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.
As part of the ‘New Work’ series, Jazz Right Now has published my piece on work(ing) during these pandemic times; times of “uncertainty, anxiety, and of doubt.” In the article, I reflect on the perverse desire for artistic ‘productivity’; the breaches between public and private spaces; the artistic commemoration this time, this condition; and the need for creative work that frustrates:
The rogue strand of RNA danced its dance with humanity. It’s beautiful in its own way. Poetic—messy, terrifying, mesmerizing—in its own way.
New words and expressions entered the vernacular. Old words came to denote less—more specific things—but encapsulate and carry more meaning: of fear, uncertainty, yes, but also fascination. We’re being transformed, across porous borders, through language. Soon, those of us who lived through this, might share these as shorthands. ‘Variant’ means something. It has a texture and resonance and feel and vibe that can’t be captured by a Merriam-Webster.
I reflect on how pre-pandemic cultures (and culture-industrial complexes), with its obsession with authority and coherence and narrative, ill prepared us for the complexity and discord and messiness of the present. That maybe if we had held closer these prickly, uncomfortable, inconvenient, noisy heterophonies we, as societies, may have been more capable of facing the chaos, or dancing the dance of humanity v. RNA. [Read the rest…]
Thanks to Cisco Bradley for inviting me to contribute to this series, and thanks so much to Cristina Marx for the photography.
“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…]
I think where Nº 8, for me, fell short is how it was unable to engage with the vernacular of wah-wah guitar. I mean, if you wanted to strip the wah of all its funk, that was how to do it. So Nº 11, I hope, goes some way toward redressing that. [Read the rest…]
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.
New album from Han-earl Park will be released by New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings in November 2021! This suite has been in the works for over a year; it’s unlike anything I’ve done before, and I’m so very much looking forward to sharing this music with you. More soon!
Do you want to be first in-line to hear the new album? Please sign-up to my newsletter:
Over the last several months I’ve been busy behind-the-scenes working on a solo guitar project. In a few months I hope to announce some exciting developments. In the meantime, you can catch up with some short videos of solo guitar improvisations by following #lockdownminiature both on Twitter and on Facebook.
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”…
Formed in New York in 2012, Eris 136199 is the chaotic-slamming one-person rhythm section of Han-earl Park (Sirene 1009), the deep melodic intelligence and big-tenor sound of Catherine Sikora (Clockwork Mercury), and the anthems of glitch, experimentalism and riffage of Nick Didkovsky (Doctor Nerve). Recorded during the trio’s 2019 European tour, Peculiar Velocities (BAF002) is Eris 136199’s third CD, and first studio album. The album is the follow-up to the eponymous Eris 136199 (BAF001, 2018) described as “like letting an insane brain surgeon in through your ear” (aJazzNoise, Best of 2018), and Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559, 2015) which was described as “a beautiful noise” (KFJC 89.7 FM).
Surprises abound on this disc from the collision of three seemingly incompatible notions of time and rhythm in [the title track] ‘Peculiar Velocities’; to ‘Sleeping Dragon’ which insistently claims to be one thing but reveals itself to be something else; to the aural love letter to No Wave that is ‘D-Loop’….
Moments of absolute clarity, where two of us may deliberately hit exactly the same notes, are juxtaposed by equally comfortable bursts of raging chaos and easy silences.
— From the liner notes‡
Recorded with a lean, efficient boldness by Sean Woodlock, and mastered by Richard Scott, the album captures music that leaps from wispy, delicate webs to massive weather-beaten mountains. Recorded over just three hours in a single live room, Peculiar Velocities catches Eris 136199 between the first date of the tour at The Vortex (London) and their performance at Jazz em Agosto (Lisbon).
Insectoid ASMR glitches to powerful ballads of weight and light; gentle, languorous shimmers to startling No Wave noise; raspy double-guitar hockets to gutted, dismantled chorales.
Han-earl Park is the instigator and mastermind behind Eris 136199, as well as groups including Sirene 1009 with Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders and rit. (f.k.a. Caroline Pugh), and co-conspirator in projects with Richard Barrett and others. Park is the constructor of the machine improviser io 0.0.1 beta++, and of Metis 9, a playbook of improvisative tactics. He has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Dunmall, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Josh Sinton, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Ingrid Laubrock, Gino Robair, Tim Perkis, Andrew Drury, Pat Thomas and Franziska Schroeder. His ensembles have performed at festivals including Freedom of the City (London), Brilliant Corners (Belfast), ISIM (New York), CEAIT (Los Angeles) and Sonic Acts (Amsterdam).
Saxophonist, improviser and composer Catherine Sikora, known for her big sound and lyrical melodic work, works as a solo performer and with Eric Mingus, Enrique Haneine, Brian Chase, Han-earl Park, Ethan Winogrand, Christopher Culpo and Ross Hammond. In recent years Sikora has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. She was a featured soloist in Eric Mingus’ radical reimagining of Tommy by the Who (Adelaide Festival 2015), and was artist in residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2014 and in 2020.
Guitarist, composer, and computer music programmer Nick Didkovsky has composed music for Kathleen Supové, ETHEL, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Meridian Arts Ensemble, New Century Players, ARTE Quartett, as part of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, and his own bands Doctor Nerve, Vomit Fist, Häßliche Luftmasken, and others. His compositions and guitar performances appear on more than 50 records. For over 30 years, his avant-metal big band Doctor Nerve has fueled Didkovsky’s intricate compositions with the energy of rock, punching holes through the walls between heavy metal, contemporary music, and improvisation, and performing at festivals including Moers, FIMAV, and the Whitney Museum’s ‘Whitney Live.’ With computer music pioneer Phil Burk, Didkovsky developed the computer music language Java Music Specification Language (JMSL).
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.
A big thanks to the backers of our Kickstarter project for their awe-inspiring generosity; helping bring this music to you! A massive thanks to Phillip A., Bruno Bissonnette, Mike Borella, Colin Cahill, Jeremy Clarke, Gary Couse, Nicholas Croft, Don Davis, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Tom Duff, Erik Ellestad, Lee Rice Epstein, Goldi, Owen Green, Rich Hollis, Martin Hoogeboom, Terry Kattleman, Gary W. Kennedy, Liam, Bartholomew R. Mallio, walt mattes, Andrew McKenzie, Rob Miller, Eric Mingus, John Minnock, david m morris, Neil, Matthew Nolan, Michael Rogers, Steffen Schindler, Ken Shimamoto, Craig Sines, j. sinton, Marte van der Loop, Tom Ward, Bernd Wimmer, aJazzNoise, and the Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, and to our anonymous backers.
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.
Last year, during our second European tour, Eris 136199 went into Hackney Road Studios in London to record our next album, and our first studio album. As engineer Sean Woodlock hit the record button, we knew straight away that something very special was taking place that day: leaping from insectoid ASMR glitches to powerful ballads of weight and light; from the gentlest, languorous shimmers to startling No Wave noise, from raspy double-guitar hockets to gutted, dismantled chorales. And, to both our surprise and delight that thrill of musical discovery has translated beautifully during the mixing process.
The music, recording and the mix are complete, and this is where you, our awesome fans, come in. Eris 136199 now needs to take the final steps to releasing the album: mastering the album, creating the artwork and design, and pressing the CDs. And we are offering special rewards (including exclusive never-before-heard recordings, limited edition merch, and one-of-a-kind items), so please check out the various rewards and see where you might fit in to help us!
To our wonderful fans who blew us away with your support during our successful 2017 Kickstarter, we are so pleased to be sharing this latest project with you. And to both our long-time fans and those new to Eris, we promise that the music on this latest album will be very different from anything else; something beautifully strange and unexpected even for the wonderfully unpredictable Eris 136199.
Please have a look through the available rewards, and, when you’re ready, help bring noise to life!
Formed in New York in 2012, Eris 136199 is the quick-reacting cyborg virtuosity of Han-earl Park (Sirene 1009), the mighty melodic imagination and big tenor sound of Catherine Sikora (Clockwork Mercury), and the diamond-cut precision and grind-meets-experimentalism of Nick Didkovsky (Doctor Nerve).