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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

sPacemoNkey: The Karman Line

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According to Wikipedia, the Kármán Line ..."lies at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 mi) above the Earth's sea level, and commonly represents the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space." It's as good a name as any for the debut album from sPacemoNkey, a collaboration by two of Norway's most impressive and increasingly influential musicians, despite still being in their early-to-mid thirties: keyboardist Morten Qvenild and drummer Gard Nilssen. Largely the result of spontaneous composition, with just three of its nine tracks being preconceived by Qvenild, sPacemoNkey's music is both as grounded as the world and as ethereal as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Space F!ght: Sci-Fi

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Question: what inspires a band called Space F!ght to create a recording called Sci-Fi? Answer: the works of classic science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov. Question: will such inspirations result in music that's worth listening to, music that excites, that bears repeated listening, that's enjoyable? Answer: yes. Radek Rudnicki, Space F!ght's leader, composer and driving force, holds a PhD in digital composition from York University and has collaborated musically with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Stockholm Environment Institute. This might suggest a rather worthy and academic approach to music-making, but Rudnicki has soul and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

sPacemoNkey: The Karman Line

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sPacemoNkey is the duo project of Norwegian keyboards player Morten Qvenild, known from other innovative Norwegian bands as In The Country, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra and by his continuous work with vocalist Solveig Slettahjell, and drummer Gard Nilssen, one of the busiest musicians in the vibrant Norwegian scene, who plays in such outfits as Bushman's Revenge, AstroSonic, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and in the band of vocalist Susanne Sundfør. The two met in the recording of trumpeter Mathias Eick's Skala, ECM, 2011), and enjoyed playing together so much they quickly decided to try playing together as a duo. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Land Space: Suenos

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The members of Land Space know how to create memorable riffs and compelling solo statements, as demonstrated throughout this all-original program, but that isn't what makes this Barceona-based foursome's music unique. Land Space's ability to create dynamic arcs, with varying degrees of intensity within its well-paced pieces, is what makes this band stand out from the rest. Suenos is a Spanish word for “dreams" and, while this music never gets sleepy, overly ethereal or completely surreal, it does possesses certain dream-like qualities. Nico Sanchez's warm guitar sound and a judicious use of space prove to be the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Free Space / Otherways: Life Amid The Artefacts

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Free Space / OtherwaysLife Amid The ArtefactsEmanem2011 (1973, 1984) 2010-11 has been a fruitful period for releases highlighting London improvisation in the mid-1970s, with Teatime, previously only issued on vinyl on Incus, getting its first CD issue, as well as More 74 (Incus, 2010) featuring recently discovered recordings by guitarist Derek Bailey. The Emanem label is also sitting on a previously unissued concert recording from 1972 by Iskra 1903, but its release has been delayed for technical reasons. Now comes Life Amid The Artefacts, containing previously unissued recordings from 1973 and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Otherways and Free Space: Life Amid the Artefacts

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The music of Otherways and Free Space unfurls throughout Life Among the Artefacts at a consistently high crest of improvisation during unselfconscious, unguarded moments when the musicians were, quite simply, being extensions of their instruments. They were forces of nature and allowed the music to tumble freely, incorporating songs which had internal combustion mechanisms that were all their own. As a result, the library of music was enriched when the literature of music and the linguistics of humanity collided. If this seems like a tall order, then the energy that is expelled by brass and winds, the moan and twang ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Prophetz of Time and Space: String Theory

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Steve Vasconcellos sure knows how to pick them. With a core group including legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman, Weather Report drummer Leon “Ndugu Chancler, in-demand LA saxophone ace Brandon Fields and Miles Davis percussionist Munyungo Jackson, the bassist's five year-old Prophetz of Time and Space has plenty of potential as an approachable but uncompromising contemporary electric jazz group. String Theory meets its promise head-on, and the disc will appeal to those who like their fusion on the lighter side.

That's not to suggest that Prophetz approaches smooth jazz territory, because the group's music has a sense of commitment and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fire of Space: Handbasket

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Artfully blending world musics within a jazz context, Jordan McLean has lent his articulate trumpet to ethnic aggregations such as the Sway Machinery and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. For his first release as a leader, he guides this unique nonet, Fire of Space, through original compositions that alternate funky dance music with open space invocations filling his new Handbasket with plenty of colors. Reeds abound and the nine instruments allow for singular voicings that, along with McLean's horn, include Michael Herbst's oboe, English horn, tenor sax and flute; Stuart Bogie's soprano and contra-alto clarinets; Aaron Johnson's trombone; Martin Penna's baritone; and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herb Robertson and the Space Cadets: Sketches From the Other Side, for A.I.

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Trumpet tornado Herb Robertson, a longtime mainstay on the New York Downtown and European improv scenes, has joined with Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez to launch Ruby Flower Records. The first bloom from this particular garden features Robertson in a trio with reed great Frank Gratkowski and French phenom Julien Petit, known for his featured soloist status with many prestigious European Orchestras, as well as being a favorite of Stockhausen himself. Recording as “Herb Robertson and the Space Cadets, they alert the listener that fun shouldn't have to yield to freedom.

Sketches From the Other Side, For A.I. draws on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herb Robertson and the Space Cadets: Sketches from the Other Side, For A.I.

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Despite his identifiable, idiosyncratic sound and highly creative output, trumpeter Herb Robertson is often overlooked. Perhaps this is a consequence of the seeming paucity of leader releases since his days on JMT. But this may change, as he forays into the realm of artist-run labels with Sketches from the Other Side, For A.I., the inaugural release by his Ruby Flower imprint. It's an ambitious premier, pairing his trumpet and cornet with Frank Gratkowski's clarinets and alto sax and Julien Petit's tenor and baritone saxophones for two extended suites. Without a rhythm section, the horns are responsible for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra and His Space Arkestra: What Planet Is This?

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It is appropriate that this double album is being released by Leo Records' Golden Years imprint. Recorded in New York in July, 1973, it features as large an Arkestra as any that Sun Ra put together and includes all of his key collaborators. What Planet Is This? comes from the crucial period when Sun Ra had progressed from cult status to wider recognition, a process aided by a strange alliance with the MC5. But unlike the '50s and '60s (which are well-documented, particularly by the reissue programme on Evidence) or the late '80s and early '90s (covered well, not least ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ray Mantilla & The New Space Station: Man-Ti-Ya

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Man-Ti-Ya is the latest launch of percussionist Ray Mantilla's Space Station, featuring a full-size sounding septet. As usual, Mantilla recruits skilled musicians for his releases. On this occasion, highlights include veteran pianist “Eddie MartÃ-nez, who enhances this recording not only with his remarkable performance, but also through his arrangements; saxophonist Willie Williams, who distinguished himself with trombonist “Papo Vásquez; and flutist and woodwind player Enrique Fernández, who issued MelodÃ-a para congas--one of the salient Latin jazz notes of the late 90s, with living legend Carlos “Patato Valdés as s special guest.“Hop Scotch might very well be the deepest ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spaceways Inc. Vs. Zu: Radiale

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Following the musical trail of Ken Vandermark in the present jazz scene is a complex task, not only for the sheer amount of his recordings, but also for the diverse styles he practices on each one.

In this case, the rhythmic expansive wave of Ken Vandermark & Co--the trio known as Spaceways Inc.--joins Zu, a trio of Italian origins accustomed to move along the dividing line between avant-garde and harcore. Zu has recorded with Eugene Chadbourne on The Zu Side Of The Chadbourne (New Tone Records, 2000) and Motorhellington (New Tone Records, 2001), and the group has also played with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spaceways Incorporated: Version Soul

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Something of an oddity in Ken Vandermark’s stable of projects Spaceways, Incorporated spent its infancy as a cover band mining the songbooks of Funkadelic and Sun Ra. The trio’s debut Thirteen Cosmic Standards built an entertaining and artistically-enhanced hour of music from these fraternal sources, but their sophomore sojourn in the studio suggested the need for a fresh direction. Building on the same groove-seasoned stew the three channel their respective creative corpuses into the challenge of working with completely original material.

The febrile throb of dub-style bass braids with syncopated cymbals on the opening sultry slink of “Back ...



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