Jazz / Free Jazz
Outsider / Art Brut
David Maranha’s recordings stretch back over 20 years with the Portuguese avant trio Osso Exótico, as well as collaborations with Z’ev and Minit. A followup to Marches Of The New World (2007), Antarctica is made up of two side-long excursions into monolithic drone-rock. In the vein of Tony Conrad & Faust, “Venus In Furs,” La Monte Young and Terry Riley, Maranha’s ensemble is driven by keyboards, strings, and hypnotized-heartbeat percussion. Like the great white expanse of the titular continent, it can be taken in simply as a glorious wash of sound; listen to it closely, however, and you’ll hear the smallest details jump out in high relief: a feather can move a mountain."
"They started playing this album and there was this really heavy, slow, dragging rhythm to it, a bit like John Cale's viola drones, times a hundred. It sounded so warm that it was like embers from a bonfire." - Elias Rønnenfelt
“The keening violin nicely shorts out most higher thought, the buzzing organ evaporates the rest, and the music’s stolid trudge will lure your pulse into locked step. The textures are raw, the sound hypnotic, the effect nicely time-stopping.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
“Favoring intensity over sheer volume, Maranha and co achieve a focused minimalism that riff based drone rockers aspire to but cannot reach.” – Nick Southgate, The Wire
“Sottilli le variazioni tra la prima e la seconda facciata (niente titoli): batteria che dipana un 4/4 lento e mortuario, organo che naviga e gorgoglia, violino dissonante che disgena, stira e allunga refrain insistiti, un suono che avvolge e stranisce i sensi colpendo al cuore con movimenti di nostalgia irrimediabile (splendido il lavoro di basso di Pilia e di chitarra di Wanke nel secondo late, un letterale capolavoro) che delineano scenari di ghiaccio immoto, solitudine – bianchissimi.” – Stefano I. Bianchi, Blow Up
David Maranha - Antarctica
In the spring of 1998, guitarist Jeff Fuccillo (Irving Klaw Trio, Wham-O, Hochenkeit) met avant-folk guru John Fahey while opening for his trio at a gig in Portland, Oregon. Fahey was sufficiently impressed, and booked studio time to record Fuccillo for his label. On the day of the session, Fuccillo arrived prepared to make a solo acoustic guitar album. To his surprise, Fahey had brought along a pile of samples — random snatches of music, all manner of sound effects — and without warning, began shooting them out into the studio room through the monitors, effecting a guerrilla collaboration of sorts. Disturbed Strings captures the highlights of that day: veering from hardscrabble stringrattling to modal melodicism, the album is ample testament to Fuccillo’s wide-ranging inventiveness as an improvising guitarist, as well as a window into an aspect of Fahey’s artistry not previously represented on record. Released in an edition of 542 copies, with artwork by Fahey and Judith Lindbloom.
“Damn, what a great record!… The hepness of the way this guy bends and hammers strings makes it impossible to peg stylistically, seeming as it does, to owe equal debts to Derek Bailey, Robbie Basho and Jandek.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
“…an enticing introduction to Fuccillo’s ‘solo’ art, and something that Fahey completists will need to own.” – Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
“…fascinating and stylistically dizzying…” – Ethan Covey, Dusted
Jeff Fuccillo - Disturbed Strings
On a hot Minneapolis night in the summer of 2001, the legendary avant/jazz group Curlew played a scorching gig at the now-defunct Gus Lucky’s Gallery. Gussie documents that evening: the veteran improvising group dispensed with their compositions altogether and took an eminently successful walk along the free-improv tightrope. The ever-evolving lineup featured George Cartwright (saxophones), Davey Williams (guitar), Chris Parker (piano), Fred Chalenor (bass), and Bruce Golden (percussion). A limited edition of 436 copies, with hand-drawn covers by Anne Elias.
