A field, a cliff, a landscape: the backlot of the world… (a listening guide to Of Life, Recombinant)

Of Life, Recombinant (NEWJAiM9), my latest disc and my first solo* album, is out now on New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings.

This suite might be my first self-consciously poetic work if not for the fact that I couldn’t have told you that’s what it was when I was in the middle of it (visibility low; uncertain, uncertain, uncertain). Of Life, Recombinant is the work in which I most want listeners to hear, in it, themselves.

Walls rusted lichen curve into a canopy. / Concrete weaves of roots. / Dew-covered moss memory foam. / You find your usual spot on the armchair, or maybe the comfort of your favorite beanbag. Perhaps your companion animal (is it a cat?) chooses to sleep on your lap. Maybe you lay between two speakers. Or having embraced the solitary, you wear headphones. / Music starts. / Look out the window—a field, a cliff, a landscape: the backlot of the world. Of neon. Of sodium. Of broken machinery. Fences. Or walls. Do walls surround you? Home to insects. Mammals, reptiles, and plants, molds and funguses? / Watching the light of dawn (or is it dusk?). See the light-wall of apartments. Leaves waving. Or are the trees bare? And distant as the hillside. Images refracted by veins of rain. No, the sky is clear: stars, pinprick rear-projections. But drowned in a sea of streetlights—streaking—traffic etches unpredictable figures across the darkened ceiling. My eyes hunt muscae volitantes. Hear those creaks. (I’ve missed something.) The sound of floorboards next door. (Do I seek ghosts?) My roommate. My Family. My guest. My host.
© 2021 Han-earl Park [Higher resolution image…]

I always hope that my music reflects and diffracts very human truths; that they depend, and perform, and engage with them. But with Of Life, Recombinant, I think, (I hope) that the work is fueled by, and has in its core, compassion.

Thanks again to the project director at NEWJAiM, Wesley Stephenson, for inviting me to have my work represented on this most awesome label. Thanks also to Annette Krebs for helping me, with one simple question, to decide to release these listening guides to my listeners.

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download from NEWJAiM (Bandcamp)…]

* Ostensibly solo. It’s complicated.

The perfect distillation of uneasy listening (reviews: Peculiar Velocities and Of Life, Recombinant)

Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities

Grunting tonal bursts? atmospherics? weaving sinuous melody? In his review of Eris 136199’s Peculiar Velocities, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz describes a “masterful slice of trifurcated dialog” by turns “haunting, gracious and grating”, with tones that cut “like an exacto-blade.” He writes that, by the third track (‘Peculiar Velocities I’) of the album:

The guitars have adopted a slightly different aesthetic, using choppy, brittle sounds, they lay down a fractured soundscape replete with sonic barbs and suspended tones. Sikora finds her footing on this shifting ground and plays freely. As the track continues into ‘Peculiar Velocities II’ the fascinating part is realizing how connected the three actually are: this is not parallel play, rather it connects deep in the sub-systems. [Read the rest…]

Meanwhile Todd McComb’s Jazz Thoughts finds “vignettes within an overall urban fantasy soundscape”, and according to Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector:

This music does stem from a knowledge and practice of free improvisation, and can fit inside various ‘art music’ categories, but on one level to me it feels as good as any ‘noise rock’ served up by Sonic Youth, The Dead C, or any new-wave influenced beat combo who tend to attract the ‘angular’ adjective. [Read the rest…]

Having previously selected Peculiar Velocities as one of the Best of 2020, Dave Foxall writes in aJazzNoise that:

It’s mind-twisting stuff. Intensely ‘musical’ (whatever that means) and harshly jarring, gently testing Broca’s convolutions, seeking points of entry and storage, delicately inserting sounds, probing for reaction, disconcertion and delight. (i.e. It gets inside your head)….

