I am sad to announce that I will unfortunately not be taking part in the events in Birmingham (March 17, 2020), Cheltenham (March 19), and London (March 21 and 22). All the events, however, are still taking place without me, so please support the fantastic community of local musicians and curators.
My warmest thanks to all the artists involved, big thanks to Jamie Dawson for again offering to lend me the use of his guitar amp, and special thanks to Tom Ward, Andrew Woodhead and Chris Cundy for inviting me to perform. I hope we can set up a rematch in the future.
How does “barnstorming saxophone” relate to “alien facehugger tendrils”? “a mad scramble up loose terrain” to “incendiary guitar wrangling”? and “shimmering vibrating guitar screeds” to “subversion of traditional rock guitar…
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.
Available from: September 4, 2018. Limited availability (until October 9, 2018).
Album available to stream via the free Bandcamp app, and download in multiple formats including lossless.
While the Copenhagen and Newcastle performances are documented in an upcoming album by the trio Eris 136199, Cryptogenic Animals, recorded in Cheltenham between those dates, offers a unique opportunity to track the evolution of this improvising trio during the 2017 European tour.
Take for example the synchronized, collective jump-cuts and smash-cuts that populates the Copenhagen improvisations. These are all but absent by the time the trio perform three night later in Newcastle where, in their place, you find the group breathing together; moving and transitioning in larger scales. On Cryptogenic Animals, recorded the night after Copenhagen, and two before Newcastle, you can hear both these improvisative tactics operating in fascinating, contrasting ways.
You can also hear saxophonist Catherine Sikora revisit and rework some of the melodic atoms played in Copenhagen; trying them against the contrasting acoustic environments. And, adapting to the disparate amplification available in Cheltenham (a diminutive solid-state amp against a 112 Fender), Nick Didkovsky and Han-earl Park reexamine the freedoms and restraints of the two-guitar context; an experience that would inform into their approach in Newcastle in significant ways.
With the rich acoustics of the Francis Close Hall Chapel, the Cheltenham performance is, in contrast to the frenetic and biting Copenhagen and Newcastle performances, unhurried and lush. Cryptogenic Animals documents a fascinating transitional point in the group’s behavior, showcasing the trio’s adaptability to context, and creativity born from the contingent.
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.
Track listing: 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.
This has been my favorite tour! Excellent company; exemplary hosts; faultless, above-and-beyond support from all. Everyone here worked so hard for no material gain to make the musicians’ journey as effortless as possible. My hosts have reminded me why we all do this; that creative music brings gradations and spectra to the sometimes hard-edged world, that it refuses and resists and rewrites the 1-bit world into something altogether more colorful and toneful and rhythmic and noisy.
I am forever grateful; it was a true pleasure to work with y’all.
Thanks to Rica Zinn and the entire creative crew of the MS Stubnitz! Thank you for the force-of-nature hospitality (plus the best shower, and the best stock-and-carrots combination), the sound, and the acoustics! Thanks to Georg Hajdu who initially got us in touch with Rica, to Heinrich Metzger and Michael Maierhof of Verband für aktuelle Musik Hamburg for their support, and to Steffen Schindler for the awesome photography.
Thanks to Jakob Drong Jensen, Jonas Vognsen, , and everyone at Jazz Club Loco, Bryggekælderen, and Jvtlandt for putting together an awesome gig (tied, musically, as my favorite of the tour).
Warmest thanks to Stuart Wilding for being a truly wonderful host; cooking wonderful meals, bringing together a great company of people (including Mark Unsworth for the playful and fascinating visuals, Anthea Millier for the gezellig accommodation, and Jamie Dawson for the amplifiers), and allowing us to play in that fantastic space.
To the mastermind behind OUT FRONT!, the busiest man I know, Corey Mwamba! Thank you so, so much for finding time in your busy schedule to put on a performance, and thanks for your apparently limitless enthusiasm for creative music! Thanks also to Walt Shaw for helping at the door, and to the fantastic Chris Trent for documenting the performance.
Thanks to everyone at the mighty Jazz North East: to Paul Bream for securing the work permits; to Ken Drew for the photography; to Charlie McGovern for the recording; and especially to Wesley Stephenson for his indefatigable work organizing this event, and patiently and graciously addressing my queries. What a great team, great city, and what a great way to end the tour!
Special thanks to all the musicians who graciously shared the bill with Eris: to Eugene Chadbourne; to Sonja LaBianca and Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen; and to Herve Perez, Martin Archer and Peter Fairclough (a.k.a. Inclusion Principle). And thanks to John Pope for hosting an informal session the day after the tour.
And, of course, none of this would be possible without the awe-inspiring generosity of the backers of our Kickstarter project: Cath Roberts, Franziska Schroeder, Owen Green, Han-Ter Park, Richard Hollis, Tom Duff, Jan Langedijk, Thomas Buckner, Liam Nagle, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Randy McKean, Anton Hunter, Marte van der Loop, Ian Boswell, Nancy Meli Walker, David M. Morris, Nicholas Croft, Eva Zelig, Bart Mallio, Jeremy Clarke, Martin Pyne, Josh Sinton, Moon Soon Han, Eun-He Moon, Yoon-Mi Cho, 고항심, Katie O’Looney, Jamie Smith, Phil Burk, Andrea Wolper, Kyoko Kitamura, DIDI, Caroline Pugh, Edozie Edoga, Yu Seon Hee, Danny McCarthy, Richard Barrett, Leejiyoung, Ed Bennett, Young-Shin Park, Ga Hyun Noh, Inkyung Kim, Keith Stonell, Peter O’Doherty, Viv Corringham, Korhan Erel, Tony O’Connor, Vikram Kapur and Maneesha Chawala, and our anonymous backers.
And my warmest thanks to Nick and Catherine. From the unexpected to the unexpected: from concise chamber noise (Hamburg), to the forged-by-sheer-force-of-will difficult music (Copenhagen), to soaring, luxurious sci-fi spirituals (Cheltenham), to the creative reexaminations and revisitations (Derby), to the pitch-perfect distillations of discord and affinity (Newcastle). I could not have asked for better travel companions; artists who revel in the unknown and unknowable with spirit and good humor. A no-brainer (or plush-pony)—there be prawn crackers of silent screams—I think we kept the poodle warm on the toaster 😉
Finally, as always, thanks to all who came to listen. For those who continue to patronize these events at Stubnitz/VAHM, Bryggekælderen/Loco/Jvtlandt, Xposed, OUT FRONT!, and Jazz North East, know that you are part of something alive and so very, very special.
by Han-earl Park, Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora