A science fictional foray? the specter of drumming giant Rashied Ali? searing, erupting explosions? striking song-like passages over the rumble and din? climbing over a breathless downpour of sound? John Pietaro writes in the February issue of The New York City Jazz Record that: “In a field of experimentation and free music, Eris 136199 stands as singular.”
The closing work, two-part “Hypnagogia”, begins with the most electronic of sounds in [Nick] Didkovsky’s canon and as it fades the saxophonist blows an aerial passage that turns expressionistic as [Han-earl] Park hurls rapid- fire fills about her (think Interstellar Space as a starting point). By the time Didkovsky returns, his guitar embellishes Park’s and [Catherine] Sikora closes with lush postbop improvisation that will give listeners chills. [Read the rest…]
I love this review! Not just for its generosity and not just that it’s evident that the writer listened carefully (though, of course, it’s both of those), but I appreciate that it devotes space, in turn, to each musician of the trio. So big thanks to John for the review, and thanks, John, for hearing the Ali-connection back in 2013.
Mike Borella at Avant Music News finds monstrous extemporizations; jangling, twisting uneasiness; and an internal battle of self-restraint:
Eris 136199 is much more than deconstructivistic listening. Putting these three explorers together results in a surprising pleasant, if not angular and abstract, experience. Sikora and Didkovsky are a wonderful stylistic matchup – a sax player who is both aggressive and understated with a guitarist who seems to be fighting an internal battle of self-restraint. Park hangs around in the background, adding texture and an ephemeral context for their parts. [Read the rest…]
He concludes by writing: “Great stuff and highly recommended.”
Elsewhere, Avant Scena writes that “the music is just wonderful and charming – all kinds of colors, rhythms, expressions and sounds are condensed together in one form.” And Dolf Mulder writing in Vital Weekly describes a complex music emerging from the meeting of three very different individuals: “A radical kind of music.”
And finally, in Free Jazz’s survey of the recent albums by Catherine Sikora, Fotis Nikolakopoulos describes, in his ☆☆☆☆ review of Eris 136199, dismantling of the rock guitar solo pose, multidimensional timbres and atmosphere, and a constant battle of metallic guitar sounds and the organic feel of the saxophone: “like-minded improvisers who try to find their way through collective thinking and playing…. Eris 136199 is an album that blossoms after repeated listenings and deserves more than a quick listen….”
Noise multiplies via telephone futz, riding the transcontinental signal; a clockwork tight-rope walker dances, navigating (gears shift and gear grind) tension; and, above all, rises the Big Note around which we all fall to orbit.
Han-earl Park variously occupies the role of Eris 136199’s drummer, bassist, and second horn-player. He is the instigator and mastermind behind Eris 136199, as well as groups like Sirene 1009 (with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh), and co-conspirator in projects with Richard Barrett and others. Park is navigator-engineer of the interactive, with playing that is by turns accommodating and interventionist. Changing direction and turning on a dime, Park demonstrates, with little more than a guitar, volume pedal and amplifier, a mutable, physical virtuosity.
In contrast, Nick Didkovsky creates anthems of glitch and distortion, playing the (analog and digital) signal chain from vibrating string to vibrating speaker via pedals and tube saturation. Demonstrating a deep understanding of rock, noise and experimentalism, Didkovsky rides the line between process-based mutations and heavy-rock riffage. Best known for his avant-metal big band Doctor Nerve, Didkovsky is also an active composer, working with ensembles such as Bang On A Can All Stars, ETHEL, and the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and the author of Java Music Specification Language, a system for algorithmic composition and real-time computer music.
Completing the trio is improviser, composer, saxophonist Catherine Sikora. Seated stage-center, Sikora brings a deep melodic and harmonic intelligence to the performances. In addition to long-standing collaborations with Eric Mingus, Christopher Culpo, Stanley Zappa, and Brian Chase, Sikora’s big, bold sound, and extraordinary melodic sense, has been in demand with artists such as Enrique Haneine, Elliott Sharp, and Ross Hammond. That same sound and technique grounds Eris, simultaneously rooting it in tradition while continually stepping beyond its borders.
Recorded with clarity and punch by Troels Bech and Charlie McGovern, and beautifully mastered by the amazing Richard Scott, the album presents two near-complete sets; from earlier in the tour (Copenhagen), and from the final date of the tour (Newcastle).
And free and exclusive to pre-orders of the album: the download-only Cryptogenic Animals. Recorded live in Cheltenham a day after Copenhagen, two days before Newcastle, Cryptogenic Animals, offers a unique opportunity to track the evolution of this improvising trio during the 2017 European tour, showcasing the trio’s adaptability to context, and creativity born from the contingent. [Listen/about Cryptogenic Animals…]
Therianthropy I (≥ 3:43), Therianthropy II (8:56), Therianthropy III (3:55), Therianthropy IV (6:30), Adaptive Radiation I (6:44), Adaptive Radiation II (8:48), Adaptive Radiation III (5:54), Universal Greebly (10:58), Hypnagogia I (8:03), Hypnagogia II (4:45). Total duration ≥ 68:25.
Track listing: Cryptogenic Animals I (5:26), Cryptogenic Animals II (6:46), Cryptogenic Animals III (5:01), Monkey Wrench I (6:09), Monkey Wrench II (7:59), Spherical Cow I (7:30), Spherical Cow II (3:05), Dendrobranchiata Murmurationis I (3:18), Dendrobranchiata Murmurationis II (5:10). Total duration: 50:23.
Eris 136199 plays on the crossroads of noise, melody, rhythm, space, density, contrast, synchronicity, asymmetry, serendipity and contradiction. Eris 136199 is the corporeal, cyborg virtuosity of constructor and guitarist Han-earl Park; the noisy, unruly complexity of composer, computer artist and guitarist Nick Didkovsky; and the no-nonsense melodic logic of composer and saxophonist Catherine Sikora.
Together, Park, Didkovsky and Sikora forge an improvisative space where melody can be melody, noise can be noise, meter can be meter, metal becomes metal, bluegrass turns to bluegrass, jazz transforms into jazz, all there, all necessary without imploding under idiomatic pressures. [More about the trio…]
about the performers
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 Sirene 1009 with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh, 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, 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), Brilliant Corners (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 teaches 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)
Saxophonist, improviser and composer Catherine Sikora was born and raised in West Cork, Ireland. Self taught to begin with, she moved to New York City to study and play with great improvisers.
Sikora works in a broad range of settings, from highly complex composed music, to folk songs, to free improvisation. She works regularly with Eric Mingus, Enrique Haneine, Brian Chase, Han-earl Park, Stanley Zappa, Christopher Culpo and Ross Hammond, as well as actively pursuing solo performance.
In the past few years Sikora has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. She was a featured soloist in Eric Mingus’ radical reimagining of Tommy by the Who (Adelaide Festival 2015), and was artist in residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris for the fall of 2014, working on a project inspired by stories from her female ancestors. Catherine’s first solo album Jersey was released on Relative Pitch Records in July 2016.
“Sikora has invited us into her musical world, and like the neighbor from Queens, it is our good fortune to be in its midsts.”
— Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz)
“Sikora resembles [Evan] Parker on tenor saxophone in that she has created a personal language in which she sublimates technique according to what she wants to achieve and maintains a discernible relationship to the free jazz tradition in her syntax; she recalls another English saxophonist, John Butcher, in her absolute control and deployment of overtones. Where she remains distinct from both Butcher and Parker is in how she incorporates such dissonance into a stream of delicate abstract lyricism. -John Sharpe, New York City Jazz Record”
— John Sharpe (New York City Jazz Record)
Nick Didkovsky is a guitarist, composer, and computer music programmer. His non-didactic approach to combining human and machine creativity is a unique musical fingerprint. Didkovsky has composed new music for Kathleen Supove, Ethel, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Meridian Arts Ensemble, New Century Players, ARTE Quartett, his own bands Doctor Nerve, Vomit Fist, Häßliche Luftmasken, and others. His compositions and guitar performances appear on more than 50 records.
For over 30 years, Doctor Nerve has fueled Didkovsky’s intricate compositions with the energy of rock, often challenging the boundaries between heavy metal, contemporary music, and improvisation. Doctor Nerve has released nine albums of more than 50 of his compositions. The band has performed at numerous festivals including FIMAV, the Moers Festival, Musique Action, Creative Time, MIMI Festival, and ‘Whitney Live’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
As a guitarist and composer, Didkovsky was a member of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, contributing twelve compositions to its repertoire. Didkovsky’s electric guitar compositions continue to be performed by newer ensembles such as Dither Quartet, E-Werk, and Fracture Guitar Quartet, and by soloists such as Kevin Gallagher, Marco Cappelli, and Wiek Hijmans. As a soloist, he has performed at numerous events such as Bang On A Can festival, Guitarévolutions in Montreal, New Ballet festival at the Miller Theatre, and John Zorn’s East Asian Bar Bands. His 2015 Residency at The Stone in NYC resulted in numerous premiere performances of new works.
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.