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…]
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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…]
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.
How does “barnstorming saxophone” relate to “alien facehugger tendrils”? “a mad scramble up loose terrain” to “incendiary guitar wrangling”? and “shimmering vibrating guitar screeds” to “subversion of traditional rock guitar…
A “control of noise”, “saturated electricity” and “fighting… with the underground”? or “free-wheeling” with experiments in sound injected with lyricism? or “electronic mayhem” with “a full bodied sound”? In among…
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.
“These are the records we believe will stand the test of time from this year.” Honored and flattered to find Sirene 1009 in Jazz Right Now’s (and JRN @ JazzTokyo’s) best-of-2017 list, and to find my work in such amazing company. And, again, big thanks to John Morrison for the wonderful review:
Sometimes violent and revelatory listening experience that infuses modern aesthetics with the spirit of the ancient…. Ancient and primordial with ideas as open as the night sky, it is not hard to imagine that some of humanity’s first music would have sounded something like this. [Read the rest…]
Sirene 1009 don’t so much push the envelope of improvisation as tear it into small pieces and eat them, just to spite any listener preconceptions…. Sirene 1009 may just be the auditory experience that [Derek] Bailey’s label [‘non-idiomatic improvisation’] has been waiting for. [Read the rest…]
Big thanks to John Morrison and Cisco Bradley of Jazz Right Now, Takeshi Goda of JazzTokyo, to Dave Foxall of Jazz Journal and a Jazz Noise, to David Menestres and Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz Blog, to Lee Rice Epstein, and to Dave Sumner for all their support during 2017!
The Eris 136199 tour was made possible through the support from Jazz North East, Jvtlandt, Jazz Club Loco, OUT FRONT!, Xposed Club, Verband für aktuelle Musik Hamburg, and MS Stubnitz, and 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.
The Cliodynamics ‘suite’ begins with a recitation in an obscure (likely bespoke) language that rapidly deconstructs against the backdrop of Park’s angular, truncated proto-phrasing, Sanders’ demented clockwork drums, and Lash’s lower register punctuation. Pugh’s voice acts as a kind of guide, offering a frayed and twisted thread through a dynamic and often intimidating soundscape; a necessary albeit illusory anchor. A final wry touch is last two minutes of the closing Psychohistory V, a minimalist coda you have dial the volume right up to even hear—putting the listener in the position of chasing the chaos that moments earlier was so overwhelming.
If this attempt at description sounds rather confused, I’ll try to summarise: years ago, Derek Bailey coined the term ‘non-idiomatic improvisation’, a label that over the years has practically become an idiom in its own right. Sirene 1009 may just be the auditory experience that Bailey’s label has been waiting for. [Read the rest…]
“Messy”? “scattered”? “manic”? Music that is “aggressive and acerbic and gets in your face and won’t back down”? In his review of ‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000), Dave Sumner of Bird is the Worm concludes: “This album is brilliant. This album is insane.”
Sirene 1009 is a soundtrack for a seizure. It’s spasmodic and flails about wildly. The music is disconcerting. But it enters these fugue states of focused intensity that border on meditative, and it is the most powerful sensation to experience even the tiniest hint of serenity at the center of so much chaos. It’s unsurprising to discover that the three-part “Cliodynamics” suite was recorded live. Even via the recorded medium, there’s a palpable electricity transmitted by this music, and its voltage isn’t the least bit muffled for not having been there in person….
Mostly, Caroline Pugh‘s vocals are of the wordless variety, and so dramatic are her renderings of human sounds that it’s not inconceivable she created an alternate lexicon specifically for this recording. Park’s guitar style can be the sonic representation of slash-and-go rush hour traffic, and of significance to the success of this session is how he simultaneously captures the immediacy of individual cars in motion and the oddly hypnotic flow of mass traffic viewed from an isolated location. On bass, Dominic Lash slings out notes like stones across the surface of water. There’s a sudden burst of velocity and a magnetic patter of rhythm, and with one action, the bassist adds both melodic and rhythmic textures to a canvas that might not otherwise keep its brushstrokes contained. That said, when Lash breaks into a passage of bass arco and maintains that as his sole interest for a time, the music certainly doesn’t suffer for his abandonment of a rhythmic role. Besides, drummer Mark Sanders does a remarkable job all on his own at providing definition to music that is never clear-cut and direction to musicians capable of moving everywhere all at once. [Read the rest…]
Music where the “gorgeous plucked theme”, the “maniacal wails”, “booming, thunderous landscape of percussion”, and “sweetly sung passages of melodic intrigue” coexists? John Morrison, reviewing ‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) for Jazz Right Now, describes “a colorful, sometimes violent and revelatory listening experience that infuses modern aesthetics with the spirit of the ancient.” This, for example, is his take on Cliodynamics I:
Lash brilliantly alternates between bowed and plucked phrases as Sanders beats down a booming, thunderous landscape of percussion. Park provides a subtle bit of coloring strokes while Pugh leads the way, her maniacal wails and babbles briefly giving way to sweetly sung passages of melodic intrigue. Clocking in at ten minutes and forty four seconds, ‘Cliodynamics I’ drags listeners deep into the belly of the beast, a dark and ominous ocean of sound that only gets more intense with each passing minute. [Read the rest…]
I love that Morrison hears a music that is “ancient and primordial with ideas as open as the night sky, it is not hard to imagine that some of humanity’s first music would have sounded something like this.”
Elsewhere, in Bad Alchemy [BA 93]: “Riffing madness”? A “meta-unsettling effect”? Why is the “Elk of Entropy… smooched with acceleration-bebop”? And who “eats broomsticks and pukes horses”? In his review, despite the limitations of language (“what is permitted by decency” and “can only be hint euphemistically”), Rigobert Dittmann (a.k.a. rbd) attempts to use words like the band use sound:
Die Gitarre als Heringsdosenöffner, der knarzige oder plonkende Bass, das perkussive Dingdong oder schrottige Geruckele, das alles ist nur Ummäntelung für das… poo. Die Schottin steigert sich nämlich von der Anstrengung, nur ein-, nicht auszuatmen zum Hyperventilieren, sie probiert, sich die eigene Zunge in den Hals zu stopfen, sie radebrecht kryptovolapük, jodelt Sirenenalarm, quirlt das LLLL, kirrt auf Iiiii, imitiert eine Singende Säge, spickt Maggie Nicols mit Shelley Hirsch, schlürft rohes Rattenschaschlik und zischelt Verboteneres als das kleine Hexeneinmaleins etc. Ich kann das nur umschreiben, damit meine älteren Leser nicht in Gefahr kommen, ihre dritten Zähne zu verschlucken. Sanders paukengrollt und cymbalzischt zwar zu sonorem Pizzikato und surrender Laubsägerei noch einigermaßen im Rahmen des Guten und Schönen, aber auch die Gitarre kratzt und wabert so verstörend gegen den Strich wie es nur geht.
Dom Lash’s assured, steady-handed control of his technique and sound-making; Mark Sanders’ range, seemingly boundless imagination, ability anticipate anything and everything, and ability to make sense musically regardless of what surrounds him; and Caroline Pugh’s handle and knowledge of genre, and how she seemingly can just jump in regardless of context. I think the various ways we move—our bodies and their relationship with the instruments, say—complement each other. [Read the rest…]
A very special group, and I’m honored to find myself in its company.
By Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh