There’s this balancing act between your body and the mechanics of elastic collisions, and Newtonian physics, and all those things, and you’re creating music from balancing these things out…. [Watch to the rest…]
The word I use sometimes is ‘interface.’ So if you start thinking about creativity as this thing that happens between surfaces, that’s interesting in a way that the idea of the single auteur is much less interesting…. And as an artist you can do interesting things by kind of shifting you position within that boundary. [Watch to the rest…]
Funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Apologies for the delay in posting these acknowledgements (but no pandemic-era tour would be complete without at least a little drama), but I would like to quickly post a note of thanks to everyone who made my return, after two+ years, to touring.
A warm, heartfelt thanks to everyone who joined me on my travels, to those who worked behind-the-scenes to make the performances happen, to my hosts, to my fellow performers, and to those who came to listen. Thanks to everyone at Gosforth Civic Theatre, Hyde Park Book Club, Unit 44/Kirkos Ensemble, Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny, and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin. Special thanks to Fielding, Shaun and Conal at Cafe OTO, and to Laura, Pete, Oli and Chris at Fusebox. Shoutouts to Johnny Hunter and his Pale Blue Dot ensemble, to Crawler’s Kyra, and to Corey and Graeme, and I’m grateful to have shared the stage with Lara and Pat, and with rit. and Una.
And finally I would like to thank Wesley Stephenson at Jazz North East, and Peter O’Doherty of Northern Lights Project for their enthusiasm, hard work, genuine love of the music, and care for the artists who make it. In Wesley and Peter, I know two of the greatest supporters of creative musicians and adventurous listeners. Thank you so very much.
I am truly grateful to everyone’s support. Despite the difficulties of traveling and performing in the present-day condition, it has been a pleasure to bring my music to you.
Funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
“Once I have those parameters, I can reconfigure the body and the instrument so it kind of runs itself….
“The word I use sometimes is ‘interface.’ So if you start thinking about creativity as this thing that happens between surfaces, that’s interesting in a way that the idea of the single auteur is much less interesting…. And as an artist you can do interesting things by kind of shifting you position within that boundary.” [Listen to the rest…]
Han-earl Park is also performing in London with Lara Jones and Pat Thomas (March 20), performing a solo set in Leeds (22), and, with rit. and Una Lee, in Dublin (24), Letterkenny (25), Derry (26) and Belfast (27). See the performance diary for details.
Funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Cyborgs, bodies, chaos, simulation and improvisation…
Han-earl Park will visit Newcastle to perform solo, and discuss [with Corey Mwamba and Graeme Wilson] his ongoing interest in chaotic systems, computation, and the collision of physiology and physics in his music, from guitar technique to the construction of musical automata.
Also performing will be Johnny Hunter’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ Sextet (Johnny Hunter: drums; Mark Hanslip: saxophone; Seth Bennett: bass; Gemma Bass: violin; Aby Vulliamy: viola; and Michael Bardon: ’cello).
To celebrate British Science Week 2022 music promoters Jazz North East are proud to present ‘The Sound of Science.’ With additional support from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Science and Gosforth Civic Theatre, audiences are welcomed to experience a series of concerts and discussions drawing connections between science and music.
Programmed events will specifically explore the interplay of chemistry, physics, ecology and biology, and the ways in which these disciplines have been employed by, and communicated through, composers and musicians. We will hear from 28 musicians, artists and scientists across the four day event.
“From climate change to vaccines, the importance of science to the way we live has never been clearer. Its relationship to music however is rarely explored and it is for that reason we have assembled those working in and between these two seemingly disparate fields. Our events shine a spotlight on the role of science within music composition and improvisation, with a view to inspiring audiences new to one or both subjects.
“Presented and discussed through music making practice, this project aims to increase understanding of science and its social implications, and build audience confidence in discussing these issues. Inviting all ages and every level of expertise, the festival will spark new ideas around how science and music can be communicated and combined.” — Wesley Stephenson (Festival Producer)
Acknowledgements and Thanks
Jazz North East gratefully acknowledges and thanks the support of Arts Council England, Golsoncott Foundation, Scops Arts Trust, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Newcastle University Faculty of Science, British Science Association, Soapbox Science, Euan Preston and Palace of Science, Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, Fonds Podium Kunsten Performing Arts Fund NL, Jazz North, Sound and Music, Sunderland Culture, New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings and Gosforth Civic Theatre.
