Tuesday 21 February 2017, 7.30pm
“Released by the Erstwhile label, Matterings – last year’s collaboration between sound artist Jeph Jerman and percussionist Tim Barnes – didn’t receive the critical attention it deserved... On the duo’s follow up album, Versatile Ambience, Jerman and Barnes continue to work in a familiar sonic territory – one similarly occupied by other contemporary tape music composers like Graham Lambkin – but do so with a level of taste and confidence that sets it above many other like-minded records.” – The WIRE
Across a dozen years, the duo of Jeph Jerman and Tim Barnes has offered powerful, minimal music rooted in a shared dedication to the creative act of listening. Jerman is a veteran of the creative music scenes in Denver and Seattle, and in more recent years has been thoroughly investigating the sonic possibilities of the desert Southwest where he lives and works. Tim Barnes’s resume as a percussionist, engineer, and curator is studded with all-star collaborators including Tony Conrad, Sonic Youth, Ken Vandermark (who appears here as a guest), Royal Trux, and Tower Recordings. Versatile Ambience is their second record in as many years, making this one of the most productive periods in the duo’s history.
The pieces on Versatile Ambience highlight the ingenuity and intense physical economy found throughout both artists’ repertoires. What sonic and performative possibilities are held in these few found objects, in this environment? What music is already here? What music is hidden in the subtly shifting motion of a hand? Explicitly or implicitly, Jerman and Barnes have spent their careers asking these questions. The latest answers are found here, in creative percussive and electronic improvisation by the duo, in the minimal but impactful contributions of a handful of guests, and in field recordings ranging from the call of a stranded cricket to the roar of a distant airport. The spoken section (a first for the duo) sounds as though it is a poetics being conceived, written, recorded, and edited as you are hearing it. But if at first it sounds like a cut-up, passages like “and you, the anvil? / I am the hammer!” promise at the very least a Mad Libs-worth of structure and play, and quite a bit more depth.
Despite its appearance so soon after their last effort, this record feels more considered, more complete than any Jerman/Barnes release to date. Like a snake’s path through the sand, if the duo’s trajectory holds, Versatile Ambience will soon be seen as a remarkable point along a fascinatingly meandering line.
Ashley Paul is an American performer and composer based in London. She uses an array of instruments including saxophone, clarinet, voice, guitar, bells and percussion, mixing disparate elements to create a colorful palate of sound that works its way into her intuitive songs; free forming, introverted melodies. This blend manifests beautiful and simple musical forms against acoustic experimentation.
Ashley has performed or recorded with Phill Niblock, Rashad Becker, Nik Colk Void, Loren Connors, Heatsick, Aki Onda, C. Spencer Yeh, Anthony Coleman, Bass Clef, Joe Maneri, Joe Morris, Seijiro Murayama, Greg Kelley, Bill Nace and Eli Keszler appearing on such labels as Important, PAN, ESP-DISK’ and Tzadik. She received a Masters of Music from New England Conservatory in 2007.
Mark Wastell has been active as a musician since 1995, making his initial concerts with the trio IST featuring Rhodri Davies and Simon H. Fell. He has performed and recorded extensively and has collaborated with the likes of Derek Bailey, John Butcher, Evan Parker, Lasse Marhaug, John Tilbury, Mattin, Mark Sanders, Tony Conrad, Keith Rowe, John Zorn, Peter Kowald, Joachim Nordwall, Otomo Yoshihide, Burkhard Beins, Paul Dunmall, David Toop, Alan Wilkinson, Max Eastley, Hugh Davies and David Sylvian. Mark also runs the Confront Recordings record label.
John Butcher was born in Brighton, England and has lived in London since the late 1970s. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.
Originally a theoretical physicist, he published his Ph.D in 1982 and then left academia for music. He has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians, mostly involved with improvisation - including Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Polwechsel, Gino Robair, Rhodri Davies, Okkyung Lee, Gerry Hemingway, Toshimaru Nakamura, Eddie Prevost, Paul Lovens, Christian Marclay and Andy Moor.
Compositions include “Penny Wands” for reconstructed Futurist Intonarumori, pieces for the Rova and Quasar saxophone quartets, "somethingtobesaid" for the John Butcher Group and “Tarab Cuts”. In 2011 he was one of three recipients of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards for Composers.
Graham Dunning is self-taught as an artist and musician having studied neither discipline academically. His work explores sound as texture, timbre and something tactile, drawing on bedroom production, tinkering and recycling found objects. He has performed solo and in ensembles across the UK, and Europe, and shown solo sound installations in the UK, New Zealand and USA. He teaches Experimental Sound Art at the Mary Ward Centre in London and also gives various independent workshops. Dunning has released through Entr’acte, Seagrave, Tombed Visions and more.
John Butcher / tenor & soprano saxophones
Mark Wastell / tam tam, singing bowls, chimes
John Butcher and Mark Wastell initially began playing together are part of Chris Burn’s Ensemble in 1997. Numerous collaborations have continued over the years, including that of a short lived duo active between 2008/09. They performed in concert three times together during this period. Tonight will see a long overdue return to their sonic investigations.