Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti
Gramercy begins in the darkness. At 2am to be precise. Gareth Davis lacerates on the brooding clarinet as Frances-Marie Uitti anguishes over the distressed cello. Both instruments cry and wail in agony, scratching over strings, escaping the tone valves, and stirring the vibrations in the still of the night. Even when the morning comes, I have to open the blinds to let some light into the suffocating climate. On the album, virtuoso cellist Uitti’s “sweeps and drones are matched perfectly with Davis’s patented haunted drones and breathy chokes, resulting in a deftly academic yet unnervingly involving narrative.” At times the clarinet barely whispers, like a gasping ghost trapped between the twin bow and the strings. This haunting organic ambiance stirs the emotions, raises the hairs, and crawls down the spine, landing on the roster of Miasmah’s catalog among the label-mates like Kreng, Kaboom Karavan, and Gultskra Artikler. Gareth Davis has previously appeared on my rotations after I discovered his collaboration with Machinefabriek on Drape (Home Normal, 2010), and his work with Steven R. Smith on The Line Across (Altvinyl, 2010). His most recent release includes another partnership with Rutger Zuydervelt, titled Grower (Sonic Pieces, 2011) and has been featured on Headphone Commute’s Best of 2011 list, Music For Sonic Installations In The Cavern Of Your Skull. Meanwhile, Frances-Marie Uitti has been collaborating on music since 1990s, releasing on contemporary classical, avant-garde and jazz labels such as Cryptogramophone, hat ART, and ECM New Series.
No One Is An Island
In December of 2010, Belgian label Sub Rosa introduced a new Framework series (an extension of Concrete Electronics Noise) with a release by Tresor Records superstar, Cristian Vogel. Further releases in the series followed with appearances by Ulrich Krieger, Francisco Lopez, and Rogelio Sosa. The 11th entry in the series comes from Bérangère Maximin, a French electroacoustic composer fusing laptop, voice, and guitar with various objects. No One Is An Island is only her second full length release, but it already attracted attention of appearances by Christian Fennesz, Richard Pinhas, Frédéric Oberland, and Rhys Chatham. “I eagerly seized the opportunity to work with these amazing four men,” says Maximim, “Their wits and energies were just what I needed: a sonic journey that simultaneously develops intuition and teaches understanding, this among many other subtle effects.” The sounds on this experimental release jitter, twist, and swirl in a hazy atmosphere of chirping electronics, processed guitars and mysterious field recordings. Maximin’s voice appears on the third track, “Knitting In The Air”, transposed a few octaves lower, yet still retaining its eclectic European accent. The six pieces on No One Is An Island are a bit challenging, bubbling through circuitry of oscillating waves, distorted riffs, and clipping tremolos. At times the music approaches noise territory, filtered through analog effects and musique concrète. This is expected – Maximin studied with one of the pioneers of the ‘morphological’ approach to sonic writing, Denis Dufour.
Good luck keeping up with Aidan Baker – the man releases a dozen albums a year. In the past I managed to get my hands on his Liminoid / Lifeforms (Alien8, 2010) and in 2012 alone Baker has already put out three full lengths – one of them documents his tour with Thisquietarmy, the other is a double CD with a handful of collaborators on The Spectrum Of Distraction (Robotic Empire, 2012). But nevermind that for a moment, and let’s pretend that Baker only manages to put only one great record a year. So could that one record be Still Life? Upon the very first listening the most striking element of this experimental jazz record is the versatility of its players. Or rather, a single player – it seems that Baker managed to compose, play and record all parts of piano, upright bass, and (most impressively) drums, all by himself. I was also unprepared for the laid back cool rhythms, atmospheric riffs and smokey chords – my previous exposure has set an expectation of guitar driven noise and drones. Recorded during the winter of 2010 in his hometown of Toronto (Canada), the pieces are looped and layered over each other to create a potpourri of many musicians playing at once. The epic fourteen minute conclusion of this release, titled “Complex Iconographical Symbiology” is almost hypnotic in its minimalism, tending to fall a bit on a moodier side, while keeping the ticking rhythm upbeat. Throughout the four pieces on Still Life, the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist demonstrates his comfort level with the genre, fitting closer to the output of Bohren, Kammerflimmer Kollektief, Blue Note and perhaps a hint of The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation.
Listening to Marcus Fischer always puts me into a tranquil state. Even as I am walking the infested streets of New York City, my mind slows to a crawl, and only the clouds move with the rhythm as the pedestrians rush towards their demise. In the office, the sounds of Collected Dust are especially delightful when reconstructed with a pair of nice open back headphones – right now my Grados 125 are doing the trick. Gentle ambiance, delicate guitar strums, and reserved reverb are all at the center of this subdued recording. But the pieces on the album have actually been collected from numerous sessions, and compiled by Marc Ostermeier for this release on his very own Tench imprint. “From January 2009 through January 2010, Marcus kept a blog called Dust Breeding to document the results of his goal to complete one creative project a day for 365 days. These projects included photographs, field recordings, design, illustration, sewing, videos, DIY electronics experiments and music. He reached his goal of one full year of daily entries and has continued to add entries over the last few years, though less frequently.” Each vignette on the album originally appeared as part of this project, and after being selected by Ostermeier refined further by Fischer for the album. This is a perfect prelude to my deeper listening to Portland (Oregon, USA) based Fischer’s collaboartion with Taylor Deupree on In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes released only a few days ago on the always wonderful 12k. Minimal ambiance at its best. Highly recommended for fans of Pillowdiver, Celer, Ian Hawgood, and of course, Deupree himself.