Jazz / Free Jazz
Drone / Ambient
Outsider / Art Brut
Sound Art / Spoken Word
Indie / Rock
Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle Records "experimental/improv/noise/abstract/etc" label. Big reissues and Aussie relations.
vinyl copies have a seem split on top, and are marked down / cheap to reflect that
Black Truffle is pleased to announce The Leisure Principle, a new solo LP from London-based bassist and sound artist Otto Willberg. A key player in the London underground, Willberg is often heard on acoustic and electric bass in free improv settings and bands with Laurie Tompkins (Yes Indeed) and Charles Hayward (Abstract Concrete), as well as the fractured No Wave unit Historically Fucked. His previous solo releases have ranged from extended technique double bass to explorations of the acoustics of a 19th century artillery fort. But nothing Willberg has committed to wax so far prepares a listener for The Leisure Principle, six unashamedly melodic improvisational workouts created almost entirely with heavily filtered bass harmonica and electric bass.On the opening ‘Reap What Thou Sow’, a single-note bass harmonica loop pulses along underneath a roaming bass solo, the side-chained envelope filtering (where the dynamic behaviour of the bass determines the filter for both bass and harmonica) fusing the two instruments into a single stream of burbling shifts in resonance. After several minutes of patient exploration of this low-end landscape, the music suddenly opens up in widescreen with the entrance of Sam Andreae’s graceful melodica chords, spreading out across the stereo field. From this epic opener, each of the remaining pieces goes on to explore a slightly different aspect of the terrain. On ‘Shadow Came into the Eyes as Earth Turned on its Axis’, a similarly buoyant harmonica bass line provides the foundation, but this time playing a soulful descending riff, its almost R&B feel abstracted and half-obscured by the filtering. On ‘Mollusk’, echoed bass arpeggios skitter between elegiac chords somewhat reminiscent of the opening of John Abercrombie’s ‘Timeless’, before settling into a hypnotic groove.On the record’s second half, Willberg pushes further into the possibilities of his idiosyncratic instrumentation. On ‘Wetter’, bass and harmonica come together into a monstrous, growling jaw harp; on ‘Had we but world enough and more time’, the subtly shifting pulsating patterns start to feel almost like a kind of evaporated, drum-less dub techno until an eruption of wheezing bass harmonica gives the piece a comically folkish turn. Willberg’s melodically inventive and virtuosic bass performance calls to mind any number of fusion touchstones, from Jaco Pastorius to Mark Egan’s singing tone in the early Pat Metheny Group—even Anthony Jackson’s work with Steve Kahn. But with its radically reduced instrumentation, The Leisure Principle is also an exercise in minimalism, and the absence of percussion gives even its funkiest moments a strangely abstracted quality. At times, its uncanny blend of the abstruse and the immediate suggests the fried pop experiments of David Rosenboom or the skewed but deeply musical DIY of 80s underground groups like De Fabriek. Both easy on the ear and profoundly strange, The Leisure Principle proudly takes its place among the most eccentric offerings on the Black Truffle menu.
Otto Willberg – The Leisure Principle
Following on from the Bergisch-Brandenburgisches Quartett’s anarchic Live ’82 (BT095), Black Truffle continues its deep dive into the archives of legendary drummer/accordionist/photographer/composer/conceptual prankster Sven-Åke Johansson with Scheisse ’71. Recorded in November 1971 during the Berliner Jazztage at a heavy-hitting concert that also included the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and groups led by Peter Brötzmann, Manfred Schoof, and Masahiko Sato, Scheisse ’71 is the only document of a wild, otherwise unrecorded quintet featuring Johansson on drums, accordion and oboe d’amore, legendary free jazz vocalist Jeanne Lee, her husband Gunter Hampel on vibes, flute and bass clarinet, live electronics pioneer Michael Waisvisz on modified Putney (VCS 3) synthesizer, and the unknown Freddy Gosseye on electric bass. Part of a festival centred on giants of jazz like Duke Ellignton and Dizzy Gillespie, the radical performance shocked its audience, who can be heard heckling and yelling abuse at points, including the titular exclamation of ‘Scheiße!’Clocking at just over half an hour and recorded in raw but detailed stereo by Johansson himself, the music burns with intensity while also making room for spacious passages and frequent dynamic movement. Beginning with Lee’s voice, Hampel on flute and Johansson on oboe d’amore in a bird-like game of call and response, the unexpected entry of Waisvisz’s tortured, squelching synth bursts prompts the first of many changes in energy and instrumentation, as Gosseye’s busy, roving bass enters and Johansson moves to the kit, his swinging cymbal work and juddering toms extending the approach of Sunny Murray or early Milford Graves.The presence of synthesizer, electric bass, and Lee’s highly amplified voice moves the quintet away from conventional free jazz textures, at times pushing into zones of abstract free sound reminiscent of what groups like MEV, AMM or Johansson’s MND were exploring in the same years. But the energy and joyful melodicism of the music keep it rooted in the tradition of American fire music and its European inheritors. Capable of changing gears in an instant from ferocious blow outs to fragile tapestries of chiming vibes and fizzing synth, the music finds space for Lee’s post-bop free scat (which integrates shrieks and howls just as a post-Ayler saxophonist might), Gosseye’s virtuosic bass runs (a rare attempt to apply the classic free jazz style of players like Alan Silva or Henry Grimes to the electric instrument), Johansson’s folkish accordion interjections, and even a sustained passage of unison bass clarinet and electric bass riffing in its second half.Special mention should be made of Waisvisz’s Putney performance, one of the earliest documents of this under-recorded instrument inventor and player, here playing a major role in giving the music its wildly exploratory, primordial air, his buzzing glissandi and bubbling filter sweeps at times howling like a distressed monkey. Arriving in an austerely stylish sleeve with beautiful black and white photographs by Johansson, Scheisse ’71 is an essential recording that adds yet another layer to our appreciation of this golden era of radical free music.
Jeanne Lee / Gunter Hampel / Michel Waisvisz / Freddy Gosseye / Sven-Ake Johansson – Scheisse 71
Black Truffle is pleased to announce its first release from celebrated London-based Canadian composer Cassandra Miller. Though her body of mature work stretches back almost twenty years, many listeners were introduced to Miller through the success of her astonishing 2015 Duet for Cello and Orchestra, which sets an imperturbable two-note cello part against a series of increasingly dense orchestrations of an Italian folk melody; in 2019, it was selected by The Guardian as one of the ‘best classical music works of the 21st century’. Traveller Song / Thanksong, the first release of her music on vinyl, presents a pair of compositions for voice and ensemble that exemplify Miller’s gently absurd, strikingly beautiful, and utterly unique work.Like many of Miller’s compositions, these pieces originate in existing music. Traveller Song (2016/2018) begins from a 1950s song of an anonymous Sicilian cart driver recorded by Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella, which Miller recorded herself singing along to, going on to then record herself singing to her own layered voices. Miller’s untutored voice is an unsteady, wavering wail that has, in her words, ‘more in common with a quasi-shamanistic keening than anything Sicilian’. Heard sometimes alone, sometimes layered, her pre-recorded voice is accompanied by a chamber sextet drawn from London’s Plus-Minus Ensemble. In the first section, Miller’s exposed warble is set to a spare piano accompaniment, somehow both faintly preposterous and magisterial. Following the voice note for note, the piano part often makes use of almost mechanical sequences of parallel chords, reminiscent both of Satie’s Rosicrucian period and the abrupt harmonic movements of a chord organ. The orchestration then opens up to guitar, clarinet, and sliding strings, a delicate environment for Miller’s voice, which, especially when it begins to be layered, generates a powerful sense of intimacy. In its concluding minutes, the folk roots of the original melody return in the form of a glorious full ensemble setting dominated by accordion, clarinet, and strummed guitar.Thanksong begins from recordings of Miller singing along to the third movement of Beethoven’s late quartet in A minor (Op. 132), the ‘holy song of thanks’ the composer wrote to express his gratitude for (temporarily) recovering from illness. Recording herself singing along repeatedly to each of the individual parts of the quartet, Miller created an aural score where each member of the string quartet listens to their own part on headphones, playing by ear. Performed on this recording by Montreal's Quatuor Bozzini, with whom Miller has a decades-long relationship, they are joined by the British soprano Juliet Fraser, who sings material from the Beethoven quartet ‘as slowly and quietly as possible’. The atmosphere of the opening of Beethoven’s Dankgesang, of hushed reawakening and thoughtful reflection, is sustained throughout the fourteen minutes of Miller’s piece, building at points almost to sentimentality before the five individual parts again fall back into a gentle burble of unsynchronised melodic gestures. Like Traveller Song, here the use of the voice is a long way from the mannered performance of much contemporary music, reaching for a human and bodily presence more connected to the reality of the everyday, albeit suffused with wonder. Presented in a stylish sleeve adorned with photography by Lasse Marhaug and liner notes by Cassandra Miller, this is a key release from a major contemporary composer whose work challenges and dazzles in equal measure.
Traveller Song / Thanksong – Cassandra Miller
Black Truffle is pleased to welcome free jazz legend Joe McPhee back to the fold with Oblique Strategies, a wild trio recorded in Antwerp in 2018 in the company of Mette Rasmussen’s fire-breathing alto saxophone and Dennis Tyfus’s post-Fluxus antics on tape, voice, and percussion. Rasmussen and Tyfus have previously recorded together as Bazuinschal, and some similar strategies are on display here: mysterious metallic scrapes, extended tones in which voice and sax become indistinguishable, comic explosions of varispeed tape. With McPhee on board, however, proceedings are more sumptuous, with the two horns moving fluidly from expeditions into the extremes of their instruments’ registers to pointillistic note-splatter and Ayler-esque folk melodies; we even get to bask in some of the slow-motion free blues that McPhee has now been playing for half a century.McPhee is heard primarily on tenor, Rasmussen mainly on alto, but with Rasmussen doubling on sundry objects, and the whole trio contributing vocals, certainty about who is doing what becomes nigh impossible. The recording and production add to this hazy unclarity. Where much contemporary improvised music aims at dryly clinical hi-fi, the lively reverberant space of Oblique Strategies calls to mind the less-than-pristine sonics of classic free jazz artefacts like John Tchicai’s Afrodisiaca or McPhee’s own Underground Railroad. A further dimension of oblique unpredictability is added by subtle changes in the sense of space: at times merely a reverb tail glimpsed between phrases, at other points the whole mix seems to be momentarily swallowed up in slap-back, blurring the lines between acoustic instruments and the decayed fidelity of Tyfus’ tape playback.Spread across four pieces ranging from four to nineteen minutes in length, Oblique Strategies moves with anarchic swagger from explosions of clattering cymbals and bellowing horns to near-silent episodes of mysterious rumble and clunk. ‘Death or Dinner?’ opens the record with a lovely duet of climbing melodic patterns shared between the two saxophones, played with a buzzing oboe-like tone. A long, wavering note sung by Tyfus cues the first of countless changes of direction, eventually leading to a crescendo of watery splutters and duelling saxes. At points Tyfus’ keening resemble the signature moves of his friend and collaborator, Ghédelia Tazartès; at others, his tape-sped huffs and puffs possess a rawness reminiscent of Henri Chopin or Gil Wolman. The dialogue between wailing saxophones and vocal cries, punctuated by percussive thuds and crashes, can at times feel less like a musical performance and more like the calls of some mysterious forest creatures, possessing a primordial energy that might remind some listeners of the outdoor antics of Brötzmann and Bennink’s Schwarzwaldfahrt.Oblique Strategies can also be delicate at times, as on the beautiful third piece, ‘Destilled Edible’, dominated by a slow, microtonal melody played with a breathy tone resembling a shakuhachi. The closing side-long ‘Light My Fire’ ranges across classic improv call and response, skittering trumpet blurts, inept cymbal clatter, mock-operatic vocals, and crude tape manoeuvres. Momentarily pausing at the ten-minute mark for an interlude of ghostly room sound and crackling texture, its closing moments unfurl a glorious dual saxophone finale, the almost epic tone subtly undermined by Tyfus quietly tapping out swing rhythms. Arriving in a striking sleeve adorned with Tyfus’ drawings, Oblique Strategies is an invigoratingly free-spirited blast of improvisation.
Oblique Strategies – Joe McPhee / Mette Rasmussen / Dennis Tyfus
Black Truffle is thrilled to continue its program of archival releases from Arnold Dreyblatt with a recently unearthed concert recording from Dreyblatt and Paul Panhuysen’s "Duo Geloso". While isolated examples of Dreyblatt’s collaboration with the legendary Dutch multi-media artist appeared on the CD reissue of Propellers in Love and Black Truffle’s wide-ranging archival Second Selection, this is the first release to document the variety and playfulness of the concerts that Duo Geloso performed throughout Europe in 1987-88. Both working across sonic and visual forms, fascinated by numerical relationship and the infinite complexity of string harmonics, Dreyblatt and Panhuysen had a natural affinity for each other’s work, strengthened through Dreyblatt’s many visits to Het Apollohuis, the important experimental art space Panhuysen helped to found in Eindhoven. However, as René van Peer suggests in the liner notes enclosed within this release, Dreyblatt and Panhuysen took very different approaches to these shared interests; the wonderful energy of these Duo Geloso performances results from the meeting of Dreyblatt’s more austere, compositional process with Panhuysen’s spontaneity.Recorded at a concert at Het Apollohuis in December 1987 (a series of beautiful photographs of which adorn the LP’s packaging), each of the six pieces presented here is distinctive in terms of instrumentation and performance approach. Using electric guitar and bass tuned by Dreyblatt and played using E-Bow and Panhuysen’s motorised plectrums, the opening ‘Razorburg’ moves slowly through a long series of held notes with a madly insistent tremolo that crosses Dick Dale with a mechanised take on the layered guitars of Günter Schickert. The same pair of instruments returns on ‘Duo for Guitars’, where the mechanised attacks dissolve into a harmonic wash, reminiscent of the machine guitar work of fellow Het Apollohuis alumni Remko Scha. On ‘Love Call’, the guitars and bass are accompanied by Panhuysen’s distant warbled vocals, familiar to Maciunas Ensemble listeners. On the remarkable ‘Synsonic Batterie’, Panhuysen begins proceedings with a solo barrage of electronic percussion on the Synsonics Drum Machine (a simple drum synthesiser produced by the toy manufacturer Mattell), joined eventually by Dreyblatt performing his signature percussive natural harmonics on pedal steel guitar. When Panhuysen adds his bird whistle to the mix, the performance becomes the perfect exemplar of the Duo Geloso’s unique mix of studious close listening and subtle absurdity.Presented in a gatefold sleeve with archival photos and illuminating liner notes from René van Peer.
Arnold Dreyblatt & Paul Panhuysen – Duo Geloso
Marja Ahti – Tender Membranes
Works for the Ever Present Orchestra Vol. II continues Black Truffle’s documentation of the late work of legendary American experimental composer Alvin Lucier, who sadly passed away in 2021 at the age of 90. Like the first volume of the series, the two works recorded here were written for The Ever Present Orchestra, an ensemble founded in Zürich in 2016 to perform Lucier’s work exclusively. At the core of the music Lucier wrote for the ensemble is the electric guitar, an instrument he began to explore in 2013. Played with e-bows, in these works electric lap steel guitars take on roles akin to the slow sweep pure wave oscillators heard in many of Lucier’s works since the early 1980s. This strikingly elegant pair of compositions would serve as an ideal introduction to Lucier’s late music for a listener as yet unfamiliar with its graceful exploration of beating patterns and other acoustic phenomenon. The two pieces have quite different characters, exemplifying Lucier’s ability to harvest a remarkable range of musical results from closely related compositional procedures and concerns. In Arrigoni Bridge (2019), Lucier uses a technique familiar from earlier works such as Still Lives (1995), where sine waves traced the shapes of household objects. Here, three lap steel electric guitars (played by Oren Ambarchi, Bernhard Rietbrock, and Jan Thoben) follow the form of the Arrigoni Bridge that connects Middletown and Portland, Connecticut. The bridge’s two enormous steel arcs become slowly sweeping pitches, alongside which alto saxophone (Joan Jordi Oliver Arcos), violin (Rebecca Thies) and cello (Lucy Railton) sustain long tones, creating a variety of audible beating patterns depending on their distance from or proximity to the guitars. With its stately pacing, warm middle register tones, and rich timbral variety in the sustaining instruments, Arrigoni Bridge is a beautiful example of compositional reduction producing immersive results. Flips (2020), on the other hand, is more austere. Scored for two lap steel electric guitars (Rietbock and Thoben), double bass (Ross Wightman) and glockenspiel (Trevor Saint), the two acoustic instruments played with bows, the piece zooms in on the range of a major second (two semitones). The two guitars sweep in opposite directions within the range, crossing every four minutes; the double bass and glockenspiel sustain long tones, producing beats of different speeds determined by their distance from the guitar tones. This limitation of the tonal range means the music is often dissonant and forces the phenomenon of audible beating to the surface, resulting in a paradoxical music composed entirely of long tones yet alive with pulsating rhythm. Exemplifying Lucier’s ability to uncover near-infinite complexity within seemingly simple materials, Works for the Ever Present Orchestra Vol. II is a fitting tribute to one of the major figures of the experimental music tradition and a testament to the continuing power of his work.
Works for the Ever Present Orchestra Vol.II – Alvin Lucier
Black Truffle is pleased to announce Symphony No. 107 –The Bard, a previously unheard archival recording of the legendary improvising ensemble MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva), captured in concert at Bard College, New York in 2012. Formed by a group of American expat composers in Rome in 1966, the MEV ensemble played an important role in the development of free improvisation, bridging the live electronics tradition begun by Cage and Tudor and the high-energy squall of free jazz. Early recordings like Spacecraft or The Sound Pool unleash volleys of metal and glass amplified with contact microphones, howling winds, primitive synthesizer bleep and raucous audience participation, the intensity of which puts much later ‘noise’ to shame. In later decades, the ensemble would go through many iterations, often including legendary free players like Steve Lacy and George Lewis. In its final years, MEV settled into the core trio of founding members heard here: Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski, and Richard Teitelbaum, using piano, electronics, and small instruments.Curran, Rzewski, and Teitelbaum were life-long friends blessed, as Curran says, with ‘incompatible personalities’: major figures in the post-Cagean experimental tradition, they explored countless divergent and even contradictory paths as composers and performers, from agitprop songs to brainwave-controlled synthesis. MEV is the sound of these three personalities coming together, their contributions radically individual yet attaining a state of ‘fundamental unity’ that Rzewski, in a text written in the collective’s earliest years, defined as the ‘final goal of improvisation’. Of course, listeners familiar with aspect of the trio’s individual works might hazard some guesses about who is doing what: the crisp piano figures are probably Rzewski’s, the cut-up hip-hop samples most likely Curran’s, the sliding, squelching synth possibly Teitelbaum’s. But often these identities are dissolved in a constantly shifting hall of mirrors, the listener unable to tell which of these pianos is live and which is a sample of a past virtuoso, or whether a horn blast derives from ethnographic documentation or Curran cutting loose on Shofar.The two side-long sets here occupy a similar terrain of constantly shifting texture and instrumentation, unexpected interruptions, and moments of sudden beauty. The first set is sparser, at times almost ominous, as a bell repeatedly sounds across wheezing harmonica, seasick orchestral textures, and creaking wood, making room for episodes of yodelling and delicate prepared piano before exploding into a storm of buzzing synth and piano fragments. The second set is more frenetic, moving rapidly across centuries and continents: cars crash into post-serial piano pointillism, wailing voices collide with chopped and screwed hip-hop samples, Hollywood strings are buried under layers of electronic gurgles. The performance slows in its final moments, making way for a sampled voice repeating the phrase ‘protest and the good of the world’, reminding us that MEV’s idea of freedom was always more than musical.Symphony No. 107 –The Bard is a beautifully recorded example of the endlessly multi-layered later MEV sound, accompanied by new liner notes by Alvin Curran (now the only surviving member of the group) and a selection of previously unseen photographs from across the many decades of the group’s activity. Arriving in an elegant sleeve bearing a beautiful photograph by Francis Zhou of the Olin Hall at Bard College where the concert was recorded, this is an essential document from a major group in the history of experimental music. As Rzewski wrote, this music is ‘like life, unpredictable, sometimes making sense, mostly not’.
MEV – Symphony-No-107-The-Bard
Celebrating its one hundredth release, Black Truffle is honoured to present a major archival discovery: a stunning document of the only performance by the trio of Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt and Jim O’Rourke. Across a two-night programme organised by David Weinstein at legendary New York experimental venue Tonic in January 2001, Conrad, Dreyblatt and O’Rourke presented individual projects before performing a collaborative set each night, the first with members of Dreyblatt’s ensemble and the second the trio heard here. As Dreyblatt points out in the wonderfully informative and reflective liner notes written for this release, this was a collaboration across generations, reflecting the profound impact of Conrad’s pioneering minimalism on Dreyblatt and O’Rourke. Both Dreyblatt and O’Rourke came to this collaboration armed with a deep appreciation of Conrad’s music and the just intonation principles at its core, Dreyblatt having first encountered the incredible power of Conrad’s precisely tuned violin chords during his tenure as an archivist for La Monte Young in 1975, while O’Rourke had performed with Conrad in various settings since the mid-1990s (as well as admiring, reissuing, and performing Dreyblatt's music). The flyer for the concert promised ‘massive, ecstatic, pulsating overtones’, and the trio certainly delivered. From the moment this keening stream of bowed strings begins, it is clear, as Dreyblatt writes, that we are in ‘Tony’s sonic universe’, as massively amplified, slowly shifting combinations of precisely chosen pitches fill the room with complex beating patterns and ghostly difference tones. For more than twenty-five minutes, the music operates at a level of intensity comparable to classic recordings such as Conrad’s Four Violins, until the texture thins out slightly in the performance’s final quarter, allowing for the listener’s first recognition of the individual voices that make up this enormous, overwhelming harmonic edifice. The constant stream of bowed tones is broken by a beautifully rich pizzicato from Conrad on monochord, the sliding low tones and metallic shimmer of the other strings taking the set's final moments on an unexpected detour into spacious pastoral psychedelia. Though produced by three individuals known for their own distinctive bodies of the work, this is egoless music, the perfect expression of Conrad's desire 'to move away from composing to listening', to 'working "on" the sound from "inside" the sound'. Historically important and overwhelming in sonic impact, this release also serves as a moving tribute to Tony Conrad from two musicians profoundly marked by the example set by his art and life.
Tonic 19-01-2001 – Tony Conrad / Arnold Dreyblatt / Jim O'Rourke
Black Truffle is pleased to announce For McCoy, a new work by Eiko Ishibashi dedicated to the widely loved character of Jack McCoy, portrayed by Sam Waterston in Law & Order. Following on from Hyakki Yagyō (BT064), For McCoy finds Ishibashi further exploring the unique space she has carved out in recent years, bringing together musique concrète techniques, ECM-inspired jazz, lush layers of synths and hints of pop into immersive and affecting structures crafted in her home studio, aided by a group of close collaborators.Beginning with overlapping layers of descending flute lines, the expansive ‘I Can Feel Guilty About Anything’ (whose two parts stretch out over more than thirty minutes) unfolds with a free-associative logic, embracing dreamlike transitions and unexpected cinematic cuts. As a hovering cloud of synthetic tones and multi-tracked voices fans out from the spare opening moments, Joe Talia’s skittering cymbals settle into a gently propulsive groove, soon joined by melodic fragments performed by Daisuke Fujiwara on multi-tracked saxophone. As the drums cede to field recordings and ominous synth figures, the uncommon meeting of saxophone and electroacoustic techniques call to mind the more spacious moments of Michel Redolfi and André Jaume’s Synclavier-propelled oddity Hardscore or the early work of Gilbert Artman’s Urban Sax. As the piece continues on the LP’s second side, distant dialogue rumbles beneath a surface of processed flutes, blurring into a cavernously reverberant backdrop for stark ascending lines performed by MIO.O on violin. Eventually, the piece settles into a gorgeous passage of abstracted dream pop, where Ishibashi’s multitracked vocal harmonies glide atop synth chords, errant pings and snatches of outdoor sound.Fragments of melodic material reappear throughout the spacious opening piece, finally stepping to the forefront on the closing track, ‘Ask Me How I Sleep at Night’. Here, over a shuffling groove supplied by Jim O’Rourke on double bass and Tatsuhisa Yamamoto on drums, layers of flutes, saxophones and guitars sound out melodies whose combination of twisting irregularity and soulful immediacy calls up prime Keith Jarrett, while their closely voiced harmonies suggest Kenny Wheeler or even Wayne Shorter’s Atlantis. In a classical gesture of closure, the web of melodic lines eventually leads back to the descending flute figures with which the record began. Presented in an immersive, impeccably detailed mix by Jim O’Rourke and arriving in a sleeve featuring Ishibashi’s beautiful drawings of Jack McCoy, For McCoy is an essential release for anyone following the enchanted and unique path being forged by Eiko Ishibashi.
For McCoy – Eiko Ishibashi
Elders is the debut release from Ensemble Nist-Nah, a nine-piece percussion group led by Nantes-based Australian drummer and percussionist Will Guthrie. The diverse group of French musicians that make up Ensemble Nist-Nah – whose collective experience encompasses traditional Gamelan performance, contemporary composition, noise, jazz, and everything in between – perform on drum kits, traditional and junk percussion, and a complete set of Javanese Gamelan instruments. Though building on the foundations of Guthrie’s solo work with Gamelan instruments (Nist-Nah, BT057) and primarily performing his compositions, Ensemble Nist-Nah is a collective endeavour, propelled by a breathtaking enthusiasm that has seen the ensemble manage to rehearse, perform, and even tour Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic.From the first seconds of opening track ‘Geni / Tirta’, it becomes immediately obvious that this is no dry academic exercise or exotic indulgence. Rapid arpeggiated figures are propelled by manically busy kit drumming while slow-motion melodic lines float above. After a series of abrupt tempo changes and fragmented unison passages that crossbreed the rhythmic intensity of the Balinese Kecak with the joyride of an Ornette Coleman head, the music slows to a monumental groove, equal parts Javanese court music and Dark Magus. Another sequence of thrilling divagations leads us to the unexpected guest appearance of acclaimed vocalist Jessica Kenney, who elaborates a haunting Javanese Bedhaya across a spacious backdrop of massive gong hits, shimmering cymbals, rustling bells, and gritty textures.The remaining pieces that make up Elders explore a dizzying variety of approaches, from the shifting rapid-fire muted textures of ‘Overtime’ to the ghostly bowed tones and ominous swells of the title piece (developed from a track on Guthrie’s solo Nist-Nah release), which gradually builds into waves of shuddering low resonance and asynchronous percussive clicks like a haunted clock mechanism. On the aptly titled ‘Rollin’, virtuosic twin drum kits criss-cross errant metallophone patterns in propulsive polyrhythms, while ‘Planeker’ manages to achieve a bizarrely effective fusion of Harry Partch and Autechre. Arriving bedecked in beautiful monochrome images of gongs drawn by ensemble member Charles Dubois, Elders is a feast for the ears: music that burrows deep into timbral and rhythmic possibility while possessing an intoxicating physicality and revelling in the joy of collective performance.
Ensemble Nist-Nah is:Prune Bécheau, Charles Dubois, Thibault Florent, Will Guthrie, Amélie Grould, Mark Lockett, Sven Michel, Lucas Pizzini, Arno Tukiman Playing Gamelan Kyai BremånåSpecial Guests:Jessika KenneyToma GoubandAnnalee-Rose Guthrie
Ensemble Nist Nah – Elders
Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri (Light Flowers Dark Flowers) – its title inspired by an intersection in Milan – is the second in the series of four solo recordings Alvin Curran issued in the 1970s and early 1980s, preceded by Songs and Views from the Magnetic Garden (1975), followed by The Works (1980) and Canti Illuminati (1982).Each of these solo works combines field recordings with performances on synthesiser, various acoustic instruments, and voice, arranged in languorously paced, dreamy sequences. Far from the bracing pointillism of much musique concrete, the elements encountered on the meandering course followed by Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri – whether a frenetic piano improvisation, dense layers of Serge synthesiser and ocarina, or a monologue from Frederic Rzewski’s five-year old son, Alexis – often occupy the foreground of our attention for minutes at a time. As Curran explains, his approach is like that of a filmmaker in the editing process, working with “whole blocks of recorded time”.The purring of a cat, toy piano, a child counting, plaintive synthesiser tones, the cacophony of exotic birds at the London Zoo – each disappears into the next, until, on the LP’s second side, a solo piano performance takes centre stage, moving unexpectedly from percussive minimalist permutations to a halting rendition of Georgia on My Mind. A subtle yet stunning work that more than forty years on still seems charged with possibility, Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri arrives in a loving reproduction of the original sleeve, featuring Edith Schloss’ beautiful cover painting, remastered audio and with new liner notes by Alvin Curran and Francis Plagne.
Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri – Alvin Curran
10th anniversary reissue of this rhythmically churning one-man-band monster of an album, recorded in a single inspired studio session & originally released in 2012 on Editions Mego.From the original Editions Mego press release:“For anyone who still associates Oren Ambarchi exclusively with the clipped, bass-heavy tones of solo electric guitar works such as Suspension, this rhythmically churning one-man-band monster of an album-length piece might seem to come out of nowhere. However, listeners who have followed the breadth of his work for the last few years (solo and in projects with collaborators from Jim O’Rourke to Stephen O’Malley and Keith Rowe to Keiji Haino) will have noted how Ambarchi has allowed increasingly clear traces of his enthusiasms as a music listener (for classic rock, minimal techno and 70’s fusion, among other areas) to surface in his performances and recordings, all the time filtering them through his signature long-form structures and psychoacoustic sonics.Recorded in a single inspired studio session, Sagittarian Domain displaces Ambarchi’s trademark guitar sound from the centre of the mix, its presence felt only as an occasional ghostly reverberated shimmer. Endlessly pulsating guitar and bass lines sit alongside electronic percussion and thundering motorik drumming (familiar from his work with Keiji Haino) at the core of the piece, locking into a voodoo groove like Faust covering a 70’s cop show theme. The work is founded on hypnotic almost-repetition, the accents of the drum hits and interlocking bass and guitar lines shifting almost imperceptibly back and forwards over the beat as they undergo gradual transformations of timbre. Cut-up and phase-shifted strings enter around the half-way mark like an abstracted memory of the eastern-tinged fusion of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s classic Visions of the Emerald Beyond, before returning for an extended, stark yet affecting come-down coda, equal parts Gavin Bryars and Purple Rain.While Sagittarian Domain contains traces of a diversity of influences, it mines all of them to uncover something that is clearly an extension of Ambarchi’s own investigations up to this point, exhibiting the same care for micro-detail and surrender to the physicality of sound that are present in all of his work, extending them in new ways to repetition, pulse and rhythm”.
Oren Ambarchi – Sagittarian Domain
The renowned trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi return to Black Truffle with their 11th release, “Caught in the dilemma of being made to choose” This makes the modesty which should never been closed off itself Continue to ask itself: “Ready or not?” Demonstrating once again their commitment to continual experimentation in instrumentation and approach, the record begins with a long-distance collaboration made in response to a commission from New York’s Issue Project Room in 2021 during widespread lockdowns and travel limitations. A unique piece in the trio’s extensive body of work, this side-long epic finds Haino performing on metal percussion, O’Rourke on electronics and Ambarchi on gongs and bells. Initially dominated by rapid patterns on resonant, high-pitched tuned percussion, the piece sets Haino’s dynamic and dramatic performance against a calm backdrop of cycling electronics, thrumming gong strikes and hanging bell tones. The performance develops a heightened, intensely concentrated atmosphere reminiscent of Haino’s classic Tenshi No Ginjinka or his Nijiumu project; when Haino moves to clashing hand cymbals in its second half, the piece’s ritualistic energy suggests aspects of the music of Tibetan Buddhism.The remainder of the double LP documents the trio live at Tokyo’s SuperDeluxe (the location of all but their very first recording) in a wide-ranging set recorded in December 2017. The concert opens, in another first for the trio, with Haino on drums, O’Rourke on Hammond organ and Ambarchi on his signature Leslie cabinet guitar tones. Haino’s explosively untutored approach to the drumkit will be familiar to some listeners from the radical duo iteration of Fushitsusha heard on Origin’s Hesitation. Setting flurries of rapid activity against moments of silence, his drumming here at times suggests Milford Graves in its tumbling toms and thudding kick-drum propulsion. Accompanied by O’Rourke’s organ and Ambarchi’s guitar, which in their shared use of long tones and shifting modulation speeds almost blend into a single voice, the opening sections of this performance are some of the most magical music the trio has committed to tape thus far.After an interlude of spoken vocals in both Japanese and English, Haino makes a dramatic entrance on guitar. Against O’Rourke and Ambarchi’s increasingly intense electronic backdrop, Haino unleashes a stunning passage of slowly moving chromatic melodies and sudden shrieking explosions bathed in distortion and reverb. By the time we reach the third side, the guitar/bass/drums power trio is established and lurches into a passage of massive, lumbering rock that threatens to fall apart at every beat, O’Rourke’s strummed chordal work on six string bass creating a harmonic density equivalent to a second guitar. An abrupt edit throws the listener in media res into a frantic locked groove grounded by fuzzed out bass patterns and caveman drums. As Haino moves through a variety of approaches, from massive edifices of stuttering fuzz to ominous swarms of feedback, the trio eventually stumble into a kind of Harmolodic military tattoo, Haino’s guitar weaving and slashing across the rhythm section’s irregular accents. Moving through an epic opening duet for O’Rourke on Hammond and Haino’s wailing guitar, the fourth side eventually ramps up into a frenetic finale of mad bass riffing, crackling snare hits and guitar squall.“Caught in the dilemma of being made to choose” This makes the modesty which should never been closed off itself Continue to ask itself: “Ready or not?” is a testament to the continuing power and invention of this trio, who continue to seek out new terrain after over a decade working together.
Caught in the dilemma of being made to choose – Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi
Black Truffle is pleased to announce World in World, the latest solo offering from prolific Berlin-based guitarist-composer Julia Reidy. Where the recent trilogy of LP releases – brace, brace (Slip, 2019), In Real Life (Black Truffle, 2019), and Vanish (Editions Mego, 2020) – focussed on increasingly lush electronic settings for Reidy’s propulsive fingerpicking and auto-tuned vocals, arranged into wide-ranging side-long epics, World in World finds Reidy refocusing on the core elements of their approach while simultaneously pushing into challenging new areas. Comprising nine pieces ranging between two and seven minutes in length, the album’s opening title track promptly introduces the distinctive palette of just-intoned electric guitars, subtle electronic processing, and voice that is rigorously explored throughout.Where much of Reidy’s guitar work on previous recordings explored rapidly pulsed cycling figures, here notes often hang in the air in a more spacious, lyrical fashion. The elasticity of rhythm and non-linear repetition of pitches initially suggests improvisation until the listener becomes aware of the precise arrangements of spatialised lines. At times, World in World suggests classic bedroom electric guitar works of the 1990s such as Loren Connors’ Airs or Roy Montgomery’s Scenes from the South Island; like those works, Reidy’s possesses a wonderfully live ambience, with frequent pedal clicks adding to the music’s powerful sense of intimacy. In Reidy’s case, however, the yearning, melancholic mood of Connors or Montgomery is tempered by the unorthodox guitar tuning, which at points produces a unique and uncomfortable effect somewhere between the hyper-precision of Harry Partch or Lou Harrison and Jandek’s slack-stringed descent into the void.While World in World plots out its terrain with a bold single-mindedness that allows some pieces to appear almost as variations on a common theme, subtle changes in emphasis distinguish each track. Tactile percussive interjections skitter across the tremolo tones of ‘Paradise in Unrecognisable Colours’, while ‘Ajar’ ramps up the role played by the electronics, with glitching pitch-shifted and back-masked textures threaded through the guitars and thickly harmonised vocal layers. Ranging from autotuned melodic lines to buried murmurs, Reidy’s voice is a frequent presence throughout these nine pieces, at times creating the impression that a more conventional series of songs lurks underneath the chiming microtonal guitars. On the stunning ‘Poised’, whispers and distant, ghostly wails surround the layers of guitars, at times suggesting the foggiest outer reaches of Liz Harris’ Grouper. Both rigorously experimental and emotive, World in World is undoubtedly Julia Reidy’s finest work yet.
