All About Jazz Italia: Mathilde 253

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

Charles Hayward defies the laws of physics, Ian Smith blows particles into space, Lol Coxhill contributes to the celestial harmony, and my playing is like a pulsar! Vincenzo Roggero gives Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) an astro-poetic spin at All About Jazz Italia:

Le percussioni di Charles Hayward sono impulsi, fremiti di pelli, vibrazioni di metalli che interagiscono con lo spazio, oggetti che sfuggono alle leggi della fisica e della forza di gravità. Le corde della chitarra di Han-Earl Park sono pulsar che lanciano segnali dallo spazio, onde elettromagnetiche che contaminano la scena e ne modificano continuamente le sembianze. La tromba… di Ian Smith vaga errabonda in questo vuoto pneumatico deformando suoni, riflettendo immagini che si disintegrano come pulviscolo spaziale.

Nella sua orbita l’asteroide Mathilde 253 intercetta il pianeta Lol Coxhill, ma il rischio collisione è scongiurato. Anzi. L’armonia celeste è assicurata dall’uso del medesimo linguaggio di ricerca e di libertà. [Read the rest…]

Vincenzo Roggero (All About Jazz Italia)

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

CD available: 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

Released as part of SLAM Productions’s August 2011 CD catalog: ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) with Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.

[Slam Productions catalog page…]
[ page…]
[Discography entry…]


We watch and listen carefully because we know we’re seeing a kind of manifesto in action. What is an automaton? A sketch, a material characterization of the ideas the inventor and the inventor’s culture have about some aspect of life, and how it could be. io and its kind are alternate beings born of ideas, decisions and choices. It is because io stands alone, an automaton, that the performance recorded on this CD not only is music, but is about music.

Sara Roberts (from the liner notes)

An extraordinary meeting between human and machine improvisers. Featuring the machine musician io 0.0.1 beta++ with guitarist Han-earl Park (Mathilde 253, Wadada Leo Smith) and saxophonists Bruce Coates (Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra, Paul Dunmall) and Franziska Schroeder (FAINT, Evan Parker), the recording is part critique and part playful exploration, both a boundary-breaking demonstration of socio-musical technologies and an ironic sci-fi parody.

Constructed by Han-earl Park, io 0.0.1 beta++ is a modern-day musical automaton. It is not an instrument to be played but a non-human artificial musician that performs alongside its human counterparts. io 0.0.1 beta++ represents a personal-political investigation of technology, interaction, improvisation and musicality. It whimsically evokes a 1950s B-movie robot—seemingly jerry-rigged, constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware, speakers and missile switches—celebrating the material and corporeal.

The performances with this artificial musician highlight society’s entanglement with technology, demonstrate alternative modes of interfacing the musical and the technological, and illuminate the creative and improvisative processes in music. The performance is a radical and playful engagement with powerful and problematic dreams (and nightmares) of the artificial; a dream as old as the anthropology of robots.

With liner notes by the California-based interactive media artist Sara Roberts.

io 0.0.1 beta++ was constructed by Han-earl Park with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland, and with significant input and feedback from Bruce Coates, Franziska Schroeder, Murray Campbell, Sara Roberts and Phil Burk.

We would like to thank John Hough, Melanie L Marshall, Alex Fiennes, Kato Hideki, John Godfrey, Clair McSweeney, Riccardo Vallebella, Paul Everett, Mel Mercier, Kevin Terry and Stephanie Hough.

The recording preceded the performance at Blackrock Castle Observatory which was presented with funding from the Music Network Performance and Touring Award, and support from Blackrock Castle Observatory, the Castle Bar and Trattoria and the UCC Department of Music.


io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

track listing

Pioneer: Variance (11:52); Pioneer: Dance (13:13); Ground-Based Telemetry (1:42); Discovery: Intermodulation (9:08); Discovery: Decay (5:08); 4G (0:59); Laplace: Perturbation (10:21); Laplace: Instability (3:08); Return Trajectory (8:24). Total duration: 63:57.

recording details

All music by Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.

