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.
A descent into the concrete? rafting over a boiling river? a collisions of thousands of years of musical history? music to communicate cyclists’ collisions? and who are the “bass/drum/guitar boys”,…
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…
Muffled junkyard hammering (clang! thud! snap!) beat unlikely counter-rhythms; suspension bridge rumble in the turbulence with subwoofer scratches; bad traffic and extreme weather conspire elemental percussion; broken public address system splutter and loop, evoke the intelligible.
Conjuring up rhythmic and sonic detritus from just a guitar and a volume pedal, Han-earl Park has performed with some of the craftiest improvisers from the Americas, Asia and Europe. The instigator of Sirene 1009, Park also (co-)leads Eris 136199 with Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora, Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, and Numbers with Richard Barrett.
The molten, musical core of Sirene 1009 comprises the virtuosic bassist, composer and sound artist Dominic Lash, and Mark Sanders, arguably the most sought-after avant-jazz and free improvisation drummer of his generation. Sirene’s rhythm section adeptly plays the borders of idiom and the explicable.
Having variously collaborated over the years in different contexts and configurations, in 2014 Park, Lash and Sanders performed for the first time as a trio.
During the 2015 tour, Belfast-based avant-folk singer and electronic artist Caroline Pugh joined the group. With a practice that critically, sometimes mischievously, intersects with digital, gallery and performance arts, and unmatched microphone technique (from whisper to scream, from embodied sound to flights into the stereo panorama), Pugh brings an additional layer of levity and exuberance to the already playful interactions of the trio.
Recorded at Cafe OTO (London) during a Culture Ireland funded tour of England, and during a single afternoon studio session in Birmingham, the album documents an ensemble of musicians representing diverse strands of present-day improvised musics; performances that fragment and recombine musical histories, that leaps unexpectedly between noise, melody, dissonance, harmony and rhythm.
Somewhere out there, there’s an SUV-sized violin tailgating, a No Wave guitarist desperately trying to survive in the Appalachian Mountains, someone dropping sheets of metal during a Jazz Session, an evolutionary biologist finding themselves speaking in tongues (Awash in Blue).
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.
“Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. Expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter….”
Brian Morton (Point of Departure)
Dominic Lash is a freely improvising double bassist, although his activities also range much more widely and include playing bass guitar and other instruments; both writing and performing composed music; and writing about music and various other subjects.
He has performed with musicians such as Tony Conrad (in duo and quartet formations), Joe Morris (trio and quartet), Evan Parker (duo, quartet and large ensemble) and the late Steve Reid. His main projects include The Dominic Lash Quartet, The Set Ensemble (an experimental music group focused on the work of the Wandelweiser collective) and The Convergence Quartet.
Based in Bristol, Lash has performed in the UK, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and USA. For nearly a decade he was based in Oxford and played a central role in the activities of Oxford Improvisers; much of 2011 was spent living in Manhattan. In 2013 and 2014 he is taking part in Take Five, the professional development programme administered by Serious.
Festival appearances include Akbank Jazz Festival (Istanbul), Audiograft (Oxford), Freedom of the City (London), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Hurta Cordel (Madrid), Konfrontationen (Nickelsdorf), LMC Festival (London), Manchester Jazz Festival and Tampere Jazz Happening.
His work has been broadcast on a number of radio stations, including BBC Radios 1 and 3 and Germany’s SWR2, and released on labels including Another Timbre, b-boim, Bead, Cathnor, Clean Feed, Compost and Height, Emanem, Erstwhile, FMR, Foghorn, Leo and NoBusiness.
Since moving to Bristol he has been involved in organising concerts under the banners of Bang the Bore and Insignificant Variation. A new venture is the monthly series happening every second Wednesday at the Arnolfini entitled Several 2nds. Events include performances, workshops, film screenings and discussions.
“Following in an illustrious lineage from Barry Guy through Simon Fell… breathtaking.”
John Sharpe (All About Jazz)
Mark Sanders has played with many renowned musicians from around the world including Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Derek Bailey, Myra Melford, Paul Rogers, Henry Grimes, Roswell Rudd, Okkyung Lee, Barry Guy, Tim Berne, Otomo Yoshihide, Luc Ex, Ken Vandermark, Sidsel Endresen and Jean Francois Pauvrois, in duo and quartets with Wadada Leo Smith and trios with Charles Gayle with Sirone and William Parker.
New collaborative projects include ‘Riverloam Trio’ with Mikolaj Trzaska and Olie Brice, ‘Asunder’ with Hasse Poulsen and Paul Dunmall, duos with John Butcher and DJ Sniff, ‘Statics’ with Georg Graewe and John Butcher, and trio with Rachel Musson and Liam Noble.
Mark and John Edwards play as a rhythm section with many groups including Trevor Watts Quartet, ‘Foils’ with Frank Paul Schubert and Matthius Muller, Mathew Shipp’s ‘London Quartet,’ also playing with Fred Frith, Wadada Leo Smith and Shabaka Hutchins amongst many others.
Christian Marclay’s ‘Everyday’ project includes Mark with Christian, Steve Beresford, John Butcher and Alan Tomlinson, he also works regularly in the projects of Mikolaj Trzaska, Gail Brand, Paul Dunmall, Peter Jaquemyn, and Simon H. Fell.
Mark has performed in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Morrocco, South Africa, Mozambique and Turkey, playing at many major festivals including, Nickelsdorf, Ulrichsburg, Glastonbury, Womad, Vancouver, Isle of Wight, Roskilde, Berlin Jazz days, Mulhouse, Luz, Minniapolis, Banlieue Bleues, Son D’hiver and Hurta Cordel.
He has released over 120 CDs.
“A gifted player capable of seamless movement between free-rhythms and propulsive swing.”
John Fordham (The Guardian)
Scottish vocalist and composer Caroline Pugh borrows old-fangled technologies and honours oral histories to create new performances. With a background in both folk and improvisation, her solo works You’ve Probably Heard These Songs Before, Timing By Ear, Measuring By Hand and Platform Audio also draw on performance art and pinhole photography.
Originally from Edinburgh, Caroline has performed across Europe and North America with new improvisation performances including Los Angeles’ Betalevel in 2012, NIME 2011 in Oslo, Just Listening 2011 in Limerick and Experimentica09 in Cardiff. She is also in a band called ABODE and an improvisation collective called E=MCH.
Now based in Belfast, Caroline sings in a folk duo with Meabh Meir and together with Myles McCormack they run traditional song sessions at the Garrick Bar on Mondays from 7.30-10pm.
In 2011, Caroline was awarded an Art Council Northern Ireland grant for her solo work and gained a Distinction for her AHRC-funded Master of Music at Newcastle University. She coaches students at Queen’s University Belfast and has worked in collaboration with visual artists (Connecting through Scape 2008), theatre practitioners (hour8+9 2009), video artists (SAAB 2009), dancers and psychologists (Newcastle and Northumbria Universities 2010). She also got a BA in Scottish Music from the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, and studied Contemporary Music at the University of Central Lancashire for a wee while too.
“Every once in a while you happen upon a gig or event that’s so fundamentally unlike anything you’ve experienced before that you can’t help but reconsider your own thoughts on what defines music, performance and entertainment.”