Saturday 11th AprilApril 11, 2009
Well today was a nice day. I took a slow trip into London, for mainly uninteresting reasons, but also to drop by CafÃ© Oto and have a browse around the new 323 shop. Mr Wastell was away attending executive matters elsewhere, so I had a cup of tea and a long chat with Paul Abbott, during which we set the world of improvised music to rights. It was nice to visit Oto at this time of the day when no music was taking place. I’m not sure why, but I feel very comfortable there, similar to how I always felt on my Saturday afternoon visits to the old Sound323 shop, only with better tea. Oto really is the effective home of improvised music in London right now, and it fits nicely that the 323 shop is also now there. I’m sure this won’t be my last Saturday afternoon visit. Anyone else out there want to share a pot of tea one Saturday drop me a line!
My journey to and from London was spent listening to (and painstakingly slowly transcribing) the recordings I made of the interview with John Wall far too long ago that I am now at last working into shape for publication at ParisTransatlantic. I did also find the time today to listen again to the new EKG release on Another Timbre entitled Electricals. I like this release quite a bit. If there ever was such a thing as electroacoustic improvisation this disc would probably typify such a categorisation in that it consists of two musicians (Ernst Karel, trumpet and analogue electronics and Kyle Bruckmann, oboe, english horn and analogue electronics) that combine acoustic and electric instrumentation in such a way that it often becomes difficult to tell them apart.
On the whole the music is relatively understated, consisting more of layered tones and warbling textures than anything too energetic and eventful, but the switches in sound when they do come tend towards sudden handbrake turns rather than gentle blending into the flow. There are five pieces altogether, each a little vignette in itself. The second track, titled Drift is the most calmly poignant to my ears, though ironically given the title the track also slowly grows into a troubled cauldron of electronic bubbles and groans. Maybe it drifts there but it is not always a relaxing journey. Resistance may be my favourite track, Â a fretful exchange of simple yet disturbingly charged lines of muted sounds with a dark, grainy undertone to them, threatening aggression in several places.
Electricals is a deceptive release. If you only half-listen to the album while trying to do other things at the same time its easy to miss the subtleties of the music. I first listened last night while writing my daily post and although the music was pleasing I missed a good deal. Listening on headphones in bed early this morning revealed a lot more, the tension simmering between the two layers of sound became clear, and the overall sense of composition to the recording shone through, with each track obviously improvised and yet involving a placement of sound that betrayed the experience and skill of the musicians. A really nice release, yet another strong one from Another Timbre and the best AT sleeve design yet too if you ask me.
I picked up another release that includes Ernst Karel’s music today when at Sound323 as well, the Chicago Sound Map release that includes a composition written by Karel alongside another by Olivia Block, each performed by a ten piece group that does not include the composers. Looking forward to hearing that one soon as well.
If you live in or close to London a mention should be made here of a great looking gig at CafÃ© Oto on Tuesday night that I hope to be able to attend if I can just sort a few things to free me from work. Three groups will be playing, each showcasing some of the young improv talent working together in London right now;- a quartet of Sebastian Lexer, Jamie Coleman, Grundik Kasyansky and Seymour Wright heads up the evening, with very able support from the duos of Paul Abbott and Daichi Yoshikawa and Ute Kanngiesser with Guillaume Viltard. More details in the calendar.