Tracks 1–5, 7 and 8 recorded May 25, and track 9 recorded May 26, 2010 at the Ó Riada Hall, UCC Department of Music, Cork. Track 6 recorded August 19 2010 at C-ALTO Labs, Cork.
Recorded and mixed by Han-earl Park.
Design and artwork by Han-earl Park.

© 2011 Han-earl Park. ℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

about the performers

io 0.0.1 beta++ whimsically evokes a 1950s B-movie robot, constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware and missile switches. Its celebrates the material and corporeal; embracing the localized and embodied aspects of sociality, performance and improvisation.

io 0.0.1 beta++ is an interactive, semiautonomous technological artifact that, in partnership with its human associates, performs a deliberately amplified staging of a socio-technical network—a network in which the primary protocol is improvisation. Together the cyborg ensemble explores the performance of identities, hybrids and relationships, and highlights the social agency of artifacts, and the social dimension of improvisation. Engineered by Han-earl Park, io 0.0.1 beta++ is a descendant, and significant re-construction, of his previous machine musicians, and it builds upon the work done with, and address some of the musical and practical problems of, these previous artifacts.

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

Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park (박한얼) has been working within/from/around traditions of fuzzily idiomatic, on occasion experimental, mostly open improvised musics for over fifteen years, sometimes engineering theater, sometimes inventing ritual. He feels the gravitational pull of collaborative, multi-authored contexts, and 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.

A constructor of low- and mid-tech electronic and software devices, and an occasional score-maker, he is interested in partial, and partially frustrating, context-specific artifacts; artifacts that amplify social relations and corporeal identities and agencies, and, in some instances, objects that obscure the location of the author.

He is part of Mathilde 253 with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith, is involved in collaborations with Bruce Coates, Franziska Schroeder, Alex Fiennes and Murray Campbell. Recent performances include Mathilde 253 with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith; duo concerts with Paul Dunmall, and with Richard Barrett; trios with Matana Roberts and Mark Sanders, with Catherine Sikora and Ian Smith, and with Jin Sangtae and Jeffrey Weeter; as part of the Evan Parker-led 20-piece improvising ensemble; and the performance of Pauline Oliveros’ ‘Droniphonia’ alongside the composer. Park has also recently performed with Lol Coxhill, Pat Thomas, Corey Mwamba, Mark Trayle, Pedro Rebelo, Alexander Hawkins, Mike Hurley, Chick Lyall, Thomas Buckner and Kato Hideki. Festival appearances include Sonorities (Belfast), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), dialogues festival (Edinburgh), VAIN Live Art (Oxford), and the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology Festival (California). His recordings have been released by labels including SLAM Productions and DUNS Limited Edition.

Park founded Stet Lab, a monthly improvised music space in Cork, Ireland, and taught improvisation at the UCC Department of Music.

Bruce Coates has been heavily involved with free jazz, free improvisation and experimental music for more than 15 years. He has collaborated and performed with a long list of some of the best-known names in these areas. He is cofounder of the Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra, has a long standing working relationship in many different guises with guitarist Jamie Smith, a regular trio with David Ryan and bassist John Edwards and runs the monthly Birmingham FrImp night.

Recent collaborations have included regular performances with the saxophonist Paul Dunmall, appearing alongside Dunmall on his DUNS label (the only saxophonist to do so); the Paris-based Blackberry Orchestra led by Peter Corser and involving some of France’s best known improvisers including Denis Charolles and Guillaume Roy; and a CD with the Amsterdam based Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Corporation released on the Ad Noiseam label in 2007. Current ensembles include SCHH with Chris Hobbs, Mike Hurley and Walt Shaw; Magtal with Mark Sanders and Jonny Marks; and the performance art oriented Mutt with Marks and Shaw. His ever-growing eclectic list of collaborators also includes Tony Oxley, Lol Coxhill, Christian Wolff (performing alongside the composer at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London), Hilary Jeffrey, Phil Gibbs, Paul Rogers, Trevor Lines, John Coxon, Misterlee, Bong Ra, Simon Picard, Tony Bianco, Han-earl Park, Tony and Miles Levin and Tony Marsh.

