CD Reviews

Wednesday 11th February

February 11, 2009

You know, my biggest fear for writing this daily was of having something to write about each day, having enough new music to talk about. It seems that at least for the time being there is no danger of that situation happening, as music just keeps arriving here. Thanks to everyone that sends me their music to listen to. I am genuinely touched each time I open an envelope to find something I didn’t pay for. Sorry if I don’t always reply personally. At least with this new daily format I hope to write about more than I ever have before.

A late start again today so I listened to a couple of albums this morning when I had a little peace and quiet. Besides being solo improv records the two discs are pretty much unrelated, but they both had something in the liner notes that caught my eye. John Edwards’ new solo disc Volume on Psi/Emanem is a great listen. Yep, here and there it verges on the free jazz end of improvisation, and maybe that isn’t always my cup of tea but throughout this disc Edwards plays with such wonderful passion and feeling. I’ve caught him playing live a few times over the last six months, (not that difficult seeing as he seems to play somewhere just about every night) and he is great to watch, clearly a man in love with music and thoroughly enjoying every moment he is stood before an audience. Volume shows several sides to Edwards’ playing, ranging from the aggressively boisterous to the quietly delicate, but always so alive and bristling with energy.

The disc is also quite beautifully packaged. Apart from the lovely photo (taken by Edwards) that adorns the cover everything else is very tastefully done, from the typography to the minimal layout. I didn’t think I’d ever say that about an Emanem related release anyway! For me though the experience of this CD is spoilt to some degree by a few stupid comments in the liner notes, which are written by someone named Marek Tuszynski. He states;

This is a CD that contains 9 tracks of John Edwards’ music, It’s performed by John on, or rather with his double bass. How appealing does this sound in the era when zeroes and ones sneakily dominate our lives and when music comes to us shuffled by processors and verified by the Google, MySpace and Wikipedia corporations?… John’s music is better than you can get through your bloated wireless Internet…..


Is it just me or do these annoying lines just reinforce the sorry (and untrue) stereotype that more traditional forms of improvised music are just stuck in the past without much of an idea of the possibilities that technology can provide? Apart from the factual errors in that paragraph (Wikipedia is hardly a “corporation” its a not-for-profit open source project without any adverts in sight, the zeroes and ones to be found on the CD are obviously no different to those that can be found on the internet and I bet if I tried I could get John Edwards’ music via the web with ease…) its also just the writing of someone with a really boring chip on their shoulder. The music is still really good, but that comment spoilt things a little for me.

The other disc I heard this morning is the latest (the eighth believe it or not) “release” on Cor Fuhler’s CDR label Conundrom. I put the word release into inverted commas because these discs are not really that widely distributed, and really are put together in small numbers just to get Cor’s music out there to those interested, mainly through his gigs. This recent one, titled Wenen arrived this morning anyway and I’ve listened to it through twice now. Perhaps its too early to say for sure, and indeed I need to play it several more times but its maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard from Cor. The recording captures a live gig in Vienna just three weeks ago (!). Playing just solo piano with no electronics (only electronic preparations, fans, eBows etc) the set ranges from gentle and gamelanesque through to busy, scrabbling and fiery, using both inside and outside of the piano to great effect. Still coming to terms with what it is I like so much about this one, but it has certainly gripped me today, a really engaging thirty-five minutes of music that flies by in no time. I’m not really sure if Cor makes these discs that widely available but I’d certainly suggest getting hold of a copy if you can. Maybe Cor can chime in here and say if they are available from him? Looking around it looks like I’ve missed a recent Conundrom disc too, so I’m definitely interested to know!

Oh yes, and the liner notes included the line: “please do not put this music on the internet” which amused me a little. Apart from the fact that adding that note is probably like showing a red rag to a bull, it did make me ponder on how different musicians get their music out into the world. In yesterday’s post I commented that more and more musicians seem to be putting their music up for free download, avoiding CDs altogether, but then here is Cor doing pretty much the opposite. I guess the world would be boring if we all thought the same.

Regarding the free download I mentioned yesterday, Benedict Drew’s Outside the Collective, I finally managed to give it a listen this afternoon. Ben reckoned it might not be my cup of tea and well, he was about fifty percent right, though I did enjoy listening to it all. I didn’t much fancy the track called For orchestra which was all a bit too Mego records meets R2D2 on acid meets badly tuned longwave radio for me, but I did like Is that you? quite a bit and I really enjoyed the last piece called Nightime at 5 which is a dark, brooding affair with a vaguely cinematic feel to it, but then you probably know that because you went and downloaded it…!

Listening to these pieces today meant I didn’t have time for anything from Goh Lee Kwang’s Wiring my ear to the ground set again. My apologies Lee, this is twice this has happened. I promise to finish listening by Friday!

Comments (7)

  • jon abbey

    February 12, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I distribute Cor’s label, I believe I’m the only one, and besides me, he only sells them at gigs, not directly. I have the first seven in stock, but wasn’t aware this new one existed, so thanks for the tip, I’m writing to him right now…

  • Richard Pinnell

    February 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Something I forgot to say about the Edwards disc is that it was recorded and mastered by John Wall.


  • jon abbey

    February 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    hopefully not on a nasty old computer! :)

  • benedictdrew

    February 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    hahaha, that John Edwards disc is great. i paid real money for mine.
    he is so great. i think he gets over looked oddly. playing with him is a joy. his understanding of music sound and improvisation is acute .
    but it is after all a 16bit 44khz cd. so im not sure what that text is on about

  • mark

    February 12, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    “The disc is also quite beautifully packaged. Apart from the lovely photo (taken by Edwards) that adorns the cover everything else is very tastefully done, from the typography to the minimal layout. I didn’t think I’d ever say that about an Emanem related release anyway!”

    the design, layout and typography has evan’s mark all over it. i first noticed it back in the early ’90’s on the ‘corner to corner’ disc, clear and striking. it’s been pretty consistant over the years. you can trace it right back to early incus. ;

    simple, elegant and very effective.

  • Richard Pinnell

    February 13, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Mark thanks for sharing those. Yes I can see the lineage back through each of the designs. Elegant is the correct word for the sleeve of Volume as well.

    Ben, just for the record (as I’m sure Mark here can confirm!) I paid for my copy of Volume as well. I doubt I am too high up the Emanem promo list!
    I still like to pay for music when I can. I tried to pay Cor this morning too but he wasn’t having it!

  • benedictdrew

    February 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

    hi Richard
    no i didnt want to suggest anything, its just i am lucky to get given lots of nice cd’s ( a little embarrassing as now i am no longer programming festivals ) like the ones you gave me. its really generous of people . and since i am very skint i have not been able to buy much. but i bought this. cause a john edwards solo is something special. i remember a gig i did with Ivan Seal and Alastair Leslie, where John did 10 minute solo before us. it was so good, impossible to follow such a wonderful thing.

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