Julia Reidy – World in World
Black Truffle is pleased to present Landscape and Voice, a radical new work (and rare vinyl release) from major Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda. Undoubtedly one of the most influential artists working with location recordings since the 1990s, Tsunoda’s work possesses a rigorously searching quality that sets him apart from his contemporaries. Tsunoda is known to many listeners for the subtle atmospheric poetry of his early Extract from Field Recording Archive series, which focussed on vibrations recorded in various indoor and outdoor environments in his native Miura Peninsula, often inside pipes, bottles and other vessels. In more recent years, his work has explored the implications of his claim that field recording should be seen as ‘depiction’ rather than ‘documentation’. He has explored disorienting editing and processing in his works with Taku Unami, and, perhaps most radically, represented Maguchi Bay as a kind of kinetic sculpture for shaking speakers by removing all but the inaudible low frequencies from a field recording (Low Frequency Observed at Maguchi Bay).One of the recurrent concerns of Tsunoda’s recent work, as he explains in the crystalline liner notes accompanying this release, is ‘exploring how I can establish a subjective relationship with an environment, rather than seeing it merely as an object to be recorded’. This has taken various forms, from documenting simultaneously an outdoor environment and the blood flowing through the listener/recorder’s body (captured with a stethoscope) on The Temple Recordings, to representing his own experience of the landscape as made up of ‘grains of space and time’ by inserting looped fragments into field recordings in Grains of Spring.On Landscape and Voice, this meeting between subject and object becomes an almost mystical union between the natural and the human. As with all of Tsunoda’s work, a relatively simple concept leads to compelling, thought-provoking results. Landscape and Voice combines vowel sounds spoken by six voices with short, looped fragments of field recordings, their noise character suggesting consonants: voice and landscape thus join together in something like words. The record consists of three pieces, each using a different, richly evocative field recording, which periodically freezes, catching on a looped fragment to which is synchronised an abruptly looped spoken vowel sound. The lengths between these interruptions vary, as do the tempi of the loops. The interruption of these lushly immersive recordings of the world – bristling with bird song, rushing water, distant traffic, and clinking metal – only serves to intensify them, as if the depicted environment itself had been returned to the listener each time it abruptly reappears. At the same time, the constant interruption creates an uncannily frozen effect, as if the recorded environment were an object rather than a stretch of recorded time. When combined with the bare human presence of the vowel sounds, the result is both austere and magical. Pressed on 45RPM for maximum fidelity, in a gorgeous sleeve designed by Lasse Marhaug with liner notes from the composer, Landscape and Voice is a radical proposition from one of the deepest thinkers in contemporary sound.
Landscape and Voice – Toshiya Tsunoda
After her stunning collaboration with Jim O’Rourke (Le Piano Englouti, BT055), Brunhild Ferrari returns to Black Truffle with Stürmische Ruhe, her first duo with Christoph Heemann. A legendary figure in underground music, Heemann has quietly produced a unique body of work since his beginnings with the absurdist cutups of H.N.A.S. in the mid-1980, including collaborations with Merzbow, Organum and Nurse With Wound, the eerie psychedelia of Mirror (with Andrew Chalk), In Camera (with Timo van Lujik) and Plastic Palace People (with Jim O’Rourke), and the precise cinema pour l’oreille constructions of his solo works. Created together in Ferrari’s Parisian studio (once shared with Luc) between 2011 and 2014, Stürmische Ruhe is a single half-hour piece that folds rain and storm recordings into a intricately woven fabric of haunted electronics, unexpected edits and disorienting processing.Banging with the jarring thump of a slamming door (an element that will reappear periodically throughout the piece as a kind of punctuation mark), it is immediately obvious that concrete sound is used here in a free, poetic way outside of the strict confines of documentary field recording. The wind captured by Ferrari’s microphone roars and whistles, accompanied by thick clusters of wavering tones whose unpredictable rises and falls in volumes are synchronised with the bumping and thudding of windows and doors. At some points the microphone sound melts into a wavering low-bit digital smear before fanning out into broad, atmospheric depths. The cinema for the ear constructed here suggests not linear narrative or documentary, but an organic flow of cross-fades, double-exposures and abrupt cuts, a free-associative dream in which wind and water take on mythical characteristics.Throughout the piece's second half, layers of synthetic floating tones and pinging upward glissandi negotiate a constantly shifting balance with wind-borne whispers and rustles, at times dropping to silence, at others rising up with elemental force. As Ferrari explains in her liner notes, Stürmische Ruhe is a meeting of ‘completely opposite sound worlds’ in which ‘almost-violence’ is joined with a ‘reconciling harmony’. Reaffirming the infinite possibilities of the musique concrète tradition while avoiding its academic tropes, Stürmische Ruhe is accompanied by tri-lingual liner notes from Brunhild Ferrari and arrives in a sleeve graced with the beautiful art informel paintings of her father, Wolfgang Meyer Tomin. Cut at 45rpm for maximum fidelity.
Brunhild Ferrari & Christoph Heemann – Sturmische Ruhe
Following on from the stunning recording of her 1992 performance at the Berlin Parampara Festival (BT079), Black Truffle is pleased to continue its documentation of the work of Berlin-based Italian singer Amelia Cuni, one of the great contemporary exponents of dhrupad, the oldest surviving style of North Indian classical vocal music. Beautifully recorded in concert at Vishweshwarayya Hall, Mumbai. 04.02.1996 presents expansive performances of three ragas stretching across four sides and almost one and a half hours of music. Beginning with the serene Raga Lalit, Cuni dwells for over twenty-five minutes on its opening alap movement, accompanied only by tanpura, her limpid yet full-bodied voice moving from graceful exposition in free tempo to increasingly rhythmically active variations, gradually spiralling upward in register. She is then joined by master pakwahaj player Manik Munde for the raga’s dhrupad and dhamar sections, the resonant tone of the drum and his constant invention with the complex 14-beat cycle serving as the perfect accompaniment for Cuni’s ecstatic melodic developments.On the more solemn Raga Bhairav, Cuni’s alap, again stretching out over a whole side, is particularly notable for its powerful held notes and mastery of microtonal movement of pitch. After Munde returns for another rhythmically intricate dhamar movement, the record ends with the buoyancy of the Raga Alhaiya Bilaval, whose mode has, for the Western listener, an unmistakably ‘major’ quality. The rapturous applause that greets the performance is reflected in a remarkable selection of press clippings contemporary with the recording, which demonstrate Cuni’s success with Indian critics. Arriving in a gorgeous gatefold featuring stunning colour photographs of Cuni taken by legendary Australian fashion photographer Robyn Beeche (who resided in India from the early 90s), Mumbai. 04.02.1996 is a document of indescribable beauty and a moving testament to music’s ability to cross national and cultural borders.
Mumbai – Amelia Cuni