…Drummer Ted Byrnes and electric guitarist Han-Earl Park launch into fast, busy abstraction. Byrnes tosses kitchen equipment around his kit, keeping up an ever-changing lightheaded commentary. Park applies every technique to his detuned ax—tapping, sliding, muting, twisting the machine heads. It’s simultaneously disciplined and barbaric. For the second time in a week, I witness a guitarist (the other was Allan Holdsworth) sounding as if he’s playing backward, and this time it’s clear that the method involves heavy pumping of a volume pedal. Between assaults, Park re-detunes his guitar. Ever ready for audience participation, [G. E.] Stinson yells, “Dude, why bother?” Park explains that he’s careful to avoid accidental tonality. [Read the rest…]
— Greg Burk (MetalJazz)
Charles Hayward defies the laws of physics, Ian Smith blows particles into space, Lol Coxhill contributes to the celestial harmony, and my playing is like a pulsar! Vincenzo Roggero gives Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) an astro-poetic spin at All About Jazz Italia:
Le percussioni di Charles Hayward sono impulsi, fremiti di pelli, vibrazioni di metalli che interagiscono con lo spazio, oggetti che sfuggono alle leggi della fisica e della forza di gravità. Le corde della chitarra di Han-Earl Park sono pulsar che lanciano segnali dallo spazio, onde elettromagnetiche che contaminano la scena e ne modificano continuamente le sembianze. La tromba… di Ian Smith vaga errabonda in questo vuoto pneumatico deformando suoni, riflettendo immagini che si disintegrano come pulviscolo spaziale.
Nella sua orbita l’asteroide Mathilde 253 intercetta il pianeta Lol Coxhill, ma il rischio collisione è scongiurato. Anzi. L’armonia celeste è assicurata dall’uso del medesimo linguaggio di ricerca e di libertà. [Read the rest…]
…The trio interplay starts back up into territory that’s not quite free-jazz, not quite stereotypical British free improv, but somewhere in-between, with a slight rock-ist tinge. The stop/start modus continues, little cells erupting, sprawling and then halting, leaving guitar exposed again. [Han-earl] Park is the one to pay close attention to here, the development of his ideas is fascinating and very logical, and the other two players are embellishing and commenting on his story….
A section in which [Ian] Smith engages in high frequency squeaks makes my ears prick up, and what follows; ratcheting metallics, ringing scraped cymbals and odd muttering, is quite arresting…. On the last two pieces Lol Coxhill’s familiar sweet and sour tone joins in, initially in a duet with Park’s note-salad, as a carefully considered dialogue begins…. Coxhill seems to be having a lot of fun here, rubbing against the other’s ideas, or at times suggesting completely different areas for exploration. [Read the rest…]
Riveting in its scope and cohesion, this seven-track slice of Free Improv captures the sounds made one night at a London club by an ad-hoc assemblage of players, who ordinarily may not have been expected to jell so effectively….
Blowsy pedal-point from the trumpeter; shuffles and drags from [Charles] Hayward; and remarkable strategies from the guitarist which involve investing each string with a different weight as he coaxes tones from near the machine head all the way down past the bridge. Half-valve plunger work from [Ian] Smith includes bent note flutters; while the drummer’s railway signal-crossing-like bell ringing and repetitive cymbal slams provide perfect matches for the guitarist’s flattened string patterns and note extensions…. [Read the rest…]
— Ken Waxman (JazzWord)
How’s your Italian? Romualdo Del Noce apprently compares us to the four musketeers:
Ronzante, provocatorio, mai davvero eccessivo ma comunque sfuggente, il contributo di questi quattro moschettieri non è eccepibile sul piano del coinvolgimento, testimoniando un action-playing contemporaneamente colto, “palestrato” e pregno di flussi idiosincrasici. [Read the rest…]
— Romualdo Del Noce (Jazz Convention)
The real strength of the work is when the individual voices begin to shine, as they do on ‘Aachen’ for example—some savourable moments of interlining lines from Coxhill’s liquid fruit-juice sax and Smith’s horn. Park manages some imaginatively dissonant barbedly-wire phrases and false-harmonic scatterings from his detuned axe on ‘Similkameen,’ placing him very much in the Bailey mould, but that’s not a bad thing. Hayward puts in tons of hard work on his drum kit to keep up with the changing dynamics, and executes almost every paradiddle in the drummer’s manual on the long track ‘Kalimantan’ in his efforts to derail the collective train and steer the ship’s company over stony ground. Aye, the ingenuity and invention of these combined performances is impressive…. [Read the rest…]
— Ed Pinsent (The Sound Projector)
This new improvising group… draws disparate personalities into one eccentric orbit. Han-Earl Park, a guitarist of Korean descent, residing in Ireland, is as at home in underground Noise as he is dueting with free jazz heroes like Paul Dunmall. Trumpeter Ian Smith is a stalwart of the London improv scene and drummer Charles Hayward is best known for his work with seminal post-Punk experimenters This Heat. On these live recordings they generate a surprising amount of heat. Park uses pedals to smudge and smear chords or rolls out strange robotic grumblings, a technician playing electricity as much as the guitar. Smith has a high, taut attach, like a more tuneful version of Donald Ayler’s pure energy. And Hayward… makes a good fist of playing freely…. Veteran saxophonist Coxhill rounds it out to a quartet for two tunes, making this a very satisfying debut.
