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.

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!

New improvisative pieces for solo guitar

guitar

Awesome news! I am excited to announce that I am a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Music Bursary Award, and that I will be creating a suite of improvisative, obliquely narrative, pieces for solo guitar, working with mentors Richard Barrett and Annette Krebs, and consultant Han-Ter Park to build a new compositional approach, and create companion pieces to my teaching work. As wrote in my proposal:

I will create a suite of new improvisative, obliquely narrative, experimental pieces for the solo guitarist. The bursary award will grant me time to research ways in which to effectively incorporate elements transposed from narrative forms (e.g. the manipulation of genre expectations) into my solo practice with its physical techniques and interactive tactics that I have developed systematically over twenty years. In addition, I will explore the ways in which studio-based techniques (editing, montage, etc.) may be used as a fluid compositional strategy in the context of improvisative work….

My solo practice was built on my studies with improviser-composers such as Wadada Leo Smith, and periods of independent study in 2003 during which I transposed to the guitar improvisative techniques of pianists such as Marilyn Crispell and Keith Tippett, and in 2008 during which I incorporated techniques from drummers such as Rashied Ali and Tony Oxley. I aim to expand on this practice by transposing to the musical domain, elements of genre manipulation found in works by writers such as Jeff VanderMeer and film-makers such as Bong Joon-ho. In addition, I aim to amplify these possibilities via the interactions between improvisation and studio-based compositional strategies.

To this end, in addition to my independent studies, I will consult with film-maker Han-Ter Park to explore aspects of cinematic techniques relevant to this project, and work closely with mentors improviser and composer Richard Barrett, and composer and sound artist Annette Krebs. Barrett and Krebs have unique insights into the intersection of improvisation and composition, the incorporation of programmatic and/or narrative elements, and studio-based techniques.

I am very, very grateful for the support of the Arts Council, and my collaborators. I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to work on this project, and I am very much looking forward to sharing this work with you. Please stay tuned: I will be announcing soon ways you can follow this work-in-progress.

Arts Council of Ireland

This project is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.