An uncomfortable joy, a can’t-be-reproduced-in-the-laboratory combination of rare elements, a new musical alloy, an ongoing experiment, the perfect distillation of uneasy listening. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Of Life, Recombinant

And finally, in his LondonJazz News review of Of Life, Recombinant, Tony Dudley-Evans describes a music of ‘industrial sounds,’ by turns ‘ambient’ and ‘dramatic,’ with elements of minimalism. Plus:

Sinister sounds reminiscent of a hospital MRI scanning machine. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download from NEWJAiM (Bandcamp)…]

Of Life, Recombinant (NEWJAiM9)

cover art (copyright 2021 NEWJAiM)
Graphic design by Andrew Delanoy. © 2021 NEWJAiM Recordings.

November 26, 2021: Of Life, Recombinant (NEWJAiM9), Han-earl Park’s latest album, is out now on New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings!

Of Life, Recombinant is unlike anything I’ve done before, and the music goes to some strange and unexpected places (are those sounds of a networked biome, or the echos of, and through, an urban maze?). The album is a single improvisative suite that takes the guitar, and the solo form, as the starting point to fabricate a composition in the studio. The piece is the result of over a year of work, and I’m so very much looking forward to finally sharing this music with you!

[Get the CD/download from NEWJAiM (Bandcamp)…]

CD: £12 plus shipping. Download: £6.

description

Walls rusted lichen curve into a canopy.
Concrete weaves of roots.
Dew-covered moss memory foam.

On NEWJAiM’s ninth disc of adventurous music, guitarist and improviser Han-earl Park takes the solo form, and, refracting improvisations through studio-based techniques, flips the form on its head.

Rather than attempting to ‘reinvent’ the guitar, Park navigates the gaps and borders of the instrument, and what it means to be a guitarist. Park creates a music that alternately embraces and short-circuits genre tropes and expectations. Of Life, Recombinant doesn’t shy away from the solitude of the solo form; instead it tightly hugs aloneness—its joys and fears.

Of Life, Recombinant explores the ways in which studio-based techniques can be used as a fluid compositional strategy in the context of improvisative play; how techniques such as montage, collage, and the language of dissolves, cross cuts and match cuts might be enrolled to explore improvisative counterpoint and juxtapositions, the pleasures of discord, parallelism and linearity, and the repurposing of gestures and their meanings.

Conceived as a single improvisative suite, the techniques and strategies used to build Of Life, Recombinant were developed over a year during periods of lockdown. The bulk of the suite was recorded in a single contiguous take, a single improvisation, in June of 2021. That recording remains, more-or-less-intact-but-broken, as the title track, while fragments of it litter, as improvisative detritus, through the rest of the album.

Han-earl Park (copyright 2021 Nella Aguessy)
Photo © 2021 Nella Aguessy
Han-earl Park

Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park 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, Korea and the USA.

Park is the mastermind behind ensembles including Eris 136199 with Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky; and Sirene 1009 with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and rit.; and has a duo with Richard Barrett. He 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, Pauline Oliveros, Josh Sinton, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Gino Robair, Tim Perkis, Andrew Drury, Pat Thomas and Franziska Schroeder.

His ensembles have appeared at festivals including Jazz em Agosto (Lisbon), Freedom of the City (London), Brilliant Corners (Belfast), ISIM (New York), dialogues festival (Edinburgh) and Sonic Acts (Amsterdam). His recordings have been released by labels including SLAM Productions and DUNS Limited Edition. Park taught improvisation at University College Cork, and founded and curated Stet Lab, a space for improvised music in Cork.

New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings

The New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project was established during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a creative output for musicians when live performance opportunities were unavailable and encouraging artist independence.

Emphasising sustainability for artists and music studios, the ethos of sustainability also carries through the production process by employing a carbon neutral manufacturing plant and distributors, using recycled and biodegradable materials whenever possible.

The New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project is brought to you from the director of Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music.

personnel

Han-earl Park (guitar) with Anne Wellmer (voice on track 4).

track listing

Game: Mutation (5:38); Naught Opportune (≥ 10:42); Are Variant (≥ 8:06); Of Life, Recombinant (≥ 29:22). Total duration ≥ 53:48.

recording details

Music by Han-earl Park.

