Plus, on the previous day (Tuesday, December 11), at 3:30pm, Han-earl Park will also be giving a presentation at the Colloquium at the Varèsezaal, Instituut voor Sonologie. He may be talking about:
Improvising automata, and improvising cyborgs; performing stories of salvation through technology, and amplifying the voices of everyday artifacts. Cautionary tales, and small triumphs, from the practice of an institutionally unaffiliated artist-engineer, as he attempts to evolve techniques and approaches while riding the lines between ambiguity, didacticism, the improvisative, virtuosity, and neo-Ludditism.
But the thing that’s tugging at me right now is the possibilities of the score in the context of improvisative performance. Ideas, some specific, some nebulous, all as yet untested about what might be possible…
I’m not sure at all where this is leading, but having through some combination of ideology and necessity (ain’t it always the way?) found myself somewhat involuntarily in the ‘Total Improvisation’ camp, I’m beginning to look on the other side of the fence. Let me be clear, the, to borrow Lewis’ term, Eurological conception of the score and the practice that surrounds it (theorized in detail by Small, Cusick, Nicholas Cook and others), with its limited models of control and dogma of reproducibility, and naive notions of aesthetics, does not interest me at all.
However, I’m feeling a gravitational tug. Maybe it’s due to coming into close contact with musicians who have a much more sophisticated (if often, from an non-practitioners POV, misunderstood and under theorized) relationship with the score and the possibilities of notation. But it’s a distinct pull. Still working—struggling—through some ideas, and studies, and have far, far more questions than answers about the possible role notation and the score might have in an improvisative context, but that’s the new thing that’s exciting me at the moment. [Read the rest…]
You can also read my struggle with a question about the necessity of music, my take on the current digital music scene, and the politics of ‘extended technique’:
So what’s being ‘extended’ by ‘extended technique’? Is it akin to, say, a colonial explorer extending their influence and territory; ‘discovering’ a land (regardless of whether some other people were there first)?
Had an interested online exchange with Hans Tammen on the subject, and it struck me how much the term ‘extended technique’ is a way to distinguish pioneers from the rest of us. Where you draw those lines (between common practice and extended technique) says much more about your own history and prejudices than some essential quality of the technique in question.
Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith once pointed out how Stockhausen claimed the invention of certain ‘extended techniques’ for the trumpet that were patently false if you had even a passing knowledge of practices outside of West European traditions. Did Stockhausen, and his supporters, claim these techniques because of a kind of ignorance, or as a deliberate erasure of other traditions? Either way, it requires a heavy dose of privilege to ignore, to justify your ignorance, or to mark peoples and cultures as irrelevant. [Read the rest…]
Music by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton.
Recorded live, March 26, 2013 at Freddy’s Bar, Brooklyn.
Performance presented as part of On The Way Out curated by Michael Evans and Anders Nilsson.
Recorded by Don Mount.
[Han-earl] Park is one of those scary polymath guys who seems to have a tremendous facility for music, both improvising and composing it, and he has played in many groups and at many festivals, appearing around the globe in seemingly ubiquitous fashion. Scariest of all is his intense and speedy guitar technique, which on parts of this album presents a rush of tangled information that would require a bank of dedicated computers to solve it…. Never too “glib” in his phrasing and throws in multiple fishhooks and other barbs to snag our ears, otherwise we might be tempted to switch off in the face of his effortless glides and spiky dense riffs. It’s also good to find him in this duo set-up where the detail of his playing can be more clearly heard than in Mathilde 253. The Englishman Barrett is also a composer, like Park sometimes situated in an academic and teaching context, and is no stranger to using electronics in the live situation having formed the FURT duo with Paul Obermayer as long ago as 1986…. Regardless of whatever intricate and dazzling shapes are thrown at him like crystal spears by his sparring partner, he responds in kind with impossibly twisted gurgles, shrieks and salivated electronic utterances. Throughout album, a lively and sizzling session of fierce interplay is staged between these two boxing kangaroos, with sqwawks and yelps a-plenty as another blow is landed on the respective muzzle or snout. The striking thing is that neither player appears to be breaking into a sweat at any time, and I have the abiding mental image of two unfazed chess players sitting in a deep-freeze unit, weaving complex theorems while remaining almost immobile in large leather armchairs. The music has that degree of rigid control, of brittle precision, even when the structure appears at its maddest and the musical data is flying wildly beyond the point of interpretation. The value of this music as a form of invented language is emphasised by the odd titles, ‘tolur’, ‘tricav’, ‘ankpla’, ‘uettet’… as if counting upwards in Venusian. [Read the rest…]
Numbers is a complex melange of retro/futurist synth sounds, glitch electronica, guitar-sourced whammy-bar pitch-bending and hard-scrabble picking over bridge and pickups: a volatile stream of fractal note-data and complex electro-acoustics, all slippery switchbacks and other such abrupt transitions.
This makes for kaleidoscopic music, a rubato flux of superimposed noises in which lightning-fast progression from one galvanising sound event (noise thru silence) to another, and the musicians’ constant attention to overall form, carry far more weight than developmental foresightedness or melodic thrust: it’s music of the moment, a process of constantly tweaked evolutionary recombination.
The duo are tenacious in their work of sonic abiogenesis, and the six Numbers pieces are all longish…. The sound events comprised by tracks like “Ankpla” and “Uettet” are as disjointed as they are contiguous, but the overriding sense impression is that each whole flows nicely, and the album as a whole rewardingly absorbs attention. [Read the rest…]
Bazillions of events… for the joy of individuals who take pleasure in getting their brain zapped and scrambled by the rivalry between transonic beauty and extreme structural atomization. This is in fact a full hour of frantically jagged live improvisation…. [More…]