Confront Recordings

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Confront Recordings

Exclusively released through OTO, 'Priest's House' documents The Seen's Dorset outing, with a line up including Dominic Lash and Seth Cooke alongside local improvisers. Mark Wastell has been organising larger formations of musicians, collectively known as THE SEEN, for over 10 years, and thanks to Stuart Riddle the group were able to travel to Wimbourne Minster to form a new South West iteration. Using predominantly improvised material with occasional instructions or themes distributed to individual musicians just prior to performance. No formation has ever been repeated, THE SEEN never stays static.  Register of previous participants include Tetuzi Akiyama, Mattin, Michael Duch, Graham Halliwell, Andrea Neumann, Rhodri Davies, Paul Hood, Takehiro Nishide, Annette Krebs, Lee Gamble, Matt Davis, Joe Williamson, Wolfgang Fuchs, Burkhard Beins, Tomas Korber, Paul Abbott, Ben Owen, Jonathan McHugh, Jane Dickson, Olie Brice, Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, Bertrand Denzler, Angharad Davies, David Toop, Chris Burn, Richard Sanderson, Dominic Lash, Yoni Silver, Graham MacKeachan, John Butcher and Jason Kahn. “With The Seen, everything is up for grabs. Even the act of listening – so sacrosanct in the world of improvisation – becomes problematized, for in such a tapestry of sound and silence how can one process what’s happening at any one moment? Yet this impossibility of total response provides opportunities to form clusters within the whole, that break apart and reform in different configurations as things develop. For listeners, too, there are possibilities for moments of both detailed focus and wider-scale immersion.” (Paul Margree) --- Adrian Newton / electronicsTom Cleverly / guitar, trumpetPaul Allen / drums, percussionStuart Riddle / soprano saxophone, electronicsSeth Cooke / resonatorDominic Lash / double bassMark Wastell / tam tam --- Recorded at the Priest's House, Wimbourne Minster, 21.09,2018 by Adrian Newton. Mixed by Adrian Newton. Thanks to volunteers at The Priest’s House Museum.

The SEEN - Priest's House

"The Sealed Knot are one of the great free improvisation groups, comparable to the classic 1980s SME line-up of John Stevens, Nigel Coombes and Roger Smith for edge-of-your-seat attentiveness and sheer inter-group telepathy. Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell and Burkhard Beins have been a unit since 2000, a melding of London and Berlin. Recent sightings have been rare, but they played in Berlin this May, and now Wastell's revived Confront label is releasing this live album from January 2009. The purpose of the 2009 show was to celebrate Another Timbre's release of And We Disappear, recorded live in Switzerland at a 2007 festival titled Ear We Are. That album was about the yawning gulf between Davies's high, piercing ebow work and Wastell's glacial double bass. Whereas the new record has Wastell switching to tam tam, and all three musicians employing electronics - but lo-fi mechanical electronics, rather than digital processing. So there's a pleasing, subdued industrial fury lurking beneath the music. Filigrees of rapid clicking make way for subterranean pulsing, and Beins adds the super-pure tones of bowed cymbals, to blur the electric/acoustic distinction further. Around 18 minutes the group contemplate silence, before launching into a further 13 minutes of patient exploration and metallic mystery. Wastell has grumbled that critics are "always 12 months behind the flow" when it comes to describing what musicians are up to, and here he is, helping us along by releasing a four year old recording. Never mind that the trend-buzz around Lower Case Improv, New London Silence & co has worn off; with music of this quality we're dealing with simple excellence, and any opportunity to see this group at work should be seized." (Clive Bell, The Wire) --- Burkhard Beins / percussion, electronicsRhodri Davies / harp, electronicsMark Wastell / tam-tam, electronics --- Recorded live at the 'Another Timbre' Festival, Cafe OTO, London on January 21st, 2009.

The Sealed Knot - Live at Cafe OTO

Originally released in a tiny edition of 50 copies in 2000, this recording officially marks the beginning of The Sealed Knot as a regular group. Interestingly, the liner notes that accompanied that release make mention, for the first time in print, of the terms 'the new silence' and 'Berlin reductionism' ......... although listening now, all these years later, the music sounds far from silent and/or little reduced."The music on this cd was recorded live at All Angels, West London and documents the exciting ongoing collaboration between young musicians working in London and Berlin. Although all three performers have travelled between the two capital cities since the early 1990's playing in various combinations, this is their first concerts as a trio. Beins co-runs the 2.13 Berlin improvisation club, with guitarist Michael Renkel, in conjunction with it's sister organisations in London and Athens. All three clubs are named after a stopped clock at the original London venue. Critics have dubbed Wastell and Davies' music 'the new silence' and Beins' German counterpart 'new Berlin reductionism'. Categories aside, this is improvised music concerned with space, texture and time, emphasised by the gently ticking clock at the back of All Angels as sounds fade into silence." (Original liner notes) --- Burkhard Beins / percussionRhodri Davies / harp Mark Wastell / violoncello ---Recorded live in concert by Tim Fletcher at St. Michael & All Angels Church, West London on 14 April 2000.

