Humans have seemingly always feared new technologies. We're not even talking about AI and ChatGPT. When the first electric light bulb was invented, folks worried it would end civilization as they knew it. Artificial light certainly changed how late one stayed up at night. On the other hand, it also allowed people to find their keys after the sun had set. Any new technology can be either a master or a servant, a tool or a tyrant. The programmable drum machine Miles Davis employed for the making of Tutu (Warner, 1986) is so antiseptically sterile it made the music mostly bland and characterless.
The duo of Evan Parker and Matthew Wright known as Trance Map is conscious of this problem. They have solved it by mastery of the technology, here being live electronics and sound design in post production. Parker, a virtuoso of free improvisation, sacrifices nothing creatively by collaborating with Wright's turntables, software, and processing/sampling. The pair released Trance Map (psi, 2011) and have expanded their lineup to include guests such as Adam Linson, John Coxon, and Ashley Wales who appeared on the previous release Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf (Intakt, 2019). Here Parker and Wright recorded live with trumpeter Peter Evans and at the request of Parker, added sounds from percussionist Mark Nauseef to be reworked in post production by Wright and Parker.
The concepts of composed vs. improvised, source material vs. sampling, human vs. software are present here. That is if one is reading the fine print. Otherwise the music fits within the continuum beginning with Parker's electronic experiments heard on The Music Improvisation Company (ECM, 1970), his various Electro-Acoustic ensembles, and collaborations with Grutronic, Sam Pluta, and Jeremiah Cymerman.
The music here is strange but utterly beautiful. It is both electronic and anthropomorphic. Parker's trademark snaking soprano sound is complemented by Evans' use of extended technique on trumpet and piccolo trumpet. Interwoven throughout is Wright's live electronics and live manipulation of his partner's sounds. Post performance, the sounds are supplemented by Nauseef's percussive interventions and Wright's production. None of which are apparent unless of course, you've been informed in advance.
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