Recorded by Han-earl Park, June 2, 2021.
Additional recording by Han-earl Park, April 3, 2021, and by Anne Wellmer June 27, 2021.

Mixed by Han-earl Park.
Mastered by Chris Sharkey.

Graphic design by Andrew Delanoy.
Portrait photography by Nella Aguessy.

Project director: Wesley Stephenson.

“Many thanks to everyone that contributed and supported our Crowdfunder campaign for the New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project. This release was made possible with additional support from Arts Council Ireland, Arts Council England and North East Local Enterprise Partnership. Additional thanks to Chris Sharkey for mastering and Andrew Delanoy for graphic design. Very special thanks to Nella Aguessy for the portrait photograph of Han-earl Park, you can find some really great work on her website.” — NEWJAiM Recordings.

“Thanks to Annette Krebs, Richard Barrett, and Anne Wellmer, and hugs for Asha and Melanie. The construction of this piece was made possible by funding from the Arts Council of Ireland” — Han-earl Park.

© 2021 NEWJAiM Recordings.
℗ 2021 Han-earl Park.

Also from Han-earl Park

cover art (copyright 2020 Han-earl Park)

Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

Track listing: Ballad of Tensegrity I (≥ 5:12), Ballad of Tensegrity II (2:28), Peculiar Velocities I (3:46), Peculiar Velocities II (3:36), Sleeping Dragon (5:22), D-Loop I (≥ 6:16), D-Loop II (5:13), Polytely I (≥ 5:01), Polytely II: Breakdown (5:33), Anagnorisis I (2:09), Anagnorisis II (2:19). Total duration ≥ 46:54.

© + ℗ 2020 Han-earl Park.

Cover of ‘ Two+ Bagatelles’ by Han-earl Park (photo copyright Jazz em Agosto / Petra Cvelbar)

Two+ Bagatelles [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar).

Track listing: Zero (01:03), One (10:27), Two (05:28). Total duration: 16:59.

© + ℗ 2019 The Vortex / Han-earl Park.

updates

11-26-21: released!

Coming soon: new album to be released by NEWJAiM Recordings

New album from Han-earl Park will be released by New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings in November 2021! This suite has been in the works for over a year; it’s unlike anything I’ve done before, and I’m so very much looking forward to sharing this music with you. More soon!

Do you want to be first in-line to hear the new album? Please sign-up to my newsletter:

Signup to the newsletter [details…].

[About the newsletter…]

Performance diary (Belfast, Berlin, Derry, Letterkenny, Leeds, London, Münster, Newcastle, Wiesbaden) 102021

upcoming performances
date venue time details
December 19, 2021 cuba cultur
Achtermannstr. 10–12
48143 Münster
Germany
6:00pm QLH (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Luca Marini: drums; and Han-earl Park: guitar).
[cuba program…]
January 7, 2022 KM28
Karl-Marx-Str. 28
12043 Berlin
Germany
TBA QLH (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Luca Marini: drums; and Han-earl Park: guitar) with Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen (saxophone).
Details to follow…
January 14, 2022 Petersburg Art Space
Kaiserin Augusta Allee 101
10553 Berlin
Germany
TBA QLH (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Luca Marini: drums; and Han-earl Park: guitar) with Catherine Sikora (saxophone).
Details to follow…
January 15, 2022 TBA
Wiesbaden
Germany
TBA QLH (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Luca Marini: drums; and Han-earl Park: guitar).
Details to follow…
March 19, 2022 TBA
Newcastle
England
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar).
Details to follow…
March 20, 2022 TBA
London
England
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar) plus.
Details to follow…
March 22, 2022 TBA
Leeds
England
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar).
Details to follow…
March 25, 2022 TBA
Letterkenny
Ireland
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar).
Details to follow…
March 26, 2022 TBA
Derry
N. Ireland
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar).
Details to follow…
March 27, 2022 TBA
Belfast
N. Ireland
TBA Han-earl Park (guitar).
Details to follow…