The Sealed Knot - All Angels

"One day, I hope, the story will be written. The story of the group IST and its relationship to the birth of the music that subsequently became variously known as 'New London Silence' or 'Lower Case Improv' (and yes, I use those upper case letters intentionally). Perhaps the learned critics (who seem very rarely to actually ask the musicians) will tell us just what our place is in this history. Certainly we were not the first - Rhodri and Mark were much influenced by Radu Malfatti and Phil Durrant (among others) at this time (or so it seemed to me), but we were among the first. From my own personal point of view, playing this new kind of provocatively distilled music seemed like a coherently radical response to the expansive intensity of groups such as Hession/Wilkinson/Fell and Descension. I have always had a certain sinful pride in the breadth of my discography at this time, and looking back I'm still impressed by the fact that at one period I was simultaneously playing with Descension and IST. These two groups have more in common than their radical diversity, however. Perhaps more than any other groups in which I've participated, each performance by these ensembles seemed to represent a kind of manifesto - a real challenging of the ways a certain number of our audience might have of thinking about music, and what it should be. But whilst Descension's discography amounts to one appallingly-recorded and long out-of-print CD, we are fortunate that IST was much better documented on numerous occasions. It's only fair to point out that IST didn't begin with the purity it later developed. The very early recordings released on the 'Anagrams To Avoid' LP show a group still wedded to the music of free, unrestrained activity. But the chemical processes resulting from the combining of Rhodri and Mark didn't take long to come to fruition (my act of introducing Rhodri to Mark and vice versa might one day merit me a footnote in someone's thesis). One such 'manifesto' performance was our appearance at Berlin's Total Music Meeting in 2001. Perhaps it is difficult for some people now to understand the significance of a group such as ours playing at the Total Music Meeting at that time. I don't intend to write this history now either, but from a free/improvised music point of view Berlin in 2001 was far from the place it is now - a chapter in the history of free music was drawing to a close, but for the moment the old ways of doing things still reigned supreme. We played the music you will hear on this recording - and not for the first time caused quite a stir. In particular, a younger generation of Berlin musicians seemed to feel the musical permafrost cracking. The response of the audience at the end of our set - those who had stayed - gives some flavour of the impact of this performance. Of course, this is all somewhat of a storm in a teacup. We didn't change the world, perhaps we didn't even change the Berlin musical world. But we did play a short but exceptional set; the music is here to hear, the rest you can decide for yourself." Simon H. Fell (May 2013) --- Rhodri Davies / harpSimon H. Fell / double bassMark Wastell / violoncello ---  Recorded at Total Music Meeting, Podewil, Berlin in 2001.

IST - berlin

"When I first listened to Terrain (Confront), we were in the midst of an unexpected second snow in North Carolina. There was something alien and unpredictable about this circumstance, and it seemed to suit this lovely recording from Graham Halliwell and Lee Patterson. Halliwell’s stunning saxophone feedback seems perfectly apposite here, a presence in motion beneath and amidst the distinct environments that Patterson (field recordings and amplified devices) generates. The disc is quite simply one of the richest things I’ve heard this year. Throughout much of this recording there’s a lovely rubbed glass effect which, to my ears at least, partially recalls Bernhard Günter’s contributions to +Minus. These are frosty, icy laminations, amidst which Halliwell seems to be working in an almost imperceptibly intervallic fashion. Occasionally there are slow pulses – almost like homing beacons – that seem to well up. This is especially effective on the opening track, where it ushers in a series of suggestive changes, from a passage of relative density to a distant rumble at the margins and some soft watery drips – it’s almost like being in some cocoon and floated downriver, with everything outside only barely audible. Some similar effect is achieved on the fourth and final selection here, which plumbs the depths in what sounds like a contact-miked bathysphere (or some reverberant frame drum). Yet elsewhere the music sounds somewhat more direct in its articulation. The second piece deals openly with stark contrast in both tonality and dynamic – an emphatic low buzz here, and there a distant feedback whine of crystals singing together, with midrange hum slowly snaking throughout. The third track reveals a beatific glow from within a gentle gauze covering, but there’s no Fenneszian slumber here; rather, the piece delivers some intriguing dissonances and even a few arch harmonic moves. I suppose it’s in the distance between amorphous sound and definite gesture that Halliwell’s and Patterson’s music takes shape. Unpredictable in its beauty, it seems to come and go, almost like the ripples left by rocks skipping over the surface of a pond. (Jason Bivins, Bagatellen) --- Lee Patterson / field recordings and amplified devices Graham Halliwell / saxophone feedback and processing --- Recorded July 2006. 

Halliwell & Patterson - Terrain

Mark Wastell has been organising larger formations of musicians, collectively known as THE SEEN, for over 10 years. Using predominantly improvised material with occasional instructions or themes distributed to individual musicians just prior to performance. No formation has ever been repeated, THE SEEN never stays static.  Register of previous participants include Tetuzi Akiyama, Mattin, Michael Duch, Graham Halliwell, Andrea Neumann, Rhodri Davies, Paul Hood, Takehiro Nishide, Annette Krebs, Lee Gamble, Matt Davis, Joe Williamson, Wolfgang Fuchs, Burkhard Beins, Tomas Korber, Paul Abbott, Ben Owen, Jonathan McHugh, Jane Dickson, Olie Brice, Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, Bertrand Denzler, Angharad Davies, David Toop, Chris Burn, Richard Sanderson, Dominic Lash, Yoni Silver, Graham MacKeachan, John Butcher and Jason Kahn. “With The Seen, everything is up for grabs. Even the act of listening – so sacrosanct in the world of improvisation – becomes problematized, for in such a tapestry of sound and silence how can one process what’s happening at any one moment? Yet this impossibility of total response provides opportunities to form clusters within the whole, that break apart and reform in different configurations as things develop. For listeners, too, there are possibilities for moments of both detailed focus and wider-scale immersion.” (Paul Margree) This product page is only for Volume II, but you can buy the whole set at a reduced price here.  Volume II: THE SEEN // TEATERHUSET AVANT GARDEN, TRONDHEIM, NORWAY 12.05.2006Mark Wastell : tam tamWolfgang Fuchs : record playersBertrand Denzler : saxophonesAngharad Davies : violinBurkhard Beins : percussionGraham Halliwell : feedback saxophoneTomas Korber : electronicsBenedict Drew : electronicsDominic Lash : double bass

THE SEEN: ARCHIVE : Volume II