GUO - a multidisciplinary duo formed of Daniel Blumberg and Seymour Wright - collaborate with Crystabel Riley (drums), Fran Edgerley [Assemble] (text) and Peter Strickland (film).
GUO - a multidisciplinary duo formed of Daniel Blumberg and Seymour Wright - announce GUO4, a new release on Mute available on vinyl and digitally on 20 September 2019.
On GUO4, their first release for Mute and the latest in an ongoing series, the pair have collaborated with Crystabel Riley (drums), Fran Edgerley [Assemble] (text) and Peter Strickland (film).
Peter Strickland's film has just been announced to premiere at the 76th Venice Film Festival on 6 September. Watch a teaser for the film - a confrontation between two swimmers in a locker room - here: https://youtu.be/f031c56f_5E
Strickland explains, “The framing of traditionally macho scenarios in a homoerotic context takes its cues from the covert porn of Bob Mizer. The combination of muscle and beat-up lockers somehow evoked the music in my mind.”
The name ‘GUO’ itself is ancient Chinese for a metal vessel, or cooking pot, and the resulting work layers alto saxophone, electric guitar, feedback and metal distortion alongside the distinctly-voiced 'ekphrasis' response from a range of collaborators operating across different mediums.
The album was mixed by Marta Salogni. It also features original etchings by GUO and stills from the film.
Previous releases have included ekphrasis by the English musician, author and professor, David Toop (GUO1) and the American filmmaker (Childhood of a Leader & VOX LUX) Brady Corbet (GUO2).
Guo – GUO 4
“a notea voice, screamsa batterysounds, grating noise, scratcheshere it startsMusic, musicYou who shudderWho makes you dance, singWho moves the buttand now begins Humming Dogs” - Florence Decourcelle, Humming DogsAn absolute pleasure to present ‘Les Borigènes’ - the first LP from France’s Humming Dogs. Born from the radical ‘Oiseau Mouche’ (Bird-Fly Company) - a troupe of actors and comedians who focus on the theatre of gesture - Humming Dogs make joyful, avant rock music, which pooh poohs the po-faced in favour of a party.Humming Dogs are made up of eight members - David Bausseron, Mathieu Breuvard, Florence Decourcelle, Thierry Dupont, Chantal Esso, Léa Le Bars, Florian Spiry, and Valérie Waroquier, who each write and create songs, swap instruments and sing collectively. Guitars, bass, drum kit, and keyboards mix with toy percussion, amplified pine cones, pot lids, iPads, a zither and an arsenal of effects. ‘Ha Ha Ha’ opens the record with the group dispersed and growling at one another, only to break out in infectious laughter, a free word riot and a thick bass melody. The traditional French song, ‘Karnaval’, gets totally sent by keyboards and a slung low guitar scrawl, egged on by the bands hooting and hollering. ‘Ça Me Gratte’ haunts and grates until it splits with a rising synthesizer and squeaking Bonios. The spitting, itching, near exhausted vocals from Chantel Esso are unlike much else we've heard.‘Les Borigènes’ contains the self taught, simple charm of the Shaggs ‘Philosophy of the World’, performed in the spirit of village revelry and recorded and edited beautifully in the tradition of the GRM. Democratized experimentation, low ego rock’n’roll - Les Borigènes is a truly joyous, remarkable and wild record. It arrives in an edition of 500 140g black vinyl LPs, with artwork from London’s Submit to Love Studios and Taylor Silk.Humming Dogs have performed at Sonic Protest, Cafe OTO, and Counterflows and are due to tour again in 2020.
Humming Dogs – Les Borigènes
Paradigm Discs present a reissue of Amnon Raviv‘s Mirror, originally released in Israel in 1983 and only available in a handmade edition of just 50 copies. As such, this edition is the first widely available issue of this LP, giving it a chance to reach an audience beyond the 50 hardened collectors who got to hear this strange experimental record back in the ’80s. There’s nothing else quite like it from that era, let alone from Israel, although it does have some parallels with earlier avant-garde/outsider music from the US and Europe. It may well be the strangest, as well as one of the most obscure records to come out of Israel.
The instruments used are flamenco and acoustic guitar, flute, violin and sax. Some of the playing is free form and some is complex notation, but all the tracks contain collages of effects and noisy field recordings which often dominate the picture — bubbling water, a chicken farm, feedback, transistor radio, metal percussion, vacuum cleaner, etc. There are some comparisons to be made with Anal Magic and Rev Dwight Frizzell‘s Beyond The Black Crack from 1976, also reissued on Paradigm (PD 006CD/LP). Mirror has a similar wild and fried atmosphere sitting amidst the open sonic spaces, coupled with some skilled instrumental playing. A notable difference with the Frizzell album is that Frizell’s pieces are always titled — the six pieces here are all untitled. Amnon Raviv is still active as a musician, but he also holds a PhD in medical clowning and his main work these days is as a medical clown, incorporating smiles and laughter as a therapy to help recovering patients on Tel Aviv’s cancer wards.
This edition comes with new artwork showing Raviv working as a performance artist on the streets of Amsterdam in 1984. Includes 12×12″ insert which replicates the original artwork from one of the 50 unique sleeves and contains liner notes by the artist that give insights into the concept behind this album; edition of 500 (numbered).
Mirror – Amnon Raviv
"Though music journalists made a big deal recently about the release of a 1965 rehearsal tape by Derek Bailey’s Joseph Holbrooke trio with Gavin Bryars and Tony Oxley, those early efforts were mere tentative steps along a cliff edge wearing a line safely attached to Coltrane. There’s still a whiff of jazz to Bailey and Parker’s work with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble up to and including 1968’s Karyobin. But with the addition of Jamie Muir — the first great free improvising percussionist who didn’t start out as a jazz drummer — and the way-leftfield electronics of Hugh Davies, the MIC leapt right off that cliff. These six tracks — tight, electric, pointillistic, brilliant, uncompromising and exhilarating — sound like nothing else that came before. In a word, seminal." - Honest Jon's
The Music Improvisation Company – 1969, 1970
"It's been nearly five decades since Joe McPhee assembled a group of musicians to perform the weekend concerts that would become Nation Time. It was December 1970, thirty-one-year-old McPhee was inspired by Amiri Baraka's poem 'It's Nation Time,' and the students at Vassar College didn't know what hit them. 'What time is it?' shouted the bandleader. 'C'mon, you can do better than that. What time is it?!'
"The music on Nation Time came out of the fertile, but little-known creative jazz scene in Poughkeepsie, New York, McPhee's home base. Two bands were deployed, one with a funky free foundation featuring guitar and organ, the other consisting of a more standard jazz formation with two drummers and the brilliant Mike Kull at the piano. Across the concert and the next afternoon's audience-less recording session, the band was ignited by McPhee's passion and his gorgeous post-Coltrane / post-Pharoah tenor. On 'Shakey Jake,' they hit a James Brown groove filtered through Archie Shepp, while the sidelong title track is as searching and poignant today as it was during its heyday.
"Originally released in 1971 on CjR, an imprint started expressly to document McPhee's music, Nation Time has a sense of urgency and inspiration. Additional material from those December days would later appear on Black Magic Man, Hat Hut's first release. In fact, the first four records on this seminal Swiss label all featured McPhee.
"Nation Time was largely unknown a quarter century or so later, when it was first issued on CD through Atavistic's Unheard Music Series. On Corbett vs. Dempsey, we reissued the album along with all known tapes leading up to and around it as a deluxe box set, but the standalone LP has long remained incredibly rare. Now is the time for a new generation of freaks to lose their shit when settling into the cushy beat of 'Shakey Jake' and answer McPhee's call with the only appropriate response: It's NATION TIME."
– John Corbett
Joe McPhee – Nation Time
"Discrepant presents another unique document of Kink Gong's aka Laurent Jeanneau's collection of surreal soundscapes of augmented field recordings, this time turning into his love/hate relationship with China into a mesmerising and unique soundscape of unclassifiable music.
“Before becoming KINK GONG I had different names, one of my projects, designed by cultural circumstances in China at the beginning of the 21st Century, was DIAN LONG (electric dragon in Chinese). Starting a very long trip to nowhere I landed in Shanghai in 2000, with my gear in my bag in order to make music and recordings of whatever. Faced with the cruel tendency of modern China to reject tradition and embrace full on bling bling culture, my option was to attack this music industry commercial flavour by destroying it. I had in my bag a faithful portable CD player who knew how to turn syrup into crystal. Later, reaching Yunnan in 2001, I discovered the reality away from the bling bling of eastern towns and did a realistic soundscape of it.”"
Kink Gong – DIAN LONG: Soundscape China / Destruction of Chinese Pop
A classic mid-1970s outing from the Schlippenbach Quartett. Partially released on CD (tracks 2 & 3 only) as part of the massive FMP retrospective box, this is the only in-print edition of this crucial LP.
"On all 3 'live' pieces, one experiences the unrelenting intensity (even during quiet sections) that this quartet exudes. Schlippenbach is in sublime form, his two-fisted attacks pushing the pianos to their limits. Parker rips, tears and growls. His feature piece, 'Black Holes,' being an early example of his circular breathing techniques on soprano sax, which he uses to create piercing split tone walls. And Kowald and Lovens thrust and push, laying down textures as well rhythms." - Milo Fine, Sweet Potato
Evan Parker / soprano & tenor saxophoneAlexander von Schlippenbach / pianoPeter Kowald / double bassPaul Lovens / percussion
Side A (track 1) recorded live by Michael Krause on June 2nd, 1974, at the 3rd New Jazz Festival Moers.
Side B (tracks 2 & 3) recorded live by Jost Gebers on February 2nd, 1975, at the Quartier Latin in Berlin.
SCHLIPPENBACH QUARTET – Three Nails Left
"Mike Cooper returns to Discrepant with a recording of a live set recorded at the Controindicazioni Festival of Improvised Music in Rome in 2003The music moves very slowly through four movements: ‘’Reluctant Swimmer’’, ‘’Movies is Magic’’, Virtual Swimmer’’ and ‘’Dolphins’’. 'Floating in out of the exotic ether and disappearing like smoke, engulfed in the alien hugeness of nature... a very elegant set by a visionary artist.'Mike Cooper says 'the first half is played on my old 1920s National tri-plate lapsteel guitar and the second half on my vietnamese electric lap steel. I also sing two songs along the way. ‘’Movies is Magic’’ by Van Dyke Parks and “Dolphins” by Freid Neil. It was the first time I had ever sung the last song.'"With beautiful artwork collage by Evan Crankshaw.
Mike Cooper – Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer
Empty Editions presents Palina’tufa, the newest work from saxophonist Seymour Wright and percussionist Paul Abbott’s long-running duo XT. Wright and Abbot’s respective practices have been marked by a simultaneous engagement (with) and desire to challenge the limitations (of) the British tradition of improvised music - represented by groups such as AMM and John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble. This album charts a new trajectory for Wright and Abbott, as they draw on recent live collaborations with RP Boo and Container in developing a sound which hybridizes the spontaneous interplay and timbral experimentation of free improvisation with the recursive formal structures of dance music.
The album’s title is an enigmatic portmanteau of “Palina” (taken from the name of a species of butterfly sighted by the duo during recording) combined with the word “Tufa” -- a type of rock composed of ash ejected from a vent during a volcanic eruption; the bedrock of the island of Hong Kong. Compellingly, the green sheen of the Palinurus butterfly is not produced by pigments, but emanates from the microstructure of it’s wing scales. Similarly, XT’s Palina’tufa contains a brilliant internal logic of stacked component parts all amalgamated into a singularly iridescent instrumental structure.
Recorded during a two week studio residency in Hong Kong, Palina’tufa departs from XT’s previous albums - primarily documentations of live performances - in its embrace of the recording studio as a form of instrumentation: a tool to sculpt, overdub and (re)assemble their chimeric sounds. The result is a striking cybernetic version of the classic sax-and-drums duo pioneered by legendary groupings such as John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, Evan Parker & Paul Lytton, and Jimmy Lyons & Andrew Cyrille. Palina’tufa turns the implied (and frankly, somewhat tired) tropes of this form on its head, pushing restlessly forward into the domain of a synthetic post-genre music. Wright's unconventional use of feedback and Abbott's heavily deconstructed electro-dance textures expand upon this simulated space, unfurling their instrumentation into an authentically liberated territory.
Across four dynamic fifteen minute cuts, the duo craft an esoteric response to the real (and imagined) landscape(s) of Hong Kong. Interpreting their experience of the island as a kind of extended metaphor, Palina’tufa translates chance encounters, pockets of cultural history, vernacular architecture, and local wildlife (among other phenomena) into organizing principles for the creation of speculative music. Palina’tufa is a brilliant showcase of Wright and Abbott’s composite sound: naturally synergistic, with careful attention paid to how psychogeographical experience is transposed into the deeply considered interplay of their respective instruments. A stunning listen, the album’s various movements respond to scenes in proximity to the Tin Wan (Aberdeen) area: the past/future poise of Permanent Cemetery; the human densities of Duck Tongue Island; the black garlic/gypsum of Empty Gallery itself.