After some glowing reviews (including one from Brian Morton in Signal to Noise [read it…] and another from Guillaume Belhomme in Le son du grisli [read it…]), Mathilde 253 has got a couple of more careful, measured responses:
…A bustling, talkative seventy-four minutes made up of angular, Baileyesque electric guitar, some fantastic drum splashes mixed with occasional bursts of less traditional percussive sounds such as the small metallic chimes heard in the opening seconds of the album, and the chattery, conversational style of the trumpet and horn. …The playing here is very fine, a tightly woven mass of sounds with no one real dominating voice but each musician expressive and energetic. The music is all about the conversation, but a real heart-on-the-sleeve collision course of a conversation, but nevertheless the result of the musicians listening to one another and responding. The addition of Coxhill’s softer soprano on the last two pieces do slow the music a little, but the jazz credentials remain. If the music’s progression is a little less choppy then melody and hints at standardised rhythm creep in, but the improvised discussion carries on, perhaps the words are less heated but the debate remains of interest. [Read the rest…]
My favorite tracks are the last two, in which the group is joined by saxophone legend Lol Coxhill. The four minute guitar/sax duet at the beginning of Track 6 is inspired; the two really seem to be conversing with one another. [Read the rest…]
— Max Level (KFJC 89.7 FM)
Mathilde 253 is one of those ‘name’ groups that sprang fully-formed from a single playing moment… but seems to have been around for much longer…. Ian Smith is a formidable technician and a profoundly intuitive music maker, with the ability to deliver exactly the right sound, or very often the right sonic texture, at the psychological moment….
Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. One of the delights of this live session is that one very frequently can’t distinguish who is making particular sounds. There’s not much idiomatic guitar-playing, though Park is very much in the Derek Bailey rather than the Keith Rowe line; he uses relatively orthodox technique to unorthodox ends.
It’s fascinating to find [Charles] Hayward in this setting, taking up the mantle—different as they were—of the late Steve Harris. Mathilde 253 has something of the guttural authority and generosity of gesture one associates with Zaum…. They also make a specific virtue of building other musicians into the group language.
It’s a long set, but has sufficient underlying momentum to pass with deceptive speed. It takes an alert listener to distinguish occasional quietuses in the process with track endings, and there is a moment between ‘Ishikari’ and ‘Jixi’ when it sounds almost as if one aspect of the previous piece has been filleted out for more sustained attention. Smith favors long mongrelly growls and scales that ascend and descend in illogical ways, like the stairs in an M C Escher print. Hayward has a very distinct sense of time underneath the freedom….
This is an exciting new venture for him and for the others. One can reasonably expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter and Smith always repays the closest attention, and claims it with sudden open-horn breakouts if the fabric of the music gets too smooth and uninflected. [Read the rest…]
— Brian Morton (Point of Departure)
La mise en place inquiète (Hayward au mélodica) donnait quelques indices sur la teneur de l’entière improvisation : réfléchie, et dans laquelle les intervenants rivalisent de subtilités (Park érodant les reliefs de plaintes aux volumes variés, Smith au bugle saisissant). Passée la période de flottement ravissant—de vacance, presque, pour Hayward—,il faudra bien revenir aux turbulences afin de s’y montrer autrement convaincant. Alors, Coxhill peut apparaître : le soprano élabore des parallèles aux phrases du cuivre dublinois ; ourdit et trame, enfin tisse, sur le métier remonté crescendo par Hayward, une tapisserie de choix : celle d’une autre Mathilde, à la beauté tout roturière. [Read the rest…]
— Guillaume Belhomme (Le son du grisli)
Translation by Justin Yang:
The tentative opening (Hayward on melodica) gives some indication of the tenor of the entire improvisation: reflective, in which the stakeholders compete in subtilities (Park eroding reliefs of wailing in varied volumes, Smith with a seizing bugle). Passing through a section of ravishing suspension—of near absence for Hayward—,it becomes necessary to return to turbulence to remain convincing. Alas, Coxhill can appear: the soprano elaborates parallell reflections in phrases of Dublin brass; ordered and entwining, weaves on the crescendo where Hayward restablishes his presence, a tapestry of choice: that of another Mathilde, of a complete beauty.
