These rare folk have the ability to spin a tale you have possibly heard before but can retell it with such clarity that you are captivated or better yet hypnotized. They can give you a new understanding of something you thought you already knew. This is a beautiful power and an ability that is rare to possess.
Catherine Sikora is such a person/player. She has a clean and colorful voice that could read me my autobiography and still have me in suspense….
The main story on the recording is track three. Clocking in at almost 25 minutes, Red Line Speed, is, to continue a theme here, the Shakespearian tragedy of the album. It starts with the chatter of a couple sitting at a table close to one of the microphones. The guitar comes in but the conversation continues in the background. Park changes up his percussive touch and somehow gets his guitar to sound like a tuba of sorts. The trumpet is next, adding to the subplot. By the time Sikora joins in, the stage has been set for quite the journey….
Tom Burris’ review also puts the spotlight on ‘Red Line Speed’ while imaging hearing a lost “Sonny Rollins and Derek Bailey duet”:
…‘Red Line Speed,’ best represents the trio’s interplay and dynamics. There is a moment where you’d swear you were listening to a Sonny Rollins and Derek Bailey duet. Smith plays spastic trumpet figures with a mute, while Sikora plays fluid lines and Park darts in between them. Smith plays a short solo of hissing sounds. My favorite moment occurs when Smith sounds like a drunken bumblebee & Sikora plays spiral figures as if she’s waving her arms, shooing him away. Then Park appears with sonic smacks, clumsily chasing the bee with an oar. When the piece comes to an abrupt end, amid trilling saxophone, muted trumped, and guitar smears, it sounds like they ripped a peanut butter sandwich apart and smashed it back together with the captured bee inside.
Park is especially adept at steering the group down side streets they might have otherwise ignored and utilizes simple techniques to arrive at unique sounds, such as sticking a piece of metal between the guitar strings & then finger-picking to approximate an alien banjo. Sikora is often the anchor of the trio, grounding them in traditional sonic terrain while playing every bit as imaginatively as the more unconventional Smith and Park. Smith frequently surprises with blurts and burps in one second, and full open tones in the next. [Read the rest…]
Though short, percussive, hard-to-notate sounds dominate Han-earl Park’s sound, he does utilize the totality of the guitar’s sonorities—just not in the proportions demanded by the nostalgic (retrospective, reactionary, etc.) owners of major media…. Franziska Schroeder’s… saxophone is an excellent counterpoint to Park’s electric guitar, mostly because her post-tonal sensibilities are conceived and executed so well. Very simply, contemporary improvisation has grown beyond the 12-note chromatic division of the octave. Buh bye! It is this extended tonal consciousness by which Schroeder achieves the elusive by keeping the narrative aspects to a minimum without regressing to that childish, abnegating HVAC morality holding hostage the imagination of so many wind and reed players in our improvising community.
“I’m very happy to finally make these available. In many respects, all my playing subsequent to this duet has been in response to, and a follow-up on, the implications of this performance. Big thanks to Franziska for sharing the journey on this one.”
“The Glucksman Gallery is one of the finest buildings to have been built in Ireland in recent times, but it is a tricky space for any musician to negotiate. Sounds reverberate and carry in unexpected ways, and music improvised here runs the risk of losing all definition. That [Han-earl] Park and his co-improviser Franziska Schroeder gracefully avoided this testifies to their alertness, sensitivity and experience working together in other spaces…. Indeed the evening had the feeling of conversation, with the instrumentalists demonstrating the improvisatory give-and-take of a convivial exchange of ideas.”
“Park and Schroeder are involved in ongoing collaborations enrolling human and machine musicians, public and laboratory situations, formal and ad-hoc environments, material and social technologies, in real-time, interactive play. Seeking to (re)engineer notions of virtuosity in the context of latter-day, trans-national experimentalism and improvised musics, their performances embrace the contingent and contradictory.”
Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park has been working within/from/around traditions of fuzzily idiomatic, on occasion experimental, mostly open improvised musics for over fifteen years, sometimes engineering theater, sometimes inventing ritual. He feels the gravitational pull of collaborative, multi-authored contexts, and has performed in clubs, theaters, art galleries, concert halls, and (ad-hoc) alternative spaces in Austria, Denmark, Germany, England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Scotland and the USA.
He is part of Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, and is involved in collaborations with Bruce Coates, Franziska Schroeder, Alex Fiennes and Murray Campbell. He has recently performed with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Lol Coxhill, Pat Thomas, Paul Dunmall, Mark Sanders, Matana Roberts, Richard Barrett, Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner and Kato Hideki. Festival appearances include Sonorities (Belfast), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), dialogues festival (Edinburgh), VAIN Live Art (Oxford), and the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology Festival (California). His recordings have been released by labels including Slam Productions and DUNS Limited Edition.
Park founded Stet Lab, a monthly improvised music space in Cork, Ireland, and taught improvisation at the UCC Department of Music.
“Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. Expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter….”
Brian Morton (Point of Departure)
Franziska Schroeder is a saxophonist and theorist. She received her saxophone training in Berlin and Australia and later from Marie-Bernadette Charrier / Conservatoire Supérieure in Bordeaux.
With her trio FAINT Schroeder released a CD of improvised and electroacoustic music in 2007 with Pedro Rebelo (piano and instrumental parasites) and Steven Davis (drums), and a second CD, both on the creative source label. Schroeder has performed with many international musicians including Pauline Oliveros, Stelarc, the Avatar Orchestra, Chris Brown, John Kenny, Tom Arthurs, Nuno Rebelo and Evan Parker.
She holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and has written for many international journals, including Leonardo, Organised Sound, Performance Research, Cambridge Publishing and Routledge. Her book “Re-situating Performance Within The Threshold: Performance practice understood through theories of embodiment” appeared in 2009. Schroeder also published a book on user-generated content for Cambridge Publishing Scholars in 2009.
Schroeder is on the development committee of NMSAT (Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline), and has been on the programming committee for the DRHA (Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts) conference since 2009. She was the Program Chair for the DRHA 2010. Schroeder has been an AHRC Research Fellow and is now a Lecturer/RCUK Fellow at the School of Music and Sonic Arts in Belfast, where she coaches 3rd year recitalists and MA performance students.
“Schroeder… constitutes a great addition in my book of favorite saxophonists, her attitude basically lyrical, sensitive competences just pouring out from whatever she chooses to release from a couple of soulful yet scientifically-oriented lungs. I’m not surprised to discover that she’s been active on the instrument since the age of nine—the perceived skill is indisputable.”
09-24-12: correct error in dates in artwork and Bandcamp album data. 10-24-12: add recommended price. 05-20-13: updated the ‘also available for download’ list. 07-02-13: updated review. 11-01-15: add A Little Brittle Music to downloads list, and change currency from USD to EUR.
Han-earl Park has a special place in my music experience. I think, without exception, there has not yet been an opening to any one of his compositions where I have not had an adverse reaction, either repelling me back in my seat or leaving me shaking my head in exasperation of the noise coming out of my speakers. But the thing of it is, without exception, I find myself listening straight through to the final note. Somehow Han-earl Park finds a way to convert my ears to his music one song at a time….
There is no other artist in which I describe this way….
‘Topologically Correct Harry,’ it’s Sikora’s sax that ushers the listener right on in through the front door. Utilizing a pattern of phrasing that gives the impression of outlining a mountain range from a distance, Sikora’s sax is at the center of attention, with Smith’s trumpet searing blemishes of heat on a radar screen as Park’s guitar gurgles and pops just beneath the surface….
‘바르트’ has Ian Smith’s trumpet setting the table and drawing up a spontaneous menu of jab-right-cross combinations. Sikora moves in slow, but once she’s got both feet in the room, her sound expands into wildly arcing phrases that, when combined with Smith’s one-twos, makes for a delicious whirling dervish of sound. Park mostly keeps to the background, picking his spots and letting things develop organically….