Palina’tufa expands on this emerging style of electronically mediated improvised music by further compartmentalizing their playing through a series of concepts, limits, and methods to organize their materials into distinct classifications. This approach creates an album architecture, a time/space organized into “Stacks” (recalling vertical cylinders, tubes, pipes, columns), “Orbits” (recalling Chinese folk music, weather systems, paths travelling upward), and “Angles of Incidence,” (a concept inspired by Pere Portabella and Cecil Taylor) that responds to the social, physical, and temporal forces of a city. Loosely, these structures spatially reorganize the “time” in their playing, reversing, eliding, truncating, and magnifying content. This technique recalls everything from Anthony Braxton’s diagrammatic lines, colours, and figures that encode structural and vibrational elements of sound, through the pentatonic scale of Chinese folk music that was integrated into a symbolic matrix referencing the movements of the seasons, planets, and body-politic, to Alejo Carpentier’s search for a musical origin in fiction.
XT – Palina'tufa
Within our little bubble of avant-garde, experimental, and underground sound, with its endless web of recordings from the past and present day, it can be easy to forget that these contexts are rarely as hermitic as they seem. Many of the great creative accomplishments of the last century have been a result of interdisciplinary conversation - the marriage between image, action, and sound - collaborations reaching toward new forms of “total” art. This is particularly true of the historical dialog between experimental film and music. Countless composers at the vanguard of their craft - James Tenney, Tony Conrad, Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Bernard Parmegiani, Luc Ferrari, etc, have composed specifically for film, helping to expanded the potential and meaning of both platforms. One of great examples of this can be found within the the revolutionary films of Frans Zwartjes (1927-2017) - one of the most important experimental filmmakers to have emerged from Holland. Zwartjes’ films were almost always comprised of an equal split between image and sound - each element as radical and psychologically effecting as the next. At long last, emerging in the hands of Purge, an imprint founded with the express purpose of highlighting the artist’s often overlooked efforts in, and relationship to, sound and, we have a stunning LP - Masterpiece / Spectator, featuring two beautiful works created by Frans Zwartjes & Lodewyijk de Boer and the Frans Zwartjes Sound System, respectively. A truly essential revelation, and a window onto an often overlooked tributary of experimental sound.
Regarded by Susan Sontag as "the most important experimental filmmaker of his time”, Frans Zwartjes covered a great deal of ground in the arts before he arrived at the medium for which he became most well know. Trained as classical violist, spending five years playing with the Netherlands Opera, before exploring the worlds of painting and sculpture, finally arriving at film. He created over 50 between the late 60s and death, many being grainy black-and-white efforts, known for being highly stylised, poetic, and claustrophobic, delving into the themes of voyeurism, and sensual and domestic intimacy and tension - forgoing dialog and letting disconcerting close-ups, distorted angles, rhythmic editing, and hypnotic, minimal sound design speak on its own. While fundamentally conceived dialog with filmmaker’s images, Zwartjes’ life as a musician clearly served him well. The sounds he constructed easily stand on their own.
The first side of Purge’s latest LP, part of a string of limited releases highlighting Zwartjes’s musical efforts, is dedicated to Masterpiece, created with his regular sonic collaborator, Lodewyijk de Boer, on synthesiser - weaving a network of minimal, repetitive tone. The second side’s work - Spectator, draws the ear toward the soundtrack of one of Zwartjes’s most radical and noted films of the same name, realized by the Frans Zwartjes Sound System, an officially sanctioned live music project by Stanley Schtinter (prepared piano, voice), Samuel Kilcoyne (moog, organ) and Takatsuna Mukai (violin), drawing on the filmmaker’s completely unique system of sonic creation.
A beautiful, often startling, expanse of sound. The depths of human psyche, which take us back to multidimensional realm of creative possibility and optimism which springs from the revolutionary unity of sound and image. Absolutely fantastic! Masterpiece / Spectator is released in an edition of 500 copies and there will never ever be a repress. The record is produced on 180 gram vinyl, with two custom inners and a screen-printed plastic outer (sealed). Each copy comes with a double-sided riso print of Zwartjes at work, along-with a separate insert featuring an original text on Zwartjes by Schtinter.
Frans Zwartjes – Masterpiece / Spectator
"Prolific Japanese artist Masami Akita aka Merzbow teams up with session musician, producer, and singer-songwriter Eiko Ishibashi for a work that showcases yet another side to Akita's monumental catalog.
Kouen Kyoudai consists of two side-long tracks that could be read as a contemporary take on the traditional avant-garde. With its skittering electronics, percussion, piano, doom, and noise, Kouen Kyoudai seamlessly incorporates many strands of experimental thought and practice. The tension that arises from the human use of the tool is made explicit as these works unfold in a storm of ecstatic human/instrument/machine interaction. Drums hammer alongside an ecstatic drone. Notes on a piano jostle with a storm of splintered electronics. Kouen Kyoudai highlights the pull between beauty and chaos; structure and the abyss -- leaving behind a thrilling display of the interplay between the human and the technological while opening up new paths for both musicians involved.
Masami Akita / noise electronics, computer, drums.
Eiko Ishibashi / piano, drums, synth.
Recorded at Gok Sound and SuperDeluxe, Tokyo. Recorded and mixed by Jim O'Rourke. Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin 2015. Photography by Shunichiro Okada. Design by Jacob Cates."
Masami Akita / Eiko Ishibashi – Kouen Kyoudai
Another essential Incus reissue by Honest Jon's.
"Percussionist Jamie Muir was a member of King Crimson during the recording of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, in 1973. Staying less than a year with Robert Fripp, the Scot had already cut his teeth with another master guitarist, Derek Bailey, as part of the Music Improvisation Company, along with Evan Parker, Hugh Davies and Christine Jeffrey, whose eponymous 1970 album was one of the first releases on ECM. Muir and Bailey recorded Dart Drug eleven years later, in 1981.
There’s no shortage of great percussionists in the brief history of free improvised music but on the strength of Dart Drug alone Jamie Muir deserves a place at High Table. Unlike for example Han Bennink and John Stevens, though, you can’t hear echoes of any particular jazz drummer in Muir’s playing, even if he has expressed appreciation for Milford Graves (who himself sounded like nobody else who’d come before him).
What on earth did Muir’s kit consist of? Some instruments are clearly identifiable (bells, gongs, chimes, woodblocks); others could be… well, anything. Old suitcases thwacked with rolled up newspapers? Tin cans and hubcaps inside a washing machine? Who cares? It sounds terrific – but if you’re the kind of person who faints at the sound of nails scraping a blackboard, you might want to nip out and put the kettle on towards the end of the title track.
Dart Drug is consistently thrilling, and often very amusing – but it’s certainly not easy listening. In music we talk about playing with other musicians, whereas in sport you play against another opponent (or with your team against another team). Why not play against in music, too? That’s precisely what happens very often in improvised music, and Bailey was particularly good at it. How can a humble acoustic guitar hope to compete with a Muir in full flight? Sometimes Bailey’s content to sit on those open strings, teasing out yet another exquisite Webernian constellation of ringing harmonics and wait for the dust to settle in Muir’s junkyard, but elsewhere he sets off into uncharted territory himself.
“The way to discover the undiscovered in performing terms is to immediately reject all situations as you identify them (the cloud of unknowing) – which is to give music a future.” Bailey evidently concurred with this spoken statement by Muir, including it in his book Improvisation.Derek Bailey is no longer with us, of course, and Muir gave up performing music back in 1989. All the more reason for seeking out this magnificent, wild album.
Very hotly recommended." - Honest Jon's
Derek Bailey & Jamie Muir – Dart Drug
"Their 5th album finds the band in a studio again, in their label Trost Records hometown Vienna, with time and the desire to try something new. Seven compositions in the disctinctive strong FULL BLAST nature get an exciting electronic treatment by Michael Wertmüller (sounds/electronics by Gerd Rische- head of Berlin Acadamy of Electro-acoustic Music 1995-2014) during and after the recording."
"With all the projects Peter Brötzmann is currently working on, Full Blast -- with the precise and dynamic Swiss rhythm section of Marino Pliakas and Michael Wertmüller -- is the most consistent and the longest-running. Their fifth album finds the band in a studio again, with time and the desire to try something new. Seven compositions in the distinctive, strong Full Blast nature get an exciting electronic treatment by Michael Wertmüller (with electronics by Gerd Rische, recorded months before his death in October 2015) during and after the recording. For mixing the band decided to work with Gareth Jones (well-known for his work with Einstürzende Neubauten and Depeche Mode), whom they have used with Pliakas's band Steamboat Switzerland before. Full Blast have created an album that in its nonconformity and richness in variety stands on his own in contemporary jazz."
