Clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst probably doesn't know who Ray Johnson is, or was. He died 20 years ago. Johnson, the father of Mail Art, created a network of artists and patrons beginning in the1960s through his correspondences. He called them 'correspondances.' His mailings created a worldwide democratic system for art.
Mail Art peaked pre-internet, in the 1980s and early 90s, with thousands of participants creating artwork, zines, and music. Musicians such as the Japanese noise artist Merzbow and theWashington, DC punk band Fugazi spread their music through the mail, as did free jazz player Jack Wright.
Enter Badenhorst with his homemade zine Forest // Mori, a small chapbook of Xerox art, rubber stamp work, unique collage and a CD solo (mostly) performance. His clarinet, saxophone and bass clarinet have been heard lately in Tony Malaby's Novela, Han Bennink's trio, Baloni, and in various bands with Thomas Heberer (including Clarino). His prior release on Klein is a mini- masterpiece Nachtigall (2013) with John Butcher and Paul Lytton.
Like mail art, this music has a homespun feel. His clarinet and bass clarinet work bridge the worlds of jazz, classical, and free improvisation. He can deliver an awe- inspiring, circular breathing piece like "Wormhole," a mesmerizing exercise in microtonal advancements, or abrade a noisy electronic horn on the composition "The Trembling Something." His approach to bass clarinet stands on the shoulders of Eric Dolphy, before advancing the horn. He has a unique approach to vocalizing through his horn and overblowing to create multi-tones that sound not unlike a didgeridoo.
The music and packaging presented feels homemade. But unlike the cassette culture of the 1980s, Badenhorst has access to better technology, making for a crisp sound. Not that there aren't bits of field recordings sprinkled in here. "Handsome Eyebrow" begins in solo, followed by several minutes of silence before a thunderstorm is heard, then a children's song on accordion and recorder appears and is morphed into Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't."
Fabret; The Trembling Something; Zon; Feedbacksessie; Wormhole; Forest // Mori; Een
Zondagochtend In Delft; My Left Hand; This Track Is A Duo With Gerard Herman;
Joachim Badenhorst: acoustic and amplified clarinet, bass clarinet; Gerard Herman:
reeds (trk. 9); Koudo Wada, Karolina Zaniesienko, Anna Backer, Wuhong, Philip
Badenhorst, Walt van Beek, Akiko Ueda, Eric Ikkny, Virginie Gouband, Emilie Ramboz,
Jailbeit, Sean Carpio, Nico Roig, Joachim, Gerard Herman, Yayun Teng, Anouk Peeters:
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