“A monster of soul-churned improv snacks… pressed in fidelity that can only be described as dandy. What a treat.” — Byron Coley, Arthur
“This limited edition LP contains none of that tight avant-jazz riffing any fan of the band is used to. That being said, anyone who has witnessed George Cartwright’s group in the flesh knows that free improv is part of their modus operandi… Once the shock subsides, the intricacy of the playing and the inspiration of the musicians can percolate.” – Francois Couture, All Music Guide
“…shows the group taking chances… Each member plays with surprising restraint, focusing on the creation of gauzy electronic textures that stretch in improbable and satisfying ways.” – James Beaudreau, One Final Note “It’s a woolly pile of noise, but listened to in the right frame of mind, very exciting.” – Jerome Wilson, Cadence “Curlew sound in top form as they scrape, scratch, tinkle and blow their way through a set bulging with surprises and thrilling moments.” – Edwin Pouncey, The Wire
Curlew - Gussie
"Live album by virtuosic musical carpenter Paul Metzger, culled from many hours of concert recordings. Side one comprises Metzger's public debut on his modified banjo, recorded in 2002 at a former church-turned-underground art space in Minneapolis. One of his most memorable compositions, 'After Milo' later turned up as an untitled improvisation on his CD for the Chairkickers label. Jumping ahead six years (and several more banjo alterations later) to side two, the glittering 'Orans' gets a workout at a memorial show for the artist Matt Zaun. As an acknowledgment of the occasion, Metzger also gave a one-time-only performance -- 'Dark Green Water' -- on another of his mutant instruments: an acoustic guitar with the body drilled out to accommodate a cymbal set into its face, and ten assorted strings of varying lengths laid over the top, giving it a particularly metallic and dissonant sound."
1. After Milo - 20:292. Dark Green Water - 7:253. Orans - 13:48
Side one recorded 5 July 2002 at the church, Minneapolis, MN Side two recorded 18 January 2008 at the Ritz, Minneapolis, MN
Paul Metzger - Anamnestic Splitter
A major figure in 20th century arts and music (and beyond), Philip Corner studied with Henry Cowell and Olivier Messiaen, and was one of the original Fluxus conspirators, among other highlights of his long and storied career. As part of the body of his 'Metal Meditations' work, Gong/Ear is a decades-long series of improvisations with dancers. Utilizing his favorite Paiste tam-tam, these two recordings from Corner's NYC Leonard Street loft in 1989 are a feedback loop of perceptions between gong and dance: 'the initiating sound (or is it the dancer's posture?) is made physically audible. Responsive movement is turned back into sound. Musical attentiveness sends it back and it continues.'
It’s 1989 in NYC. Public Enemy is winding them up for “Fight the Power” and Philip Corner is elsewhere, with dancers. He bangs a gong and they get it on. Two long, meditative tracks of nothing but gong and the stray om chant, but what a sound this makes – these are ostensibly cassette recordings but they explore the resonant frequencies of Corner’s favored Paiste tam-tam within the kind of loft space that artists in the city can’t get anymore. These documents allow you to access, against the tension of tape hiss, the entire surface of the instrument, the physicality of playing it and the measurement of that response. Here’s where I’d tell you about Corner’s history in the arts but let’s skip that for now and concentrate on the gong show at hand, a beatific sound that seems to go beyond the realm of meditative and into the connections between our atoms. You can feel this. Edition of 305 with a metal gong mounted on the cover with silkscreened calligraphy. Seriously, you need to experience this.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single
“Recorded at his New York City loft on two separate dates in April 1989, Gong/Ear: Dance-ing, 1 & 2 forms part of Corner’s continuing metallic meditations exploring the reverberating qualities of bells and other metal objects. Unfolding over many decades, the Gong/Ear series explores the spontaneous feedback between a gong player and a dancer, interacting with each other as they perform together. “Responsive movement is turned back into sound,” he notes of these sessions. “Musicianly attentiveness sends it back and it continues.” The two performances preserved here, one with Claude Cossette and the other with Elisabeth Vittori, convey with direct simplicity the physical intensity of the sounds produced.
Corner’s favourite Paiste tam-tam becomes a sounding board for the entire room: the natural timbre of the instrument is intensified not only by the often vigorous tempi with which he keeps pace with the individual dancers but also by the unpredictable distortions produced as the recording device becomes overloaded by the extreme volume levels produced. These, as Corner specifies in the short sleevenotes to this LP, “are inherent and desired”. The tape machine becomes in effect a third participant in the performance: everything it picks up is accepted as part of the finished piece. There is a wonderful moment near the start of the Vittori session when a telephone rings somewhere in the room, the metallic chimes of its bell contrasting neatly with the resonant swell of the gong; rather than stop the recording and start again, Corner briefly answers the call, barely missing a beat before he continues playing.
