CD Reviews

Wednesday 4th January

January 5, 2012

Not sure what to make of tonight’s CD. It is a quartet recording recently released on the Creative Sources label named Proxemics by Boris Hauf (Tenor and soprano sax, plus sidetones and harmonium) Steven Hess (drums and electronics) Keefe Jackson (Contrabassclarinet and another tenor sax) and somebody named Juun playing piano. There are three tracks, each studio recordings from early 2010. I have to admit to only being aware of the music of Hauf and Hess before, and I don’t even know if Juun is male or female, with every review I can find of this music online also tactfully avoiding any indication! Not that any of this matters. Its a bit of an oddball album though, the first track in particular, named Public is really hard to try and categorise and never really goes where you think it might. Essentially this piece, the longest on the disc by far at almost half an hour is vaguely linear in structure, with the drums, electronics and occasional hissing reeds forming a kind of soft, often textural layer over which the acoustic instruments, mainly the reeds, but occasionally the piano wander in a more forward, not quite conventional manner. This sounds somewhat run of the mill I know, but its hard to describe this music accurately. In places the horns (I am counting the bass clarinet as a horn here) are played very conventionally indeed, with quite loud parps, splatters and even semi melodic lines burning their way across some of the track

It is the combination of some really very beautiful sounds in places, with the familiar, jazzy use of the horns that makes this one so unusual. The last minutes of Public are particularly wonderful. After the sax and clarinet have ceased interjections, a kind of hissing stream of near silent stillness appears, with what sounds like a field recording of wind in trees whispering past, complete with the occasional car horn in the distance. Its the way that this ever so subtle section follows the jazzy sections that makes this disc unusual for me. The field recording (assuming it is one) probably comes from Hess, who as part of Haptic has been involved with some stunningly beautiful work of this kind in recent years, but when placed alongside the tinkling of what I think is a prepared piano, and the alternate hissing and wailing of the sax and clarinet it all sounds oddly disconnected, but in a manner that isn’t displeasing at all. It just sounds unusual.

The second track, lasting just under six minutes is more conventionally structured, with the percussion coming more to the fore, providing a framework for the others to build a vaguely drone based structure around. The final track sees Hauf introduce the harmonium, which wheezes and quivers its way in and out of a lethargic, softly throbbing pattern set up by the others that seems to rotate and repeat itself slowly. The first track makes the album for me, and perhaps I would have been just as happy with that piece alone, with maybe its closing few minutes extended out further, so giving more weight to its contrast with the wail of the horns, but overall this is a nice album, and at its height really quite different indeed.

So, the de-hacking of this site is complete and it all feels very snug and watertight round here now. Hackers had somehow implanted software into the blog’s core code that recorded my log-in details as I typed them, so allowing them, or their spam robots access to the database whenever they wanted to. Exactly why a website about experimental music that is read by little more than a couple of hundred people daily should be a target for this kind of thing is beyond me, but its all professionally cleaned up now and measures are in place to stop it coming back. I don’t think anything has changed externally. The visitor counter has been moved to the bottom of the page for convenience’s sake, and I have just placed an ad for the forthcoming (great looking) Audiograft Festival in Oxford this February, but otherwise it all should be working well. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone that might have been affected by the problems here. Aside from those that couldn’t read the blog in their RSS feeds for a while, and those of you that have had to read my boring updates about it all every day I am not aware of anyone directly affected, but apologies all the same. I am having my first whisky of the year right now to celebrate the site’s clean bill of health.

Comments (3)

  • wmeyer2

    January 5, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Juun is Judith Unterpertinger, an Austrian composer who also plays a bit of piano. Here is her website . Hauf brought her here a couple years ago for the last episode of the Chicago Sound Map, a composer’s showcase that has also presented the music of Olivia Block, Ernst Karel, and Boris. Keef Jackson plays saxophones and contrabass clarinet, he’s usually happy to play in jazz contexts like Fast Citizens or the Jason Stein Quartet. There is also a record recorded around the same time with Hauf + 2 other reeds and Hess + 2 other drummers. It sounds quite different. It’s on Clean Feed and it looks like this

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for that Bill, sounds like a veritable hive of activity…

  • wmeyer2

    January 6, 2012 at 7:29 am

    We can’t rely on the weather to bring us pleasure, so we make our own. I suppose it might be the same in London.

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