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Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sonata for clarinet & nodar (mp3 extract)
'sonata for clarinet & nodar'
from a review by Brian Olewnick / Just Outside:
An interesting take on the integration of field recording and traditional music....Here, clarinetist Joana Silva plays a composition by Henri Rabaud, "Solo de Concours", while walking through a rural landscape, dutifully followed by French and Costa recording her embedding therein. The clarinet doesn't appear until some 11 minutes in, but then occupies center stage, though Silva pauses often, allowing the landscape its say and drifts off into the distance on occasion.
....can imagine deriving enjoyment from the physicality of the experience, walking though glades, over streams, up hills, etc. while, in "3D", focusing on either the clarinet or the ambiance or both. I have to say the chain-saw encounter captures one's attention...
Friday, November 12, 2010
. eg.p06 - cd edition sold out
DIGITAL RE-RELEASE DOWNLOAD NOW AVAILABLE:
review by Richard Pinnell / The Watchful Ear:
The first of three pieces, and the strongest, is a wonderful composition called "Bars in Afternoons" which, indeed, mixes site recordings from bars in Paris and Los Angeles, presumably in the afternoon, with Holter's piano (I'm guessing), weaving through the beginning and her singing at the end. The casual, ambient conversation has a luscious clarity to it, perhaps due to it's being offset against a more distant speaker through which later on, among others things, wafts Elton John. The piano is in mid-distance, almost taking on the role of one in a cocktail bar, except playing music that sounds like highly abstracted Satie. These three dimensions, the talk, the piped in music and the piano, create a very rich atmosphere, absolutely immersive. There's a brief smattering of birds, including gulls and one or two other intrusions of displaced sound. Eventually, some 12 minutes into the 15-minute piece, we arrive at the final section wherein Holter, almost as though taking "stage" in one of the bars, breaks out in forthright, multi-tracked song, a lovely, wistful number pleading, "Don't make me over." Something of a Lynchian moment, it works beautifully. One of the single best things I've heard this year.
"La Celebración" almost sounds as though recorded some warm night by hanging a mic from a window, muted bass throbs emanating from a neighbor's house, birds, airplanes, a freeway some distance away. About five minutes in, this nocturnal calm is interrupted by what I guess are firecrackers, though the sound is rather muffled and, had I not had the title as a clue, I might have guessed it was, I don't know, someone punching a large cardboard box. Soon, however, the streamers and fireworks make themselves known with clarity, bursting all across the soundscape. Then, back to calm. A nice enough piece, though there's something fragmentary about it, at least when compared to the prior track.
Lastly, there's a realization of Pisaro's "Harmony 17", with Holter on cello amidst the sounds of Union Station in Los Angeles. I've not seen the score but from what transpires here, it might be that the instrumentalist is asked to play very quietly for the first portion of the piece, more prominently in the middle section and quiet again toward the end. You can just hear the bowed cello near the beginning (unless I'm mistaking some regional hum for it, which is quite possible given Pisaro's penchant for lengthy silences to begin a piece), blending in with the airy sound of the large room. At seven minutes, the low arco tones become overt, though again (deliciously) sounding as though they could have emerged from engine vibrations, then recedes again. The entire piece dips out briefly about midway through its 34-minutes, resurfacing with cello upfront, still carrying that low drone. A naive young man strolls over, interested in what's occurring, claiming to be a bassist yet not recognizing the instrument Holter's playing. "That's, like a violin, right? Whoa, no, a violin is super-small, right?" Love it. And the work continues, the cello either extremely soft or not playing, then once again emerging, etc. the sounds of the station a constant, that initial soft hum reappearing.
A fine release, very happy to have heard it.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
engraved glass is pleased to announce that issues two & three of 'tristesse engraved' - the free to download & view online arts zine - are now available at the links below.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Jez riley French - 'dawn chorus - north & south banks'
Monday, September 13, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Isolde scores - barry chabala isolde2 (mp3)
Isolde scores - score 2 Jez riley French & Daniel Jones (mp3 extract)
*available now in very limited numbers*
review by Richard Pinnell from his excellent website 'the watchful ear':
Tonight I listened to a CDr that may or may not be still available, seeing as it was recently issued in an edition of just 50 copies, of which only “a small handful” were made available for sale. The disc is the latest release on Jez riley French’s lovingly crafted Engraved Glass label and is a full length CDr that contains eleven realisations by various artists of a series of four photographic scores by Mr French himself. A photographic score, in this case, consists of one or more photographs coupled with a few words, nothing more. An example, Isolde Score No.2 is shown below, the others can be viewed here. Before going on to discuss the music here I should mention that while I consider Jez riley French to be a very good musician, I often wonder if he might actually be an even better photographer, as his ability to find images of great beauty in the every day detail around us is extremely acute. These photographic scores in particular then are dedicated, and I think influenced by a friend of Jez’ named Isolde. he then sent the scores to a number of musicians to respond to them intuitively. The results are all quite different, and often very beautiful.
