The current edition of jazzColo[u]rs (Sommario Ago./Set. 2015, Anno VIII, n. 8–9) has an interview with me by Andrew Rigmore. It covers a broad range of my work, from my close collaboration with Catherine Sikora, my working relationships with Paul Dunmall, Evan Parker, and drummers such as Mark Sanders, Charles Hayward, Gino Robair and Tom Rainey, to ensembles and projects such as Eris 136199, Mathilde 253 and io 0.0.1 beta++. We also discuss the location of noise, rhythm, harmony and melody in my work, and the relationship between structure and improvisation. Andrew Rigmore opened by asking me about the meaning of ‘tactical macros’ in the context of Metis 9:
Descrivo Metis 9 come insieme di “tactical macros”, una sorta di libretto di strategie di gioco per l’improvvisazione pensato per un insieme di improvvisatori. Si tratta di schemi interattivi: Metis 9 non detta mai un evento preciso — un suono, un rumore — che chi suona debba eseguire — sarebbe un anatema per un’indagine seria nell’improvvisazione —, ma ha in sé i parametri per [intendere] quali tipi di interazione siano praticabili e quali invece risulterebbero… difficili. Le macro tattiche che creano Metis 9 sono spesso ambigue, perfino nebulose, a tal punto da paralizzare chi non è abituato ad improvvisare. Sono per certi versi simili alle regole dei ragazzini che giocano liberamente: esistono solo se funzionali al gioco — se sono divertenti, interessanti o portano a un gioco più intrigante — e vengono liberamente mutate, reinterpretate e mollate quando il gioco porta altrove. Dun- que non si tratta di composizioni in sè — che implicherebbero una sorta di appropriazione d’autorità, ingiusta verso gli sforzi dei performer —, per cui ho introdotto il termine “macro”: un’istruzione abbreviata che si espande in un processo reale non conoscibile tramite l’istruzione iniziale e di cui sono responsabili i performer — i veri agenti interattivi.
[I describe Metis 9 as a collection of ‘tactical macros,’ and by that I mean that Metis 9 is a kind of playbook for improvisation; it’s designed for an ensemble of improvisers, and it’s, in a way, about improvisation. These are interactive schema: Metis 9 never dictates the exact gesture—each bloop or bleep—that the performers are to execute—that, I think, would be an anathema to a serious inquiry into improvisation—but it does lay the parameters for what kinds of interactions might be possible, and what kinds of interactions might be… difficult. These tactical macros that make up Metis 9 are often ambiguous, possibly nebulous, to the point of, I suspect, being paralyzing to non-improvisers. They are somewhat akin to the rules that are enrolled when you see young children in free play. The rules only exist if they serve the play—if they are fun or interesting or lead to further engaging play—and are freely mutated, reinterpreted and jettisoned when play leads elsewhere. So they aren’t really compositions as such—that would take a kind of authorial appropriation that would be unfair on the efforts of the performers—which is why I stuck the term ‘macro’ on it: it’s a shorthand instruction that expands into a real process, but the process itself is not knowable from the initial instruction; the performers—the actual interactive agents—are responsible for that.]
You can read more in the current issue of jazzColo[u]rs. The issue also includes Andrew Rigmore and Antonio Terzo’s review of Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559).
Thanks to Andrew Rigmore, Antonio Terzo, Piero Rapisardi and jazzColo[u]rs for the profile and their support, and to Scott Friedlander and Fergus Kelly for the photographic portraits that accompany the article.
If you’ve seen the recent news of changes to EU tax law, you may be wondering how this affects you as an artist or label selling on Bandcamp. The good news is that for digital sales, there is no need for you to register for VAT, submit quarterly reports, and so on. We will take care of all of that for you. [Read the rest…]
Seriously, Bandcamp, you guys rock something awesome!
Four ‘name your price’ downloads from… guitarist Han-earl Park in various improv formations situated at the more traditional, loquaciously active end of the spectrum…. The sense of energy and joy in Park’s playing spills over into this flurry of online activity… fans of the talkative brand of improvised music will find something of value.
Traditional? Talkative? Vague? Relentless? Claustrophobic? What do you think?
Two non-stop sets of improvised music. This live recording juxtaposes the formidable creativity and muscular technique of veteran improviser-saxophonist Paul Dunmall, the imaginative cyborgian virtuosity of guitarist Han-earl Park, and the ever inventive playing of Mark Sanders, arguably the most sought-after improviser-drummer of his generation. [More info…]
A solo performance by guitarist-constructor Han-earl Park exploring, with feedback and resonant buzzes, the complex, cavernous acoustics of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, and the interactions between artifact (guitar) and the body (guitarist). For ‘Strokes and Screwballs,’ Park is joined by violinist-improviser Marian Murray for a conversational improvisation. [More info…]
A stark, real-time evolution of on-stage relations. The performance took place during Seoul-based experimental electronic musician Jin Sangtae’s European tour. Featuring clanking hard drives, buzzing electronics, noisy guitars and machine gun percussion, this recording captures Jin’s meeting with guitarist-improviser Han-earl Park, and composer, drummer and intermedia artist Jeffrey Weeter. [More info plus the 24-bit edition…]
“Sounds reverberate and carry in unexpected ways, and music improvised here [The Glucksman Gallery] runs the risk of losing all definition. That [Han-earl] Park and his co-improviser Franziska Schroeder gracefully avoided this testifies to their alertness, sensitivity and experience working together in other spaces…. Indeed the evening had the feeling of conversation, with the instrumentalists demonstrating the improvisatory give-and-take of a convivial exchange of ideas.” [More info…]
A performance by Catherine Sikora, a saxophonist with a striking, compelling sound. She has been described as “a free-blowing player’s player with a spectacular harmonic imagination and an evolved understanding of the tonal palette of the saxophone”. Sikora was joined by cofounder of the London Improvisers’ Orchestra, trumpeter Ian Smith, and guitarist Han-earl Park. Smith and Park had just come off the tour as part of the power-trio Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward) with Wadada Leo Smith. [More info…]
The (provisional) project page for Metis 9 is now live:
Metis 9 is a collection of improvisative tactics, and higher-level interactive macros for ensemble performance designed, designated and specified by Han-earl Park.
Metis 9 has ‘glorious noise’ or ‘frenzy’ at its root, yet it is not so much structuring the noise as it is a meta-layer of complexity that performers can introduce at will. Metis 9 does not tell the performer what to play, or provide all the details of how to interact, but it is an additional network protocol for interactive possibilities. Group improvisation is always the primary protocol; Metis 9 provides secondary or tertiary tactics that create an additional focused complexity. The decision for each bloop and bleep is still retained by the ensemble. These macros enable specific interactionist schemes to be expressed in an open improvisative context; it is improvisative play channeled by group consent.
Metis 9 builds on my experience teaching improvisation at University College Cork, and performing as part of large ensembles led by Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros. Metis 9 includes tactics developed from performances and practices of Cecil Taylor, Tony Oxley, John Zorn and Anthony Braxton, in particular, and the form of its practice (training and instruction) is inspired by the ensemble improvisation-composition works of George E. Lewis among others.
In the piece, Medwin describes the recording with Marian Murray as the “best way into Park’s protean guitar syntax”:
Park slams through blocks of sound and these deteriorate into shreds and scraps, punctuated with what can only be described as ululations, which become more prominent as things proceed. Park’s often-distorted fingerwork, much of it conjuring shades of the human voice, also references Derek Bailey’s rapid-fire volume shifts and Joe Morris’ fleet runs while sounding like neither. [Read the rest…]
…The outer limits of timbre, especially on the epic “Old Robots Never Rust”. Campbell’s violin slides are an excellent foil to the more vocal qualities in Park’s improvising, not to mention similar devices used by multi-reedist Randy McKean as the trio converge and diverge in pitch space. [Read the rest…]
…Eschewing conventional groove but adhering to solos and telepathic communications, conjuring the jazz trio hierarchy as imagined by Albert Ayler. Dunmall even channels some Ayler, his tenor growling and moaning through key moments as Park handles guitar and bass duty simultaneously. Only Sanders’ occasional chiming percussion bespeaks a more contemporary vibe. As always, Park fills out the texture as much or more than do most keyboard instruments, but his playing is never overwhelming and always tasteful. [Read the rest…]
I’ve finally updated and reorganized my scrapbook. It’s been a few years since I last made changes to this audio and video archive, so there’s a good few additions, and a few more tracks (with Richard Barrett, Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders) will be added in the coming weeks. Below is a sample of some of the more recent additions. Enjoy!
Music by Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.
Recorded May 25, 2010 at the Ó Riada Hall, UCC Music Building, Cork.
Audio clip courtesy of SLAM Productions. ℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.
Recorded and mixed by Han-earl Park.
In front of a small but appreciative audience, the California-based Gargantius Effect, including [Han-earl] Park, Murray Campbell, Randy McKean, Scott Looney and Gino Robair, slip in and out of something approaching Webern-ian counterpoint on Nor Cal 8-2011. Looney and Robair join in later on this disc of various tour dates, leaving the other three to explore the outer limits of timbre, especially on the epic “Old Robots Never Rust”. Campbell’s violin slides are an excellent foil to the more vocal qualities in Park’s improvising, not to mention similar devices used by multi-reedist Randy McKean as the trio converge and diverge in pitch space. When Robair and Looney appear, electronics and hyperpiano are difficult to distinguish, but first-rate audio keeps everything in proper perspective and the improv is always edge-of-seat energetic.
“Han [Han-earl Park] is a very old friend of mine. We’ve done a lot of strange things in various parts of Europe. He’s somewhat responsible for me ending up in Nevada County. About ten years ago he was studying at CalArts, and I came over to play in his graduation show. Part of that trip was my first visit to Nevada County, where many things spinned out from that.
