Saturday, October 31, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Waging the Battle for Abstraction

Michael Zerang: Cedarhead. 2006. Al Maslakh Recordings: 06.

Michael Zerang: drums, darbuka and percussion
in duos with
Sharif Sehnaoui: electric guitar
Mazen Kerbaj: trumpet
Raed Yassin: tapes, electronics
Christine Sehnaoui: alto saxophone
Charbel Haber: electric guitar
Jassem Hindi: electronics
Bechir Saade: nay

The sound of transatlantic collaboration and a short glimpse into the creative depths and energies of the Beirut free improvisation scene. The vibrant, complex energies of the city delivering a sonic end-run to the international image of a society living under siege. The sometime brittle textures and aggressively extended techniques finding an easy conversation with the drumming of American Michael Zerang. There is plenty here to open ears to the sounds taking root in this region.

Bang On A Can & Don Byron: A Ballad For Many. 2006. Cantaloupe Music: CA21036.

Bang On A Can All-Stars
Robert Black: bass
David Cossin: drum set, percussion
Lisa Moore: piano
Mark Stewart: electric guitars
Wendy Sutter: cello
Evan Ziporyn: clarinet, bass clarinet

with Don Byron: composer, clarinet

The familiar Bryon-esque riffs and forms performed under the polished, tight sheen of the Bang On A Can All-Stars. Music that grooves as the compositional turns and melodic lines fan out with a sinewy smoothness. The music written for film in this collection does follow a strong, programmatic sense while the performances of "Basquaiat", "Show Him Some Lub" and "Fyodorovich" showcase the stylistic range and substance of Don Byron as a composer. Ultimately qualifying this as another installment in the eclectic and impressive Byron catalogue.

Elliott Sharp/Orchestra Carbon: Abstract Repressionism: 1990-99. 1992. Victo: cd019.

Elliott Sharp: composer, double guitar bass
Gregor Kitzis: violin
David Soldier: violin
Wendy Ultan: violin
Ron Lawrence: viola
Michelle Kinney: cello
Margaret Parkins: cello
Mary Wooten: cello
Lindsey Horner: bass
Joseph Trump: drums, electronic percussion

"The title is journalistic although the music is not programmatic. Elements of control (government, police/military, religion, entertainment/news media, educational institutions, the aristocracy) continue to tighten up their absolute ability to shape what people think and do - not so much through overt means (although these are certainly being practiced) but by selecting against and undermining the ability of humans to process information and abstractify. This we must battle" - Elliott Sharp. A sentiment that speaks toward the disconnect between art and product. And a music that erupts with a burst of noise before laying waste to a textural soundscape of rhythmic ferocity. These "ir/rational " works for large ensemble providing an excellent medium for distilling a rich sonic substance. Abstract Repressionism occupying a prominent place within my own ears and psyche.

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