Franziska Schroeder is a saxophonist and theorist. She received her saxophone training in Berlin and Australia and later from Marie-Bernadette Charrier / Conservatoire Supérieure in Bordeaux.

With her trio FAINT Schroeder released a CD of improvised and electroacoustic music in 2007 with Pedro Rebelo (piano and instrumental parasites) and Steven Davis (drums), and a second CD, both on the creative source label. Schroeder has performed with many international musicians including Pauline Oliveros, Stelarc, the Avatar Orchestra, Chris Brown, John Kenny, Tom Arthurs, Nuno Rebelo and Evan Parker.

She holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and has written for many international journals, including Leonardo, Organised Sound, Performance Research, Cambridge Publishing and Routledge. Her book “Re-situating Performance Within The Threshold: Performance practice understood through theories of embodiment” appeared in 2009. Schroeder also published a book on user-generated content for Cambridge Publishing Scholars in 2009.

Schroeder is on the development committee of NMSAT (Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline), and has been on the programming committee for the DRHA (Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts) conference since 2009. She was the Program Chair for the DRHA 2010. Schroeder has been an AHRC Research Fellow and is now a Lecturer/RCUK Fellow at the School of Music and Sonic Arts in Belfast, where she coaches 3rd year recitalists and MA performance students.

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.

‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover (copyright 2010, Han-earl Park)

Also available from SLAM Productions: Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) [details…]

Performers: Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn) plus Lol Coxhill (saxophone).

© 2010 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2010 SLAM Productions.

The Squid’s Ear: Mathilde 253

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

Jeph Jerman’s take of Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) at The Squid’s Ear:

…The trio interplay starts back up into territory that’s not quite free-jazz, not quite stereotypical British free improv, but somewhere in-between, with a slight rock-ist tinge. The stop/start modus continues, little cells erupting, sprawling and then halting, leaving guitar exposed again. [Han-earl] Park is the one to pay close attention to here, the development of his ideas is fascinating and very logical, and the other two players are embellishing and commenting on his story….

A section in which [Ian] Smith engages in high frequency squeaks makes my ears prick up, and what follows; ratcheting metallics, ringing scraped cymbals and odd muttering, is quite arresting…. On the last two pieces Lol Coxhill’s familiar sweet and sour tone joins in, initially in a duet with Park’s note-salad, as a carefully considered dialogue begins…. Coxhill seems to be having a lot of fun here, rubbing against the other’s ideas, or at times suggesting completely different areas for exploration. [Read the rest…]

Jeph Jerman (The Squid’s Ear)

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

CD store closed (for the moment…)

I’ve shut the CD store because of the move back to the United States. I plan to reinstate the purchase option, but I can’t say when at the moment. Some of these CDs are available from other sources, and these are indicated below.

‘Mathilde 253’ (SLAMCD 528) CD cover

Mathilde 253 [details…]

Performers: Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn) plus Lol Coxhill (saxophone).

[Get it from Slam Productions…]
[Get it from distributors/shops…] [Downtown Music Gallery…] [Jazzcds…] [Squidco…] [Wayside Music…]
[iTunes…] [eMusic…]

‘Boolean Transforms’ CD cover

Boolean Transforms [details…]

Performers: Paul Dunmall (saxophone and bagpipes) and Han-earl Park (guitar).

[Get it from Mind Your Own Music…]
[Get it from Downtown Music Gallery…]

Dunmall-Park-Sanders-Smith 02-11-09 CD cover

Live at the Glucksman gallery, Cork [details…]

Performers: Han-earl Park (guitar), Paul Dunmall (saxophone), Mark Sanders (drums) and Jamie Smith (guitar).

[Get it from Downtown Music Gallery…]

…and more CD reviews: Mathilde 253

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

A couple of more reviews of Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) including Ken Waxman at JazzWord who says that it’s a “textbook example of high-class improvising” (and I’m a “sharp-witted” guitarist):

Riveting in its scope and cohesion, this seven-track slice of Free Improv captures the sounds made one night at a London club by an ad-hoc assemblage of players, who ordinarily may not have been expected to jell so effectively….

Blowsy pedal-point from the trumpeter; shuffles and drags from [Charles] Hayward; and remarkable strategies from the guitarist which involve investing each string with a different weight as he coaxes tones from near the machine head all the way down past the bridge. Half-valve plunger work from [Ian] Smith includes bent note flutters; while the drummer’s railway signal-crossing-like bell ringing and repetitive cymbal slams provide perfect matches for the guitarist’s flattened string patterns and note extensions…. [Read the rest…]

— Ken Waxman (JazzWord)

How’s your Italian? Romualdo Del Noce apprently compares us to the four musketeers:

Ronzante, provocatorio, mai davvero eccessivo ma comunque sfuggente, il contributo di questi quattro moschettieri non è eccepibile sul piano del coinvolgimento, testimoniando un action-playing contemporaneamente colto, “palestrato” e pregno di flussi idiosincrasici. [Read the rest…]

— Romualdo Del Noce (Jazz Convention)

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

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…]

Jazzwise: Mathilde 253

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

Daniel Spicer gives Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) a thumbs up in the current issue of Jazzwise (issue 150, March 2011):

This new improvising group… draws disparate personalities into one eccentric orbit. Han-Earl Park, a guitarist of Korean descent, residing in Ireland, is as at home in underground Noise as he is dueting with free jazz heroes like Paul Dunmall. Trumpeter Ian Smith is a stalwart of the London improv scene and drummer Charles Hayward is best known for his work with seminal post-Punk experimenters This Heat. On these live recordings they generate a surprising amount of heat. Park uses pedals to smudge and smear chords or rolls out strange robotic grumblings, a technician playing electricity as much as the guitar. Smith has a high, taut attach, like a more tuneful version of Donald Ayler’s pure energy. And Hayward… makes a good fist of playing freely…. Veteran saxophonist Coxhill rounds it out to a quartet for two tunes, making this a very satisfying debut.

Daniel Spicer (Jazzwise)

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

thanks: Birmingham, Edinburgh and London*2

St Cecilia’s Hall (Edinburgh) 02-18-11

Thanks to all those hosting and organizing the performances: Mike Hurley and the rest of the Fizzle gang, Sibyl Madrigal of Boat-ting, Matthew Collings (who also sourced the tools for a mid-tour kluge repair of my amplifier), and the Lewisham Arthouse. Kudos to Reka Sanders, Joe Hope and Han-ter Park for putting a roof over this itinerant musician.

Big thanks to Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders for the high-energy, musical workout, to Owen Green for introducing me to the musical (and comical) applications of a cardboard box, to Pat Thomas for his skill and wit, to Lol Coxhill for being the inimitable Lol Coxhill, and to the rest of Mathilde 253—to Charles Hayward and Ian Smith—for pushing and pulling into ever more fascinating musical spaces.