Also in March 2022
Han-earl Park is also performing in and Leeds, and in London with Lara Jones and Pat Thomas, and, with rit. and Una Lee, in Dublin, Letterkenny, Derry and Belfast. See the performance diary for details.
Funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Han-earl Park (guitar). A solo performance, plus a discussion (with Corey Mwamba) as part of The Sound of Science. Also performing and presenting: Johnny Hunter’s Pale Blue Dot with Mark Hanslip, Seth Bennett, Gemma Bass, Aby Vulliamy and Michael Bardon. Presented by Jazz North East.
Free but ticketed.
March 20, 2022
18–22 Ashwin Street
London E8 3DL
Of Life, Recombinant is unlike anything I’ve done before, and the music goes to some strange and unexpected places (are those sounds of a networked biome, or the echos of, and through, an urban maze?). The album is a single improvisative suite that takes the guitar, and the solo form, as the starting point to fabricate a composition in the studio. The piece is the result of over a year of work, and I’m so very much looking forward to finally sharing this music with you!
A new galaxy in Park’s universe? David Lynch vs. Andrei Tarkovsky? And what’s hidden that will be unearthed? Lee Rice Epstein reviews Of Life, Recombinant (NEWJAiM9) in Free Jazz:
Fractions of stillness close to being shattered? warped halos of reverberating pitches? a very seducing utopia? Massimo Ricci of Touching Extremes describes the experience of listening to Of Life, Recombinant…
Of Life, Recombinant tells multiple stories at once, opening up a wide aperture and displaying stunningly drawn vistas…. Leading listeners down long corridors of chilly anticipation… playing up the subtle intimacy of quiet tones…. And unmistakably, Park’s guitar is itself a treasure chest of delights—long, thrilling sections of beauty fold into chilly, dread-inducing dreamscapes….
We listen, we wait. Breathing deeply, relaxed enough yet ready to be sucked in by some vortex of illusion. We absorb the blows of sudden mutations connected by threads of metallic (in)coherence…. Each spin adds further layers of interpretation, not to mention the sheer aural thrill.
Along with what’s kept there is always something left and something new. The country twang tune with popping harmonics from ‘Naught Opportune.’ The unsettling mandolinesque trill or quivering sustain in hazy delay from ‘Are Variant.’ The distorted suck, psychedelic and ecstatic, in slow crescendo from ‘Of Life, Recombinant’…. In between chaos and composure, it is something closer to the complexity of life.
On NEWJAiM’s ninth disc of adventurous music, guitarist and improviser Han-earl Park takes the solo form, and, refracting improvisations through studio-based techniques, flips the form on its head.
Walls rusted lichen curve into a canopy.
Concrete weaves of roots.
Dew-covered moss memory foam.
Rather than attempting to ‘reinvent’ the guitar, Park navigates the gaps and borders of the instrument, and what it means to be a guitarist. Park creates a music that alternately embraces and short-circuits genre tropes and expectations. Of Life, Recombinant doesn’t shy away from the solitude of the solo form; instead it tightly hugs aloneness—its joys and fears.
Of Life, Recombinant explores the ways in which studio-based techniques can be used as a fluid compositional strategy in the context of improvisative play; how techniques such as montage, collage, and the language of dissolves, cross cuts and match cuts might be enrolled to explore improvisative counterpoint and juxtapositions, the pleasures of discord, parallelism and linearity, and the repurposing of gestures and their meanings.
Conceived as a single improvisative suite, the techniques and strategies used to build Of Life, Recombinant were developed over a year during periods of lockdown. The bulk of the suite was recorded in a single contiguous take, a single improvisation, in June of 2021. That recording remains, more-or-less-intact-but-broken, as the title track, while fragments of it litter, as improvisative detritus, through the rest of the album.
Improviser, guitarist and constructor Han-earl Park 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, Korea and the USA.
Park is the mastermind behind ensembles including Eris 136199 with Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky; and Sirene 1009 with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and rit.; and has a duo with Richard Barrett. He 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, Pauline Oliveros, Josh Sinton, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Gino Robair, Tim Perkis, Andrew Drury, Pat Thomas and Franziska Schroeder.
His ensembles have appeared at festivals including Jazz em Agosto (Lisbon), Freedom of the City (London), Brilliant Corners (Belfast), ISIM (New York), dialogues festival (Edinburgh) and Sonic Acts (Amsterdam). His recordings have been released by labels including SLAM Productions and DUNS Limited Edition. Park taught improvisation at University College Cork, and founded and curated Stet Lab, a space for improvised music in Cork.
