Terminal

Terminal by Zuli; Bandcamp Link: Terminal

Ranked Number 2 in wire magazine’s “Releases of the Year”.

This album is pretty far outside of the type of music I usually listen to.

In fact, so far outside, that I’m not exactly even sure how to classify it.

Chopped and Processed Raps and other samples played over eclectic soundscapes?

Zuli is a Cairo, Egypt, based DJ and Producer. There are a host of guest vocalists on this album performing rhythmic poetry, most of it in Arabic.

The soundscapes often include the sounds of, I assume, Cairo. Car noises, construction, radio, etc. The sounds of a city. Some songs include legitimate music as backing, influenced or cut from eclectic sources.

The “beats”, such that there are beats, are usually digitally mangled through a chorus or flanger type thing.

Too strange to be pop music, but too accessible to be legitimately strange.

It exists in an odd place for me.

Interesting enough to listen to, but not something I am likely to go back to.

#Zuli #Terminal #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazine #ReleasesOfTheYear

Terminal

Metal Aether

Metal Aether by Lea Bertucci; Bandcamp Link: Metal Aether

Ranked number 17 on wire magazine’s “Releases of the Year”.

I’ve listened to quite a few solo saxophone albums this year and it’s interesting what a diverse group they are. Almost all have gone in for some sort of extended technique, whether it is circular breathing or multiphonics or split tones.

Ms. Bertucci’s album, as is usual in these releases, isn’t strictly speaking solo, as she is manipulating the sounds with tape and also playing other samples or recordings of instruments to accompany herself or create atmosphere in which to perform.

She starts with a fairly typical arpeggio based song, “Patterns for Alto”. As is usual for this sort of music, it could be from a Philip Glass piece. One nice thing about Ms Bertucci’s arpeggio piece is that she leaves space in it rather than cramming it full of detail, then as it progresses, she allows echo or tape loops to build gradually behind her.

Other songs experiment with long drone, atmosphere, and near Industrial soundscapes.

It makes for an album that is continuously changing and morphing, once you think you understand where Ms Bertucci is coming from, she throws you a curve. I especially enjoy her pleasant use of dissonance and wonderful bird-like squeals.

#LeaBertucci #MetalAether #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazine #ReleasesOfTheYear

Metal Aether

A Dance That Empties

A Dance That Empties
A Dance That Empties

A Dance That Empties by Subtle Degrees.

Bandcamp Link: A Dance That Empties

I’ve been listening to this album all week.

Not because it is super long, but because it is super dense.

It is a Tenor Sax and Drum duo album from Travis Laplante, (of Battle Trance and Little Women,) and Gerald Cleaver, (of Farmers by Nature and Black Host).

Travis Laplante is well known, along with his other compatriots in Battle Trance, for extending the tonal vocabulary of the Saxophone. “Extended Technique” and all that. He is also an extremely melodic player.

But, when I first heard about this album I was wondering, where would Gerald Cleaver fit in?

Most saxophonists who traffic in arpeggio based extended technique and saxophone multiphonics do it solo. With all that going on, there’s just not a lot of room for other players to fit in.

So, I sort of put off listening to it for a while.

Foolishly, it turns out.

Mr Cleaver is a great foil for Mr Laplante, translating his complex saxophone polyrhythms into an ever changing sea of even more complex drum motifs. Somehow finding the accent points in Mr Laplante’s playing and using them to create rhythmic units.

The album is made up of 3 pieces. All three include passages of solos and duos.

Mr Laplante’s playing utilizes some of the same techniques as an Evan Parker or a John Butcher, but it feels more controlled and spacious than those men’s often extremely dense work. Which I guess leaves more room for others.

Though, some of the tempos these two build to are just nuts. The third piece, especially, Mr Laplante has a particularly long section where an arpeggio speeds up and speeds up until it is going so fast it is a single modulated tone. Nuts.

The funny thing, as I was thinking about this today, is the rhythms of A Dance That Empties often feels not so much like “Jazz”, as an extension of the type of playing that might accompany a Shakespeare play, Renaissance music, or an English traditional dance. Well, OK, a totally nuts Morris Dance Ritual, perhaps performed by extremely nimble goats.

#ADanceThatEmpties #TravisLaplante #GeraldCleaver #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

A Dance That Empties

Cuts Up, Cuts Out

CutsUpCutsOut
CutsUpCutsOut

Cuts Up, Cuts Out by Cuts.
Bandcamp Link: Cuts Up, Cuts Out

Say you’re walking along, and you only have your phone or your iPod or your walkman.

