Writing in Jazz Right Now, Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn discusses the music in the context of his recent accident:
At times guitarist Han-earl Park reminds me of what my bones and muscles would sound like if this speeding vehicle had in fact crushed or torn any of them (I do not have any broken bones, but I am still awaiting test results on my foot muscles). The sometimes slow, sometimes fast plucking and riffing literally makes me cringe today while writing this. My screaming at this speeding driver a split second before their vehicle crashed into the back of my bicycle might recall the blare of Catherine Sikora’s tenor sax throughout the album. I think of my repeating “WOAH, WOAH, WOAH” slowed down and amplified for full effect; loud enough that people heard the crash and my descent into the concrete of Nick Didkovsky’s improvised patterns. [Read the rest…]
An intense and honest review, Vanlandingham-Dunn concludes that, despite being “no place near a pretty listen”, the album has value in its ability to help personal experiences and histories: “‘Yo man, you ever been hit by a car?’ ‘Yeah, but maybe we should listen to this album I just picked up before I tell you about it.’”
In a more poetic, if no less personal, review, Massimo Ricci of Touching Extremes finds music that explores “avenues of acrid timbral contiguity. It’s still unconventional music, mostly with a strong skeleton”:
It’s a persistent burbling of memories and conjectures revealing decades of accumulated experiences and data, not fully untangled, with a definite explosive potential. At times a need arises to recapitulate a bit; the interplay becomes less loaded, the fingers caressing and cherry picking rather than snapping and ripping. Sikora is practically flawless in oscillating between the roles of moderator and source of linear alternatives. Her jargon is fluid, quasi-effortless, deprived of angst in spite of the occasional labyrinthine reiterations and squiggling restlessness. [Read the rest…]
Meanwhile, in the JazzTokyo review, Takeshi Goda imagines a project “based on the history of music on the earth for thousands of years”; a music of all-encompassing knowledge, and a music of deviations:
襤褸を纏った侍従に付き添われた茨の冠の王女のような三人の図は、中世の教会のステンドグラスにふさわしい。無名の小惑星の名前を持つトリオの演奏は、地球に存在しない未知の物質だけでできている訳ではなく、地球上の数千年の音楽史を源に持つ。名状不明な音響のスキマに、グレゴリオ聖歌、吟遊詩人の竪琴、ニューオリンズの葬送マーチ、バルトークの弦楽四重奏、大都会のストリート・ミュージシャンなど、あらゆる人類の演奏行為の断片を聴きとることが出来る。逸脱を極めれば極めるほど、古典や伝統への親和性が高くなる。それはまるで「光速に近づくと、時間の流れが遅くなる」という特殊相対性理論（Special Relativity Theory）のようだ。彼らが目指す先は、まだ誰も提唱していない「特殊逸脱性理論（Special Deviation Theory）」の確立なのかもしれない。[Read the rest…]
CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†
And finally, Stuart Marshall at The Sound Projector finds in Sirene 1009 a music free from “vocal histrionics” and “virtuoso runs/cacophonous jams” that lack “musical structure,” stating that “this awesome foursome, who know when to let rip and when to keep it in their pants”:
For further proof of the UK improv scene’s vitality look no further than Sirene 1009. Though not everyone is a household name (nor British), at least two of this four-piece are scene mainstays, and the whole squad sounds as at-home with each other as they are with the promiscuous goings in English jazz dens. The much frequented Cafe OTO is our virtual venue for most of this set, where visceral freeform unscrunches itself into being, sparked by Caroline Pugh’s tempestuous, syllable-timed glossolalia and billowed by flurries from the bass/drum/guitar boys, with lashings of warm vibrato throughout. [Read the rest…]
Eris 136199 may construct music in the way that is closest to my imagination’s music, even as it continues to confound my moment-by-moment expectations. I have no a priori knowledge of each bloop or bleep or klang or fizz or honk or skronk… nor do I have any specific sense of the strategies at play before we make that first sounding.