This acceptance of the complete and unedited performance as it was recorded is indicative of Corner’s rejection of those aesthetic distinctions that separate music from noise, unanticipated occurrences or the movements of the body.” – Ken Hollings, The Wire
Philip Corner - Gong Ear dance-ing, 1 & 2
It takes a certain amount of confidence for a musician to stand alone on a stage or in a recording studio and play an instrument. One of the few masters of jazz reed instruments, Joe McPhee still proceeds to make music as if for the first time. He is a master of the instruments he plays because, like an athlete, he maintains the physical chops as well as an openness to the application of the musical vocabulary he has cultivated over time.
The music was recorded at a live performance on May 4, 2009, at Local 269, a small club on the Lower East Side of New York City. And, for this performance, he chose to play two instruments rather than one: the alto sax and alto clarinet.
1. Lower East Side Shout (for Alton Pickens) - 13:082. Old Eyes (for Ornette Coleman) - 6:403. W.I.S. (for Warren Smith) - 6:364. Soul Of A Poet (for Steve Dalachinsky) - 8:315. Take The V Train - 6:27
Joe McPhee - Alto
"A document of Joe McPhee’s first solo concert devoted exclusively to the straight horn, Soprano is both a companion volume to his previous LP for Roaratorio (Everything Happens For A Reason) and a follow up to his classic album Tenor, which raised the bar for solo saxophone music over 30 years ago. Recorded live in St. George’s Church at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 1998, Soprano was inspired by Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening performance at the venue the previous year. The acoustics of the church provided a natural web of reverberation and delay, and compose as much a part of the sonic palette as Michael Overhage’s farmhouse did for Tenor. McPhee’s art is informed by the head and the heart in equal measures, and Soprano is thoughtful, passionate music from one of jazz’s most eloquent practitioners."
“The musicality encountered in each of the four pieces transcends any quotidian meaning of the word… The shape of [Mcphee's] ideation is direct; the underlying message is deep and the beauty of the music, awe-inspiring.” – Lyn Horton, All About Jazz
“…another fine notch in McPhee’s discography of unaccompanied music.” – Clifford Allen, Paris Transatlantic
“Hearing this lovely recital, it’s hard to believe this one sat for nearly a decade… fantastic stuff.” – Jason Bivins, Cadence
“…this album is a wonderful souvenir of Joe’s playing at his most mesmeric and spatial. The way he interacts with the natural acoustics of the chapel is spell-binding.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
1. Response Ability Part I - 8:592. Response Ability Part II - 4:063. A Night On Rose Mountain - 11:214. In Order To Hear - 8:08
Joe McPhee - Soprano
"In the ever-growing discography of master musician Joe McPhee, his solo albums have stood out as supreme ur-texts of his consummate improvising and compositional skills. Joining the ranks of such landmark records as Tenor, Graphics, and As Serious As Your Life, Everything Happens For A Reason is an unadorned showcase of this influential pioneer in the world of creative improvised music. Recorded live in Austria in November of 2003, Everything Happens For A Reason features McPhee on pocket trumpet, soprano and alto saxophones."
“…this is a magnificent recording and bountiful evidence of McPhee’s spirit-flame.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
“This Roaratorio disc is a thing of beauty…Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee ensures that the sounds that emanate from the speakers are equal to the high quality packaging.” – David Dupont, Cadence
“A beautiful addition to the shelf” – David Keenan, The Wire
(****) 4 stars - Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, 8th edition
Joe McPhee / saxophone, trumpet
1. Mythos - 7:332. Vieux Carre - 9:113. Come Sunday - 7:284. Everything Happens For A Reason - 9:355. J2 - 5:436. Voices - 5:26
Joe McPhee - Everything Happens For A Reason
Debut of the now classic duo of Corsano & McPhee, recorded at Les Instants Chavirés. “With a career now spanning over 40 years and more than 100 recordings, Joe McPhee has shown that emotional content and theoretical underpinnings are thoroughly compatible — and in fact, a critically important pairing — in the world of creative improvised music. Since recording The Hated Music with Paul Flaherty in 2000, Chris Corsano has been hyper-active in far-reaching corners of the free improvised world. Under A Double Moon, recorded live in Paris during a spring 2010 tour of Europe, is their first album together (and, given how phenomenally simpatico a partnership they’ve forged, we hope it’s not the last).”
“Both Corsano and McPhee share an autodidactic approach to jazz, using anything from thriftstore miscellany to customised electronics to explain the white heat of their creativity. Both have almost unquantifiable discographies that extend well beyond the confines of ‘jazz’; McPhee studied Deep Listening techniques with Pauline Oliveros and Corsano has sparred with everyone from Jim O’Rourke to Björk. Both have lived in Europe, enjoying the hospitality extended to innumerable US free jazz expats that had eluded them in their native terrain. Most impressively, both are lavishly gifted musicians. If McPhee’s 1969 album, Underground Railroad, represented a watershed in high velocity, second generation free blowing, then Corsano’s debut with Paul Flaherty, The Hated Music, saw the drummer pick up the baton, skewer a bouncing ball with it and rub it against a cymbal until it sang like a sea lion. Suffice to say Under A Double Moon goes beyond the scorched-earth Fire Music you might expect. The two long tracks that comprise side one, “Dark Matter: Parts 1 And 2”, shows Corsano at his most flexible as he switches from gamelan-inflected tuned percussion to subtle brushwork to omnivorous hard bop, providing a multiplicity of textures for McPhee’s assorted reeds. McPhee is dominant in the mix, which can obscure the sheer multi-dimensionality of Corsano’s drumming, but both players leave ample room for the other to solo. In fact, both use silence like a weapon – loading the pauses with dramatic intent before unleashing another blizzard of ideas. “For Giuseppe Logan” is an exuberant tribute to the underrated ESP-Disk alto player and is probably the most melodically engaging piece, while album closer “In Lieu Of Flowers” is a beautifully ponderous, starspangled soprano workout that shows yet another dimension to their repertoire. This is an intricately detailed set by two titanic players, spanning two generations. The fire ain’t out yet, baby.” – Alex Neilson, The Wire
Joe McPhee & Chris Corsano - Under A Double Moon
Paul Metzger continues to pile up the plaudits from critics and peers alike for his virtuosic string-slinging, gaining notice through his CD on Chairkickers and his split LP with Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano on Roaratorio. Metzger’s modified banjo is tricked out with additional sympathetic raga strings, although the compositions onGedanken Splitter are informed by much more than Eastern drone music alone. Recorded in the same period as 2007’s Deliverance on Locust Music, this is a more jagged and aggressive (although no less accessible) affair. Metzger winds these improvisations around thornier threads than on his previous releases, and while never turning completely abstract, Gedanken Splittermoves even further away from anything resembling typical banjo fare. This is mesmerizing and singular playing.“Gedanken Splitter is ferocious, frantic, yet entirely on-course — easily Metzger’s most aggressive waxing yet.” – Bill Meyer, Signal To Noise
“Metzger’s furious banjo virtuoso returns for another perplexing, yet rewarding set of avant-tantrums. Taking on percussive qualities as well as sounding like a mutation of sitar, steel acoustic, and banjo just, he’s restrung and modified his instrument to take on tasks it was never designed for, so his composition accounts for what he’s allowed himself to do as much as where his head is to bring it across. Since nobody else has ever written for this variation of the instrument before, a lot of what you hear on Metzger’s recordings takes this innovation into account, tempering clawhammer playing styles with what he’s been able to create outside of it, applying an atonal, clashing chord structure across prickly rhythmic playing. Use of space seems to be frowned upon, and few notes are allowed to ring out as Metzger thrashes away at his monstrosity, playing in uncharted territory and shaking up the audience in the process. Engaging but quite uneasy.” – Doug Mosurock, Dusted
“If Paul Metzger’s last album Deliverance evinced his yearning to free the banjo from the shackles of convention, Gedanken Splitter shows what comes after the chains hit the earth… Metzger’s attack is unmatched in the new American Primitive camp.” – Bill Meyer, The Wire
“His music can remind you of a raga with its long introductory sections and spiraling modal fretwork, or suggest a careening detuned front porch blues, but it’s often hard to relate what he’s doing to any familiar musical style.” – Clifford Allen, Signal To Noise
“A stellar little record” – Patrick Marley, Bixobal
Paul Metzger / banjo, guitar
Recorded by Dave Onnen.
Paul Metzger - Gedanken Splitter
The Al Maslakh label (translation: The Slaughterhouse) has been documenting far-thinking sounds from the small but vital Lebanese scene since 2005. The “A” Trio’s first release, Music To Our Ears, was one of the most startling debuts of 2011; now, Roaratorio is proud to present their second album (and first vinyl release): Live In Nickelsdorf, recorded at the Konfrontationen Festival in 2012. While far from the first to employ extended techniques on their respective instruments, Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet), Sharif Sehnaoui (acoustic guitar), and Raed Yassin (doublebass) create a music that bears little relation to others who traffic in the same outer realms. Heavily textural, frequently perplexing, sometimes unsettling but always suffused with a provocative intelligence, this is the sound of a collective ur-mind that favors the long gesture over pointillistic strokes. Their capacity for generating aural illusions – one would be hard-pressed to identify the instrumentation as three acoustic instruments, with no electronics or overdubs whatsoever – is astounding, but it’s their skill at harnessing these uncanny tones into a consistently engaging and powerful sound-world that elevates the “A” Trio into the front rank of contemporary improvisational groups.
“Having taken their exploration of acoustic extended techniques even further on again from their 2010 debut, so little remains of the traditional sound of trumpet, guitar and double bass that it feels like the relevant traditions have been passed through a mincing machine. It’s so oppressive and frequently unnerving in its insistent and uncompromising intensity that when traditional instrument sounds do poke their heads up through the subterranean grittiness, they serve as a reminder of how remarkable the trio’s unedited, overdub-free approach really is.” – Richard Pinnell, The Wire
Sharif Sehnaoui / acoustic gutarRaed Yassin / double bassMazen Kerbaj / trumpet
Recorded live at the Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf on Saturday 21st of July 2012 during the 33rd Konfrontationen Festival. Photography by Tanya Traboulsi. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Michael W. Huon.
"A" Trio - Live In Nickelsdorf
In 1976, Joe McPhee recorded the landmark album Tenor, kicking off a solo period of finding and refining the distinctive voice that continues to inform his music to this day. Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984) is a collection of material from McPhee’s personal archives that shines new light on the legendary multi-instrumentalist’s work during this time. “Wind Cycles,” for tenor saxophone, explores the permutations of breath on reed and brass, from quiet whispers to full-throated cries and back again. With “The Redwood Rag,” McPhee takes a jaunty melody and gives it a swinging workout with Steve Lacy-like precision. The free-blowing alto excursion “Ice Blu” is, in McPhee’s words, “a sound which evokes an image, which asks a question ‘What is that?’ and the answer is, a sound which evokes an image which asks a question.” “Voices,” one of his signature compositions, gets a particularly haunting treatment here on soprano, with McPhee incorporating various electronics to mesmerizing effect. All together, Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984) is the distilled essence of one of the most important creative improvising musicians of our time.
“Whether it’s amplifying keypad pops or finding harmonics that split his notes into a mass of complex, unfurling tones, he gets you with a feeling as well as a sound… Although McPhee’s music is without compromise, he’s always struck me an excellent gateway figure for people trying to get a handle on free improvisation because the connections between his confrontational and approachable sides is never too hard to find.” – Bill Meyer, Still Single
Joe McPhee / saxophones, electronics
Artwork by Judith Lindbloom
Joe McPhee - Solo : The Lost Tapes (1980 - 1981 - 1984)
"These rehearsal tapes are anything but demo recordings. They are the building blocks for live performances, extended arranged samples. Sun Ra's constant rehearsals were more than just practice. The music here is meditative, soul nurturing medicine." - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
One might think, with a discography as extensive as the one Sun Ra boasts, that the scope of his work has been fully apprehended by this point, but The Intergalactic Thing demonstrates its seemingly bottomless depths. This is not a complete surprise: anyone who saw Ra and the Arkestra perform will remember the sight of the band quickly shuffling through an imposingly thick stack of sheet music, when Sunny would call the next tune on the program with an encrypted hint on his keyboard. Band members tell stories of spending long hours practicing a newly-written composition, only to never play it again. Here, we have a taste of what’s been hidden: drawn from rehearsals at the Sun Ra house in Philadelphia from 1969, The Intergalactic Thing introduces a dozen never-before-heard pieces from Ra’s songbook – tunes that may have never even made it to the bandstand, let alone the recording studio – along with a handful of reworkings of such Ra classics as “Spontaneous Simplicity” and “The Exotic Forest.” Without a doubt, this is one of the most important augmentations to the Sun Ra catalog in many a moon.
Danny Davis / saxophone, flute, percussionMarshall Allen / saxophone, oboe, flute, percussionDanny Ray Thompson / saxophone, percussionAlex Blake / bassKeno Speller / congasRashid Salim IV / congasLex Humphries / drumsNimrod Hunt / drumsSun Ra / organ, clavinetJames Jacson / percussionCharles Stephens / trombone, percussionAkh Tal Ebah / percussion, trumpet, mellophone
Recorded August - November 1969, Sun Studios, Philadelphia, PA
Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra - The Intergalactic Thing
Roaratorio’s survey of the unheard Sun Ra continues with Sun Embassy. Consisting of recordings from Sun Studios (aka Ra’s house in Philadelphia) from 1968-1969, the album features nine tracks : six compositions which have never been heard before in any form, plus fresh coats of paint on such 1950s classics as “Sunology” and “Ancient Aiethiopia,” and an early rendition of “Why Go To The Moon?”. Essential listening for Sun Ra devotees.
Danny Davis / alto saxophone (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2, B4, B5) flute (tracks: B1, B2)Marshall Allen / alto saxophone (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2-B5) flute (tracks: A1, A4, B1, B2) piccolo flute (tracks: B4, B5)Ronnie Boykins / bassDanny Ray Thompson / bongos, flute (tracks: B1)John Gilmore / clarinet, tenor saxophone (tracks: A3, A4, B2-B5)Sun Ra / clavinet (tracks: A2, A4) organ (tracks: A3, B1, B3-B5) space master (tracks: B2)Carl Malone aka Nimrod Hunt / congas (tracks: B1)Lex Humphries / drums (tracks: A1, A3, B4, B5) Charles Stevens / trombone (tracks: A4)Walter Miller / trumpet (tracks: B2)
"The Stranger" recorded 1968-05-14."Dance of Fire" and "Cosmic Strut" recorded 1968-06-21."Why Go To The Moon?" and "Ancient Aethiopia" recorded 1968-08-08."Walk Around Saturn" recorded 1969-06-28."My Reality Is Real," "Sun Embassy," and "Sunology" recorded 1969-10-21.
Produced by Michael D. Anderson. Artwork by Emily Kaplan. Recorded at Sun Studios 1968-69)
Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra - Sun Embassy
“Les Barricades Mistérieuses,” the harpsichord gem by French Baroque composer François Couperin, has been a long-running source of exploration for Fluxus musician Philip Corner, who for years has used it as a jumping-off point for piano improvisations. Through Two More-Than-Mysterious Barricades comprises two very different takes on the same piece. The first dates from 1992, in collaboration with dancer Paulette Sears (who provides the ‘singings and screamings’ of the album’s subtitle); it moves from a frenzy of abstraction to a more meditative take on Couperin’s composition, with diversions and tributaries along the way. The second, from 2004, is a rougher beast: recorded with wildly over-saturated levels, the tape machine itself becomes a participant in the performance, with its heavy distortion bringing out stormclouds of overtones from Corner’s piano."
Paulette Sears / vocals
Philip Corner / piano
Improvisations after François Couperin. And more-of un-ashamed microphone in(ter)vention with Singings and Screamings
Philip Corner - Through Two More-Than-Mysterious Barricades
At age 78, Joe McPhee shows no sign of slowing down. Plan B is the master improviser’s new trio, with James Keepnews on guitar & laptop and David Berger on drums. A soundtrack to a science fiction movie existing only in their heads, From Outer Space finds McPhee and company envisioning the first encounter between alien life and a delegation of earthlings (while giving a nod to jazz’s original man from another planet, Sun Ra, with a side-long suite dedicated to him). It’s quite unlike anything else in McPhee’s vast discography. Cover art by Judith Lindbloom.
“Joe McPhee, who is one-third of the trio Plan B, was born in 1939. He’s old enough to have had the opportunity to see Buck Rogers in the newspaper, laser guns on projected in black and white on neighbourhood cinema screens, and Plan Nine From Outer Space upon its initial release. I can’t tell you if he actually did any of these things, but this much is known: McPhee is a science fiction fan of long-standing; he’s still making new work and taking real chances at the age of 78; and his playing is laser-like in its concentration of information drawn from his own life, the histories of jazz and improvised music, the complicated story of the USA and its relationship with its African-descended residents; and whatever is happening at the second he puts one of his several horns (pocket trumpet and alto and tenor saxophones on this record) to his lips. There’s always a lot of information in every note, reaction, and reference, and so it is with this LP.” - Francis Gooding, The Wire
Joe McPhee / tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet
James Keepnews / guitar, electronics
David Berger / drums
Artwork by Judith Lindbloom.
