The British label Aural Terrains continues to explore the extreme sonic terrains of electro-acoustic spontaneous improvisations, each different in its vivid atmosphere and suggestive sounds. The label's recent pair of releases feature two distinct outfits that present the arresting results of a careful, balanced mix of acoustics and electronics.
Thanos Chrysakis / Ken Slaven / James O'Sullivan / Jerry Wigens Zafiros en el Barro
2013 Zafiros en el Barro
("Sapphires in the Mud" in Spanish) was recorded in Madrid, Spain and features founder Thanos Chrysakis
on laptop and synthesizer with musicians who play acoustic instrumentsKen Slaven on assorted percussion instruments and violin, James O’Sullivan
on guitar and Jerry Wigens
on clarinet and guitar. All have collaborated before on other Aural Terrains releases as Instant-Cascade-Distant
and Magnetic River
The seven untitled improvisations here, surprisingly, avoid textures that do not rely on minimalist static improvisations, and each is busy and lively. All investigate and experiment patiently on the sonic options of spontaneous, yet carefully balanced group improvisation. In all exercises, the musicians apply extended techniques on the acoustic instruments that blur the boundaries between the electronic sounds and the acoustic ones to add distinct, focused character to each selection. The longer efforts, the second and the fourth, even have a subtle dramatic narrative enhanced with brief, nuanced excerpts of Spanish radio voices on the second one and exotic Brazilian berimbau percussive sounds and the gentle violin playing on the fourth. Other improvisations even set a suggestive, lyrical atmosphere. The fifth cut challenges Chrysakis to follow fast, chaotic acoustic interplay.
Thanos Chrysakis / Wade Matthews / Javier Pedreira Garnet Skein
This is a trio featuring Chrysakis on laptop and synthesizer, Wade Matthews, a former New York-based reed player now based in Madrid (a close collaborator of Chrysakis and recording engineer of Zafiros en el Barro
) on digital synthesis and field recordings, with Javier Pederira, who also collaborated with Matthews before, on accoustic guitar.
The six improvisations were,again, recorded in Madrid. The sonic merging of electro-acoustic sounds with the revolutionary, extended techniques applied to the guitar create enigmatic, nuanced textures characterized with a rapid, organic flow of new, otherworldly sounds and dense interplay. As on Zafiros en el Barro
the longer improvisations(third and the sixth) manage to structure more abstract narratives, less dramatic in progression but still restless and voluminous, even climaxing in threatening, electric storms of tight trio interaction. The fourth and fifth improvisations feature gentle electronic drones, obscured occasionally with noisy, percussive interference, suggesting an eerie, cinematic soundscape.
Tracks and Personnel Zafiros en el Barro
Tracks: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII..
Personnel: Thanos Chrysakis: laptop computer, synthesizer, radio; Ken Slaven: berimbau (1, 4), breadknife (2), autoharp (2, 3, 4, 7), violin (2, 5, 6, 7), mbira (3); James O'Sullivan: guitar; Jerry Wigens: clarinet, mandolin (1, 2, 7). Garnet Skein
Tracks: I; II; III; IV; V; VI.
Personnel: Thanos Chrysakis: laptop computer, synthesizer, radio, gongs; Wade Matthews: digital synthesis & field recordings; Javier Pedreira: guitar.