But as the music gets underway, and the initial gestures get sounded, I think: yes, of course. There’s that succession of choices (constructive, difficult, obvious, oblique) that have brought me (brought us) right here, right-now; choices that, however perplexing in the moment, retroactively comes to seem almost inevitable. And then it’s time for me to make that next choice, secure in the knowledge that Catherine [Sikora] and Nick [Didkovsky] are ready to make their choices, (ir)responsibly, care(ful|less)ly, with unhurried/spur-of-the-moment deliberation that real-time constraints offer.*
I’m enormously proud of the music recorded here, and blessed to have worked with all the wonderful people who all brought their best game to this album. In particular, I am very grateful to Troels Bech and Charlie McGovern who recorded the performances with clarity and great care, and to Richard Scott who mastered the whole album, giving it a stunning punch and immediacy. Enjoy the noise!
Mathy grindcore? tubular gates? shrieks of crustaceans? 100% perishable skills? guitars burning-up on reentry? what do Special Forces snipers and saxophonists have in common? and what is The Shitty Gig Foundation? In the run-up to the launch Eris 136199’s new album, a Jazz Noise has been running a special series of 7 Questions with each member of the trio, plus it is hosting an exclusive preview of the Adaptive Radiation suite.
When asked about the balance of preparation vs. improvisation in her work, Catherine Sikora says:
It’s all about the preparation, for me! The saxophone is such a demanding instrument that if I am not totally prepared, in good shape to physically manage the instrument, then the improvisation will be negatively affected. The act of merely producing a good tone requires daily work, there is no escape, and I love that about the instrument. Practice is what I do every day, regardless of whatever else is happening, because the skill of playing is 100% perishable. The more prepared I am for a performance, the more freedom I have to execute my ideas. [Read the rest…]
With Eris 136199 we just set up and play (that’s my impression anyway, maybe I am overlooking some secret preparation rituals!). It really feels like everyone’s been sort of preparing for years before every performance. When we play I feel like we are being dropped back into a continuum that has been periodically interrupted. We really don’t discuss much ahead of time other than the notion that the silent shrieks of crustaceans may be ensconced in shrimp crackers and are released when you bite them. [Read the rest…]
I get the honor of stepping over the 7 Questions border when I get to expand upon how Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy affected Sirene 1009:
Aspects of VanderMeer’s writing compelled me to push the Sirene 1009 mix away from the vérité that is the vernacular of recorded free improvisation….
The solution [to issues with mixing the recording] turned out to be to ratchet up the artifice of the recording…. The differences and transitions are, hopefully, subtle enough that the listener are not consciously jolted out of the moment, but it weaves an extra narrative. Like VanderMeer’s manipulations in writing craft, genre, etc., I was working to accentuate, through the mixing process, the improvisative journey taken by the ensemble in performance-time. [Read the rest…]
Big thanks to Dave Foxall of a Jazz Noise for championing the trio’s thoughts, words and music.
exclusive: Adaptive Radiation I, II and III
Finally, there a very special, exclusive preview of the Adaptive Radiation suite hosted at a Jazz Noise. Have a listen; you won’t find it anywhere else! [Listen…]
Track listing: Therianthropy I (≥ 3:43), Therianthropy II (8:56), Therianthropy III (3:55), Therianthropy IV (6:30), Adaptive Radiation I (6:44), Adaptive Radiation II (8:48), Adaptive Radiation III (5:54), Universal Greebly (10:58), Hypnagogia I (8:03), Hypnagogia II (4:45). Total duration ≥ 68:25.
A descent into the concrete? rafting over a boiling river? a collisions of thousands of years of musical history? music to communicate cyclists’ collisions? and who are the “bass/drum/guitar boys”,…
October 9, 2018: Eris 136199’s eponymous second album (compact disc and digital download) is out now! What can you look forward to hearing on this record? Here’s what I wrote…
Noise multiplies via telephone futz, riding the transcontinental signal; a clockwork tight-rope walker dances, navigating (gears shift and gear grind) tension; and, above all, rises the Big Note around which we all fall to orbit.
Han-earl Park variously occupies the role of Eris 136199’s drummer, bassist, and second horn-player. He is the instigator and mastermind behind Eris 136199, as well as groups like Sirene 1009 (with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh), and co-conspirator in projects with Richard Barrett and others. Park is navigator-engineer of the interactive, with playing that is by turns accommodating and interventionist. Changing direction and turning on a dime, Park demonstrates, with little more than a guitar, volume pedal and amplifier, a mutable, physical virtuosity.
In contrast, Nick Didkovsky creates anthems of glitch and distortion, playing the (analog and digital) signal chain from vibrating string to vibrating speaker via pedals and tube saturation. Demonstrating a deep understanding of rock, noise and experimentalism, Didkovsky rides the line between process-based mutations and heavy-rock riffage. Best known for his avant-metal big band Doctor Nerve, Didkovsky is also an active composer, working with ensembles such as Bang On A Can All Stars, ETHEL, and the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and the author of Java Music Specification Language, a system for algorithmic composition and real-time computer music.
Completing the trio is improviser, composer, saxophonist Catherine Sikora. Seated stage-center, Sikora brings a deep melodic and harmonic intelligence to the performances. In addition to long-standing collaborations with Eric Mingus, Christopher Culpo, Stanley Zappa, and Brian Chase, Sikora’s big, bold sound, and extraordinary melodic sense, has been in demand with artists such as Enrique Haneine, Elliott Sharp, and Ross Hammond. That same sound and technique grounds Eris, simultaneously rooting it in tradition while continually stepping beyond its borders.
Recorded with clarity and punch by Troels Bech and Charlie McGovern, and beautifully mastered by the amazing Richard Scott, the album presents two near-complete sets; from earlier in the tour (Copenhagen), and from the final date of the tour (Newcastle).
And free and exclusive to pre-orders of the album: the download-only Cryptogenic Animals. Recorded live in Cheltenham a day after Copenhagen, two days before Newcastle, Cryptogenic Animals, offers a unique opportunity to track the evolution of this improvising trio during the 2017 European tour, showcasing the trio’s adaptability to context, and creativity born from the contingent. [Listen/about Cryptogenic Animals…]
Therianthropy I (≥ 3:43), Therianthropy II (8:56), Therianthropy III (3:55), Therianthropy IV (6:30), Adaptive Radiation I (6:44), Adaptive Radiation II (8:48), Adaptive Radiation III (5:54), Universal Greebly (10:58), Hypnagogia I (8:03), Hypnagogia II (4:45). Total duration ≥ 68:25.
Track listing: Cryptogenic Animals I (5:26), Cryptogenic Animals II (6:46), Cryptogenic Animals III (5:01), Monkey Wrench I (6:09), Monkey Wrench II (7:59), Spherical Cow I (7:30), Spherical Cow II (3:05), Dendrobranchiata Murmurationis I (3:18), Dendrobranchiata Murmurationis II (5:10). Total duration: 50:23.
Eris 136199 plays on the crossroads of noise, melody, rhythm, space, density, contrast, synchronicity, asymmetry, serendipity and contradiction. Eris 136199 is the corporeal, cyborg virtuosity of constructor and guitarist Han-earl Park; the noisy, unruly complexity of composer, computer artist and guitarist Nick Didkovsky; and the no-nonsense melodic logic of composer and saxophonist Catherine Sikora.
Together, Park, Didkovsky and Sikora forge an improvisative space where melody can be melody, noise can be noise, meter can be meter, metal becomes metal, bluegrass turns to bluegrass, jazz transforms into jazz, all there, all necessary without imploding under idiomatic pressures. [More about the trio…]
about the performers
Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park (박한얼) has been crossing borders and performing fuzzily idiomatic, on occasion experimental, always traditional, open improvised musics for twenty years. He has performed in clubs, theaters, art galleries, concert halls, and (ad-hoc) alternative spaces across Europe and the USA.
Park engages a radical, liminal, cyborg virtuosity in which mind, body and artifact collide. He is driven by the social and revolutionary potential of real-time interactive performance in which tradition and practice become creative problematics. As a constructor of musical automata, he is interested in partial, and partially frustrating, context-specific artifacts; artifacts that amplify social relations and corporeal identities and agencies.
Ensembles include Sirene 1009 with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh, Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, Eris 136199 with Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora, and Numbers with Richard Barrett. Park is the constructor of the machine improviser io 0.0.1 beta++, and instigator of Metis 9, a playbook of improvisative tactics. He has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Dunmall, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Josh Sinton, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Gino Robair, Tim Perkis, Andrew Drury, Pat Thomas and Franziska Schroeder, and as part of large ensembles led by Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros.