“Also finding this gentleman [Randy McKean] here in Grass Valley; finding not only a great improvising player, but one that plays bass clarinet, was a huge thing that helped me stay. It was a complete leap in the dark to move out here. I was raised in a rural area, I always known that that was the thing to do, but leaving a metropolitan zone [The Hague] and coming out here with nothing—no plan—was a shot in the dark, and finding that there were things like this [McKean] in the woods made it a lot easier to stay.
“So these are two of my favorite people to play music with.”
The Gargantius Effect is the brainchild of Murray Campbell (violins, oboe and cor anglais) and Randy McKean (saxophone, clarinets and flutes). Like the Stanislaw Lem story of the same name, in which armies of warring soldiers are linked together to form a peaceful, blissfully-aware omni-mind, so, too, these longtime collaborators and Nevada County natives transform the connections and crossfires of the various genres in which they usually find themselves—the Euro-café of Beacoup Chapeaux, Balkan swing of Chickenbonz, chamber jazz of Bristle—into scintillating bits of free improvisation, compositional constructs and mechanized mayhem.
The Gargantius Effect is the brainchild of Murray Campbell (violin, oboe and electronics) and Randy McKean (reeds). Like the Stanislaw Lem story of the same name, in which armies of warring soldiers are linked together to form a peaceful, blissfully-aware omni-mind, so, too, these long-time collaborators channel their contrarian impulses into synchronized bouts of free improvisation, compositional constructs and mechanized mayhem.
Murray Campbell has described himself as a Sonologist ever since it was recommended to him as a more respectable occupation than “musician” for the purposes of immigration control. In this capacity he has worked with Alex Fiennes on an octaphonic spatialisation system un-muted at Dialogues Festival (Edinburgh).
He currently resides in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California where he is designing an off-grid solar-powered geodesic wavefront recreation system with the aim of upsetting the bears.
He finds writing about himself in the third person slightly disturbing.
Randy McKean has burrowed into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada but still wants to blow your mind. Whether his mission is executed by his chamber jazz quartet Bristle, through sideman gigs with the likes of the Euro Café messabouts Beaucoup Chapeaux, or via performances of his pieces for orchestra or string quartet, matters not to him, as long as his objective is achieved. Perhaps one of his CDs—Bristle’s Bulletproof (Edgetone), So Dig This Big Crux (Rastascan), or the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet’s Child King Dictator Fool (New World)—will do the job.
Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park has been crossing borders and performing fuzzily idiomatic, on occasion experimental, always traditional, open improvised musics for over fifteen years. He has performed in clubs, theaters, art galleries, concert halls, and (ad-hoc) alternative spaces in Austria, Denmark, Germany, England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Scotland and the USA.
Park is part of Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, Eris 136199 with Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora, and Numbers with Richard Barrett. He is the constructor of the machine improviser io 0.0.1 beta++, a project performed in coalition with Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder. He has recently performed with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Dunmall, Lol Coxhill, Mark Sanders, Gino Robair, Tim Perkis, Pat Thomas, Andrew Drury, Josh Sinton, Dominic Lash, and as part of ensembles led by Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker, and Pauline Oliveros. Festival appearances include Freedom of the City (London), Sonorities (Belfast), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), dialogues festival (Edinburgh), and CEAIT (California). His recordings have been released by labels including Slam Productions and Creative Sources.
Park taught improvisation at the UCC Department of Music, and founded and curated Stet Lab, a space for improvised music in Cork.
Gino Robair has created music for dance, theater, radio, television, silent film, and gamelan orchestra, and his works have been performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. He was composer in residence with the California Shakespeare Festival for five seasons and served as music director for the CBS animated series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. His commercial work includes themes for the MTV and Comedy Central cable networks.
Robair is also one of the “25 innovative percussionists” included in the book Percussion Profiles (SoundWorld, 2001). He has recorded with Tom Waits, Anthony Braxton, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, John Butcher, Derek Bailey, Peter Kowald, Otomo Yoshihide, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and Eugene Chadbourne, among many others. In addition, Robair has performed with John Zorn, Nina Hagen, Fred Frith, Eddie Prevost, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, and the Club Foot Orchestra.
Robair is a founding member of the Splatter Trio and the heavy-metal band, Pink Mountain. In addition, he runs Rastascan Records, a label devoted to creative music.
10–24–12: add recommended price. 05–20–13: updated the ‘also available for download’ list, and updated reviews. 11–01–15: add A Little Brittle Music to downloads list, and change currency from USD to EUR.
Quick thanks to Gino Robair for the invite and putting the whole thing together; Tom Duff hosting the show (and providing somewhere for this itinerant musician to crash for the night), John Shiurba for providing the amp, the beer and being a very crafty and generous guitarist; Tim Perkis for the musicality and musings; and Matt Ingalls for injecting high and low frequency noises at exactly the right time. Thanks also to Murray Campbell, Amber Cone, Izzy Goldschneider and Randy McKean for providing one of the oddest quasi-gigs I’ve performed at.
Apologies for the brevity of the acknowledgement, but things are a little crazy right now with the upcoming move to New York… See you on the East Coast!