‘Red Line Speed’ begins as a slow build that gains momentum along with height. It hits a plateau at the heart of the song, giving the sense of all three instruments feeling around in the dark to figure out the lay of the land before continuing their ascent in the final stretch of the track….
‘Massimo’s Imagined Juxtapositions’ is a lonely streetlight on a deserted midnight avenue, and the instruments are the moths darting in and out of the dim light carved into the darkness.
A one-of-a-kind improvised musical meeting between artists from Ireland based overseas, and a then Ireland-based artist from abroad which took place on April 4, 2011 at The Roundy, Cork, Ireland.
This was a rare performance in Ireland by Catherine Sikora (New York-based, originally from West Cork), a saxophonist with a striking, compelling sound. She has been described as “a free-blowing player’s player with a spectacular harmonic imagination and an evolved understanding of the tonal palette of the saxophone” (Chris Elliot, Seacoast Online). Sikora was joined by cofounder of the London Improvisers’ Orchestra, trumpeter Ian Smith (London-based, from Dublin), and guitarist Han-earl Park (then Cork-based, currently Brooklyn-based, from California). Smith and Park had just come off the tour as part of the power-trio Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward) with the legendary composer-improviser Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith.
Since making her way to New York City from West Cork, Ireland to study abstract improvisation, Catherine Sikora has become a well-known face and sound in New York creative music circles. She has worked with Elliott Sharp, Eric Mingus, Michael Evans, Matt Lavelle, Jeremy Bacon, François Grillot and Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, among many others. Her undeniably unique approach sets her apart from everyone else, even when surrounded by the most original and creative voices in New York City. Sikora is a contributing writer to the book “Silent Solos-Improvisers Speak” (Buddy’s Knife Publishing, Köln, DE) and is currently working on producing a solo recording.
Ian Smith has performed with Evan Parker, John Stevens, Maggie Nicols, Lol Coxhill, Steve Beresford, Eddie Prévost, Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar Arkestra, Reeves Gabrels, John Sinclair, Harris Eisenstadt and many others. In 2000 he recorded his second CD as a leader, Daybreak, with Derek Bailey, Veryan Weston, Gail Brand and Oren Marshall. His own trio, Trian, has played the London Experimental Music Festival and the Soho Jazz Festival. He also participated in a reformation of Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra in 1994. He has collaborated with composer Roger Doyle, winner of the Bourges International Elecro-Acoustic Music Competition, and he has been featured on two instrumental tracks by the hip hop band Marxman. He toured the UK with Butch Morris’ London Skyscraper conduction project. He cofounded the London Improvisers’ Orchestra and The Gathering.
Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park works within/from/around traditions of fuzzily idiomatic, on occasion experimental, mostly open improvised musics, sometimes engineering theater, sometimes inventing ritual. He feels the gravitational pull of collaborative, multi-authored contexts, and has performed in clubs, theaters, art galleries and concert halls in Austria, Denmark, Germany, England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Scotland and the USA. He is part of Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, and is involved in ongoing collaborations with Bruce Coates, Franziska Schroeder, Alex Fiennes and Murray Campbell. He has recently performed with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Lol Coxhill, Pat Thomas, Paul Dunmall, Mark Sanders, Matana Roberts, Richard Barrett, Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner and Kato Hideki. Festival appearances include Sonorities (Belfast), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), dialogues festival (Edinburgh), and CEAIT Festival (California). His recordings have been released by labels including Slam Productions and DUNS Limited Edition.
10-24-12: add recommended price and SLAMCD 528 info. 05-20-13: updated the ‘also available for download’ list, and add reviews. 10-07-15: add ‘Anomic Aphasia’ to discography. 11-01-15: add A Little Brittle Music to downloads list, and change currency from USD to EUR.
Unlike previous download releases, this one will be hosted at Bandcamp, and available as a ‘name your price’ album. You will still be able to download the release for free (name $0 as your price), but any payment will help support the performers and their work.