Arthur RIMBAUD / Carl PREKOPP / Elizabeth PURNELL / Robert WYATT "Une saison en Enfer / A Season in Hell"
Rimbaud's intense masterpiece of spiritual disillusionment, by special request from Dimer Fastone
Narrated by Carl Prekopp
Soundscape by Bristol composer Elizabeth Purnell
Poems sung by Robert Wyatt.
Wadada Leo Smith : trumpet
Walter Quintus : computer & processing
Katya Quintus : voice
Miroslav Tadic : classical & baritone guitar
Mark Nauseef : percussion & live electronics.
Tracks : Uncoiling; Cosmoil; Disembodyism; Over the Influence; Yopa; Black Bell Mother; Majounish; Kawami Wama; Speeds Per Coil; Neither Liquid Nor Gaseous, Torn; Green Gold Melt; Gangah Wallah; Rivers of Swan; Coiling.
It's been a good couple of years for trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose involvement with the Yo! Miles project, Spring Heel Jackand his own Golden Quartet has seen him return to the public ear after years of lower key projects.
Smith rates this particular project as one of his favourites, and it's easy to see why. While the Yo Miles! project paid an explicit homage to 70s Miles Davis, 'Snakish' imagines how that music may have sounded if Miles had been more influenced by Stockhausen than Sly Stone or Jimi Hendrix.
This isn't just Smith's baby though; it's a collective effort from percussionist/electronicist Mark Nauseef, guitarist Miroslav Tadic and most crucially, engineer Walter Quintus. His processing places the trio's realtime playing in impossible acoustic environments; one moment in deep space, the next at the bottom of a sulphurous alien sea. Tadic's spidery acoustic guitar sits halfway between John McLaughlin and Derek Bailey; his chords are pretty in a sour kind of way, and are the perfect ground for Smith's glowing, lyrical flights.
While both Tadic and Smith veer off into free improv fluttering and at times, Nauseef's spluttering, primitive electronics provide the most abstraction. Spirals of white, pink and brown noise fleck the soundscape. Bells, chimes, rustles, clicks and cavernous thumps replace grooves. Quintus' processing acts as a kind of aural zoom lens, shifting focus from one element to another. Occasional spoken interventions from Katya Quintus (sometimes in English, sometimes not) add to the hallucinatory atmosphere.
Leo records boss Leo Feigin reckons this album will take its place as one of the best in the label's catalogue. That's a pretty big statement given the brilliance and scope of much of Leo's output, but I reckon it'll hold true. 'Snakish' is a seductive, involving listen for devotees of everyone from Supersilent to Miles to Evan Parker's electro-acoustic work. Great stuff.
With Quintus’ ambient sounds crackling and rushing around them, Wadada Leo Smith and the Snakish band have tapped into the music of wonder.
Kristin Andersen : trumpet, violin, flutes, recorder
Lene Grenager : cello
Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje : vocals, theremin, electronics
Hild Sofie Tafjord : French horn, flutes, electronics.
The fourth album from one of Rune Grammofon's defining and longest-standing groups, Kantarell reunites Maja Ratkje, Hild Sophie Tafjord, Lene Grenager and Kristin Andersen as Spunk, this time for a step back towards the untreated, acoustic sounds that informed their earlier output, shedding some of the electroacoustic treatments you might encounter in Ratkje and Tafjord's solo work (or for that matter their combined output as Fe-Mail) in favour of a bedrock sound that's rooted in naturally observed free-improvisations. 'Quadralogue' in particular gives some insight into how it would sound to hear Spunk close-up and live, recorded with clarity but a certain roughness so as to convey the chaotic spontaneity of it all. As musicians the quartet are all highly skilled and classically trained, yet they seem so readily able to shed any notions of conventional form and structure. On 'Mosegrodd' the cello seems to transform itself into the squeak of new trainers on buffed wooden floors, while Ratkje's playfully demonic vocals reach new heights of strangeness on the visceral 'Eaten'; when electronics do intervene its often difficult to determine what's being obliterated by software patches and what's left untreated - so far removed is the Spunk sound from the conventional string/horn/vocal vocabularies. It's a great pleasure to have a new album from these noisy Norwegian ladies; along with the likes of Supersilent and Alog they helped shape that classic early Rune Grammofon roster, and they're still very much integral to the upkeep of the more experimental side of the label's profile. Highly recommended.
As challenging as free improvisation can be, the truth is that while it may appear to be an aimless mixture of sounds found or otherwise, in the right hands it is something that—best absorbed as a whole rather than a collection of individual parts—can be as beautiful as it sometimes is jarring and off-putting. Spunk pushes the limits of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, as well as voice; but with an injection of humorous absurdity that may, perhaps, be best experienced live as it was at the 2008 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. This all-female Norwegian collective's ability to create sound collages with a purpose has never been stronger than on Kantarell.
Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje may be the best-known of the bunch, a serious new music composer who has contributed to ECM recordings by accordionist
Cellist Lene Grenager pushes through the opening electronics of "Mosegrodd," a piece that indirectly references Ligeti, but also an idiosyncratic kind of Nordic cool, as it evokes skewed images of jagged landscapes. She creates angular harmonics that act as a bed for trumpeter Kristin Andersen and French hornist Hild Sofie Tafjord's long tones. "Ankomst," on the other hand, pushes the limits of sound in a brief two minutes, combining sawed strings, deeply processed horns and a theremin that reaches up into the stratosphere; while "Ute," another miniature, builds on percussive sounds, with cello and recorder creating strangely appealing sonics in a curiously traditional-sounding piece.
"Tremble" is an appropriately named opener, with percussion and electronics creating an undulating sound that's at the foundation of a piece that gradually densifies, while "The Lake," with its long periods of near silence, is Spunk at its calmest and most spatially reverent. The 10-minute "Bipolarity" is, however, Kantarell's strongest piece, where seeming stasis shifts almost imperceptibly, until greater percussiveness takes over, with Ratkje looping a brief vocal fragment as the piece becomes even more jagged, while Spunk approaches greater extremes both sonically and dynamically.
Spunk is never for the faint-at-heart; but for those who can take its music as the evocative (and provocative) soundtrack to an imagined alien landscape, Kantarell yields plenty of dividends.
Mark Nauseef : percussion & électronic
Sylvie Courvoisier : piano & prepared piano
Fred Frith / Stevie Wishart / Daniela Cattivelli "Live festival meteo - 29 08 2009" (encore un concert du Nouvel an, enfin, presque)
Fred Frith : guitare...
Stevie Wishart : vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy), electronics...
Daniela Cattivelli : laptop, samples...
David Sylvian - The Librarian (07 10 2007)
Sophie Hunger - Rise and Fall - sVreneli ab em Guggisberg (02 02 2009)
Bar Kokhba - Lilin (26 06 2008)
Susanne Abbhuel - Ida Lupino (05 04 2002)
The Orkestra / Mike Westbrook's Brass Band & Henry Cow - Kanonen Song (17 09 1977)
Joelle Leandre François Houle Raymond Strid - Improvisation (24 01 2009 à l'improviste)
Louis Sclavis 5tet - L'Heure des songes (05 12 2009)
Extenz'O - Improvisation (13 05 2009 à l'improviste)
Sylvie Courvoisier Ocre - Curio in Trivia / In Memory of Hugo Pratt (06 11 1998)
The Orkestra / Mike Westbrook's Brass Band & Henry Cow - Wheel of Fortune (17 09 1977)
Noel Akchoté & Didier Petit - Improvisation (17 10 2009 à l'improviste)