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Killick Erik Hinds/Dennis Palmer/Bob Stagner
The world of conducted improvisation is still small enough that it's a daring thing to attempt. Butch Morris and Walter Thompson remain the flag-bearers and anyone else who takes it on is asking to be compared to them. Clarinetist Jeremiah Cymerman has played in Morris' ensembles and apparently is willing to risk comparison. On Big Exploitation, he leads a 12-piece group through eight pieces of directed improvisation (like those that cut the path, using hand signals to guide the unscored music in real time), distinguishing himself by being more open to genre-referencing than is often heard in Morris and Thompson's work. There are sections of heavy rock, rock-garden meditation, free jazz and spontaneous abstraction. The energy is generally high, unsurprisingly given the lineup: electric guitar, electric violin, trumpet, two saxophones, two basses and three percussionists and given that the tracks were mixed by Jamie Saft, who as a musician and producer has shown a strong penchant for sonic attack.
Cymerman's Athens, Georgia-based ensemble also includes a cellist and another string player with a customized cello called the "h'arpeggione . Killick Erik Hinds designed and plays the instrument, which is fretted and has six strings and 12 sympathetic strings. He's also the man behind the Solponticello label, which released Cymerman's disc as well as his own record with the Tennessee duo Shaking Ray Levis. The Shaking Rays have their own, strange take on improvisation and composition; their CDs with Derek Bailey are among his most surprising. They work something like a rock band, with vocals and strong rhythms, but ultimately are too quirky to categorize (although their choice to cover The Residents' "Red Rider here gives some indication). Hinds fits well into the already-dense keyboards and drums, alternating between soft acoustic and distorted electric sounds through the six cuts, recorded live at Atlanta's Eyedrum. Together they come up with something that's something else and then some.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: For As Long As Grass Grows; The Pendulum, The Pit & The Hope; Chemanta, The Horrific Destroyer of Evil; The Divining Hand; The Fall of the House of Usher; Down to the Cellar; Killick; A Quiet Week in the House.
Personnel: Jeremiah Cymerman: conductor; Chuck Bradburn, Jeff Rieter: bass; Craig Lieske: guitar; Christopher Hoffman: cello; Jason Calhoun: electric violin; Killick: H'arpeggione; George Davidson: saxello, tenor sax; Tony Evans: tenor sax; The Sickness: trumpet; Mitchell King: drums; Jim Wilson: drums; Chris Herron: percussion.
Tracks: Shrimp Britches' Krystal; Insects & Bacon Legs; Bushy Briers; Dog Descending; Red Rider; Fun On A Cloud; untitled bonus track.
Personnel: Killick Erik Hinds: H'arpeggione; Dennis Palmer; Bob Stagner.