The Sound Projector: Numbers: Richard Barrett + Han-earl Park

CD cover of ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) with Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park (copyright 2012, Creative Sources Recordings)
‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) © 2012 Creative Sources

“Amplified Derek Bailey meets Thomas Lehn”? “A lively and sizzling session of fierce interplay… between… two boxing kangaroos”? Ed Pinsent of The Sound Projector reviews Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park’s ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd):

[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’ (CS 201 cd) is available from Creative Sources Recordings. [More info…] [All reviews…] [Get the CD…]

more CD reviews: io 0.0.1 beta++

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)
io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) © 2011 Han-earl Park

More reviews of ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) including Vittorio’s big thumbs-up at MusicZoom where he hails the recordings as a “total hymn to modernity”, in which the human musicians “throw themselves with passion on the ideas from the inanimate object”, and the listener will be “fully repaid by that which is a successful experiment”:

Il titolo da romanzo o di sigla di messaggio segreto è il nome della macchina sparamusica/rumori che fa bella mostra di sè sul palco e che senza alcun intervento dei musicisti intorno tira giù il suo catalogo di suoni con cui gli altri si trovano a confrontarsi. Un´idea che sarebbe piaciuta ai futuristi di omai un secolo fa, un inno totale alla modernità. Altro che strumenti acustici!

I tre musicisti coinvolti insieme alla macchina sono Han-earl Park alla chitarra, Bruce Coates al sax alto e sopranino e Franziska Schroeder al sax soprano. Non hanno nessuna paura per il confronto e così si avventano con passione sulla proposta dell´oggetto inanimato.

La session completamente improvvisata richiede molta attenzione da parte dell´ascoltatore, ripagata completamente da quello che è un esperimento riuscito. [Read the rest…] [English translation…]

Vittorio (MusicZoom)

Meanwhile, what to me is ‘playful’ may be ‘uncompromising’ to someone else:

Fra segmenti più atmosferico-minimali, e altri invece più frammentati e nervosi, si procede così, talora arrestandosi a una sorta di limbo emozionale, di quieta truculenza, peraltro sempre ammirevole per coerenza e rigore. [Read the rest…]

Alberto Bazzurro (All About Jazz Italia)

On the other hand, Ed Pinsent of The Sound Projector highlights the (fun, playful) material and interactive dimensions in the meeting between human and machine musicians:

The guitarist Park, sometime member of Mathilde 253 whose fine CD impressed us in March this year, is joined by two improvising saxophonists, Bruce Coates (from the Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra) and Franziska Schroeder (member of the trio FAINT), and the record documents the meeting of this trio with the “machine musician” io 0.0.1 beta++. This device is an automaton, a musical robot if you will, built by Mr Park; it’s not just another computer programme that plays random sounds or builds an “interactive” space for other laptop musicians, but actually occupies physical space and performs on the stage alongside its human counterparts. Shades of Pierre Bastien…. The multi-media artist Sara Roberts from California writes the liner notes and she does a much better job than I possibly could in articulating the cultural resonances of this man-meets-automaton event. [Read the rest…]

— Ed Pinsent (The Sound Projector)

And Rui Eduardo Paes hears a meeting in which the human musicians bring their varied experience, in avant-jazz and in the space between electroacoustics and contemporary music, and in which the automaton “interactively reacting to what they do and even giving them cues”:

Os músicos de carbono envolvidos ora trabalham na área do ‘avant-jazz’, ora na da electroacústica de fronteira com a música contemporânea: Park com Charles Hayward, Wadada Leo Smith e Paul Dunmall, Coates com Tony Oxley, Lol Coxhill e o compositor indeterminista Christian Wolff, e Schroeder ao lado do pianista português Pedro Rebelo e em colaborações com Pauline Oliveros e Evan Parker. Todas essas experiências se reflectem em temas como ‘Ground-Based Telemetry’ e ‘Laplace: Instability’, sempre com o io a reagir interactivamente ao que fazem e até a dar-lhes deixas. [Read the rest…] [English translation…]

Rui Eduardo Paes (

‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) with Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder is available from SLAM Productions. [More info…] [All reviews…] [Get the CD…]

arts council logo

The construction of io 0.0.1 beta++ has been made possible by the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland.

The Sound Projector: Mathilde 253

‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover
‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover

Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector gives his take on Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528):

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)

Mathilde 253’s eponymous debut CD (SLAMCD 528) available on SLAM Productions. [More info…] [All reviews…] [Get the CD…]