276

Ikue Marclay/Ikue Mori/Elliott Sharp plus sMFA students: Acoustiphobia, Volume 1

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Ikue Marclay/Ikue Mori/Elliott Sharp plus sMFA students: Acoustiphobia, Volume 1 Ironically, free improvisation often turns out to be a visual affair. In a theoretical sense, the idea of improv is purely musical: artists interweave personal threads to yield a mutual fabric of sound. But in practice, the listener often gains substantial understanding and insight from actually observing the musicians at work. Trading leads, reacting, and synergizing all happen in real time, making the concert experience that much richer for one's visual involvement.

The first disc of Acoustiphobia offers a prime example of the puzzle that arises in free improv where the visual sense is denied. (Agreed, that's not the point of CD documentation. So a record like this is a gift regardless, in the sense of preserving the moment for history.) On Acoustiphobia Christian Marclay, a veteran turntablist, joins forces with Ikue Mori's drum machine and electronics, as well as Elliott Sharp's guitarbass, saxophone, and electronics. The sounds that emerge from the mix often have a distorted, eerie character. Reverberant held tones waft off into pitch-shifted whirs and punchy thuds. One can make out Sharp's guitar in many passages simply on the basis of its heavy string overtones; likewise, his saxophone playing emerges clearly because of its reediness. But those instruments merge with the electronics and the turntables into a dynamic pastiche of sound whose original connection with its sources remains nebulous. Thank god for stereo recording, which greatly enriches the experience.

On the first Acoustiphobia disc, the trio moves from very quiet moments of reverberant sound (electronic, metallic, plastic, or stringy) through periods of explosive polyrhythmic noise. Certain threads run through the pieces in alternating cooperation and defiance. Mori's drum sounds, for example, may emerge in perfect synchrony with the other players, only to rapidly shift tempo into a galloping rush. Meanwhile the other two performers may join in, or instead persist through the burst. Perhaps the most colorful contributions on Acoustiphobia come from Sharp's guitarbass, which he uses to deliver overtones, microtones, and a multitude of processed noises.

Disc two of Acoustiphobia features experiments in sound from students of Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts (sMFA). As a strictly student presentation, these twenty pieces reflect a cleverness and naivete which is rare in recorded media. Found sounds, vocal passages, and heavily treated electronic tones trade off throughout these pieces. And with the rich diversity of approaches, the listener must shift gears every few minutes to adjust to a new style of composition.

Some of the highlights: David Weber's "Fuzzy Quadraphonic Headwear," which features pulsing distorted sounds emerging in well-resolved stereo (reduced from the four-way projection of its original format); Luke Walker's amazingly rich symphonic piece "Selma" performed in a stairway on the "Musical Saw"; Yuki Yoshida's "Dragging Chair & Popcorn Maker," a reorganized recording of the two above household items; David Matorin's "Clock Phase," a stereo recording of two alarm clocks in a bathroom (yes) with all the dynamic effects arising from changes in mike placement; and Seth Coiburn's "Live Feedback (2000)," a surreal improvised experiment with feedback.


Track Listing: Disc One: Boston One; Boston Two; Boston Three; Boston Four. Disc Two: twenty sonic experiments by sMFA students.

Personnel: Disc One. Christian Marclay: turntables; Ikue Mori: drum machines, electronics; Elliott Sharp: guitarbass, soprano saxophone, powerbook, and electronics. Disc Two. Various artists from the sMFA's Sonic Arts Program.

| Record Label: Sublingual Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Brel" CD/LP/Track Review Brel
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 30, 2016
Read "George DeLancey" CD/LP/Track Review George DeLancey
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Star-Spangled Voltage" CD/LP/Track Review Star-Spangled Voltage
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 5, 2016
Read "Harmonicus Rex" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonicus Rex
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Southern Lights" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Lights
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Further Explorations" CD/LP/Track Review Further Explorations
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!