Saturday, March 27, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Z is for Zone

The Zs: Arms. 2006. Planaria Recordings. PR029.

Sam Hillmer: tenor saxophone, vocals
Matthew Hough: electric guitar, vocals
Charlie Looker: electric guitar, baritone guitar, vocals
Ian Antonio: drumset, percussion, vocals
Brad Wentworth: drumset, percussion

Militant precision that starts and stops (and stutters) on a dime as the Zs take their contrasting extremes into the studio to document their exquisitely crafted textures. By combining the disciplines of a chamber ensemble with a hard core band they bring each genre exactly what the other is lacking. Music with a razor sharp intellectual edge that still holds a kinetic, visceral edge. The group chanting of "Nobody Wants To Be Had" or "Except When You Don't Because You Won't" falls in lock step with the instrumental sonics of the Zs machinery to reveal the creative pulse that thrives within the disciplined brutality of the sound.

Francois Houle: Aerials. 2006. Drip Audio: MAX 21552.

Francois Houle: clarinets, prepared piano

Other than the spare moments when Francios Houle plays the prepared piano along with the clarinet simultaneously the piano serves as a subtle, resonant presence to this sound. Moments when Houle plays the clarinet directly into the piano are balanced against its absence. A subtle, but rich harmonic component that springs forward on a good pair of speakers. Musically, this material exists within spaces between notes and phrases. Spaces Houle's ears are uniquely tuned to play around. This recording is a wonderful document of the material I had the pleasure to hear performed live at Guelph a few years back. Francois Houle is an understated master of this instrument and Aerials provides an extended presentation of his soloistic prowess.

Birgit Ulher/Ernst Thoma: Slants. 2003. Unit Records: UTR 4142.

Birgit Ulher: trumpet
Ernst Thoma: live electronics

While one might be struck by the inventiveness of Birgit Ulher's extended trumpet techniques and the way she matches the timbral twists and unpredictable outbursts of Ernst Thoma's electronics. Knowing of her improvisational prowess first hand I'm more inclined to marvel at Thoma's ability to keep up with the sonic range of Ulher. The truth is that these artists respond to one another and take the listener to some remarkable places. The final moments of "Skyblue" in particular reaches a suspended state that is remarkable.

1 comment:

Jerrie said...

You always make me want to listen to more music--your kind of music.