Music Reviews



Ernesto Diaz-Infante: The Lover's Escape (Los Amantes Escapan)

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 22 2018
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Artist: Ernesto Diaz-Infante (@)
Title: The Lover's Escape (Los Amantes Escapan)
Format: CD
Label: Kendra Steiner Editions (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by the Californian guitarist is based on a different framework compared to "Manitas": while the former is a long, and spectral, piece based on a political stance, this one sounds more as a personal portrait. From a musical perspective, this release is a proper showcase of the way of playing developed from the initial use of strumming to his most recent, and quieter, release where he explores the use of silence.
The album is articulated in three long tracks: "Hold me in a deep sleep", based on quiet and slow notes, immersed in pure silence, searching for a long release of the instrument with the result of almost hiding in the environment instead of surrounding the listener. "Watching your eyes awake" is based on the same principles but using chords and a certain reverb and it's perhaps even slower in its development giving time to contemplate the sustain. After all this quietness, "Off into the wilderness where we walk with no gravity" is a strumming song where a rainbow of nuances appears from an apparent stillness, hypnotizing the listener.
The apparently trivial movement of the three parts from sparse notes to strumming is the key element of a poetic oriented to the personal depiction of everyday's feeling rather than rhetorical statements. Recommended but listen with care.

Big Bold Back Bone: Emerge

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 18 2018
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Artist: Big Bold Back Bone (@)
Title: Emerge
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
The idea that a record can be the anti-epos of another one is quite fascinating and interesting. According to the description by the artists-run Wide Ear label, "Emerge" could be considered so against its musical twin "In Search Of The Emerging Species" (released by Portuguese label Shhpuma). Both of them got recorded in the same studio session in Lisbon and they last the same time (approximately 43 minutes), even if the latter featured only one immersive track (titled "Immerse"), while "Emerge"'s length has been split into seven shorter tracks. I only listened to some parts of "In Search Of The Emerging Species", and to be honest, the approach to the sound of "Emerge" sounds quite similar to me, in spite of the above mentioned differences. Both of them have been filled by drone-like sonic streams, roughly structured and performed in a way that could let you think the four members of Big Bold Back Bone (Marco von Orelli on trumpet and slide trumpet, Sheldon Suter on prepared drums, Luis Lopes on electric guitar and other objects, and Travassos on electronics) never played their instruments before, as if they were mysterious artifacts they found on the bottom of the depths they explored during their search for emerging species. The amalgamation they made often sounds like an easy debriding of fibrous tissues, where just some instrumental elements seem to have been completely resurfaced (Marco's trumpet on "Silent Stream" or "Tidings" or some shell-like percussions on "Sealust"). Electronics and percussions sometimes evoke the removal of water or air infiltration of some submarine vehicle after an immersion and can mirror other mysterious technical maintenance following an immersion and any related issue. If you consider this record in this way, you can also explain the reason why the last track "Ground Found" is the one which sounds more vaguely musical of this gradual surfacing.

iety: hope you were covered up

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 16 2018
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Artist: iety (@)
Title: hope you were covered up
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
After I saw a couple of video live recording, I certify that a live concert by iety, a Luzern-based trio by the funny Elio Amberg (playing a tenor sax and a bass clarinet on this output), Laura Schenk (on piano) and Amadeus Fries (on drums) could be much funnier than listening to them through an audio-only support (as 90% of improv and free jazz collective or solo projects), but the deprivation of visual and scenic aspect can't really overshadow the chance to appreciate their amazing sounds. They're perfectly aware of the kind of puzzlement their sound can inspire into a listener, who could ask - for example - if they perform composition or if they're improvising. Well, they seem to say they do something in between improv and composition and such an ambiguity can be related to other aspects of their awesome sound, where sterility can coexist with emotion, and "uncontrolled energy sallies on celebrating the details", according to the introductory words by the label Wide Ear. The two video clips I found are live performances of the first two tracks of this album (the opening 9433 and the title track "hope you were covered up") an I invite you to check them out to have an idea of the energy and the above-mentioned ambiguity sprouting out of iety's sound. A similarly dada-punkish approach to improvisation can be heard on the following tracks such as "kick etude" or the evocative "ophelia" - the tonal thuds and its bitter mood as well as its similarities with some soundtracks of 70ies soap operas (a resemblance that gets more clearly audible on the final "petrol") could let you imagine a modern portrait of the Shakespearean character -, even if this approach could thinly veil a (desired?) certain rawness in some moments of their experiment.

Bruno Sanfilippo: Unity

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 15 2018
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Artist: Bruno Sanfilippo
Title: Unity
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
There's one problem with a release that has to be filed under the term "modern classical" which is the prejudice that it's nothing more than a nom de plume for a sort of nostalgic, if not reactionary, piano music more or less influenced by romanticism. This is not the case of Bruno Sanfilippo, which is a classically trained musician, as it uses elements of electroacoustic music to expand the palette of this genre of music and tries to avoid the cliché.
The first track, "Spiral", is an ethereal piece for voices and synth of remarkable atmosphere and clarity revealing also a sort of religious inspiration. Instead, a track like "One", dangerously borders the romantic borders of the genre luckily far enough from its shoal upon which the minimalistic framework of "Lux" docks. The violin line of "Simple" reveals an apparent simplicity to cover the complexity of the accompaniment while "Oneness" relies on the catchy melodic framework. The electronic treatments of "Entity" and "Cyclical" creates a lingering sense of suspension to balance the romantic piano melody. "Unity" close this release with a long and reasonably complex track where repetitive and hypnotic melodic elements creates a development ending in a ethereal final part close to canonical ambient.
The evident working on sound to juxtapose a patina of modernity to an overall traditional idea of music, as minimalism in this case is not based on repetitive figure but on a plain melodic plan, saves this release from the perilous courses of the genre but it could be not enough to earn something more. Perhaps not only for fans and collectors.

Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert: Out Of Silence

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 15 2018
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Artist: Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert
Title: Out Of Silence
Format: CD
Label: FMR Records (@)
Rated: *****
As most release about improvised music, this is the recording a performance made in 2015 in London by François Carrier, on saxophone, and Michel Lambert, on drums and percussions. Roughly sketched, their music is mostly driven by saxophone which exposes the melodic parts with the drums essentially framing the segments of the performance.
The opening, and longest, track, "Out Of Silence", is developed upon the short phrases of the saxophone and the impressive works on dynamics of the drums which spans from quiet moments to furious underlines of the rhythm. While the saxophone, in "A Thousand Birds", plays almost relentlessly, the drums frames his most fragmented moments and the more continous ones. "For No Reason" is, instead, a more developed dialogue between the two instruments where Lambert begins to conduct his partner. "Soul Play" is the quieter and most lyrical moment of this release while "When the Heart Starts Singing" marks a return to faster playing. "Meadows and Shores and Hills" is marked by the drum parts which is practically a crescendo in dynamics in the first part with only a brief stop to give space to a quiet phrase of the saxophone. "Happy to You" closes this release with at least a small hint of catchy melody.
This is an enjoyable and well played release that could be well received by fans of classic free jazz as it's not as extreme as some output from free improvisation or EAI and has even some moments that borders into canonical jazz. It's really worth a listen.
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