Monopod is a sprawling, non-idiomatic (and non-repetitive) improvisation of suite-like proportions (27 minutes and counting). Impressive in scale, overwhelming in execution, it’s a cyclic frenzy of fragmented sounds without an ounce of entropy, yet somehow with a sense of clear movement and progression. Warning: close listening can produce altered states….
Confused [re. Metis 9]? I was. Emperor’s new clothes…? Given the playful nature of Park’s website, a little leg-pulling is not entirely out of the question. Nor does the questionnaire in the liner notes dispel the possibility with its mix of obfuscation and subversion…. And while the explanations left me feeling Park is clearly some kind of obscure genius—either a genius improviser or a genius charlatan, and I’m inclined towards the former—damned if on a re-listen, I didn’t think I could spot some of these tactics at play. Stroke your chin and check out the ‘interrupting continua’ emerging about two-thirds of the way through Pleonasm…. It’s fascinating to listen with that possible strategic structure in mind….
After all the preceding intensity… Stopcock’s intro—in which actual guitar strings can be discerned—is almost light relief, despite its tricky density. Then second guitar begins to play hide and seek, giving the uncanny sense of listening to two separate pieces at the same time in serendipitous juxtaposition. Cue Sikora’s ever free, ever inventive tenor and the layers are complete for a highly worthwhile finale. [Read the rest…]
Meanwhile Beppe Colli at CloudsandClocks, while writing a detailed blow-by-blow account of the record (with two guitarists as Sunny Murray and Jimmy Garrison), also takes time to unpack the names and terms enrolled in the album:
Given my background in sociology, I thought I understood what ‘anomic aphasia’ stood for, but had a look at the dictionary anyway, and that’s what I found: that while words such as ‘anomie’ and ‘anomy’ are part of the vocabulary of social sciences, the Medical meaning of the word ‘anomia’ is ‘a form of aphasia in which the patient is unable to recall the names of everyday objects’. Interested readers are invited to think about the ways in which the above-mentioned definition and the questionnaire that appears in the CD booklet—a series of questions which investigate important issues with a light tone—relate to improvisation….
Then there’s the trio of Park and Sikora plus Josh Sinton on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, a trio that on two occasions employs ‘tactical macros’ devised and specified by Park himself bearing the name METIS 9. At first I thought that ‘macro’ stood for ‘meta-rule’, but the ‘anomic’ episode made me interrogate my dictionary one more time, so I found a meaning of macro as “a single instruction that expands automatically into a set of instructions to perform a particular task”. In fact, the transition from Monopod—the long improvised track that opens the CD—to Pleonasm—a track that has musicians making use of ‘tactical macros’—runs parallel to a transition towards shared rules that are correctly understood by the featured musicians. [Read the rest…] [In Italian…]
The guitarists’ [Nick Didkovsky’s and Han-earl Park’s] two very different styles could have clashed, but they find ways of fitting them together that leave space for the saxophone. [Catherine] Sikora could have been crowded out but she skilfully adapts to the soundscapes created by the guitars, and integrates her playing without compromising her style…. At times that playing does fit Park’s “noisy, unruly complexity” description, but when they are in full flow together, their exchanges fit together perfectly and are simply exhilarating, sometimes verging on lyrical….
Key to the success of the album’s middle three tracks is their line-up of Park and Sikora with Josh Sinton on baritone saxophone or bass clarinet; one guitar plus two reeds works better than one saxophone plus two guitars. Aurally, the separate contributions of these three individuals are easier to determine. Sinton’s confident, fluent improvising stands out as this trio’s trademark sound…. The interweaving of the trio’s three strands works effectively, with credit going equally to each member. [Read the rest…]
In his ☆☆☆☆ review, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz finds a “great set of free jazz trio work” in which “every twist and turn, scrape, squeak and melodic idea contributes to this adventurous and exciting recording”:
The album clocks in at a generous 71 minutes, and none of it is wasted. Starting with the 20 minute ‘Monopod’ with the cast of Sikora, Park and Didkovsky, things are off to a (briefly) squeaky start, then track begins in earnest, with the tenor sax’s free form melody cutting through the slashing tones of the guitars. What starts brittle, grows tough and dense. The ‘conversation’ between the sax and the guitars is intense at times, and at other times tender. Generally speaking, Park tends to be more atmospheric while Didkovsky is more biting.
The track ‘Pleonasm’ features the trio of Sinton, Sikora and Park. The rich tones of Sinton’s baritone sax and bass clarinet contrast nicely with Sikora’s vivacious playing on the tenor and soprano saxes. The track begins with Park’s minimalist approach—he employs a vocabulary of textures and taut phrases as the saxes reply with staccato bursts of melodic runs. The song, like the others, is abstract but there is something at the nexus of the trio’s playing that remains accessible and captivating.
‘Stopcock’ is the long burning closer to the album. Back to Sikora, Park and Didkovsky, the trio delivers a fascinating performance that starts with arpeggios and rhythmic picking lending a somewhat metal feel to the introduction. The two guitars play in parallel for a while—some time reaching agreement, other times in friendly competition. When Sikora joins, she delivers a vigorous melody that pulls the track together.
