Broken Families: Collectivism, Violence, Imagined Utopias and Improvisation (article in The Sampler)

‘Broken Families,’ The Sampler (screenshot)
© 2022 The Sampler

The Sampler has just published ‘Broken Families: Collectivism, Violence, Imagined Utopias and Improvisation,’ my piece about the possibilities of improvisation—sometimes profound, radical and creative, sometimes regressive, hegemonic and abusive—about trust, consent and power, and how the denial of violence may itself be damaging to the project of building better communities and practices:

These are stories about failures. Failures of imagination, of peoples and groups, of how lofty goals can be deceptions. And those deceptions can be limiting, and affect violence. I want to move to a point where we can discuss, critically, both the utopian promises of the practices, processes, tribes and communities surrounding improvisation, and their destructive and violent potentials.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the above stories of improvisation-in-crisis are from events with self-professed lofty goals…. I think, in both cases, those of us involved took community, solidarity, resilience, trust and empathy for granted. It’s not just that the groundwork of trust and safety was never established for the group (although that’s part of it), but that we lazily subscribed to the dogma that the nature of improvisation would itself somehow save us. [Read the rest…]

Thanks to Laonikos Psimikakis-Chalkokondylis at The Sampler for asking me to write the piece. In writing this piece I’m indebted to exchanges and conversations with several improvisers. Big thanks, in particular, to Caroline Kraabel, Corey Mwamba, and Lauren Sarah Hayes.

In between chaos and composure (reviews and best of 2021: Of Life, Recombinant)

I feel blessed and enormously privileged to find Of Life, Recombinant (NEWJAiM9) among the year’s end ‘best of’ lists. Selecting my album for aJazzNoise’s picks-of-2021, Dave Foxall writes:

Han-earl Park digs deep into techniques and sounds and presents a fresh palette for the guitar. Pyrotechnics abound, but not in any kind of traditional sense. [Read the rest…]

Plus, with the inclusion of Catherine Sikora’s corners (“absorbing, pushing against and playing off the natural reverb”), and Nick Didkovsky’s CHORD IV, aJazzNoise’s selection almost like an informal Eris 136199 reunion!

Keith Prosk also chooses Of Life… for his Top 10 at Free Jazz, and in his review at harmonic series, Prosk writes of a music that “explores and rearranges material, or things whose characters seem similar though never the same, through its durations”:

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 its representation of real-time activity that ruminates on its material, it is as if it provides a glimpse into the improvising process, whose hushed reality of painstaking practice might often be misinterpreted as something closer to strokes of inspiration out of the ether. In between chaos and composure, it is something closer to the complexity of life. [Read the rest…]

And I’m super proud to find my album on Avant Music NewsBest of 2021. As Mike Borella previously wrote:

Park’s approach changes, from jangling notes, to ambient passages, to twangy folk themes, to long-held chords. In doing so, he incorporates extended techniques into more conventional practices to the point where the former guide and direct the latter. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download from NEWJAiM (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

The perfect distillation of uneasy listening (reviews: Peculiar Velocities and Of Life, Recombinant)

Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities

Grunting tonal bursts? atmospherics? weaving sinuous melody? In his review of Eris 136199’s Peculiar Velocities, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz describes a “masterful slice of trifurcated dialog” by turns “haunting, gracious and grating”, with tones that cut “like an exacto-blade.” He writes that, by the third track (‘Peculiar Velocities I’) of the album:

The guitars have adopted a slightly different aesthetic, using choppy, brittle sounds, they lay down a fractured soundscape replete with sonic barbs and suspended tones. Sikora finds her footing on this shifting ground and plays freely. As the track continues into ‘Peculiar Velocities II’ the fascinating part is realizing how connected the three actually are: this is not parallel play, rather it connects deep in the sub-systems. [Read the rest…]

Meanwhile Todd McComb’s Jazz Thoughts finds “vignettes within an overall urban fantasy soundscape”, and according to Ed Pinsent at The Sound Projector:

This music does stem from a knowledge and practice of free improvisation, and can fit inside various ‘art music’ categories, but on one level to me it feels as good as any ‘noise rock’ served up by Sonic Youth, The Dead C, or any new-wave influenced beat combo who tend to attract the ‘angular’ adjective. [Read the rest…]

Having previously selected Peculiar Velocities as one of the Best of 2020, Dave Foxall writes in aJazzNoise that:

It’s mind-twisting stuff. Intensely ‘musical’ (whatever that means) and harshly jarring, gently testing Broca’s convolutions, seeking points of entry and storage, delicately inserting sounds, probing for reaction, disconcertion and delight. (i.e. It gets inside your head)….

An uncomfortable joy, a can’t-be-reproduced-in-the-laboratory combination of rare elements, a new musical alloy, an ongoing experiment, the perfect distillation of uneasy listening. [Read the rest…]

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CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
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CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Of Life, Recombinant

And finally, in his LondonJazz News review of Of Life, Recombinant, Tony Dudley-Evans describes a music of ‘industrial sounds,’ by turns ‘ambient’ and ‘dramatic,’ with elements of minimalism. Plus:

Sinister sounds reminiscent of a hospital MRI scanning machine. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download from NEWJAiM (Bandcamp)…]

Lumbering 30 kilogram box of wood, metal, glass, paper, fabric, plastic and 1960s over-engineering

‘Ephiphanies’, The Wire
© 2021 The Wire

In case you missed it, I wrote a short piece for the June edition of The Wire (issue 448) in which I muse about speaker cabinets, cyborgs, simulations, rooms-within-rooms, and the superstitions surrounding, and genre markers of ‘tone’:

All instrument-instrumentalists are cyborg creatures in which musical gestures and behaviours emerge from the collision of minds, bodies and artifacts; of physics, physiology, technology and culture. One peculiarity in the case of the amplified instrument-instrumentalist is the particular way this cyborg is exploded in space, spilling its components and organs across the stage. The guitar-guitarist may sit on one side of the stage, while the amp sits some distance away. It’s freakish, as if, say, a violin’s soundbox had severed itself from the rest of the instrument and crawled across the stage.

The speaker cabinet plays a curious part in this cyborg dance. The cabinet is both the sounding part of the instrument, an externalized soundbox removed from the tactile interface of the instrument, while also functioning as a room within the room. Every speaker cabinet has a particular signature, a particular character, and the particular room that the cabinet will live in for the performance, likewise, has a particular character that interacts with it (which will itself change when filled with an audience).

You can read the rest in the June issue of The Wire.

Recordings Discussed

cover art (copyright 2020 Han-earl Park)

Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

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.

© + ℗ 2020 Han-earl Park.

Cover of ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

Eris 136199 (BAF001) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

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.

© + ℗ 2018 Han-earl Park.

Serenity on the edge breakdown and sounds of an 8-bit shower (reviews: Peculiar Velocities and Two+ Bagatelles)

Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities

I am very proud and very grateful to find Peculiar Velocities, the latest album from Eris 136199, in the best-of lists of a Jazz Noise (which, elsewhere, described the music as “serenity on the edge of a breakdown”), and of Avant Music News. And no one is more surprised than I that a Kickstarter-only limited edition live album got on to a best-of-year list!

Elsewhere Corey Mwamba (Freeness, BBC Radio 3) describes “exquisite music-making” with musicians that “fuse and create this gorgeous glitchy stew together”, and, writing in Vital Weekly, Nick Roseblade describes Peculiar Velocities as an album in which “everything feels pushed as far is it can go”:

Like what rock music could, and possibly should, have sounded like it if musicians like Ornette Coleman became the norm. There is a freeness to the playing that is astounding, but there is also organisation. During sections, the guitars work together to give Sikora something tangible to stand on. When this happens ‘Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities’ becomes something very special indeed. ‘Polytely I’ sees the guitars constantly churning to create vortex-esque soundscapes why Sikora’s light and airy saxophone wafts above it. Like stream on a freshly brewed tea. This is an album that reminds you of how good it is when musicians don’t care about the rules and just play. [Read the rest…]

And while Brady Gerber’s ‘7 For Seven’ finds a space in which “a nervous guitar fills an orange sky and empty beach”, and Takeshi Goda in JazzTokyo writes of velocities, perception, collisions, fusions, joy and brain-reforming experiences:

相手のプレイを意識して、コール&レスポンスで反応しながら音楽の流れを作るのは即興演奏のひとつのスタイルである。しかし彼らのアンサンブルの方法論は異なる。その場で適切と各自が判断する奏法・旋律・リズムを個人の責任で奏でることに専念して、3人のプレイが衝突と融合を繰り返すことで、結果的に予測不能なサウンドを生み出すことを信条としている。3つの異なる平行した自然のプロセスが同時に起こることで知覚される集団即興演奏は…

それはあたかも地球外の異境から到来した明滅する運動エネルギーによって脳外科手術を施されるような驚喜の頭脳改革体験である。 [Read the rest…]

And finally, Ken Shimamoto/The Stash Dauber writes about sounds that “slither and spatter like radio interference, shimmer like molten silver, or ring like a cymbal’s decay” music in which “the spirit of electricity becomes a living thing”:

The best type of musical conversation, abstract and oblique as it might be at times…. I’ve listened to this thing a half dozen times since I started writing yesterday, and am happy to have its company to help me get through what looks like it’s going to be a very tough winter… and the hopeful spring to follow. [Read the rest…]

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CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
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CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)CD photo: Eris 136199: Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2020, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Two+ Bagatelles

And one more thing: In his survey of solo guitar recordings, Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz reviews my recording released by, and in support of, The Vortex Jazz Club:

[Han-earl Park’s] playing was unusually expressive…. On Two+ Bagatelles, this same musical spirit that has stuck with me for so long, has been captured…. Melodies becoming almost like the sounds of an 8-bit shower. [Read the rest…]

[About this EP…] [Download (Bandcamp)…]

Available from The Vortex’s Bandcamp page, all purchases of Two+ Bagatelles go towards helping their continued work presenting the very best jazz, improvised, and experimental musics.

Kaleidoscopic, thuggish, optical retina-effect astringent free jazz (review: Eris 136199)

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.)

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

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CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

*† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Un trio d’une radicalité absolue (reviews: Eris 136199)

A “control of noise”, “saturated electricity” and “fighting… with the underground”? or “free-wheeling” with experiments in sound injected with lyricism? or “electronic mayhem” with “a full bodied sound”? In among the reviews of Eris 136199’s performance at Jazz em Agosto, David Cristol, writing in Jazz Magazine, follows “a trio of an absolute radicality”, and concludes by discovering “art music!”

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.

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

*† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Noisy. Discordant. Melodious. A succession of collisions. (IMC Artist Q&A with Han-earl Park)

Han-earl Park (Cork, 05-26-10)
© 2010 Stephanie Hough

Predilections, appetites, egos, histories and traditions? Can choices be apt to the point of prescient, or left-field to the point of inappropriate? What do I hope audiences get from my music? Does Jeff VanderMeer make another appearance in one of my interviews? and do I reveal myself a Marxist? Find out in Other Side Of The Tracks: Artist Q&A with Han-Earl Park, Eris 136199:

How would you describe the type of music that Eris 136199 creates?

Noisy. Discordant. Melodious. Pretty in its own not alway predictable way. And by discordant, I don’t mean in terms of harmonic intervals, but in terms of on-stage, real-time musical interactions; in terms of a kind of heterogeneity of idiom and tradition. For me, Eris’ is a music that doesn’t desire to create, necessarily, a synthesis or a coherence or even an agreement, but one which trusts, and takes pleasure, in interaction itself. It’s a music that’s, in a way, compromised, or a music which is a succession of collisions—of idioms, of traditions, of histories, of desires, of tactics. But the music creates a situation that is, in its own way, beautiful. [Read the rest…]

Many thanks to Caitriona O’Mahony at the Improvised Music Company for the questions.

Monday, August 12, 2019, at 8:00pm: Improvised Music Company in association with Note Productions presents Eris 136199 (Han-earl Park: guitar; Catherine Sikora: saxophones; and Nick Didkovsky: guitar). The event takes place at The Fumbally Stables (Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8). [Get tickets…]

Eris 136199 is also performing…

August 8: London, England; and August 11: Lisbon, Portugal. [Details…]

By Eris 136199

Cover of ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

Eris 136199 (BAF001) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

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.

© + ℗ 2018 Han-earl Park.

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar; tracks 1 and 5), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; tracks 2–4).

Track listing: Monopod (27:19), Pleonasm (Metis 9) (17:08), Flying Rods (Metis 9) (7:41), Hydraphon (7:34), StopCock (10:54). Total duration: 70:33.

© 2015 Han-earl Park. ℗ 2015 SLAM Productions.

A jangling, twisting uneasiness, and climbing over a breathless downpour of sound (reviews: Eris 136199)

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….”

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

*† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Best of 2018

Boiling down 2018 to this list involved many very difficult decisions. We stand by all of the records on this list and think they will stand the test of time.” [Read the rest…]

I am deeply honored to again find one of my recordings (this year it’s Eris 136199) in the wonderful company that is Jazz Right Now’s end-of-year list (also published at JazzTokyo). Did I say wonderful company? I am also very happy to see my personal favorite record of the year making Jazz Right Now’s #2!

Thank you so much, Cisco and everyone at Jazz Right Now! And a special thanks to Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn who wrote that honest, most unique of reviews:

At times guitarist Han-earl Park reminds me of what my bones and muscles would sound like if this speeding vehicle had in fact crushed or torn any of them (I do not have any broken bones, but I am still awaiting test results on my foot muscles). The sometimes slow, sometimes fast plucking and riffing literally makes me cringe today while writing this. My screaming at this speeding driver a split second before their vehicle crashed into the back of my bicycle might recall the blare of Catherine Sikora’s tenor sax throughout the album. I think of my repeating “WOAH, WOAH, WOAH” slowed down and amplified for full effect; loud enough that people heard the crash and my descent into the concrete of Nick Didkovsky’s improvised patterns. [Read the rest…]

In a Jazz Noise’s end-of-year top-ten, Dave Foxall describes Eris 136199 as:

Exquisitely constructed, spontaneously messed-up, endless depth, kind of like letting an insane brain surgeon in through your ear. [Read the rest…]

I’m very proud of the noise/music that is Eris 136199, and I am very proud to find it listed among such stupendously noisy music. Thanks also to a Jazz Noise for their amazing support of our work (in case you missed it, please have a read of the interviews with Nick, Catherine and me that were published in the run-up to the album release).

Elsewhere, Eris 136199 makes Avant Music News’ Honorable Mentions, and Lee Rice Epstein’ top 10 at Free Jazz Blog.

Big thanks again to Cisco Bradley, Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn and everyone at Jazz Right Now, Takeshi Goda at JazzTokyo, to Dave Foxall at a Jazz Noise, to Lee Rice Epstein and Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz Blog, and to Mike Borella of Avant Music News for their continued support!

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

*† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Collisions with concrete, of thousands of years of musical history, and keeping it “in their pants” (reviews: Eris 136199 and Sirene 1009)

A descent into the concrete? rafting over a boiling river? a collisions of thousands of years of musical history? music to communicate cyclists’ collisions? and who are the “bass/drum/guitar boys”, and do they “keep it in their pants”? Fascinating first set of reviews for the newly released Eris 136199 (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky, and a review from earlier this year of Sirene 1009 (BAF000) by Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh.

Eris 136199

Writing in Jazz Right Now, Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn discusses the music in the context of his recent accident:

At times guitarist Han-earl Park reminds me of what my bones and muscles would sound like if this speeding vehicle had in fact crushed or torn any of them (I do not have any broken bones, but I am still awaiting test results on my foot muscles). The sometimes slow, sometimes fast plucking and riffing literally makes me cringe today while writing this. My screaming at this speeding driver a split second before their vehicle crashed into the back of my bicycle might recall the blare of Catherine Sikora’s tenor sax throughout the album. I think of my repeating “WOAH, WOAH, WOAH” slowed down and amplified for full effect; loud enough that people heard the crash and my descent into the concrete of Nick Didkovsky’s improvised patterns. [Read the rest…]

An intense and honest review, Vanlandingham-Dunn concludes that, despite being “no place near a pretty listen”, the album has value in its ability to help personal experiences and histories: “‘Yo man, you ever been hit by a car?’ ‘Yeah, but maybe we should listen to this album I just picked up before I tell you about it.’”

In a more poetic, if no less personal, review, Massimo Ricci of Touching Extremes finds music that explores “avenues of acrid timbral contiguity. It’s still unconventional music, mostly with a strong skeleton”:

It’s a persistent burbling of memories and conjectures revealing decades of accumulated experiences and data, not fully untangled, with a definite explosive potential. At times a need arises to recapitulate a bit; the interplay becomes less loaded, the fingers caressing and cherry picking rather than snapping and ripping. Sikora is practically flawless in oscillating between the roles of moderator and source of linear alternatives. Her jargon is fluid, quasi-effortless, deprived of angst in spite of the occasional labyrinthine reiterations and squiggling restlessness. [Read the rest…]

Meanwhile, in the JazzTokyo review, Takeshi Goda imagines a project “based on the history of music on the earth for thousands of years”; a music of all-encompassing knowledge, and a music of deviations:

襤褸を纏った侍従に付き添われた茨の冠の王女のような三人の図は、中世の教会のステンドグラスにふさわしい。無名の小惑星の名前を持つトリオの演奏は、地球に存在しない未知の物質だけでできている訳ではなく、地球上の数千年の音楽史を源に持つ。名状不明な音響のスキマに、グレゴリオ聖歌、吟遊詩人の竪琴、ニューオリンズの葬送マーチ、バルトークの弦楽四重奏、大都会のストリート・ミュージシャンなど、あらゆる人類の演奏行為の断片を聴きとることが出来る。逸脱を極めれば極めるほど、古典や伝統への親和性が高くなる。それはまるで「光速に近づくと、時間の流れが遅くなる」という特殊相対性理論(Special Relativity Theory)のようだ。彼らが目指す先は、まだ誰も提唱していない「特殊逸脱性理論(Special Deviation Theory)」の確立なのかもしれない。[Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*†
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).†

CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)CD photo: ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork and photo copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

Sirene 1009

And finally, Stuart Marshall at The Sound Projector finds in Sirene 1009 a music free from “vocal histrionics” and “virtuoso runs/cacophonous jams” that lack “musical structure,” stating that “this awesome foursome, who know when to let rip and when to keep it in their pants”:

For further proof of the UK improv scene’s vitality look no further than Sirene 1009. Though not everyone is a household name (nor British), at least two of this four-piece are scene mainstays, and the whole squad sounds as at-home with each other as they are with the promiscuous goings in English jazz dens. The much frequented Cafe OTO is our virtual venue for most of this set, where visceral freeform unscrunches itself into being, sparked by Caroline Pugh’s tempestuous, syllable-timed glossolalia and billowed by flurries from the bass/drum/guitar boys, with lashings of warm vibrato throughout. [Read the rest…]

[About this album…] [Get the CD/download (Bandcamp)…] [All reviews…]

CD: €11 minimum (‘name your price’) plus shipping.*
Download: €8 minimum (‘name your price’).‡

‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)

Notes

* Limited edition glass-mastered CD. CD includes additional material (liner notes, artwork, etc.) not included in the download version of the album.

*† Both digital and physical purchases give you streaming via the free Bandcamp app, and option to download the recording in multiple formats including lossless.

Culture Ireland logo

Sirene 1009’s London performance presented with funding from Culture Ireland, and support from SLAM Productions.

100% perishable skills and shrieks of crustaceans (a Jazz Noise: 7 Questions)

Mathy grindcore? tubular gates? shrieks of crustaceans? 100% perishable skills? guitars burning-up on reentry? what do Special Forces snipers and saxophonists have in common? and what is The Shitty Gig Foundation? In the run-up to the launch Eris 136199’s new album, a Jazz Noise has been running a special series of 7 Questions with each member of the trio, plus it is hosting an exclusive preview of the Adaptive Radiation suite.

When asked about the balance of preparation vs. improvisation in her work, Catherine Sikora says:

It’s all about the preparation, for me! The saxophone is such a demanding instrument that if I am not totally prepared, in good shape to physically manage the instrument, then the improvisation will be negatively affected. The act of merely producing a good tone requires daily work, there is no escape, and I love that about the instrument. Practice is what I do every day, regardless of whatever else is happening, because the skill of playing is 100% perishable. The more prepared I am for a performance, the more freedom I have to execute my ideas. [Read the rest…]

On the same topic, Nick Didkovsky says:

With Eris 136199 we just set up and play (that’s my impression anyway, maybe I am overlooking some secret preparation rituals!). It really feels like everyone’s been sort of preparing for years before every performance. When we play I feel like we are being dropped back into a continuum that has been periodically interrupted. We really don’t discuss much ahead of time other than the notion that the silent shrieks of crustaceans may be ensconced in shrimp crackers and are released when you bite them. [Read the rest…]

I get the honor of stepping over the 7 Questions border when I get to expand upon how Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy affected Sirene 1009:

Aspects of VanderMeer’s writing compelled me to push the Sirene 1009 mix away from the vérité that is the vernacular of recorded free improvisation….

The solution [to issues with mixing the recording] turned out to be to ratchet up the artifice of the recording…. The differences and transitions are, hopefully, subtle enough that the listener are not consciously jolted out of the moment, but it weaves an extra narrative. Like VanderMeer’s manipulations in writing craft, genre, etc., I was working to accentuate, through the mixing process, the improvisative journey taken by the ensemble in performance-time. [Read the rest…]

Big thanks to Dave Foxall of a Jazz Noise for championing the trio’s thoughts, words and music.

exclusive: Adaptive Radiation I, II and III

Finally, there a very special, exclusive preview of the Adaptive Radiation suite hosted at a Jazz Noise. Have a listen; you won’t find it anywhere else! [Listen…]

By Eris 136199

Cover of ‘Eris 136199’ (BAF001) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky (artwork copyright 2018, Han-earl Park)

Eris 136199 (BAF001) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (saxophone) and Nick Didkovsky (guitar).

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.

© + ℗ 2018 Han-earl Park.

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar; tracks 1 and 5), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; tracks 2–4).

Track listing: Monopod (27:19), Pleonasm (Metis 9) (17:08), Flying Rods (Metis 9) (7:41), Hydraphon (7:34), StopCock (10:54). Total duration: 70:33.

© 2015 Han-earl Park. ℗ 2015 SLAM Productions.

By Sirene 1009

Cover of ‘Sirene 1009’ (BAF000) with Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and Caroline Pugh (artwork copyright 2017, Han-earl Park)

Sirene 1009 (BAF000) [details…]

Personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Dominic Lash (double bass), Mark Sanders (drums) and Caroline Pugh (voice and tape recorder).

Track listing: Psychohistory III (≥9:47), Cliodynamics I (10:44), Cliodynamics II (12:22), Cliodynamics III (5:11), Hopeful Monsters (9:41), Psychohistory V (≥10:40). Total duration ≥58:25.

© + ℗ 2017 Han-earl Park.