Continue reading “Performance diary (Belfast, Berlin, Derry, Letterkenny, Leeds, London, Münster, Newcastle, Wiesbaden) 102021”

STOP PRESS: QLH at Sowieso, Berlin

This coming Friday (October 1, 2021), at 8:30pm (doors: 8:00pm): QLH (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Luca Marini: drums; and Han-earl Park: guitar) performs at Sowieso (Weisestraße 24, 12049 Berlin). [Reserve seat…]

See the performance diary for up-to-date info. [Sowieso calendar…] [Facebook event…]

Performance diary (Berlin) 092521

upcoming performances
date venue time details
October 1, 2021 Sowieso
Weisestraße 24
12049 Berlin
Germany
8:30pm (doors: 8:00pm) QHL (Quentin Tolimieri: organ; Han-earl Park: guitar; and Luca Marini: drums).
[Details…]
[Sowieso calendar…] [Reserve seat…]

Continue reading “Performance diary (Berlin) 092521”

STOP PRESS: The Names at Schillerpromenade, Berlin

This Friday (July 16, 2021), at 8:00pm: The Names (Heather Frasch: flute; Carina Khorkhordina: trumpet; Koen Nutters: upright bass; Han-earl Park: guitar; and Quentin Tolimieri: melodica), plus Duchamp & Wizard Ashdod, perform as part of the Keith Bar Open Air Music Series (Outside Keith Bar, Schillerpromenade 2, 12049 Berlin). Admission is free.

See the performance diary for up-to-date info. [echtzeitmusik calendar…]

Performance diary (Berlin) 071321

upcoming performances
date venue time details
July 16, 2021 Outside Keith Bar
Schillerpromenade 2
12049 Berlin
Germany
8:00pm The Names (Heather Frasch: flute; Carina Khorkhordina: trumpet; Koen Nutters: upright bass; Han-earl Park: guitar; and Quentin Tolimieri: melodica) presented as part of the Keith Bar Open Air Music Series. Also performing: Duchamp & Wizard Ashdod. Free admission.
[echtzeitmusik calendar…]

Continue reading “Performance diary (Berlin) 071321”

Lumbering 30 kilogram box of wood, metal, glass, paper, fabric, plastic and 1960s over-engineering

‘Ephiphanies’, The Wire
© 2021 The Wire

In case you missed it, I wrote a short piece for the June edition of The Wire (issue 448) in which I muse about speaker cabinets, cyborgs, simulations, rooms-within-rooms, and the superstitions surrounding, and genre markers of ‘tone’:

All instrument-instrumentalists are cyborg creatures in which musical gestures and behaviours emerge from the collision of minds, bodies and artifacts; of physics, physiology, technology and culture. One peculiarity in the case of the amplified instrument-instrumentalist is the particular way this cyborg is exploded in space, spilling its components and organs across the stage. The guitar-guitarist may sit on one side of the stage, while the amp sits some distance away. It’s freakish, as if, say, a violin’s soundbox had severed itself from the rest of the instrument and crawled across the stage.

The speaker cabinet plays a curious part in this cyborg dance. The cabinet is both the sounding part of the instrument, an externalized soundbox removed from the tactile interface of the instrument, while also functioning as a room within the room. Every speaker cabinet has a particular signature, a particular character, and the particular room that the cabinet will live in for the performance, likewise, has a particular character that interacts with it (which will itself change when filled with an audience).

You can read the rest in the June issue of The Wire.

Recordings Discussed

cover art (copyright 2020 Han-earl Park)

Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

Track listing: Ballad of Tensegrity I (≥ 5:12), Ballad of Tensegrity II (2:28), Peculiar Velocities I (3:46), Peculiar Velocities II (3:36), Sleeping Dragon (5:22), D-Loop I (≥ 6:16), D-Loop II (5:13), Polytely I (≥ 5:01), Polytely II: Breakdown (5:33), Anagnorisis I (2:09), Anagnorisis II (2:19). Total duration ≥ 46:54.