Festival appearances include Freedom of the City (London), Brilliant Corners (Belfast), ISIM (New York), dialogues festival (Edinburgh), CEAIT (Los Angeles) and Sonic Acts (Amsterdam). His recordings have been released by labels including SLAM Productions, Creative Sources and DUNS Limited Edition.
Park teaches improvisation at University College Cork, and founded and curated Stet Lab, a space for improvised music in Cork.
“Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. Expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter….”
Brian Morton (Point of Departure)
Saxophonist, improviser and composer Catherine Sikora was born and raised in West Cork, Ireland. Self taught to begin with, she moved to New York City to study and play with great improvisers.
Sikora works in a broad range of settings, from highly complex composed music, to folk songs, to free improvisation. She works regularly with Eric Mingus, Enrique Haneine, Brian Chase, Han-earl Park, Stanley Zappa, Christopher Culpo and Ross Hammond, as well as actively pursuing solo performance.
In the past few years Sikora has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. She was a featured soloist in Eric Mingus’ radical reimagining of Tommy by the Who (Adelaide Festival 2015), and was artist in residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris for the fall of 2014, working on a project inspired by stories from her female ancestors. Catherine’s first solo album Jersey was released on Relative Pitch Records in July 2016.
“Sikora has invited us into her musical world, and like the neighbor from Queens, it is our good fortune to be in its midsts.”
— Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz)
“Sikora resembles [Evan] Parker on tenor saxophone in that she has created a personal language in which she sublimates technique according to what she wants to achieve and maintains a discernible relationship to the free jazz tradition in her syntax; she recalls another English saxophonist, John Butcher, in her absolute control and deployment of overtones. Where she remains distinct from both Butcher and Parker is in how she incorporates such dissonance into a stream of delicate abstract lyricism. -John Sharpe, New York City Jazz Record”
— John Sharpe (New York City Jazz Record)
Nick Didkovsky is a guitarist, composer, and computer music programmer. His non-didactic approach to combining human and machine creativity is a unique musical fingerprint. Didkovsky has composed new music for Kathleen Supove, Ethel, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Meridian Arts Ensemble, New Century Players, ARTE Quartett, his own bands Doctor Nerve, Vomit Fist, Häßliche Luftmasken, and others. His compositions and guitar performances appear on more than 50 records.
For over 30 years, Doctor Nerve has fueled Didkovsky’s intricate compositions with the energy of rock, often challenging the boundaries between heavy metal, contemporary music, and improvisation. Doctor Nerve has released nine albums of more than 50 of his compositions. The band has performed at numerous festivals including FIMAV, the Moers Festival, Musique Action, Creative Time, MIMI Festival, and ‘Whitney Live’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
As a guitarist and composer, Didkovsky was a member of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, contributing twelve compositions to its repertoire. Didkovsky’s electric guitar compositions continue to be performed by newer ensembles such as Dither Quartet, E-Werk, and Fracture Guitar Quartet, and by soloists such as Kevin Gallagher, Marco Cappelli, and Wiek Hijmans. As a soloist, he has performed at numerous events such as Bang On A Can festival, Guitarévolutions in Montreal, New Ballet festival at the Miller Theatre, and John Zorn’s East Asian Bar Bands. His 2015 Residency at The Stone in NYC resulted in numerous premiere performances of new works.
Recorded during the 2017 European tour, the album is the trio’s followup to their debut recording Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559, 2015) which was described as “a beautiful noise” (KFJC 89.7 FM) and “atmospheric as to become almost frightening” (The New York City Jazz Record). Recorded with clarity and punch by Troels Bech and Charlie McGovern, and beautifully mastered by the amazing Richard Scott, the album presents two near-complete sets; from earlier in the tour (Copenhagen), and from the final date of the tour (Newcastle).
Do you want to hear/see Eris 136199’s outtakes/sidetakes/teasers/previews unavailable elsewhere? Be first in-line for the new album? Sign-up to my newsletter.