Plan B - From Outer Space
In an everlasting process that continuously repositions and reevaluates infinity as a consciously unachievable but ultimately rewarding goal since the early 90′s, David Maranha’s music has been riding that arc with ferocity and aplomb. A unique vision that has been translating the ETERNAL in a sprawling language through countless performances, approaches and records like Marches of the New World and the Roaratorio-released classic Antarctica. Always the unsettled mind, Maranha conveys his spiraling vision towards its core with this new ensemble. Comprised of Diana Combo on drums, Filipe Felizardo on electric guitar and David himself on organ and violin, they are a speculative tour de force around animic and sensory principles of movement, stillness and reaction. Long drawn out semi-riffs feedback along the drifting textures of the violin and the organ like rock’s ultimate coda stretched into nowhere. Drums plodding in restraint, sustaining the drone-like vortex of electricity without ever reaching any sort of conclusion in four pieces that inhabit their own universe continually. As it should.” – Bruno Silva
“Sometimes a man’s just got to cut loose, and so it has been with David Maranha. The Portuguese multi-instrumentalist (organ, violin) has been exploring the sounds that escape when drones rasp against each other for some time, but recently he’s turned up the rock elements in his sound. On Sombras Incendiadas, his duo with cellist Helena Espvall, that involved the radiant amplification of savagely stroked strings, but the flow of energy reverses on this recording. Maranha, guitarist Filipe Felizardo, and drummer Diana Combo seem less unconcerned with progress or any other sort of outward-bound motion. Instead they bear down on the riffs and repeat the beats, pounding the music into a ground that’s shrinking and crumbling, drawn into a black hole core. Sure, feedback tendrils escape and swipe around like sea monster tentacles swiping hapless sailors off some old whaling vessel, but they’re inescapably drawn back into the deep. Imagine how White Light/White Heat might have sounded if Faust’s drummer had taken over the band, broken the vocal mics, and thrown out all the songs, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this record is like.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
Portuguese composer/EAI savant David Maranha has been in the game since the early ‘90s, having collaborated with artists as diverse as Z’EV, guitarist/cellist Helena Espvall (Espers), and Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai. In this lineup, alongside guitarist Felipe Filazardo and drummer Diana Combo, he explores every centimeter of the rough surface between his violin and its bow, along with a prepared organ, as guitars buzz and slash away underneath, and martial drumming pounds out the time. The scrape of Maranha’s violin bow remains the heaviest and most deliberate element of this sound, like a rusty anchor dragging across a scrapyard of a record that fits more comfortably amidst a small group of bands (Swans, Nohome, Caspar Brotzmann Massaker) than in a genre. You won’t soon forget it.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single
Diana Combo / drumsFilipe Felizardo / electric guitarDavid Maranha / organ, violin
Recorded John Klima at Scratch Built Studio, on the 29th of July 2015 (A1), and on the 14th of September (A2, B1, B2). Mixed by David Maranhaat Violante do Céu in October 2015. Mastered at Esme by Christophe Albertijn. Cover photo from the sculpture tríptico by David Maranha, Manuel Mota.
David Maranha Ensemble – Salt, Ashes, Goat Skin
When psycho-spatial composer Nelson Gastaldi passed away in 2009 at the age of 77, he left behind a unique musical legacy that is only now beginning to be unveiled. A self-described “musical nihilist with noble and mystic origins” (as well as an accomplished visual artist), Gastaldi supported himself and his family with a job at an electric company in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while creating an astonishing body of work that went virtually unheard during his lifetime. Synthesizing his wide-ranging interests (medicine, linguistics, Chinese and German philosophy) into his music, he welcomed paranormal / initiatic experiences into the compositional process, creating homemade Sibelius-meets-Sun Ra symphonies. The only previous publication of his work was in Bananafish magazine, which featured an excerpt of Symphony No. 3 on an accompanying CD. The same issue also contained his sole English-language interview, in which he waxed: “The human being runs at the side of a river. When he is young, he runs faster than the river; in mid-life he runs at the same speed as the river; and at last he falls down and the river keeps going.” Take a dip into the strange and beautiful river of Nelson Gastaldi. Download coupon included.