Last but not least, thanks to all who came to listen/watch.

more CD reviews: Mathilde 253

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

After some glowing reviews (including one from Brian Morton in Signal to Noise [read it…] and another from Guillaume Belhomme in Le son du grisli [read it…]), Mathilde 253 has got a couple of more careful, measured responses:

…A bustling, talkative seventy-four minutes made up of angular, Baileyesque electric guitar, some fantastic drum splashes mixed with occasional bursts of less traditional percussive sounds such as the small metallic chimes heard in the opening seconds of the album, and the chattery, conversational style of the trumpet and horn. …The playing here is very fine, a tightly woven mass of sounds with no one real dominating voice but each musician expressive and energetic. The music is all about the conversation, but a real heart-on-the-sleeve collision course of a conversation, but nevertheless the result of the musicians listening to one another and responding. The addition of Coxhill’s softer soprano on the last two pieces do slow the music a little, but the jazz credentials remain. If the music’s progression is a little less choppy then melody and hints at standardised rhythm creep in, but the improvised discussion carries on, perhaps the words are less heated but the debate remains of interest. [Read the rest…]

Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

My favorite tracks are the last two, in which the group is joined by saxophone legend Lol Coxhill. The four minute guitar/sax duet at the beginning of Track 6 is inspired; the two really seem to be conversing with one another. [Read the rest…]

— Max Level (KFJC 89.7 FM)

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

reminder: Mathilde 253 with Lol Coxhill at Boat-ting

Mathilde 253 (Han-earl Park, Charles Hayward and Ian Smith), Cafe OTO, London, April 18, 2010
Mathilde 253 (Cafe OTO, London, April 18, 2010). Photo © 2010 Seán Kelly

Tomorrow night (Saturday, February 21, 2011), at 8:00pm: Mathilde 253 (Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn)) perform with Lol Coxhill (saxophone) plus Sharon Gal (voice), Alex Ward (guitar) and Steve Noble (drums); Red Start (Noel Taylor (clarinet), Benedict Taylor (viola) and Noura Sanatian (violin)); and Sibylline Sisters (Sibyl Madrigal (poetry), Aromorel Weston (voice) and Kay Grant (voice)) presented by Boat-ting. The event takes place at Bar & Co. (Temple Pier, Embankment, London WC2R, England). Admission is £6/4. [Performance diary entry…] [Boat-ting page…]

Point of Departure: Mathilde 253

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

A very nice review of Mathilde 253 (SLAMCD 528) by Brian Morton in the current issue of Point of Departure:

Mathilde 253 is one of those ‘name’ groups that sprang fully-formed from a single playing moment… but seems to have been around for much longer…. Ian Smith is a formidable technician and a profoundly intuitive music maker, with the ability to deliver exactly the right sound, or very often the right sonic texture, at the psychological moment….

Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher…. One of the delights of this live session is that one very frequently can’t distinguish who is making particular sounds. There’s not much idiomatic guitar-playing, though Park is very much in the Derek Bailey rather than the Keith Rowe line; he uses relatively orthodox technique to unorthodox ends.

It’s fascinating to find [Charles] Hayward in this setting, taking up the mantle—different as they were—of the late Steve Harris. Mathilde 253 has something of the guttural authority and generosity of gesture one associates with Zaum…. They also make a specific virtue of building other musicians into the group language.

It’s a long set, but has sufficient underlying momentum to pass with deceptive speed. It takes an alert listener to distinguish occasional quietuses in the process with track endings, and there is a moment between ‘Ishikari’ and ‘Jixi’ when it sounds almost as if one aspect of the previous piece has been filleted out for more sustained attention. Smith favors long mongrelly growls and scales that ascend and descend in illogical ways, like the stairs in an M C Escher print. Hayward has a very distinct sense of time underneath the freedom….

This is an exciting new venture for him and for the others. One can reasonably expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter and Smith always repays the closest attention, and claims it with sudden open-horn breakouts if the fabric of the music gets too smooth and uninflected. [Read the rest…]

— Brian Morton (Point of Departure)

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

reminder: Birmingham, Edinburgh and London*2

Performances coming up this month with Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders; as part of Mathilde 253 (Charles Hayward, Han-earl Park and Ian Smith) with Pat Thomas and with Lol Coxhill; plus more, in Birmingham, Edinburgh and London (see the performance diary for up-to-date info).

Hope to see y’all at these events!