You start having a heart attack. Your heart stops.

If you’re lucky enough to have “Cuts Up, Cuts Out” on your device, quickly flick to that album, turn your device up to 11, and lie down.

I feel certain that it will restart your heart.

If not, well, it’s a pretty great soundtrack as you speed up and away from this mortal plane.

Cuts is a group along the lines of a less polite “Last Exit”.

Take no prisoners noisey improvisation super group involving Reedist Mats Gustafsson, Masami Akita (aka Merzbow), Balazs Pandi of Zu, and, of all people, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

If those people don’t mean anything to you, you probably won’t enjoy this music. Or, if you only know Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth’s Dirty, rather than his contribution to the Dietrich/Sauter/Moore album “Barefoot in the Head”, this may come as something as a shock to your system.

If those people mean something to you, you probably already know, as the press release suggests, “‘Cuts Up, Cuts Out’ is a snapshot of the four musician’s uncanny groupthink during a live performance at the Church of St John at Hackney at the end of September 2016. Spanning the highly exotic manifold of music dimensions of free noise, free and spiritual jazz, power ambient and grindcore, ‘Cuts Up, Cuts Out’ will cathartically renew and elevate the listeners Geist from the inside.”

#CutsUpCutsOut #Cuts #MatsGustafsson #ThurstonMoore #MasamiAkita #Merzbow #BalazsPandi #RareNoiseRecords

Cuts Up, Cuts Out
Cuts Up, Cuts Out

Temporary etc.

Temporary ETC
Temporary ETC

Temporary etc. by Booker Stardrum.
Bandcamp Link: Temporary etc.

Booker Stardrum is a percussionist.

This is a solo album by him.

Yet there aren’t really any drum solos.

There are a few guests on the tracks, including trumpeter Jaimie Branch, but they provide something more like “color” or “seasoning” to the flow of the tracks.

What it reminds me of, a bit, is David Van Tieghem’s album “These Things Happen” from the mid-1980s or some of Jon Hassell’s work.

Stardrum’s propulsive, and digitally bent, rhythms are the core, with the horn players floating long tones and occasional chords.

Makes for interesting contrasts and a fascinating album.

#BookerStardrum #TemporaryETC #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Temporary ETC album
Temporary ETC album

The Terror End of Beauty

The Terror End Of Beauty
The Terror End Of Beauty

The Terror End of Beauty by Harriet Tubman.
Bandcamp Link: The Terror End of Beauty

I’ve been enjoying Harriet Tubman’s music for a good long time now.

Their last album, Araminta, with special guest Wadada Leo Smith, was a stone cold classic.

This new album, “The Terror End of Beauty”, does more to celebrate the length and breadth of the contributions of the African diaspora to popular music, especially to that most American of inventions, The Electric Guitar.

It also is a perfectly apt record to listen to while celebrating the birthday of that polymath of the electric guitar and lightning performance, Jimi Hendrix.

In other words, The Terror End of Beauty rocks.

#TheTerrorEndOfBeauty #HarrietTubman #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #BrandonRoss #MelvinGibbs #JTLewis

The Terror End of Beauty
The Terror End of Beauty

The Gas Bill EP

The Gas Bill EP
The Gas Bill EP

The Gas Bill EP by Kevin Drumm.
Bandcamp Link: The Gas Bill EP

I was thinking about “Ambient” music and thinking back to Eno’s album, “Music for Airports”.

The “songs” on that album were created by running 4 different tape loops of various audio events simultaneously. The way the audio events occurred in temporal space lined up differently depending on the alignment of the tapes. Beyond creating the tapes and pushing “play”, the artist was not involved in the actual creation of the music.

I often wonder how interactive Kevin Drumm’s music is, or if it is some variation on that creative process.

You may recall our long stroll through “A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound” by Roland Kayn. My understanding is his compositions were similar to Eno’s, but far more elaborate Goldberg contraptions of sound creations. Like Eno, little actual input from artists occurred beyond pressing “play”.

The Gas Bill EP is more similar to “Music for Airports” than it is to Drumm’s more aggressive work, or even yesterday’s “Sunday”.

Eno, again, conceived of “Ambient Music” “‘as ignorable as it is interesting’ that would ‘induce calm and a space to think.'”

Whether Drumm is directly involved in creating the music or not, it functions similarly for me.

I put The Gas Bill EP on and am able to center myself and think. It is somewhat “ignorable” but also interesting.

Not a bad thing.

#KevinDrumm #TheGasBillEP #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

TheGasBillEP-album
TheGasBillEP-album

Sunday

Sunday
Sunday

Sunday by Kevin Drumm.
Bandcamp Link: Sunday

Sunday fades in to a very low continuous rumble, rolling thunder, and a very high pitched complex whine, a bit like my tinnitus or a louder fluorescent light.

The interaction between these two modulates for a period of time and slowly faint sonic events happen in the middle pitches.

At first, I wasn’t sure if there was actually anything happening or if they were phantoms caused by the interaction of the other modulation.

Then at around 5 minutes another very low modulated bass rumble joins along with almost melodic feedback like noise.

This continues until around the 17 minute mark, when another very low rumble joins, causing a rather violent modulation between the low pitches.

In the middle, faintly, it sounds like there is almost something like music. Perhaps music heard from another room.

Sunday is very interesting experiment in durational pitch interactions.

The combination of high pressure low tones the almost unpleasant high pitched sounds is very hypnotic and almost hallucinatory.

#Sunday #KevinDrumm #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Sunday-album
Sunday-album

Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices
Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices by Nate Lepine.
Bandcamp Link: Quartet: Vortices

A few weeks back I covered a record by Quin Kirchner’s group called The Other Side of Time.

Nate Lepine played in that group and some of the most interesting songs on that album were their takes on Charles Mingus’ songs.

This album is under Mr Lepine’s name, but also includes Mr Kirchner.

And while the music of Mingus isn’t covered literally, it is here spiritually.

And while Mr Sorey’s groups, “are not a jazz group,” Mr Kirchner and Mr Lepine’s groups pointedly ARE playing in modern versions of the Jazz idiom.

There is some really outstanding writing and playing here, the rhythm section, Mr Kirchner and Sommers, are especially fantastically propulsive, making it hard not to tap along and enjoy the music.

The interplay of the two saxophonists, Lepine on Tenor and Mazarella on Alto, feels like the work of a couple, players who can complete each other’s sentences. And, man, can they play precision harmony.

I don’t know if this group has played together a lot, but the whole group feels like one who is used to cooking together.

The melodic writing is often in what I call “Noir Jazz” mode, but the intervals are less minor than pure blues, and often very interestingly evoke 20th century composers like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

If you’re looking for a modern Jazz album that is a pure joy to listen to, and hum along to, this is a great one.

#NateLepine #QuartetVortices #NickMazzarella #ClarkSommers #QuinKirchner #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Pillars


Pillars by Tyshawn Sorey.
Bandcamp Links: Pillars

Stephen Haynes: trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, alto horn, small percussion
Ben Gerstein: trombone, melodica
Todd Neufeld: electric and acoustic guitar
Joe Morris: electric guitar, double bass
Carl Testa: double bass, electronics
Mark Helias: double bass
Zach Rowden: double bass
Tyshawn Sorey: conductor, drum set, dungchen, percussion, trombone

Tyshawn Sorey’s newest album is perhaps his “magnum opus”. AKA, “A large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist or writer.”

It is composed of three parts, Pillars I, II, and III.

Each part is a single continuous piece around an hour and 20 minutes long. So, obviously, even after a week of listening to it, I’m still chewing my way through it.

Pillars I and II were released as a double CD. Pillars III was released as a double album. The whole thing is only available in its entirety in digital formats.

Ballsy.

The large slabs of continuous music initially tempted me to compare it to Cecil Taylor. But, listening, I find it has more in common with Bill Dixon’s work.

Lengthy solos evolve into group interactions, then dissolve again into solos.

The scope of the influences on the musicians spans much of contemporary music including 20th Century Classical,20th Century Pop, 21st Century Noise, and even Jazz.

Though, Mr Sorey has recently been getting some flack from Jazz Purists, so has taken to decorating his recent concert announcements on Instagram with the hilarious hash tag, #WeAreNotAJazzGroup.

This is a bold and inventive piece of work from one of the most important composers working in modern music. Outstanding.

#StephenHaynes #BenGerstein #JoeMorris #ToddNeufeld #CarlTesta #MarkHelias #ZachRowden #TyshawnSorey #Pillars #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack