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3 Another Timbre newbies


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When the Another Timbre label's summer 2023 batch of recordings was released, one of its four albums received more attention than the other three put together; that was hardly surprising as the one in the spotlight was a double-disc version of Violin and String Quartet by the ever-popular Morton Feldman. While the composers on the other three releases had each released a respectable number of albums, they were all new to Another Timbre. That did not prove to be a problem; while Feldman admirers were listening to their new acquisition, others were taking their time to listen to and assimilate the newcomers' music...

Sarah-Jane Summers
Echo Stance
Another Timbre

Sarah-Jane Summers, who composed all nine of this album's tracks, which range in length from 3:16 to 7:22, also performs them all, playing Hardanger fiddle; this instrument, considered to be the national instrument of Norway, is similar to a violin, having four strings which are bowed, plus four more—called understrings—which resonate under the influence of the other four. Originally born in Inverness, Scotland, Summers began to have bagpipes lessons at school, but gave up to focus more on the fiddle. She moved to Norway in 2010 and has remained there ever since. She is married to Finnish guitarist Juhani Silvola with whom she has released three duo albums, one with music they wrote for a chamber orchestra.

The album was studio recorded at Ugla Lyd, Nesodden, Norway on 28th and 29th June 2022 and on 15th March 2023. Straight from the opening strains of "Airtan," the album's longest track, the beauty of the Hardanger fiddle is evident, Summers' lone instrument at times sounding like a string quartet, thanks to her dexterity plus those resonating understrings. The composition itself was clearly composed to suit the instrument, being somewhere between a melodic piece and a drone; the end result is uniquely beautiful and mesmerising. Thankfully, the rest of the tracks display the same strengths as the opener—playing which is ideally suited to the compositions and vice versa, a symbiotic relationship between the two. When the music has been heard once, it is instantly identifiable as Summers, both as composer and player. One thing is certain -this will not be Summers' only release on the label... she deserves to be back.

Michiko Ogawa & Lucy Railton
Fragments of Reincarnation
Another Timbre

The music on Fragments of Reincarnation comprises the forty-five minute title composition which was composed and played by the duo of Michiko Ogawa and Lucy Railton in 2023. British-born cellist Railton has been resident in Berlin since 2016 when she moved there from London, to be with her partner, Swedish bassist Petter Eldh. Railton's first contact with Tokyo-born and raised Ogawa was through a recording which Ogawa organised with her partner, Sam Dunscombe. In 2019, Ogawa and Dunscombe moved to Berlin; in that year an experimental research and performance collective, Harmonic Space Orchestra (HSO) was formed; Railton and Ogawa have been regularly working together in this group ever since.

Recorded by Ogawa at her and Dunscombe's studio in Reinickendorf, Berlin, in August 2022, the initial recording featured a duo of Railton on cello and Ogawa on shō. The pair have said, "The forming of the piece was inspired by the round shape of the shō, as well as the traditional Gagaku chord series "aitake." We improvised within a certain pitch selection based on aitake which has eleven different chords." As she could not play two instruments at once, at home Ogawa later overdubbed an organ part played on a very old '70s Hammond organ with built-in Leslie which she had bought second-hand.

Leaving aside the niceties of their methodology, the end result is a coherent piece in which sustained notes from all three instruments dominate without outstaying their welcome. The notes from the cello, shō and organ fit together into a harmonious whole which can be played and savoured countless times without ever sounding repetitious; on the contrary, it is music which sounds as if it was designed to be heard and reheard... Beautiful.

Anthony Pateras
A Dread of Voids
Another Timbre

Australian-born of Macedonian migrant parents in the late '70s, Anthony Pateras has a discography dating back to 2002, as well as a catalogue of compositions from 1999 onwards. He began studying classical piano when he was about four years old. He is a composer, pianist and electroacoustic musician; alongside writing concert works, he performs in electronic, improvised and experimental rock configurations and composes soundtracks for cinema. A Dread of Voids comprises two of his compositions; the twenty-minute "Patterned Language (2022)" was commissioned by the Astra Chamber Music Society of Naarm/Melbourne; it was recorded by Pateras at Church of All Nations, Naarm/Melbourne, on November 5th 2022, with the composer playing piano, celeste and sines as part of a quintet. The thirty-three-minute "A Dread of Voids (2021)" was commissioned by Marie Jeanson for Festival Archipel, Geneva; it was recorded by Sam Dunscombe (mentioned in review above) at studioboerne45, Berlin, on August 31st 2021, with the composer conducting and playing piano in a different quintet.

Pateras says that his composing comes out of playing, working at the piano and listening; he adds that he is now more receptive to his own instincts rather than what he learnt in the academy. For "A Dread of Voids," he found himself attracted to the same four notes every day at morning practise; eventually he figured out that he liked playing them twice, with a different rhythm the second time around. Simple as that may seem in black and white, when the piece is performed by a quintet including the voice of Jess Aszodi alongside bass clarinet, bass flute, double bass and piano, the end result is dramatic and very engaging, with the contrast between the voice and low frequency accompaniment working well.

In contrast, the shorter "Patterned Language" is performed by two violins, guitar, double bass, piano, celeste and sines. The end result is livelier and lighter than "A Dread of Voids" yet the two pieces are similar enough for them to be attributable to the same composer.

Considered together, it is noteworthy that all three album here feature compositions which are heard played by their composers, solo, in a duo and in quintets respectively. In that regard, they are best considered as a threesome as it is nigh on impossible to single one of them out as being the "best" of the three. It is far better to note that, in the light of this evidence, the composers in question all have bright futures ahead, be they on Another Timbre or elsewhere.

Tracks and Personnel

Echo Stance

Tracks: Airtan; Shadow Half; The Feeding Storm; Upsun; Mirrie Dancers; Echo Stance; Mirk Monanday; The King's Weather; Eftergang.

Personnel: Sarah-Jane Summers: Hardanger fiddle.

Fragments of Reincarnation

Tracks: Fragments of Reincarnation (2023)

Personnel: Michiko Ogawa: shö & Hammond organ; Lucy Railton: cello.

A Dread of Voids

Tracks: Patterned Language (2022); A Dread of Voids (2021);

Personnel: Lizzy Welsh: violin (1); Erkki Veltheim: violin (1); Chloë Sobek: double bass (1); Alexander Garsden: guitar (1); Anthony Pateras: piano, celeste (1) & sines (1), conductor (2); Jess Aszodi: voice (2); Jon Heilbron: double bass (2); Sam Dunscombe: bass clarinet (2); Rebecca Lane: bass flute (2).

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