Saturday, January 05, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Bootstrapping, Freaking and Running a Fever

Elliott Sharp/Bootstrappers: GI=GO. 1992. Atonal Records: ACD 3014.

Elliott Sharp: guitar, bass clarinet, processing
Jan Kotik: drums, percussion
Thom Kotik: prepared bass

This one is an old friend to these ears from way back. With Elliott Sharp's guitar sound front and center before a rock trio GI=GO plumbs a sonic territory close to my own sensibilities that is enhanced by the steady rhythm section of Kotik and Kotik. The computerese geeky titles of "Optimize My Hard Disk, Baby," "8-bit Living" and "Command Z" haven't aged as well as the sounds behind the names. Which highlights the pitfalls of attaching titles to instrumental works. But this quality is so consistent across this disc that the heart and mind simply accept it and enjoy the ride.

Dave Douglas: Freak In. 2003. RCA/Bluebird: 09026-64008-2.

Dave Douglas: trumpet, keyboards, voice
Jamie Saft: keyboards, loops, programming
Marc Ribot: electric guitar
Karsh Kale: tabla, drums
Joey Baron: drums
Romero Lubambo: acoustic guitar
Brad Jones: ampeg baby bass, acoustic bass
Ikue Mori: electronic percussion
Seamus Blake: saxophone
Chris Speed: saxophone, clarinet
Craig Taborn: fender rhodes
Michael Sarin: drums

Freak In is like a party hosted by Dave Douglas where he's invited all his cool downtown improvising friends to seriously rock the house. The sonic contributions of Craig Taborn and Jamie Saft leave a big impression on this sound. Douglas' final release on a major label is a precursor to the Keystone projects that would follow and after living with this music for a few years it has become a highly regarded disc in the HurdAudio library. My current addiction to seeking out new CDs is fueled by the experience of putting something like Freak In on for the first time.

Matthias Kaul: Fever - Five Songs from a Percussionist. 2002. Nurnichtnur: LC 05245.

Matthias Kaul: percussion, voice

Listen, this is for You (2000)
Amadeu Antonio Kiowa (2000)
Bachmann (1991)
Fever (1999)
Listen, this is for You (II) (2001)

The unusual packaging of Fever is a reflection of the other-worldly sounds contained within. Packaged within its own canvas pocket made from one of a thousand panels cut from an acrylic paint and Chinese ink work called Silence, the limited run of Fever is contained within a unique block that reinforces its own uniqueness. Unbuttoning the pocket to release the music immerses the ears in the focused sonic universe of Matthias Kaul's creations. Whether self-limited to the sounds of a glass harp or employing a vast battery of unusual percussion instruments Kaul displays a sharp ear for sonic design that allows each of these compositions to unfold as fully formed works of austere beauty.

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