Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but in the case of Dada Ear Ink
, a piano is not merely a piano. The liner proclaims loudly, NO effects, reverb, or editing used on this recording, and from the start it is clear that at least part of the conceit is for the listener to try to imagine how Matt Turner gets the sounds he is pulling from a piano.
Listeners familiar with music for prepared piano might recognize some things, but most of us will be left scratching our heads (or ears) at the sounds produced. Some sounds are clearly pluckings and scrapings, resulting from something being run over the strings; others are notes played normally, except the string has something on it. However, there are still others that mystify me, and one place that really feels like two people "playing together.
Trying to describe these tracks in words is a losing proposition, and only on one track, "Lunaria, do the sounds relate to the title in some obvious way (here, an overall "spacey feel was produced). A more significant criticism is that a sense of development and forward movement in this sound world can be felt at times, but it is rarely maintained for very long. Thus, the one thing that could lend coherence to a performance of this kind is not present, at least to my ears.
By now the inevitable questions"Is it jazz? ; "Is it music? ; "Is it art? ; "What is the point? will surely have come to the fore. I was prepared to dislike this recording after the first minute had elapsed. But, surprisingly, after allowing myself to just go with it, I realized that an hour had gone by. There is more here than just guessing how Turner does it, but how much more will be a very personal thing. If you go to Matt Turner's Page
at Fever Pitch Music, you will see that he has a following for this kind improvisation.
Turner has put out a similar effort named Patina
for "silent cello.