Thursday, February 02, 2012

HurdAudio Rotation: Mangled Pianos and Lake of Roaches

Annie Gosfield: Burnt Ivory and Loose Wires. 1998. Tzadik: TZ 7040.

Annie Gosfield: composer, sampling keyboards
Roger Kleier: electric guitar
Christine Bard: drums, percussion
Jim Pugliese: percussion
Ted Mook: cello
Rova Saxophone Quartet -
Bruce Ackley: soprano saxophone
Steve Adams: alto saxophone
Larry Ochs: tenor saxophone
Jon Raskin: baritone saxophone

Nickolaievski Soldat (1994)
Freud (1996)
The Manufacture of Tangled Ivory (1995)
Four Roses (1997)
Blue Serge (1996)
Brawl (1998)

There's a lot that hits home with these ears on this set of compositions.  Detuned piano samples and bursts of groove centered, pulsating gestalts hit right where I live.  The Manufacture of Tangled Ivory is an interesting piece structured along two, roughly 5-minute movements.  The first is a sampler solo that explores a texture of mangled piano samples (deliciously detuned, of course).  The second movement kicks into a large ensemble propelled by a driving pulse.  The ensemble feels like an organic outgrowth of the solo material even as the focus shifts squarely toward a more fully composed sound.  The sense of improvisation present in the first movement simply gives way to the militancy of the second.  This is strangely satisfying.  For my ears, Nickolaievski Soldat is the most satisfying of the set as a quartet of sampler, electric guitar and two percussionists.  Four Roses is a great study in tension between sampler and cello.  And Brawl offers a glimpse into the compositional terrain of Annie Gosfield when realized by a saxophone quartet (the only work on this set without a sampler).  Gosfield works with a style that embraces the physicality of rhythm in compelling ways.  Often this serves as a hook that draws the ears through a number of cerebral structures.

Mark Feldman: What Exit. 2006. ECM: 1928 B0007361-02.

Mark Feldman: violin
John Taylor: piano
Anders Jormin: double-bass
Tom Rainey: drums

The first sound to seep into the air as this music spins up is Tom Rainey's sticks on the high hat ushering in the long form "Arcade" as it cycles through multiple configurations of this quartet as it realizes a reserved, sparse texture stretched out for over twenty minutes.  The "Tom Rainey effect" comes into play early and often throughout this disc. Following "Arcade" is a series of more densely "composed" tunes that still leave plenty of breathing space for these stellar improvisers.  My ears always perk up at this quartet realization of "Elegy," a piece I know well from Mark Feldman's solo recording for Tzadik.  This recording is bathed in the spacious, Manfred Eicher production values that give this music a strong sense of chamber jazz.  It's a sound that all four of these musicians thrive within as they turn in a nearly flawless jazz record.  Highly, highly recommended.

Wolf Eyes: Human Animal. 2006. Sub Pop: SPCD 688.

Nathan Young: electronics, metal, harmonica, voice
Mike Connelly: electronics, metal, guitar, voice
John Olson: electronics, metal, saxophones, gong

The title of the last track states Wolf Eyes' position succinctly; "Noise Not Music."  Answering the question of what music can be when it attempts to embrace noise to the exclusion of music.  Within my personal aesthetic one must travel quite some distance to escape music as I embrace noise and all sound as being perceived as music.  My ears still regard this as noise and music.  Though Human Animal does have a unique relationship with pain as I don't realize how much pain my ears have been in until this music stops and relieves a sensory system that has been overwhelmed by high frequency content.  This is accompanied by a stinging sensation just as the eardrums reach a more relaxed state.  Human Animal does manage to build up to this state, hiding the aural fatigue through textural variation and crescendo.  Wolf Eyes opens this set with a slow simmer punctuated by percussive bursts before going into a full boil at the title track.  The brutality of this bleak, dark soundscape is appealing in much the same way as spicy cuisine (which is another pain I gladly indulge).  Like a well spiced dish, Human Animal does not disguise its form through a monotonous barrage of sonic aggression.  This is a set that holds together for the duration of its 30+ minutes with a healthy density of surface details to keep the ears engaged as they bleed.

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