This has been my favorite tour! Excellent company; exemplary hosts; faultless, above-and-beyond support from all. Everyone here worked so hard for no material gain to make the musicians’ journey as effortless as possible. My hosts have reminded me why we all do this; that creative music brings gradations and spectra to the sometimes hard-edged world, that it refuses and resists and rewrites the 1-bit world into something altogether more colorful and toneful and rhythmic and noisy.
I am forever grateful; it was a true pleasure to work with y’all.
Thanks to Rica Zinn and the entire creative crew of the MS Stubnitz! Thank you for the force-of-nature hospitality (plus the best shower, and the best stock-and-carrots combination), the sound, and the acoustics! Thanks to Georg Hajdu who initially got us in touch with Rica, to Heinrich Metzger and Michael Maierhof of Verband für aktuelle Musik Hamburg for their support, and to Steffen Schindler for the awesome photography.
Thanks to Jakob Drong Jensen, Jonas Vognsen, , and everyone at Jazz Club Loco, Bryggekælderen, and Jvtlandt for putting together an awesome gig (tied, musically, as my favorite of the tour).
Warmest thanks to Stuart Wilding for being a truly wonderful host; cooking wonderful meals, bringing together a great company of people (including Mark Unsworth for the playful and fascinating visuals, Anthea Millier for the gezellig accommodation, and Jamie Dawson for the amplifiers), and allowing us to play in that fantastic space.
To the mastermind behind OUT FRONT!, the busiest man I know, Corey Mwamba! Thank you so, so much for finding time in your busy schedule to put on a performance, and thanks for your apparently limitless enthusiasm for creative music! Thanks also to Walt Shaw for helping at the door, and to the fantastic Chris Trent for documenting the performance.
Thanks to everyone at the mighty Jazz North East: to Paul Bream for securing the work permits; to Ken Drew for the photography; to Charlie McGovern for the recording; and especially to Wesley Stephenson for his indefatigable work organizing this event, and patiently and graciously addressing my queries. What a great team, great city, and what a great way to end the tour!
Special thanks to all the musicians who graciously shared the bill with Eris: to Eugene Chadbourne; to Sonja LaBianca and Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen; and to Herve Perez, Martin Archer and Peter Fairclough (a.k.a. Inclusion Principle). And thanks to John Pope for hosting an informal session the day after the tour.
And, of course, none of this would be possible without the awe-inspiring generosity of the backers of our Kickstarter project: Cath Roberts, Franziska Schroeder, Owen Green, Han-Ter Park, Richard Hollis, Tom Duff, Jan Langedijk, Thomas Buckner, Liam Nagle, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Randy McKean, Anton Hunter, Marte van der Loop, Ian Boswell, Nancy Meli Walker, David M. Morris, Nicholas Croft, Eva Zelig, Bart Mallio, Jeremy Clarke, Martin Pyne, Josh Sinton, Moon Soon Han, Eun-He Moon, Yoon-Mi Cho, 고항심, Katie O’Looney, Jamie Smith, Phil Burk, Andrea Wolper, Kyoko Kitamura, DIDI, Caroline Pugh, Edozie Edoga, Yu Seon Hee, Danny McCarthy, Richard Barrett, Leejiyoung, Ed Bennett, Young-Shin Park, Ga Hyun Noh, Inkyung Kim, Keith Stonell, Peter O’Doherty, Viv Corringham, Korhan Erel, Tony O’Connor, Vikram Kapur and Maneesha Chawala, and our anonymous backers.
And my warmest thanks to Nick and Catherine. From the unexpected to the unexpected: from concise chamber noise (Hamburg), to the forged-by-sheer-force-of-will difficult music (Copenhagen), to soaring, luxurious sci-fi spirituals (Cheltenham), to the creative reexaminations and revisitations (Derby), to the pitch-perfect distillations of discord and affinity (Newcastle). I could not have asked for better travel companions; artists who revel in the unknown and unknowable with spirit and good humor. A no-brainer (or plush-pony)—there be prawn crackers of silent screams—I think we kept the poodle warm on the toaster 😉
Finally, as always, thanks to all who came to listen. For those who continue to patronize these events at Stubnitz/VAHM, Bryggekælderen/Loco/Jvtlandt, Xposed, OUT FRONT!, and Jazz North East, know that you are part of something alive and so very, very special.
by Han-earl Park, Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora