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Jeremiah Cymerman, John Butcher, Andy Haas: Solo Reed Albums


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Jeremiah Cymerman
In Memory of the Labyrinth System

Jeremiah Cymerman's first solo CD, In Memory of the Labyrinth System, focuses on the solo artist's craft through the lens of endless refinement. Cymerman's meticulous recording, overdubbing, engineering and editing processes are essential to communicate his unique approach to instrumental musicianship. The hiccups, clicks and hisses that distinguish Cymerman's clarinet playing are transformed through his use of unorthodox microphone placement and rigorous, detailed editing—the final track in particular contains over 15,000 edits.

Tracks 4 through 7 are all very short and employ a dizzyingly rapid progression of ideas—mouthpiece squawks are overtaken by key clicks and then suddenly a clear tempo emerges from the edits, but is already gone, replaced by ghostly overtones soaked in reverb. This all contrasts with tracks like "Nerve To Ampulla of Superior Canal" or "Lateral Semicircular Canal" which revel in more contemplative environs.

Cymerman has a knack for defining a set of parameters and getting great results. He envisioned that the entire record would be created from sounds made on his clarinet and that there would be no digital transformation aside from cutting and pasting and modest use of reverb and compression. That the otherworldly textures greeting the listener can be created with this basic format says much about the skilled hand with which Cymerman pursues his craft.

John Butcher
The Geometry of Sentiment

Similar components are found on John Butcher's latest solo disc The Geometry Of Sentiment, where Butcher uses different performance spaces and sound engineering to exploit the most esoteric of sonic phenomena found in his music. Butcher's musical world exists in the cracks between the more popularly understood applications of the tenor and soprano saxophone. Contrasting harmonics clash and create instabilities that are gorgeous but fragile. Rather than avoid these anomalies Butcher has learned to explore them, either through acoustic control or through electronic amplification.

The album was recorded at a handful of locations and provides a rough sampling of his most recent pursuits with the solo saxophone format. The first two tracks, the first and second "Zizoku," were recorded within the resonant walls of the Oya Stone Museum—a gigantic geometrical space carved out of rock in Japan. Tracks 3 and 6 were recorded in London and focus on Butcher's explorations of the possibilities of extreme microphone placement. These dense microscopic worlds contrast with the vastness Butcher expressed at the outset of the CD. Other tracks recorded in Paris and London focus more on Butcher's work in the context of the tradition of British free improvisation, with the track "But More So" being a dedication to Derek Bailey, referring to an anecdote about a concert where Bailey informed a very agitated audience who had been expecting to hear blues guitar that the music for the rest of the evening would continue the same way as it started, "but more so."

Andy Haas
The Ruins of America
Resonant Music

Andy Haas' solo record uses some of the same extended techniques and overdubbing found on the first two records, but with a very clearly defined goal of communicating his feelings about the current politics in the US. The Ruins Of America features Haas playing many instruments and live electronics in addition to his woodwinds and throughout the record, various familiar themes associated with the idea of patriotism (including covers of tunes like "America the Beautiful") float to the surface. Haas plays with feeling and employs the live electronics to great effect, creating a sense of dread and uncertainty, a feeling that runs deep with many New Yorkers at a time when the nation is preparing to decide its course for the next few years.

Tracks and Personnel

In Memory of the Labyrinth System

Tracks: Lateral Semicircular Canal; Posterior Canal; Superior Canal; Conjoined Limb of Superior and Posterior Canals; Sinus Utriculi Posterior; Ductus Endolymphaticus; Canalis Utriculosaccularis; Nerve To Ampulla of Superior Canal; Nerve To Amulla of Posterior Canal; Ending of Nerve In Recessus Utriculi.

Personnel: Jeremiah cymerman: clarinet.

The Geometry of Sentiment

Tracks: First Zizoku; Second Zizoku; A Short Time To Sing; But More So (for Derek Bailey); Action Theory Blues; Soft Logic; Trgerfrequenz.

Personnel: John Butcher: tenor and soprano saxophone.

The Ruins Of America

Tracks: The Ruins Of America, Part 1; O Darkness; Ghurabaa'; What Kind of an American Are You?; The Ruins of America, Part 2; A Torch in the Dark Night; Let's Face the Music and Dance; Goimbra; Veil; The Ruins of America, Part 3; I don't Want to Set the World on Fire; DMZ; A Small Corner of Hell; A Felicidad; The Ruins of America, Part 1 (Reprise).

Personnel: Andy Haas: sax, piri, fife, electronics.


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