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CD/LP/Track Review

Luc Houtkamps's pow3: The Thirteen Bar Blues (2003)

By Published: February 5, 2004
Luc Houtkamps's pow3: The Thirteen Bar Blues Finally a blues record that Philip K. Dick would love!

The science fiction writer would surely have dug The Thirteen Bar Blues, subtitled New Developments In Electronic Jazz by saxophonist, software engineer, and electronics tinkerer Luc Houtkamp. Known for his recorded duets between real time saxophone and computer generated improvising software, Houtkamp has moved the worlds of human and artificial intelligence just a little bit closer.

His band pow3 takes on the future of roots music, possibly recording the music Hal, from Space Odyssey 2001, would have made. Mr. Houtkamp knows computers (robots anybody?) have souls. This very rough edged blues recording pulls switched binary notes from far with the guts of the logic board.

Like Robert Johnson before him, Houtkamp believes there ain’t nothing beautiful about playing the blues, except for playing the blues. The creaks, clanks, fuzz and spark here is from space debris—the discarded R2D2’s of this world. Along with pow3 (Han Buhrs, Guy Harris, and DJ Donotask), the saxophonist reanimates the gutbucket via computers. And yes, the music is scratchy, white-noised machine firings. Percussion, the human kind, is added by Martin Blume. But mostly its the rumblings of the IT back room here.

When Houtkamp lifts his saxophone, he delivers his duck-call-squank signature sound. For the most part the four “Work Song Workouts” are the best collaboration between computer, saxophone and voice. Bits of vocals come from deep within Han Buhrs about cigarettes, coffee, prison, end of days, the stuff us carbon life forms are so very concerned about.

Yes, this is the blues... and yes, it is also a heap of technological debris. Cheers!


Track Listing: Dis-moi Blues; Black Cat Bone; Work Song WorkOut 1; Blues For Pierre Schaeffer; Lite The Fuse; The Thirteen Bar Blues; Work Song WorkOut 2; Africanized Milking Cow; Work Song WorkOut 3; If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day; The Death Of Robert Johnson; Riot In Cell Block #9; Work Song WorkOut 4; Mad Man Blues.

Personnel: Luc Houtkamp - Computer, Tenor Saxophone, Sound Processing, Software programming; Han Buhrs - Voice, Electronics; Guy Harries - Computer, Sound Processing, Crackle Box, Software Programming; DJ Donotask - Turntables, Live Electronics; Martin Blume - Percussion.

Style: Blues



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