Between the four musicians, Anomic Aphasia is a great set of free jazz trio work. Every twist and turn, scrape, squeak and melodic idea contributes to this adventurous and exciting recording. [Read the rest…]
Putting this unlikely lineup together was almost as brilliant as the recording they have produced…. ‘Free’ is a barely sufficient to describe this approach, as the trios explore various angular constructs and effects. The vocabulary of sounds here is as broad as it is unconventional. [More…]
Impressive in scale, overwhelming in execution, it’s a cyclic frenzy of fragmented sounds without an ounce of entropy, yet somehow with a sense of clear movement and progression. Warning: close listening can produce altered states…. [More…]
Anomic Aphasia documents two New York-based projects: the noisy, unruly complexity of the ensemble Eris 136199; and the interactive playbook Metis 9, a collection of improvisative tactics. Guitarists Han-earl Park (Mathilde 253) and Nick Didkovsky (Doctor Nerve), and reedists Catherine Sikora (Clockwork Mercury) and Josh Sinton (Ideal Bread) render a space of unexpected collisions, weaving orbital paths, and playful discord.
Eris 136199 plays on the crossroads of noise, melody, rhythm, space, density, contrast, synchronicity, asymmetry, serendipity and contradiction. Eris 136199 is the noisy, unruly complexity of composer, computer artist and guitarist Nick Didkovsky, the corporeal, cyborg virtuosity of constructor and guitarist Han-earl Park, and the no-nonsense melodic logic of composer and saxophonist Catherine Sikora.
Together, Didkovsky, Park and Sikora forges 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.
Metis 9 has ‘glorious noise’ or ‘frenzy’ at its root, yet it is not so much structuring the noise as it is a meta-layer of complexity that performers can introduce at will. Metis 9 does not tell the performer what to play, or provide all the details of how to interact, but it is an additional network protocol for interactive possibilities. Group improvisation is always the primary protocol; Metis 9 provides secondary or tertiary tactics that create an additional focused complexity. The decision for each bloop and bleep is still retained by the ensemble. These macros enable specific interactionist schemes to be expressed in an open improvisative context; it is improvisative play channeled by group consent.
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 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, Mark Sanders, 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), Sonorities (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 taught improvisation at University College Cork, and founded and curated Stet Lab, a space for improvised music in Cork.
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, Enrique Haneine, Karl Berger, 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).
Current working projects include Clockwork Mercury (duo with Eric Mingus) and an improvising duo with drummer Brian Chase; Sikora’s first solo recording will be released in fall 2015.
“Sikora is 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)
With a musical career spanning 30 years, Nick Didkovsky is a guitarist, composer, and music software programmer. He founded the rock band Doctor Nerve in 1983 and is a member of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet. He has composed for Bang On A Can All-Stars, Meridian Arts Ensemble, ETHEL, and others. His compositions and guitar work appear on over 50 records.
His Black Sabbath Guitar Lessons on YouTube have been received with great enthusiasm by metal fans all over the world. His metal band Häßliche Luftmasken premiered in June 2011.
With computer music pioneer Phil Burk, Didkovsky created Java Music Specification Language which is used by composers all over the world. He has taught JMSL at Dartmouth College, CalArts, Columbia University, and NYU. With composer Georg Hajdu, he has created MaxScore, an object that uses JMSL to bring music notation to Max/MSP.
His Punos Music record label serves up his more extreme musical projects.
Brooklyn-based saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Josh Sinton is probably best known as the leader of Ideal Bread, the Steve Lacy repertory band. He also performs regularly with Andrew D’Angelo’s DNA big band, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Nate Wooley Quintet and Anthony Braxton’s Tricentric Orchestra. He’s played with avant-garde luminaries such as Roswell Rudd, Karl Berger and John Butcher, newer voices Ingrid Laubrock, Matana Roberts and Jeremiah Cymerman and pop singers Michael Buble and Norah Jones.
In 2012, Sinton released his autobiographical album Pine Barren (featuring Jon Irabagon, Jonathan Goldberger, Peter Bitenc and Mike Pride) with accompanying essays on the Prom Night Records label to critical acclaim (“deeply confessional and emotionally revealing” – Shaun Brady, Downbeat, Nov. 2012). This year he will release another record on Prom Night, anomonous on which he freely improvises on the amplified contrabass clarinet with Denman Maroney (hyperpiano) and Ben Miller (electronics). Currently he’s in the midst of finishing arrangements for the next Ideal Bread record, an ambitious re-recording of all the material Steve Lacy put out on the Saravah label in the 1970’s and was recently repackaged as Scratching the Seventies. The working title of this work-in-progress is Beating the Teens.
Sinton grew up in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, came of musical age attending AACM classes in Chicago and completed his classroom education in Boston at the New England Conservatory of music. Along the way, he’s toured and played in India, Israel, Japan, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. Currently he happily resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Laura and daughter Zosia.
Also available as part of…
The Complete Eris 136199 on CD
Limited number of Eris 136199’s two CDs at a special price.
03–06-15: add news and updates feed. 04–22-15: add purchase links (Improjazz, Crazy Jazz, Jazzcds, Proper Music, iTunes and eMusic). 06–02-15: add Disk Union link. 08–13-15: add Wayside Music link. 08–15-15: add new video trailer. 09–18-15: add Downtown Music Gallery link. 09–23-15: update Downtown Music Gallery link. 11–24-16: added reviews. 03–24-19: added BAF001 album. 11-02-20: update discography with the addition of Peculiar Velocities.
Whether it’s the most creative interjections from Catherine, the merging of Nick and Catherine’s sounds, the moments of Roscoe-Mitchell-plays-the-music-of-Napalm-Death, or something akin to the sound of a broken ECM record, I’m enormously proud of this performance and this ensemble.