Roaratorio

Small batch operation imagined by James Lindbloom out of Minneapolis, USA. Big hitting free-jazz, composed works and music concrète. 

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. ---

Symphony No. 3 – Nelson Gastaldi

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

"Second album by the dream pairing of Joe McPhee and Chris Corsano. A follow up to Under A Double Moon, which featured McPhee’s alto saxophone, Scraps And Shadows finds him largely on tenor. Recorded live in Milwaukee in 2011, the album consists of seven dedicatory pieces, from the delicate balladry of “For Adrienne P” to the appropriately combustible “For Han Bennink.” Corsano’s stupendously detailed drumming and McPhee’s free-soul love cries weave a master latticework together. Cover art by Judith Lindbloom."  “Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee is 72 years old, far enough along that he could be forgiven for kicking back and letting people put laurels upon his brown. But as Fred Anderson, one of the seven dedicatees on this LP of dedications, was reminded every night that he walked off the stage of his club and went right back to stocking the bar, the free-jazz receiving line is a short one.
McPhee knows this, too. Like Anderson, he’s carrying on as he always has, pushing himself to evolve and proving his mettle anew each time he plays. And he makes a special point of celebrating not just the people who’ve come before him, but the people who are making things happen now. Two of the people honored on Scraps and Shadows are no longer with us, but the other five still have earthly hands to receive the bouquets that McPhee and his much younger partner Chris Corsano have picked for them.
But for these two men, paying tribute does not mean making nice; there are plenty of thorns in these bunches of flowers. Sticking mostly to tenor saxophone, McPhee pushes his horn beyond the bounds of convention; he sings through it, or along with it, obtaining otherworldly polytonal effects that’ll put the hairs right up on the back of your neck. He also plumbs his sax for vibrato-laden lines that arc out from whatever cloud the Ayler brothers smile down from these days and gnarled utterances so compacted it’ll take a dozen listens to decode them. He’s more frankly lyrical on his other instruments, using a patiently expressed pocket trumpet melody to set up a fractious tenor-drums duel on “For Paul Flaherty,” and honoring artist/musician/bartender Adrienne Pierlusi with a brief, tender clarinet air.
Corsano is scrupulously attuned to McPhee’s wavelength, using a light rain of cymbal tones to ratchet up haunted anguish of McPhee’s cries on “For Jim Pepper” and powering the saxophonist with gale-force bursts on the unfettered closer “For Han Bennink” before pulling back, way back, to erect the transparent but sturdy scaffold of stick-work for him to ascend at the tune’s end.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted “Scraps And Shadows is a new duo LP with Joe McPhee [and Chris Corsano]. This time, Mr. McPhee plays mostly tenor sax, and his deep, gurgling tone hits tons of places — from pure R&B honk to ripping fiery gusts of sheer overblown freedom. The pieces are dedicated to different saxophonists and drummers, and the results are a lush, grounded and highly jazzic LP.” – Thurston Moore & Byron Coley, Arthur “…a lyrical and tough expansion on the art of McPhee and Corsano.” – Clifford Allen, Ni Kantu

Joe Mcphee & Chris Corsano – Scraps and Shadows