Une session très sympa d’un trio relevé: Charles Hayward, Han-Earl Park et Ian Smith, plus Lol Coxhill comme invité sur deux des sept pièces. De l’improvisation libre soutenue, vive comme c’est souvent le cas avec Hayward à la batterie. [Read the rest…]
— François Couture (Monsieur Délire)
La genialità non è qualcosa che si trova per strada, ma a quanto pare in qualche studio di registrazione qualcosa di positivo si riesce a raggiungere. Il batterista avant rock Charles Hayward (fondatore del gruppoThis Heatha deciso di confrontarsi con musicisti provenienti da tutt´altre aree musicali, Han-earl Park, anche lui abituato al geneere noise e il trombettista Ian Smith, una delle icone dell´improvvisazione radicale inglese e parte della London Improvisers´ Orchestra. Insieme a loro sugli ultimi due brani si aggiunge un´altro famoso personaggio dell´avanguardia, il sassofonista soprano Lol Coxhill.
L´interazione fra i tre (e poi in quartetto) procede perfettamente buttando nel calderone un pò di tutto, in situazioni che avevamo ascoltate da unFred Frith, ma qui procede tutto in modo più logico, forse per la forza propulsiva del trombettista che si ritaglia degli spazi precisi, evitando che si scivoli troppo verso il genere noise.
Lol Coxhillnei brani finali (più di venti minuti di improvvisazione a tutto spiano) contribuisce ad animare la compagnia, evitando che scenda la tensione. Sono nell´insieme quasi settantacinque minuti di musica che scorrono veloci, in cui le idee arrivano subito ed di musicisti si divertono a metterle in pratica.
Album così non si producono certo in serie, per cui ben venga l´intuizione diGeorge Haslamdi pubblicarli: un altra cosa notevole nel suo catalogo.
— Cosimo Parisi (MusicBoom.it)
Как можно догадаться, музыка Mathilde 253 — свободная импровизация, в которой джазовая идиома превалирует, но которая до собственно джаза, даже в самом свободном его понимании, не доходит. …Хейуорд же своими барабанами, тяжелыми, находящимися будто в стороне от самой музыки, не пытающимися ни поспеть за ней, ни задать ей ход, дает импровизациям Mathilde 253 третье измерение. Он поразительно точно для человека, который большую часть жизни играл музыку неимпровизированную, слышит своих коллег, дает им пространство для жизни и никогда не перетягивает одеяло на себя — но именно его-то слушать отдельное удовольствие. [Read the rest…]
As one might guess, Mathilde 253’s music is free improvisation, in which the jazz idiom predominates, but which does not attain to jazz proper even in the freest understanding of the term. …It is Hayward with his drums, heavy and as it were standing aside from the music itself, not attempting either to keep up with it or to set its pace, who gives Mathilde 253’s improvisations a third dimension. With an accuracy remarkable in one who for much of his life played non-improvised music, he listens to his colleagues, gives them space to live and never steals the limelight—but he it is whom it is a particular pleasure to hear.
— Opium Mass, translation by Leofranc Holford-Strevens.
The intensity & close-knit interaction has increased to a near boil, simmering hotter and hotter…. [The] more I hear the more the sympathetic counter-balance comes closer and even more spirited.
Bruce Lee Gallanter of the Downtown Music Gallery has some nice things to say about the Park–Dunmall–Sanders–Smith CD [More info on this recording…]. Here’s, for example, is his take on the Park-Sanders duet:
Careful, crafty and well-played with that restrained yet fractured guitar that sounds so good. Han-Earl sound seems to be in between Derek Bailey & Philip Gibbs.
…or, you could always walk down to the Downtown Music Gallery 😉