Peter Brötzmann / reeds
Marino Pliakas / e-bass
Michael Wertmüller / drums
Gerd Rische / electronics
CREDITS:Recording: Martin SiewertProduction: Konstantin DrobilMix: Martin SiewertMastering: Martin SiewertArtwork: Peter Brötzmann
Full Blast – Risc
Kicking off a series of collaborations between Honest Jon's Records and Incus: Solo Guitar Volume 1, a reissue of Derek Bailey's Solo Guitar release on Incus in 1971, with additional tracks included on previous reissues and a performance at York University in 1972. Recorded in 1971, this was Bailey's first solo album. Its cover is an iconic montage of photos taken in the guitar shop where he worked. He and the photographer piled up the instruments whilst the proprietor was at lunch, with Bailey promptly sacked on his return. The LP was issued in two versions over the years -- Incus 2 and 2R -- with different groupings of free improvisations paired with Bailey's performances of notated pieces by his friends Misha Mengelberg, Gavin Bryars, and Willem Breuker. All this music is here, plus a superb solo performance at York University in 1972, a welcome shock at the end of an evening of notated music. It's a striking demonstration of the way Bailey rewrote the language of the guitar with endless inventiveness, intelligence, and wit. As throughout the series, the recordings are newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, remastered by Rashad Becker, and available for download exclusively here.
Derek Bailey / guitar, synthesizer
Tracks 1-13 recorded by Bob Woolford and Hugh Davies. Photographs by Roberto Masotti. Mastered by Rashad Becker.
Derek Bailey – Solo Guitar Volume 1
"At last, the vinyl reissue of this masterwork, adding two hitherto unreleased gems recorded solo for Charles Fox’s Radio 3 programme Jazz in Britain, in the same few months of 1980 as the stunning Aida performances.
The phrase ‘in the moment’ is often bandied about with reference to free improvisation, and indeed there’s no better way to describe Derek Bailey’s playing. The acoustic guitar is notoriously lacking in natural reverberation — notes barely hang in the air for a couple of seconds before they disappear — which explains the almost non-stop flow of new material in these stellar performances. Bailey knew from one split-second to the next exactly where to find the same pitch on different strings, either as a stopped tone or a ringing harmonic, and there’s never a note out of place. ‘He who kisses the joy as it flies,’ in the words of William Blake, ‘Lives in eternity’s sunrise’ — and this music is forever in the moment, constantly active but never gabby, kissing the joy.
One of the special pleasures of the BBC set is the guitarist’s own laconic commentary, a deliciously deadpan description of what he’s doing while he’s doing it — “I like to think of it… as a kind of music” — and the interaction between words and music is a particular delight. “You may have noticed a certain lack of variety,” he quips, while unleashing a furiously complex volley. Is it a coincidence that the final seconds recall the famous cycling fifths of the coda to Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight? Surely not — for Bailey, like Monk, was a note man par excellence. And they’re both still alive and well in eternity’s sunrise." - Honest Jon's
Derek Bailey – Aida
The third release in a series of collaborations between Honest Jon's Records and Incus: a reissue of Derek Bailey & Han Bennink, originally released in 1972. The tussling vegetables in Mal Dean's cover-sketch somehow befit perfectly this extraordinary duo of Bailey and the great Dutch drummer Han Bennink. Recorded in London in 1972, Incus 9 was their second record (after an Instant Composers Pool in 1969), becoming a blueprint and inspiration for generations of free-improvisers. It is paired here with a brilliant session from the following year, with the same power and friendly combativeness, and oodles of creativity, technique, and humor. It's obvious how much they loved playing together. Newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. Available exclusively for download here.
Derek Bailey / guitar, voice
Han Bennink / percussion, saw, reeds, brass, strings, voice
Engineered by Bob Woolford (tracks: A.1.-B.3.). Mastered by Rashad Becker. Cover by Mal Dean
Derek Bailey & Han Bennink – Derek Bailey & Han Bennink
"Reissue of Derek Bailey and Tristan Honsinger Duo, originally released by Incus in 1976. Born in Burlington, Vermont, and conservatory-trained in the US, the cellist Tristan Honsinger moved from Montreal to Amsterdam in 1974, quickly linking with Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg and opening a long and fruitful musical relationship with Derek Bailey.
Recorded in 1976, Duo displays a performative musical approach already characterized by the lack of inhibition which would later endear him to The Pop Group: he is knockabout, exclamatory, explosively rhythmic; burping Bach and folk melodies with spasmodic lyricism, in amongst the garrulous textures and accents of his scraping, bowing, and plucking, and gibbering like a monkey; throwing out his arms and stamping the floor, grappling with his instrument like an expert clown, always tripping himself up. You can hear Bailey reveling in the company, as he ranges between scrabbling solidarity and an askance skewering of his partner's antics, on prepared (nineteen-string) and standard electric guitars -- and a Waisvisz Crackle-box, for the garbled, quizzical, cross-species natter which closes "The Shadow".
Throughout, the spirited interplay between laconic, analytic wit, and guttural, sometimes slapstick physicality is consistently droll, often laugh-out-loud funny; vigorously alert, alive, and gripping.”
Tristan Honsigner / cello, voice
Derek Bailey / electric guitar, crackle box
Recorded at Verity's Place 7th February 1976, except for A1 and B2 which were recorded at Tangent Studio 6th February 1976.
Derek Bailey & Tristan Honsinger – Duo
Originally released by Incus in 1974. Recorded at a private house in Catford, south-east London, the side-long title track is a masterwork: a twenty-two-minute, starkly personal, freely expressive, itchily searching re-casting of orders of rhythm and sound into a new, quicksilver kind of affective and musical polyphony. Never mind the guitarist’s championing of ‘non-idiomatic improvisation’, the poet Peter Riley gets the ball rolling in his identification of the various hauntings of Bailey’s playing at this time: ‘mandolins & balalaikas strumming in the distance, George Formby’s banjo, Leadbelly’s steel 12-string, koto, lute, classical guitar… and others quite outside the field of the plucked string.’
The five pieces on side two were recorded back home in Hackney around the same time — with the exception of Improvisation 104(b), from the year before (and issued by Incus in its TAPS series of mini reel-to-reel tapes) — opening with ventriloquised guitar feedback, and taking in some cod banter about colleagues like Mervyn Parker, Siegfried Brotzmann and Harry Bentink. Crucial.
"In 1974, when Derek Bailey was planning his second solo LP on Incus, he decided to include a side-long solo using his stereo electro-acoustic set-up. Unfortunately, he never seemed to have a 20-minute stretch of time free of interruptions in his home, so he asked if he could record it at my place. After a fairly lengthy drive across London on the arranged date, he discovered that he had brought all his gear except the actual guitar. So he had a cup of tea and a chat, then drove home again. He came again about a week later, on May 13th, this time with everything. I set the level too high for the first two takes, not quite allowing for his enormous dynamic range (which really was not suitable for analogue recording and reproduction equipment). The result was too much distortion for his liking. The level was corrected for the third take which was the one used as the title track on the LP, even though he preferred the music on the earlier takes.
All but one of the short pieces on the second side of the LP were recorded by Bob Woolford around the same time, probably at Derek's home. (The exception, 'Improvisation 104(b),' was recorded the previous year and originally released on one of the Incus TAPs -- mini reel-to-reel tapes that were an attempt to bypass the technical problems of going from tape to vinyl. They were reissued by Organ of Corti.) 'Pain In The Chest' and 'In Joke (Take 2)' feature the unamplified 19-string (approx) guitar, which was probably the only instrument that Derek modified -- he otherwise used standard guitars.
There was a shortage of good vinyl at the time, making it difficult to get decent pressings. (The original pressing of the solo Steve Lacy Emanem LP sounded as though it had been recorded in a hail-storm.) We were recommended to go to a pressing plant that specialized in 'classical' music. (At the same time that Derek was trying to get Lot 74 pressed, I was also working on his duo album with Anthony Braxton.) The first test pressing of Lot 74 was very muffled, and we discovered that the cutting engineer had played the tape up-side-down, so that the music had been filtered through the tape backing (used on professional tapes to reduce print-through). The cutting was subsequently redone correctly, resulting in an acceptable test pressing. However, the plant manager was completely incredulous and perplexed, as he was used to checking pressings using his library of scores of Beethoven sonatas and the like. How could he tell if the vocal and feedback howls at the start of side two ('Together') were correct?
Over thirty years later, advances in technology have eliminated most of the technical problems we had then, so that this magnificent music can be heard sounding better than ever. Every so often, I get someone asking me to issue things on vinyl -- my response is usually not very polite." Martin Davidson
Derek Bailey – Lot 74