Bananafish has kindly allowed the interview with Gastaldi to be accessed here.
“Argentinian outsider composer Nelson Gastaldi (1932-2009) comes across like a character from a Borges story, or maybe Don Quixote himself. ‘I’m a musical nihilist with noble and mystic origins,’ he confided in his one and only interview to Bananafish magazine. ‘I’ve experimented with pure sound — the crepitations of a fried egg, for example. Besides timbral explorations of specific objects, I have employed techniques like composing aleatory music based on feeding doves, listening to music inside dreams, and using numerology as a compostional tool.’
When Reynols member Roberto Conlazo met Gastaldi in Buenos Aires in 2003, he was astonished to behold him compile symphonic works using small cassette recorders and Casio keyboards, lots of toys, Chinese mechanical birds and a trumpet. Gastaldi clearly had colossal musical ambition, unconfined by his extremely limited resources: this is a symphony in three movements conceived along 19th century lines but with 20th century concerns such as micro- and polytonality stirred in. It takes a moment to adjust to his sound — lo-fi Bruckner with synth marimbas — after which it’s easy to be swept along.
The start of the second movement is orchestral, courtesy of Casio: strings hand over to brass, tympani crash in, but Gastaldi’s more emotional moments are even stranger, a ‘lost in space’ gamelan — and is that a wailing baby who has somehow made it onto the tape? Presumably he was constantly rerecording from machine to machine, so room sounds creep in and the whole work acquires a strange patina only possible in Gastaldi’s hyper-analogue world. As the composer himself put it, ‘With music there is always the possibility that you will fly.’ ” – Clive Bell, The Wire
“The story goes that a cab driver in Buenos Aires once threatened bandoneon player and Nuevo tango composer Astor Piazzolla for his crimes against the tango. He might given himself the ceremonial Mohawk and gone totally Travis Bickle if he’d ever gotten Nelson Gastaldi into his car, because Gastaldi does things with this symphony that you just shouldn’t do. The most noticeable transgressions are instrumental. Gastaldi, who died in 2009 at the age of 77, never released an album and never got an orchestra to perform his music throughout his life. He got around these barriers by performing and recording his music himself using bicycle wheels, wind-up toys, and a pneumatic hammer. Symphony No. 3: Siddhartha Gautama Or The Power Of Nothingness, his first recording to obtain commercial release, is relatively conventional; the strings and brass are supplied by Casio keyboards, the percussion by what sounds like a toy xylophone, and the bird cries by one of those wind-up toys. On first listen it sounds a little bit like late-‘60s Sun Ra, mainly because of the murky recording (Gastaldi used Sony black box cassette recorders and normal bias tape), but also because of the music’s outsized drama. Once you get past the recording quality, the piece’s links to 19th century orchestral music are pretty plain. If this symphony is anything to go by, Gastaldi got off the bus before Webern got on; there’s not a lot of dissonance beyond that generated by his crude tools. But neither does it proceed on a path towards conventional development and resolution. Rather, it’s discursive, elaborating on melodic notions, then revising them, then jumping to some other idea that seems like a footnote but changes the scene like clicking on a hypertext link. Roaratorio, a label that still flies the Rodd Keith flag with pride, seems like a good home for this music, and they’ve treated it well; it comes on clean black vinyl, the sleeve looks suitably paranormal, and it comes with a download coupon for those late night walks in the park. Oh, while Gastaldi never got to conduct an orchestra, he did jam with Reynols, whose Anla Courtis supplied Bananafish magazine with a mind-bending interview with the maestro in issue 18. You can read it here - Bill Meyer, Still Single
“A DELIGHTFUL AIRSCAPE. I RECOMMEND IT FOR ALL LOVERS OF EXPERIMENTAL COMPOSITION.” – Grant Hart
Composed By Nelson Gastaldi. Liner notes by Roberto Conlazo. Mastered by Carl SaffT. Tapes restored by Pablo Fagoaga, Rob Conlazo. English translation: "Siddhartha Gautama Or The Power Of Nothingness." Recorded 1972-1997.
Digital recording from the original Nelson Gastaldi home tapes.Photos: Reynols archives.
Nelson Gastaldi - Symphony No. 3