New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings
The New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project was established during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a creative output for musicians when live performance opportunities were unavailable and encouraging artist independence.
Emphasising sustainability for artists and music studios, the ethos of sustainability also carries through the production process by employing a carbon neutral manufacturing plant and distributors, using recycled and biodegradable materials whenever possible.
Graphic design by Andrew Delanoy.
Portrait photography by Nella Aguessy.
Project director: Wesley Stephenson.
“Many thanks to everyone that contributed and supported our Crowdfunder campaign for the New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project. This release was made possible with additional support from Arts Council Ireland, Arts Council England and North East Local Enterprise Partnership. Additional thanks to Chris Sharkey for mastering and Andrew Delanoy for graphic design. Very special thanks to Nella Aguessy for the portrait photograph of Han-earl Park, you can find some really great work on her website.” — NEWJAiM Recordings.
“Thanks to Annette Krebs, Richard Barrett, and Anne Wellmer, and hugs for Asha and Melanie. The construction of this piece was made possible by funding from the Arts Council of Ireland” — Han-earl Park.
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.
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 tropes”? Find out in Paul Khimasia Morgan’s Sound Projector review of Eris 136199:
I’m impressed…. I’ve found myself coming back to this album again and again. The more attention you give it, the more you get out of it. I find it an exhilarating, intense space to inhabit for an hour and ten minutes. Park, Sikora and Didkovsky have constructed an extremely captivating slew of wistful improvised post-jazz noises. Han and Nick’s guitars are approached as sound-making devices much of the time, and as such take on tight supporting roles for Catherine Sikora’s barnstorming saxophone in muscular and fascinating ways. This is none of your dour, worthy, self-sacrificing hair-shirt improvising or take-no-prisoners blast of willful abandonment; you can hear the musicians bouncing off each other and having fun. These musicians are working at their limits, both physically and psychically. [Read the rest…]
And as a bonus, according to Morgan, the CD’s “geometric designs on the sleeve recall a hyperactive quasi-sci-fi futurism of late 80s and early 90s rave/acid house flyers”!
Thanks so very much to Morgan and to The Sound Projector for the wonderful review. It’s the kind of review that would’ve persuaded me to go get the album right then and there 🙂 (Plus, I think “a kind of melding of prog-jazz and No-Wave” might be tied as my favorite description of the album.)
Pour la dernière soirée, le directeur artistique Rui Neves nous a réservé un trio d’une radicalité absolue, proposition courageuse voire casse-gueule dans le contexte d’une salle de plusieurs centaines de places…. Et même pour les spectateurs aguerris, il s’est agi sans nul doute du concert le plus difficile d’accès du festival, présentant peu de repères auxquels se raccrocher. Il faut ici saluer la grande majorité des spectateurs, déterminés à suivre les musiciens dans leur recherche ou idée fixe, voir où le voyage va les mener. Le son est magnifiquement restitué. Park joue beaucoup de l’accordage de la main gauche, dans le registre de la basse. Les guitaristes dessinent des paysages métalliques, via un jeu non conventionnel, selon leurs propres codes, multipliant les dissonances…. Catherine Sikora est une révélation, son jeu oblique, sensible et lumineux offrant un contrepoint idéal aux élucubrations crépusculaires de ses partenaires. Le ténor adopte une approche décidément tonale et mélodique, et néanmoins exploratoire. D’un bout à l’autre un set sans concession aucune, dont on ressort essoré, mais ravi que de telles expériences soient tentées. Art music! [Read the rest…]
Meanwhile, Erik Ellestad, reviewing Eris’ most recent album, sketches a verisimilar portrait of the trio (Han-earl Park “functioning as the de facto rhythm section in Eris 136199”; Catherine Sikora’s “unvarnished and unapologetic sound… while at the same time maintaining a core of melodicism”, and Nick Didkovsky expressing “digitally warped washes of static-like sound and angry slashes of melody”):
It is 50-plus minutes of riveting music making from three fantastic and fascinating musicians. I’ve been listening avidly to Eris 136199 all week on my commute and have looked forward to it every day. Wondering what new thing I will discover in Sikora’s technique while at the same time trying to pay attention and tease out which guitarist is playing what.
Obviously, Eris 136199 isn’t Lawrence Welk, however, there is something in the players expressiveness and in their interactions which prevents it from being too harsh or overwhelming.
Rough enough to keep it exciting, yet tender enough to keep you coming back. [Read the rest…]
I think I might want “Eris 136199 isn’t Lawrence Welk” on a T-shirt.
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….”