The first realisation is actually a duo piece recorded by riley French himself alongside Daniel Jones. I could be wrong, but I think this piece was recorded earlier this year in Brighton, the day after I had spent some time with both musicians in the town. Knowing the relaxed and pleasant mood of the musicians on that day, and the music they had made the night before, I can’t help but find reflections of these elements in this music, which I like a great deal. At more than eighteen minutes in length this piece is the longest on the disc. It moves from very quietly fizzing white noise into progressively more bulky abstract areas- feedback screeches, distressed metal sounds and other amplified pops and crackles come into play, all staying in generally muted areas, but with plenty going on only just under the surface. Its all improvised live rather than composed retrospectively, and a nice balance between restraint and aggression is struck as the music shifts between soft clouds of white noise and sudden thumps of electronic distortion. The piece ends with a series of jarring blasts as something rattles in the background and vibrating metal wails. Nice stuff.
There then follows four short pieces for solo electric guitar by Barry Chabala, each one responding in turn to one of the four Isolde Scores. These miniatures are quite different to the opening track, each a collection of smears of pastel coloured guitar formed into small clusters of partly blurred notes. They have a kind of late night, bluesy feel to them, but filtered through one effects pedal or another into a kind of slightly removed haze that reflects the visual impact of the scores’ photography nicely. There then follows the highlight of the disc for me, a response to the first score by the composer Michel Pisaro. The score in question presents three small images alongside a few words. So Pisaro’s piece is divided into three parts, each a heavy, hollow sounding grey rush, the identity of which I cannot ascertain, into which field recordings of birds can be heard, different each time. Each of the parts is separated by a silence, the first just a few seconds, the second maybe three times as long. That’s it, the entire track clocks in four and a half minutes but leaves a lasting impression through both its beauty and its simplicity.
The seventh track on the album is a playing of the second score and is credited to the Coastguard Allstars, who turn out to be the quintet of riley French, Martin Archer, Steven Chase, Philip Thomas and Herve Perez. their piece here is the closest to a traditional improv setting, a twelve minute purring, whistling and sometimes roaring sax, understated percussion, maybe a guitar? and I’m not sure what else, perhaps tapework or some type? It kind of meanders along a bit like a slowed down SME, without really grabbing me in any particular way. Perfectly OK improv, maybe no more than that. There then follows a nervous, tetchy piece by someone named Anastasia Chrysanthakopoulou that apparently responds to all four scores. There is that background swirl of hollow noise again, and odd clanks and buzzes come and go just under the top layers of the music, but much of what we hear resembles somebody scraping and rustling something around a contact microphone, so we hear sudden leaps of gritty sound and the boom of a small sensitive microphone knocked about. This piece is OK, if a little pedestrian in what it seems to attempt to do, and even at only seven and a half minutes in length it gets a bit boring quite quickly.
The Isolde Scores’ ninth track seems to be by Marie Colbert, another new new name to me, who responds to score no.2 with a track that is called, quite beautifully “her light dappled upon”This piece, vaguely of a brooding dark ambient nature blends what feels like heavy organ chords together with small scratchy snippets of human voice and a repeated creakily swaying sample of what might be backwards playing music. It all has quite a haunting, old school horror feel to it, a sense of analogue production values coupled with a vaguely sinister feel to the chosen sounds. Quite a nice piece if not in a style I would usually listen to often. There then comes a two minute response to all four scores by the percussionist Greg Stuart, who works here by multitracking tiny percussion sounds into a brief, highly detailed drone not entirely unlike a short fragment of his realisation of Pisaro’s A wave and waves score. Here the brevity seems to work against the music slightly, it seems to have gone before it begins, not really allowing us to sink into the layers of texture for long enough, but then I guess the photos in the scores only give us tiny glimpses of something bigger, so maybe Stuart’s piece is actually a very fitting response. The closing track, by philip thomas is (I think) played on a piano, but the thick, deep sinetones that dominate the music try and point elsewhere. Whether they were created in post production, or with some kind of live computer manipulation I don’t really know, but this sounds like more than just eBows placed on strings. Beyond these heavy tones there are rattles. rings and scrapes, some that sound like looping samples. I may have got this completely wrong and there may be no piano at work at all here, which would be disappointing as the music is quite affecting in its stark, almost confrontational simplicity and I’d like to think it was created, at least initially using acoustic means, but however it is made the track really gets into your head and bounces about inside as the incessant tone gets heavier and louder.
The Isolde Scores is a nice project that is quite different in its inception and execution and has created a good album with a few exceptional moments. If you are able to grab a copy I recommend that you do, and pretty quickly.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Jez riley French - instamatic # 6 - prague (mp3 extract) by JezrileyFrench
Sunday, February 21, 2010
. Michael Pisaro / Greg Stuart - 'July mountain'
. point engraved edition eg.p05
Anne Guthrie - TrainDCtoNYApril2008 (mp3 extract)
. point engraved edition eg.p04
. Limited edition full sized Taiyo Yuden cdr mounted on art card.
1) Beacon NY
2) Union station, Washington DC
3) Train from Washington DC to Penn station NYC
. 'standing sitting' presents 3 extended compositions for subtly treated field recordings of an art space, a train station & a train journey. Anne's work with field recordings shows a simple, yet richly evocative grasp of the nature of the spaces we inhabit & I am very pleased to be releasing these pieces on Anne's first solo edition.
also available as a digital download:
review by Richard Pinnell (the watchful ear):The CDr is released on Jez riley French’s Engraved Glass label as part of the .point engraved series of short run releases. This one came out recently alongside a 3″ disc by Michael Pisaro and Greg Stuart that is extremely good.
There are three tracks here, totaling more than forty-five minutes in length. Each of the tracks is made up from subtly treated field recordings, one each made at an art space in New York, Union Station in Washington DC and during a train journey from DC to New York. I’m not certain how the recordings have been treated, but the tracks that we hear all have that submerged, blurry feel to them, a grey coloured patina of haziness through which little details peak through. The first nine minute long piece, named Beacon, NY uses material gathered at the DIA arts space in Beacon NY. Much of what we hear on this piece feels like the resonant echoes through long corridors or big empty rooms, air con humming in the background, unidentifiable bangs and thuds somewhere in one of the far corners of the building, snippets of human conversation along the corridor and occasional footsteps on hard floors heard breaking through. Everything is soft, presented at low volume with the harsh edges seemingly rounded off. The treatment of the recordings seems to be just to push all of the sounds together into one aural space, giving us a grey mass of vague detail that suggests a mood and a place without ever clarifying anything fully.
The source sounds for the second piece, Union Station, Washington DC are obvious, and here Guthrie’s music reminds me most of the late night city, though clearly what we actually hear is a combination of roaring mechanical and industrial sounding engines, all muted slightly with the hustle and bustle of human activity in a busy, enclosed public space blended in throughout. Again nothing is crystal clear and what we have is a kind of impressionistic take on field recording presentation that almost sounds better if allowed to just exist gently in the room rather than studied up close. The final piece Train from Washington DC to Penn Station, NYC uses a similar technique, the sounds we hear vaguely reminiscent of train sounds, the experience of a long railway journey present in the music. Yet with the exception of a moment where onboard announcements break through with more clarity than usual, again the sounds hint at an overall sensation of place and time rather than referencing anything obviously.
Guthrie seems to play with mood here rather than dramatic structure or dynamic playfulness. There are none of the sudden cuts or momentary contrasts that seem to be commonplace in a lot of field recording arrangement these days. The shape and form of the music is mostly flat and seemingly dull, but the lovely power of this great music comes from the subtle suggestions that it exudes, feelings of inexplicable familiarity, sounds that tap into something we unconsciously think we have heard before, in my case the aural picture from a city centre hotel room, perhaps something different for others. As someone that finds the sound of large public spaces, railway stations, airport waiting lounges, art galleries to be thoroughly beautiful in themselves, the way Standing sitting reflects these situations really works for me anyway, capturing the essence of a space without pinning it down to any particular time. For me this is beautiful music, a modern day portrait of a set of very modern landscapes, reflecting the ugliness of busy 21st Century life in a hazy mirror that blurs the harshness of it all, pushing it just far enough out of reach. A really nice album.
review from Brian Olewnick:
As beautiful as Pisaro's release is, please don't ignore this lovely one from Anne Guthrie. I'd only known her work in association with musicians like Richard Kamerman and Billy Gomberg where she generally wields a french horn. Here we have three processed field recordings, one recorded in DIA Beacon, the other two from a train station and aboard a train. Not so dissimilarly from work Pisaro has done before, Guthrie interweaves sine tones (or something akin; I'm not quite sure) with the recordings, creating a dreamy between-world of the real and the shimmering. The DIA piece resonates with the kind of disembodied, space-molded voices and sounds one encounters in large interiors like those found in that converted factory, here underlain with hums that, in this case, recall the sound installation on DIA's rooftop by the late Max Neuhaus. The sine tones seem to have been applied intuitively, Guthrie allowing the field recordings to sit by themselves for a while, to establish a presence (very beautifully), then to be accompanied. It's difficult to describe why this works so well except to accede to the composer's ear and the choices she makes, but the impression, again, is of being hyper-aware, of a space and, too, picking up subliminal frequencies normally outside the range of hearing, these tones enhancing the overt sounds and imparting an air of wonder. Very impressive work.
from 'the wire' (july 2010 issue) review by Jim Haynes:
'An album of processed field recordings from specific locations, Standing sitting emphasises the sonic residues of architectural spaces. Filtered tones from the resonance of various pipes & conduits, the vibrations of electrical motors and the broad echo of cavernous halls all feature prominently in the sounds that Anne Guthrie chooses to work into composition. Many of the edges of her sounds have been blurred and smoothed, offering a soft focus quality, in particular to those sounds culled from the DIA centre in Beacon, NYC. Like the DIA centre, Guthrie's other subjects touch on the grandeur of massive architectural forms - Penn Station in NYC and Union Station in Washington DC. She's wise in her slow pace and deliberate injunctions of environmental hiss and subharmonic rattlings, which are only occasionally punctuated by a human presence. Certainly, on the strength of this recording, Guthrie's a composer to watch for in the near future'