© + ℗ 2020 Han-earl Park.

Cover of ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

Eris 136199 (BAF001) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

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.

© + ℗ 2018 Han-earl Park.

#lockdownminiature

Over the last several months I’ve been busy behind-the-scenes working on a solo guitar project. In a few months I hope to announce some exciting developments. In the meantime, you can catch up with some short videos of solo guitar improvisations by following #lockdownminiature both on Twitter and on Facebook.

Arts Council of Ireland

This project is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

Serenity on the edge breakdown and sounds of an 8-bit shower (reviews: Peculiar Velocities and Two+ Bagatelles)

Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities

I am very proud and very grateful to find Peculiar Velocities, the latest album from Eris 136199, in the best-of lists of a Jazz Noise (which, elsewhere, described the music as “serenity on the edge of a breakdown”), and of Avant Music News. And no one is more surprised than I that a Kickstarter-only limited edition live album got on to a best-of-year list!

Elsewhere Corey Mwamba (Freeness, BBC Radio 3) describes “exquisite music-making” with musicians that “fuse and create this gorgeous glitchy stew together”, and, writing in Vital Weekly, Nick Roseblade describes Peculiar Velocities as an album in which “everything feels pushed as far is it can go”:

Like what rock music could, and possibly should, have sounded like it if musicians like Ornette Coleman became the norm. There is a freeness to the playing that is astounding, but there is also organisation. During sections, the guitars work together to give Sikora something tangible to stand on. When this happens ‘Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities’ becomes something very special indeed. ‘Polytely I’ sees the guitars constantly churning to create vortex-esque soundscapes why Sikora’s light and airy saxophone wafts above it. Like stream on a freshly brewed tea. This is an album that reminds you of how good it is when musicians don’t care about the rules and just play. [Read the rest…]

And while Brady Gerber’s ‘7 For Seven’ finds a space in which “a nervous guitar fills an orange sky and empty beach”, and Takeshi Goda in JazzTokyo writes of velocities, perception, collisions, fusions, joy and brain-reforming experiences:

相手のプレイを意識して、コール&レスポンスで反応しながら音楽の流れを作るのは即興演奏のひとつのスタイルである。しかし彼らのアンサンブルの方法論は異なる。その場で適切と各自が判断する奏法・旋律・リズムを個人の責任で奏でることに専念して、3人のプレイが衝突と融合を繰り返すことで、結果的に予測不能なサウンドを生み出すことを信条としている。3つの異なる平行した自然のプロセスが同時に起こることで知覚される集団即興演奏は…

それはあたかも地球外の異境から到来した明滅する運動エネルギーによって脳外科手術を施されるような驚喜の頭脳改革体験である。 [Read the rest…]

And finally, Ken Shimamoto/The Stash Dauber writes about sounds that “slither and spatter like radio interference, shimmer like molten silver, or ring like a cymbal’s decay” music in which “the spirit of electricity becomes a living thing”:

The best type of musical conversation, abstract and oblique as it might be at times…. I’ve listened to this thing a half dozen times since I started writing yesterday, and am happy to have its company to help me get through what looks like it’s going to be a very tough winter… and the hopeful spring to follow. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Two+ Bagatelles

And one more thing: In his survey of solo guitar recordings, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz reviews my recording released by, and in support of, The Vortex Jazz Club:

[Han-earl Park’s] playing was unusually expressive…. On Two+ Bagatelles, this same musical spirit that has stuck with me for so long, has been captured…. Melodies becoming almost like the sounds of an 8-bit shower. [Read the rest…]

[About this EP…] [Download (Bandcamp)…]

Available from The Vortex’s Bandcamp page, all purchases of Two+ Bagatelles go towards helping their continued work presenting the very best jazz, improvised, and experimental musics.