pulsating sine waves, pedal coloration, whistles, horse whinnies and signals from outer space.
Also absorbing is the penultimate track, which features Noetingers only other appearance on the CD. An old hand in trio situations like this -- he also recorded an exceptional disc with pianist Sophie Agnel and Lionel Marchetti on tapes and electronics -- he, Kurzmann and Dafeldecker manage to create something that at times suggests that all the technology, keyboards and mechanics are underwater, as bubbling squeaks and whistles percolate to the surface. Other sonic adventures include intermittent squeals, what could be a real, live motor running and bird-like electronic chirps that resemble the sounds of a flock of wild fowl attacking the interface. Underneath all this is the minute aural suspicion that diminutive ants are somehow manipulating microscopic sidewalk drills.
Centrepiece of the disc, though less satisfying than some other pieces, is the abrasive Berlin1 -- almost 21 minutes of an assembly line of scraping metal -- courtesy of the entire crew minus Noetinger. Although EuroImprov followers may be hard pressed to connect these sounds to Dafeldeckers work with Polwechsel, which makes a virtue of near silence, he had a history of playing drone-based improv with others. Perhaps too its his bass -- or Drumms guitar -- which delineates the occasional chord heard. Among the wavering and repetitious drones and buzzes are pulses that, probably arising from the G3 or synthesizer could emanate from vibes, percussion, bells, maracas, or even a primates throat. Where the clarinet tones are supposed to appear is anyones guess, though.
Before the high-pitched track dissolves from a variegated, wavering drone that seem to take up all available audio space into static, another dynamic can be heard. Its a recurrent chord pattern that, like a similar motif in the work of British experimental band AMM, creates a base on which other tones are displayed.
AMM seems to figure into the concept of the other CD, which features one slightly more than 30-minute improvisation by Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi and Swede Johan Berthling playing harmonium. Ambarchi, who has interacted with AMMs guitarist Keith Rowe, would seem to be perfectly at home in this setting. But the setting is a bit unusual for Berthling, an exceptional Swedish bassist, who usually works in jazz/improv with countrymen like pianist Sten Sandell and drummer Raymond Strid. In fact much of this CD can be tough sledding for many listeners. Its definite that the piece would wear out its welcome if it went on any longer.
Most of the time it seems as if the two performers are extending variations on a single, dense, droning tone, which swells like a mammoth cathedral organ ejaculation. Pulsations billow up from elsewhere after a while, but the closest approximation to the sound would be bagpipe timbres. The idea -- as with some of AMMs discs -- is to so overload the organ of Corti that you begin to hear variations within the viscous noise. Somehow, in fact, here a third timbre appears, though you cant really be sure to which instrument it can be ascribed. Finally, in the last few minutes, the hint of guitar fuzztone surfaces and the solid aural mass seems to break up slightly, with the harmonium defining the bottom and static whirring on top. Just before the fade as well, the guitar line parses itself down to slightly resemble Pete Townshends intro to Baba ORiley.
Improvisation always includes the danger of unevenness, and both these CDs exhibit that, as well as portions of great creativity. Those interested in change should probe these discs, but be prepared to take the less-than-stellar with the stimulating.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: DKDMDN: 1. Berlin* 1 2. Graz 2# 3. Wien# 1 4. Berlin 2+ 5. Berlin 3+#
Personnel: DKDMDN: Christof Kurzmann (clarinet and G3); Kevin Drumm (guitar and synthesizer [except track 4]); Werner Dafeldecker (bass and electronics); eRikm (electronics*); Dieb13 (turntables#); Jerome Noetinger (electroacoustic devices+)
Track listing: Days: 1. My days are darker than your nights
Personnel: Days: Oren Ambarchi (guitar); Johan Berthling (harmonium)
September 1, 2003