Monopod is a sprawling, non-idiomatic (and non-repetitive) improvisation of suite-like proportions (27 minutes and counting). Impressive in scale, overwhelming in execution, it’s a cyclic frenzy of fragmented sounds without an ounce of entropy, yet somehow with a sense of clear movement and progression. Warning: close listening can produce altered states….
Confused [re. Metis 9]? I was. Emperor’s new clothes…? Given the playful nature of Park’s website, a little leg-pulling is not entirely out of the question. Nor does the questionnaire in the liner notes dispel the possibility with its mix of obfuscation and subversion…. And while the explanations left me feeling Park is clearly some kind of obscure genius—either a genius improviser or a genius charlatan, and I’m inclined towards the former—damned if on a re-listen, I didn’t think I could spot some of these tactics at play. Stroke your chin and check out the ‘interrupting continua’ emerging about two-thirds of the way through Pleonasm…. It’s fascinating to listen with that possible strategic structure in mind….
After all the preceding intensity… Stopcock’s intro—in which actual guitar strings can be discerned—is almost light relief, despite its tricky density. Then second guitar begins to play hide and seek, giving the uncanny sense of listening to two separate pieces at the same time in serendipitous juxtaposition. Cue Sikora’s ever free, ever inventive tenor and the layers are complete for a highly worthwhile finale. [Read the rest…]
Screeching and scraping in an improv style, this quartet assailed the ears with a pleasing melee of noise, some of it vaguely intelligible. Caroline Pugh jabbered away in what sounded like snatches of Greek, while the guitarist Han-earl Park did impossibly intricate yet percussive stuff on his guitar fret. Mad but entertaining. It was in the backroom of a gloomy back-street boozer. When I tentatively asked the elderly landlord “Where’s the jazz tonight?”, he said “I wouldn’t call it jazz. More like a fookin’ racket.” He was right! [Read the rest…]
Five performance this final month of 2015! A great privilege to have shared the stage with so many awesomely creative, smart and generous people. Let’s get to the hat-tips…
Okay, start with a thanks to my co-conspirators, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh, who consistently created fascinating, difficult, infuriating, confounding and beautiful spaces for interaction. Listening to the music play out in real-time, all I could think was that it sounds great whenever the guitarist shuts-up. (As Josh Sinton pointed out later, that’s really a wonderful position to be in; not knowing how to contribute to—to add to—an already perfect ensemble at play.)
Thanks to Ingrid Laubrock for the play—it was great to come-off a… logistically challenging set of gigs into a relaxed performance where, well, anything might happen… and we ended up in some interesting and unexpected places. (Felt very good about this one.)
Big thanks to all the venues and promoters, DIYers and supporters: to the indefatigable Andrew Woodhead at Fizzle; to Seth Cooke and everyone at Bang the Bore for an awesome event; to Fielding Hope, Oli Barrett and everyone at Cafe OTO for their support, and for their patience with all the ups’n’downs; to Josh and everyone at 65Fen Music Series; and to Cisco Bradley for inviting me to perform at New Revolution Arts (a beautiful space—socially, musically).
Thanks to the gentleman who lent me his amplifier in Birmingham (sorry, can’t remember your name!), and to Andrew Drury and Chris Welcome who did the same in Brooklyn—y’all made my travels so much more pleasant!
The tour by my ensemble with Dom, Mark and Caroline was made possible with funding from Culture Ireland, and I am extremely grateful for their support.
Thanks to Dom Lash and Kate Hendry, and to Josh Sinton and family, for offering a place for this itinerant musician to crash a night (or three). Kudos to Nasc Ireland for helping me navigate some border… technicalities 😉
And a very special thanks to the Best Sound Engineer in the Known Universe, Alex Fiennes, for taking time to make the music sound great in London.
Finally, as always, thanks, thanks, thanks, everyone, for listening.
As I said previously, we never got to do a launch gig for Anomic Aphasia, so, despite Catherine Sikora’s absence (next time, Catherine!), I’m thinking of this as an unofficial record launch event. Come down to hear some noise!
Guitarist Han-earl Park joins those improvisers who conceive of a playbook for interactive tactics….
As the guitarists clip staccato whines with ingot-like density from below the bridges and along the necks, her [Sikora’s] wistful soprano saxophone variations preserve the linear form, eventually making common cause with offbeat folksy strums from one string player. Hear Sikora’s final unaccompanied cadenza as potential human triumph over, or coexistence with, the widening machine-produced tremolo pumps. A folk-like overlay also makes its appearance on the concluding “Stopcock”, although the tenor saxophonist’s concentrated upwards snarls and magnetic near-string-tearing pops from guitar strings make the track so atmospheric as to become almost frightening.
The wailing vigor of Sinton’s bottom-pitched horns adds to the reeds’ aleatoric strategies on the other three
tracks. Nearly verbalized reed tones are so euphonious on “Flying Rods” that the subsequent layered lines nearly move into songbook territory. But Park’s parallel flanges and hard thumping keeps the results electronically plugged in as well as pointedly blended.
Sardonically printing a faux questionnaire about Metis 9 application in the CD booklet shows that Park champions music over theory. With associates like Sikora, Didkovsky and Sinton, it appears he can have it both ways. [Read the rest…]
The saxophonist displayed characteristic versatility with her instrument, while the guitarist played in his unique percussive style. The two had a resonance in their sound immediately, producing a pensive breathiness with foreboding overtones throughout the 40 minute performance. They seemed to cast away vulgar, simplistic attempts at clarity, preferring to open a liminal space between the benign expected and chaotic nothingness: a glimmer of deeper and deeper windows into the unexplained and undefined, all the while delving towards utter truths in their exploration. Laubrock’s percussive intensity that ultimately erupted into brilliant exclamations over Park’s mellower staccato ultimately merged into receding thunder. [Read the rest…]
‘Free’ is barely sufficient to describe this approach…. The vocabulary of sounds here is as broad as it is unconventional…. While an occasional interlocking harmony might emerge from all of this innovation, it is quickly shattered by unexpected Möbius twists…. An exercise in texture as much as it is in melody, Park, Sikora, Didkovsky, and Sinton don’t just break molds here – they disintegrate anything that resembles the ordinary with authority and prejudice. [Read the rest…]