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Posts tagged “ElectroAcoustic

Cory Allen – The Source

CA The Source

CD PR025 time: 40:53 (Also available as an LP, first 100 copies on coke clear vinyl)

1) Divine Waves – 12:11 2) White Wings – 8:53 3) Neon Mandalas – 6:58 4) Crown Canal – 12:48

Cory Allen: Hammond Organ, Harmonium, Tanpura, Rhodes Electric Piano, Violin, Voice, Mbira, Balalaika, Tibetan Singing Bowl, Gong, Tingsha Bells, Chinese Bells, Balinese Nut Shell Shaker

With Brent Fariss: Bass, Henna Chou: Cello and Lyman Hardy: Drums and Percussion

Artist: Record label:

Preorder link:

Without any prior guided experience to an astral realm of enlightenment, I feel a bit underqualified in commenting on certain aspects that may have influenced or inspired this album, but I feel perfectly at ease in speaking on the restorative nature of music, meditation and private contemplation.  The mind is often so pre-occupied with distractions that thoughts become fragmented, confused, and the ability to concentrate is diminished—so at times a realignment is in order.  Cory Allen’s new album, The Source provides a gentle yet intensive framework to cleanse the mind and re-focus awareness.  In tech-speak: defragmenting the hard drive.

The Source, I think, is both a reflection of Allen’s own achievement of radial balance and self-unity, as well as a sonic guide for others to experience.  With repeated auditions of the album, awareness of both the individual instrumentation and the gestalt of the overall effect of the work increases.  For those less familiar with Cory Allen’s oeuvre, and before listening, an important aspect to keep in mind, is to suspend conventional expectations of musical structure and melody, and allow oneself to be drawn into the experience of both listening and feeling the sounds in the recording.  Also, Allen’s work often uses a loosely rules-based construction including guided improvisation.

Divine Waves slow-dances on the edge of something resembling a liquid jazz with the initial two, three and four note phrases exchanging between cymbals and bass (plucked and later bowed).  A tanpura joins the ensemble and its whirr is sustained by merging with the bass, cymbals, and chiming of inter-mingled bells and bowls.  I hesitate to say that the cello is a later mournful addition to the group, yet it adds a wistful calm with an electric piano gently weaving throughout.  The instrumentation in the latter part of Divine blends into a soft vibrating drone and is as much about the sound heard, as well as the interaction of the vibrations being felt (to experience this, I recommend listening with well-placed speakers at a volume roughly equivalent to match the original live sound of the instruments versus using headphones).

Initially focusing on the interplay of two and four notes phrases on a balalaika, White Wings’ bowed cello and bass, drums and harmonium absorb and weave while stretching varying dissonances.  A first sonic alignment appears at a little more than two-and-a-half minutes, before meandering many times again with loose guidance (visually, like a flock of migrating swallows as they gather in the autumn, at sundown, seeking a resting place for the night).


The most intensive experience on the album is within Neon Mandalas; initially there is a chorus of deeply toned voices (which I think should have extended even longer), and once held in that realm, other elements are introduced with their fleeting movements (percussion, drums, bass and tanpura).  A choir of gently plucked Mbiras (like a gentle steady rain) and bells provides a sonic background for an emergent and focused organ that dissolves into a returning familiar plucked acoustic bass phrase—a sort of arrival.

Crown Canal seems to represent a departure, reflecting on the fullness of the experience.  The cello has a somewhat somber recurrent melody, reminiscent of a recessional or postlude, and has a tonality of resolution within a duo of a harmonium and tanpura.  The ensemble is gently punctuated with percussion and voices.  Despite being the longest piece on the album it has a curious absorptive quality, which compresses a sense of time, while achieving a state of steady entrancement.

The more I have listened to this album, it seems there is a general framework describing Allen’s own experience—the album appears to be a journey in four parts, describing what I interpret as: preparation, journey, arrival and return.  The recording and mastering achieves a profound clarity and realism that I have come to know in Cory Allen’s previous albums, The Great Order and Pearls that feel as if the listener is within the environment where the music is being created.

The Source will be released on June 30th, 2015.

More on Cory Allen’s previous albums that I have reviewed can be found here.

CA Source LP

The vinyl version of The Source–beautiful color!


This is a solicited review.

Damián Anache – Capturas del Único Camino


Damián Anache Cover


CD Time: 57:57, Digital, 300 copies of CD or 150 copies of Deluxe CD #CCL011 & #IR003

Tracks: 1) Paisaje Primero, 2) Paisaje Propio, 3) Paisaje Artificial, 4) Paisaje Natural

Websites: &

Labels: Concepto Cero  & Inkilino Records


Think of the hour just before sunrise, in Spring especially, the Sun hasn’t yet peeked above the horizon.  The songs of birds and sounds of other animals slowly rise with the Sun.  Eventually there is a wondrous sonic aura filling the morning, until the Sun is firmly in the sky and the impromptu performance gradually fades.   A similar effect occurs at sunset as the gentle evening-song of birds and other fauna greet the night.  The sound landscape can, at certain locations, grow to be almost deafening, yet there still remains a feeling of ease and relaxation.  Other sounds might enter: wind, rain, trees moving, a distant coyote howling to its pack or even the sounds of a city or shipyard.  Taken as a whole, the soundscape has no apparent patterns or melodies, and it spontaneously exists without apparent forethought or design.  Isolate individual elements with the ear and some patterns may be detectable, whether from a songbird or the rubbing of an insect’s wings.


Although Argentine composer Damián Anache’s method of creation for his debut album Capturas del Único Camino is different in its technical execution, the resulting experience is similar to how sound is generated in our environment.  Anache’s works have been performed at events at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia (Rome), National University of Cordoba (Argentina), Museum of Modern Art in Ecuador (Quito) and the Cultural Center of Spain in Buenos Aires, among others, in addition to his guest musician appearances at several performances of live experimental music, and as a producer of local rock bands in Argentina.  This album is also an outgrowth of the research project Spatial Sound Synthesis in Electroacoustic Music, directed by Oscar Pablo Di Liscia at the National University of Quilmes.

In Capturas, Anache prepared a collection of recordings using acoustic instruments (piano, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion, etc.), voices (the composer’s voice, including falsetto), electronics and field recordings of water (distant and near-field).  He then generated a series of four interconnected soundscapes using a software-based technique to randomly select and place the recorded sounds into an interlocked linear progression (I’m not familiar with the software, so I’m taking this at face-value).  While the recordings are largely abstract, non-representational of place and without identifiable melodic or harmonic structure, they can be quite spatial in their interaction with each of the other recorded elements.  There are also transitions between the four parts where fragments of the subsequent movement appear towards the end of the previous movement coupled with a mild crescendo to generate a disguising sleight-of-hand between the sections.

Damián Anache

In Paisaje Primero, strings are plucked, hammered and bowed lightly, percussion is struck gently and the sounds are untreated and naturally resonant.  This is the softest and most spacious of the four movements, more furtive than calming, and is without a detectable melody or pattern.  Voices appear in Paisaje Primero within about two minutes of the transition to Paisaje Propio.  There are also gentle whispers and hushed vocalizations combined with placid trills and hisses.  At times, the voices have a character of bowed strings, and I could be wrong, but I also detect some sounds of what could be a cello.

Near the close of Paisaje Propio synthetic sounds are combined with the voices and the character of Paisaje Artificial shifts quite dramatically from the acoustic environment of the first two movements.  Paisaje Artificial is more industrial with a static-electric atmosphere, where sounds could be generated by the interaction of conflicting frequencies of radio interference or magnetic waves as one moves through space.  Some sounds are pure sine-wave, and the higher frequencies are crystalline and sometimes piercing; so the listeners’ ears should be somewhat prepared, especially if headphones are in use.  On the cusp of passing from the Paisaje Artificial realm, the electronics seem to be mildly treated for the appearance of water in Paisaje Natural.  Water is presented near and far, as drips, a stream, bubbles, waves and perhaps rain falling from a roof to the ground.  There are short cycles in this piece that last about three or so minutes, like passing rain showers, so there is not only gentle motion in the individual recordings, but also in the overall movement.  Near the mid-point of Paisaje Natural the sounds of birds appear in the distance, and the treatment of the recording shifts from one existing within the recordings to one of observing from a vantage point of some kind of shelter (this may be unintentional, and purely my own interpretation).

Capturas del Único Camino is well-suited to both a pure listening experience or as part of an audio-visual installation.  Despite its apparent minimalist structure and execution, Damián Anache has created a curiously soothing yet complex realm in his debut recording.   Rise early in the morn or linger at dimmity, and let the music be revealed.

Damián Anache CD


This is a solicited review.

Karl Culley – Stripling

Stripling cover

Label: Sound of Jura

SOJCD1501  CD Time: About 36 minutes




Tracks: 1) Semi-Precious, 2) Come Over To Me, 3) School Of The Heart, 4) Spinneret, 5) The River To The Cave, 6) If We Were Free, 7) Namesake, 8) Mote, 9) Infinity Pool, 10) Whey-Faced Phantoms, 11) A.J., 12) Memory’s Like A Hunting Hawk

Youth, on the verge of adulthood, in search of meaning and perhaps companionship.  Young enough and determined to look forward and hope and old enough to reflect on memories and retain some wisdom from experiences; this I interpret to be the theme of Karl Culley’s latest album Stripling.  This is Culley’s fourth album, and he now lives in Krakow, Poland, where the album was recorded, but still with strong roots remaining in the north of England and Scotland.  His previous albums are: Bundle of Nerves, The Owl and Phosphor.

The songs on Stripling range from hypnotic meditations to something that might cause a gathering of folks (in a pub, perhaps) to spontaneously dance (or at least vigorously toe-tap).  The sonics are relatively intimate and unadorned: It’s Culley, his guitar and his voice, but it’s a deeply resonant recording.  Contrary to some of his finger-style guitar contemporaries like William Tyler, Daniel Bachman or James Blackshaw there are no lengthy rambling instrumentals.  The songs are penetrating and get right to their point with an atmosphere, a memory or story.  While others have made comparisons to the work of John Martyn and Bert Jansch, I’ll add the early acoustic works of Gordon Lightfoot (with echoes of his subtle vocal warbles) and the technical crispness and vigor of John Jorgenson and Tommy Emmanuel.

Judging from the reflective nature of his lyrics, it seems like Culley’s work takes time to gestate, but once a piece is fledged it’s cohesive and thoughtfully formulated.  There are curious ironies and juxtapositions between rhythms and words.  The somewhat brief Come Over To Me seems to be based on heavy subjects, yet the meter, fingerings and melody are lively, but not exactly upbeat.  Mote has lyrics (“Floating like a mote through sun or angels trapped in amber, we fall…”) that reference the abstract yet there is a steady grounded rhythm and melody.  Whereas Semi-Precious, School Of The Heart, Spinneret and Namesake are reflective, even tender meditations, with the rhythmic fingerings of Spinneret reminiscent of some of Nick Drake’s work—and there is a humble elegance in Namesake.

Karl Culley Pic

The mood of a song and lyrics can also be direct and related like the more serious The River To The Cave—not sentimental or wallowing, but observant of circumstances.  Vibrant lyrics and melody align in If We Were Free, with much of the verses being slightly-pitched spoken word observations with the final incantation “3 men are lowered into the ground…” abruptly punctuated with silence before returning one last time to the vigorous refrain (reminds me of Richard Thompson’s work).

Stripling isn’t without musing, delighting in the possibilities of enjoying a figurative or literal swim in the reverie of an Infinity Pool—it also is curiously similar rhythmically to the acoustic version of Layla that Eric Clapton recorded a number of years ago.  There are also moments where advice is presented or experiences recounted as in Whey-Faced Phantoms, which evolves into a cautionary mantra and A.J. recalling the desolation of unexpected endings—in both, the melodies and harmonies echoing the starkness of a mood.


The album closes with Memory’s Like a Hunting Hawk, intensively focused with desire.  There is, however, a pensive gentleness in the longing…solemn and hauntingly lyrical all at once.  Also of special note are the pen and ink illustrations that decorate the CD and cover, as if from a notebook of youth: pondering, exploring, even brooding yet freely expressing.  This CD made a long journey to me, and I’m glad it finally made it.

Stripling BackStripling CD









This is a solicited review.


Drummassage cover

CD: 68bpm 001  Time: 41:26

Website: (Purchase option links at website will be “live” as of 4/28/15)

Tracks: Chimes (Intro), 68BPM, Interlude, Rolls, Heartbeat I, Chimes Coda, Heartbeat II

Performed by Phil Didlake, Leah Gramsjohnson, Isabella Iatarola, Tessa Kaslewicz, Ben Meyers, Clara Natonabah and Steve Wilkes, with support from the Berklee College of Music.  Field recordings from the Hear Cape Cod project


Something a bit different from our standard music review…what is known as “functional music.”

Whether by means of self-hypnosis, meditation (such as TM) or other approaches, there is a point where the body and mind can achieve a surprising state of awareness in the midst of a deep calm.  Along with others, Dr. Herbert Benson used the term The Relaxation Response to describe a multi-step process for achieving this state.  One method to assist with relaxation is by using various forms of music.  I can attest anecdotally to the healing and calming powers of certain forms of music.

The Drummassage album is an outgrowth of a project started by Steve Wilkes (a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts).  Some may recall that Steve Wilkes and Ginny Fordham brought us their Hear Cape Cod project in 2013, a set of field recordings accompanied with remixes by many well-known ambient and experimental musicians as well as a companion album of songs inspired by Cape Cod (another in that series will be released later in 2015).

Drummassage started as an informal gathering and exploration of the possible healing and calming power of drums and drumming at Wilkes’s Berklee studio (an aside: Berklee offers various degrees and concentrations in music therapy).  As work advanced on the project and became better known, performances were held at venues around the Berklee community for larger groups with participants placed within drum circles along with the percussionists.  Native American drums made with indigenous woods of various types in Wilkes’s collection are used in these recordings.  Instrumentation is all-acoustic, and the performances include quiet repetitive and low frequency rhythms with occasional counterpoint from other ambient percussion.

Drummassage 31314

This first recording is in stereo (two channel) with the ultimate goal to produce additional recordings using surround-sound 5.1 mixes to more accurately replicate the experience of participating in the actual performances and therapy sessions.  The stereo version is quite effective and Wilkes recommends using either a high quality audio system or headphones to obtain the best sonic results.

Since I have experience with inducing the relaxation response from having practiced self-hypnosis for many years (although not nearly as often as I should!), I can confirm that this stereo recording is quite effective.  Often, I found the greatest relaxation being achieved (surprisingly) during the more active rhythm sections.  Frequently, I lost a sense of time and either drifted to a deeper meditative state, off to sleep (which is permitted!) or found myself relating visual memories to the sounds during to the interludes (which have field recording excerpts).


The CD has a brief spoken-word introduction mixed with resonant wind chimes.  There are three sections (68BPM, Heartbeat I and Heartbeat II) of extended slow muted trance-inducing rhythmic drumming (these will be especially effective if the listener’s sound system also includes a sub-woofer).  Interlude is a brief rain shower with thunder, followed by Rolls, a series of building thundering washes (reminiscent of a passing storm).  Outdoor sounds (chirping evening insects) return just before Heartbeat I begins.


Heartbeat I builds slowly, first a simple three beats and rest, then a layer of triplets is added to create a pulsing that is later supplemented with what sounds like rain-sticks before diminishing to the straight beat.  The last interlude, Chimes Coda passes through with a gentle mix of environmental recordings.  The final session, Heartbeat II, reintroduces the foundational three beat and rest pattern, which transforms again into a series of three triplets and a diddle (percussion rudiment term, two struck notes in succession instead of three).  Periodically shaken percussion is added.  For those who haven’t intentionally tried to induce a relaxation response before, it’s quite an unexpectedly pleasurable and invigorating experience (and can be habit-forming too).  It can also improve one’s sense of awareness following a session.

There will be a CD release event and performance at 7PM on April 28, 2015 at The Red Room @ 939, in Boston, Massachusetts located at 939 Boylston Street.


This is a solicited review.

Twigs & Yarn – Still Forms Drift

T&Y wajobu

Eilean Rec 88 CD Time: 40:53

Label: and

More on Twigs & Yarn:

Tracks: Hibernate, Sonora, Channeling, Cave Bears, In the Valley, Lend a Hand, Laelaps, Floes

Lauren McMurray and Stephen Orsak are Twigs & Yarn, and on their previous album (The Language of Flowers, my favorite album of 2012), the duo created it over a great distance (between Japan and Texas).  Their work presses all the right buttons for me: it’s inventive, tender, melodic, and at times unexpected.  T&Y takes me on a new journey every time I listen, yet there’s an inexplicable familiarity that I find comforting.  There is also a curious child-like quality of discovery in the music.

On April 5th, 2015, Twigs & Yarn did a live segment on KOOP Radio in Austin, Texas that was (thankfully) streamed over the internet, and T&Y noted they hope to release another album later in 2015.  I will link to the recording of the program if it is posted by KOOP (EDIT: Here is the link to the entire program:

Over the course of their new album, Still Forms Drift I wonder if there is an intentional arc of how the pieces were developed.  I detect that the tracks move from more melodic to experimental, and from rhythmic to more atmospheric and subdued, so there is a nice combination of moods and progression on the album.


A layered sonorous hum opens and eases the listener into Hibernate; sounds eddy between the channels (headphone or speakers).  The music builds gradually and blends into a delicate yet immersive fabric where voices and distant cloaked sounds are revealed.  Sonora is absolute magic—so romantic, delicately rhythmic, playful and with a hint of some of Raymond Scott’s electronic experiments of the 1950s and 60s.  As it progresses, there is increasing comfort, dissolving enmeshed sound, then melodic humming.  Exploring the layers, with repeated listens is like a treasure hunt, but then just listen again and disappear into it.  It’s like a tender and pleasurable whisper during a dream.

Channeling moves to the outdoors, contemplating with the fauna and environs, then dissolving into a trance of gentle guitar, voices and comforting pulses.  Gradually, the reverie subsides and a gentle reality emerges.  Cave Bears opens a bit like an antique bell-chime clock, steady and somewhat glitchy.  Beats, shifted repeating sounds and guitar harmonics are added and the rhythm slows.  In The Valley is another memory of place, although more ambient and disconnected compared to Channeling.  There is a slight grittiness to it as it progresses, with sounds that are less tangible, as in the edge of a dream.  Lend a Hand is a song with two different parallel veiled spirits; an expression of yearning that moves in and out of focus…one voice moves to the distance, but then returns; as if eavesdropping on a one-sided conversation weaving in and out of gentle waves of guitar and entwined low resonant hums…a slowly rocking boat in the doldrums.


Perhaps the most meditative (and curiously metallic) of the pieces is Laelaps.  I speculate that it’s an evening of lying on the ground outdoors with gazes cast to the sky in contemplationIf I have my Greek mythology correct, it was Zeus who cast the dog Laelaps into the stars as Canis Major in pursuit of the Teumessian fox, Canis Minor.  With a largo of synthetic electronic sounds and somewhat compressed voices Floes closes the album with hints of a lullaby reminiscent of a well-worn music box.

There is so much wonderful in this album, and I was instantly smitten.

T&Y 88


This is a solicited review.

M. Ostermeier – Still

Ostermeier Still

Tench – TCH-07 CD: About 35 Minutes

Label and Information:

Tracks: Stasis, Division, Hang, Counterpoise, New Lights, Congruence, Inertia, Parity

I read something recently by a musician whose work I admire about disconnecting from modern life, even for a short while, and in the time away a sense of one’s true self may return, even briefly.  During that time, relationships with others might even improve.  The mystic writer of the Victorian era, Richard Jefferies also wrote of this in some of his essays in the latter part of the 19th century.  The pace of what I call life’s ‘carousel’ is sometimes so dizzying, and at those moments, no matter what beckons it’s often time to get away and seek a refuge.  Personally, my quickest solution is to go for a walk in the woods, or even local streets away from the din in the mind or work at the desk.

M. Ostermeier’s new CD Still offers a cleansing respite with both passive and active listening. It took a few tries (first while doing other things and then sitting and focusing on the music) to condition myself, but by the time of the third audition, I was tuned-in.  Most of the pieces have a piano-dominant center, the primary melody or phrases, and there are sonic backdrops delicately stitched in which complement a given theme.  The melodic arrangement is often more akin to Far Eastern rather than Western musical structure, but it isn’t always the case.  There is no ominous darkness here, only soft and gentle light.  In fact, Stasis opens the album as if the Sun is rising and shadows can be observed to course slowly across the camera obscura of the imagination.


From what I recall of M. Ostermeier’s splendid last album, The Rules of Another Small World, this work seems more focused on acoustic instrumentation with electronics and sampled sounds taking a more secondary role.  The album is largely a preservation of the quietude, but there are moments as in Counterpoise, the only marginally forceful piece on the album, where after attention is grabbed it turns into an almost gentle pattering massage, which is eased with a slightly distant piano and other microtones.  The fabric of Congruence is gently percussive, reminiscent of dampened marimbas.  The CD closes at its most broadly sonorous and harmonic in Parity, with only a hint of foreboding, yet thankfully, no sudden dose of reality.

As is often the case with meditation or self-hypnosis, one loses a sense of time, after entering into a state of deep relaxation.  What the clock tells us is a half an hour feels as if it’s only moments, not easily parted from, but wanting to return–like a dream one doesn’t want to end.  It’s often difficult to find time to escape to a quiet forest, lake or one’s favorite place for truly as long as is needed, so in lieu of that disappear into some contemplation and take time to think, reflect and be Still.

Current Listening


Yes, I’m guilty.  I haven’t written many reviews of late–no other excuse except that there are many other things going on (not to mention a really rough winter), but here’s some of what I’ve been listening to, and I will also soon be writing a review of a forthcoming album on the Eilean label by Twigs & Yarn (some may recall that their The Language of Flowers on the Flau label was my favorite album of 2012).  I recommend any of these albums.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen – ATOMOS: Kranky 190: I want to really like this album, but I struggle with some sections.  I instantly loved their eponymous first release, but I continue to listen.

Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.: KScope 315: Follow-up to The Raven That Refused To Sing, and I frankly need more time with this album to formulate an opinion.  The recording lacks the clarity and strength of the last (engineered by Alan Parsons), but I’m working through it.

M. Ostermeier – Still: Tench TCH07: Just started listening; minimal, soothing, and it is both in the background and can be for focused listening–a combination of melodic sounds and microtones.  Helpful for calm…need more of that!

Robin Guthrie & Mark Gardener – Universal Road: Soleil Apres Minuit SM1501 CD: Comfortably familiar sound and soothing lyrics–shoegazing for the Sun.

I’ll likely have more to say on these soon, but for now, rest assured that my recommendation will not disappoint.

I’m hoping for Spring, and SOON!

Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer at Spectrum NYC

Taylor Marcus Spectrum NYC

More on Taylor Deupree and 12k:

More on Marcus Fischer:

Compared to many, I am a relative latecomer to works on the 12k label (within the last 5 or 6 years), but I have listened to experimental, acoustic/electronic and improvised musical works for decades.  Having missed other recent chances to see artists’ work that I admire in a live setting, I was quite pleased that the stars aligned last night to see Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer perform in an intimate and comfortable setting at the Spectrum NYC on Ludlow Street in Manhattan as the final part of The Cellar and Point Presents series.  My elder son also came along–it was nice to share the event with him.

The type of work I do often involves long spans of time between inspiration and tangible result, months and frequently years.  So, being able to witness creativity translated into a reality in a comparatively short interval is pleasantly stimulating.  Mostly I’ve seen it in jazz collaborations or rock music solos—taking a true creative risk and watching the outcome unfold and evolve (although the latter is often pre-scripted these days).

Taylor Spectrum NYCTaylor Deupree

Deupree’s own work I know primarily through his 12k label and I have reviewed a number of his label’s albums here, and Fischer’s with various collaborations and solo works on a number of labels including Tench, Kesh, Optic Echo, Flaming Pines, 12k as well as self-released.  Aside from their live performance with Corey Fuller, Tomoyoshi Date and Simon Scott on the 12k CD Between, Deupree and Fischer also collaborated on a studio project in 2011 entitled In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes (and I was VERY fortunate to find the gorgeous original limited edition release thanks to a referral from Marcus Fischer who spotted a lone remaining copy at Beacon Sound in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago).

I’ve been trying to find the text source, but I recall Taylor Deupree advocating that musicians of electronic or experimental works avoid using their laptop computers as primary music generators at performances, recommending artists create sound in the moment via other methods, rather than playing prerecorded sequenced works.  Live performances need not be perfect, and sometimes fascinating things come out of failure or happenstance.  Last night’s performance lasted a bit more than an hour (audio and video were recorded by Joseph Branciforte of The Cellar and Point), and was a sonic journey that could have fallen unexpectedly to quirks of some rather complicated equipment set-ups (see photos below), but the back-up plans in place were not needed at all.

Marcus Spectrum NYCMarcus Fischer

Initially, Deupree and Fischer spent about 15 or 20 minutes recording and layering sounds and textures loosely reminiscent of Graceful Shapes with percussion, melodic instruments, bows and various effects before branching off and working, more or less, independently of each other yet still curiously bound together.  At about 40 minutes, both added new sounds and effects to take the performance into an alternate realm (Deupree being somewhat freer in applying contrasting textures).

Taylor EquipTaylor Deupree’s Equipment

After the opening, Deupree’s sound creation and processing were primarily via electronic means, adding sounds from his modular synthesizer and shifting resonances between the channels of Spectrum’s surround-sound system.  Whereas Fischer used largely acoustic instrumentation, plucking strings, bowing (actual bow and E-bow), tuning forks and other objects to add layers and textures.  Before long, sounds that started as staccato percussives sounded more like fluid, perhaps akin to an ocean or at a shore, and light breezes mixed with occasional Manhattan street noises (the happenstance).

Fischer, who also works with tape loops (such as his recording At Frame) had a vintage tape recorder with an expanded trapezoid of magnetic tape stretched between microphone stands to supplement the fabric of sound.  Fischer would at times modulate pitch by physically moving the tape (also, watching the tape splice pass across the stands was rather hypnotic).  Only occasional glances between Deupree and Fischer occurred as the piece developed, no words exchanged, just the sounds they created that filled the space.  At an appointed moment, Fischer snipped the tape loop, it unraveled, and the music gradually faded into the night.

Marcus EquipMarcus Fischer’s Equipment

It was an inspiring and soothing diversion from the realities that compete for space in an overly active mind, and Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer’s performance gives me hope that in an age where ceaseless media, noise, and clamoring for wealth and power dominates many of our collective daily experiences, it is possible to remain true to a more peaceful and well-crafted vision while remaining spontaneous and creative in a quiet timelessness.


A couple of pre-show photographs by jotabu

marcus1Marcus Fischer Pre-Performance Set-up

marcus setupMarcus Fischer’s Equipment Close-up

Marsen Jules – Sinfonietta


CD DR-28 – Time: 45:56 (Limited Edition of 100 and Deluxe Edition of 100)

Dronarivm – &

Almost two years ago The Endless Change of Colour (12k1074) presented a peaceful timelessness borne from a phrase on a jazz record split into three stems disguised as something entirely different.  The resulting single movement instrumental work was grounded in a calming earthiness.

Sinfonietta is similar in form, although in contrast it’s loosely held to the bounds of sonic gravity.  From the opening, the music phrases materialize definitively then ease in gently to create a feeling of gazing over what could be a familiar realm below with the observer being gently suspended and the vision staying just beyond reach.  Recurrent themes occupy a somewhat narrower range of sound and emotion compared to TECOC, yet there are no detectable patterns and the entire work is elegantly devoid of monotony.  Periodically, slower flowing waves materialize and vanish gracefully, like evaporating clouds, a languid aurora or another vision from the imagination.

Even with a seemingly minimal palette, Marsen Jules (the nom de plume of Martin Juhls) cleverly interlaces and produces three dimensional visualizations in sound.  Listening to Sinfonietta, I feel as if I am serenely traveling in space, perhaps orbiting the Earth (or another as yet undiscovered planet) and marveling at the sights from my comfortable observation craft where I am quite content to remain.

Happy traveling.


This is a solicited review.

Zammuto – Anchor

trr227-233x233  trr227_deluxe







Temporary Residence TRR 227 LP (CD and D/L) Time: About 39 Minutes for 11 LP Tracks

Artist: Label:

1) Good Graces 2) Great Equator 3) Hegemony 4) Henry Lee (Trad) 5) Need Some Sun 6) Don’t Be A Tool 7) Electricant 8) IO 9) Stop Counting 10) Sinker 11) Your Time 12) Codebreaker* Bonus on Deluxe LP download with silkscreened cover

zammuto-studio-real-1Many scientists have labs and equipment, and there are parallels between science and the creation of music.  Discovery and creativity take hard work, inspiration and many tools—some of the work is also drudgery and can take a long time to complete.  Some experiments succeed and some don’t, but research presses on.

Nick Zammuto’s lab is in Vermont and while Zammuto’s current work is more accessible and song-oriented than work of his previous collaboration with Paul de Jong (The Books), Nick and his bandmates are still looking for music and inspiration in unexpected places (sometimes in quirky infomercial videos, physical inventions, admonitions from a parent and odd audio samples).  Sounds are discovered, altered, created and spun into a fabric of song, and more often than not the results are downright fun.

It took about a year from the very successful IndieGoGo campaign to the release of Anchor, but along the way Nick Zammuto kept backers well informed on progress and entrusted early previews of the final tracks, along with the background for inspiration and in-depth technical information on how many of the sounds were developed.  The resulting album varies from calming drones to chest pounding beats along with idiosyncratic melodic turns and spirited lyrics.  Many of the tracks are based around odd rhythms, some created with scratches deliberately made on LPs at planned intervals.

scratchAlthough I’m not always an advocate of loud music, I think this album better with the volume knob UP—it’s often an absolute romp.  Most of the music is also well suited to their live shows, where Nick Zammuto and his bandmates know how to have a good time, often with accompanying videos.  I can attest it’s also a great album for driving (at safe lower volumes!).  In general, I find this album to be more reserved (almost cautious, at times) compared than their first.

After Good Graces eases-in, the more dynamic tracks like Great Equator, Hegemony, Need Some Sun, Electricant and the aggressively percussive IO give the album its verve.  Anchor also has its quieter and more drone oriented moments, and can be quite introspective at times, as in Henry Lee, Stop Counting, Your Time and the acoustic percussion and guitar swells of Sinker.  The bonus track Codebreaker is a syncopated keyboard, guitar arpeggio and electronic percussion pattern study.

I think my only criticism of Anchor is that Zammuto might consider exploring some longer form works.  Peculiar and energetic always work for me.


The limited edition deluxe LP with silkscreen print cover


Photos are courtesy of Zammuto’s website, but I participated in the campaign and got myself a deluxe LP.


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