Two INSUB releases

John Eyles By

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When Switzerland's INSUB records issued its first two releases in a new format in early 2014, that innovative format got nearly as much attention as the music itself. Solving the download vs. physical object debate, its combination of attractive packaging (including A3 poster-size artwork) with a download code gave customers the best of both worlds. That solution was also compatible with the Insubordinations label's history; since 2006 its netlabel for improvised music has issued a steady stream of impressive downloads, many free of charge. The arrival of INSUB records has not halted that outlet; for instance, among its most recent free downloads is a fine live duo that pairs INSUB curator D'incise with French improvising saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet—as always, well worth checking out.

Meanwhile, the latest releases on INSUB are well up to the label's usual high standards....

Insub Meta Orchestra
Archive #3

Insub Meta Orchestra (IMO) is a key part of the Insubordinations set up. The INSUB curators, percussionist Cyril Bondi and laptoppist/percussionist D'incise, are both regular members of IMO, maybe even its leaders. On this album's A3 insert, they tell the fascinating story of how they founded IMO, inspired by playing with the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO) on a visit to London in 2009. They also outline the orchestra's subsequent trials and tribulations including the collective search for its own identity and working methods. This quote from D'incise gives a flavour of that search, "We addressed sound analysis (in a somewhat Schaefferian way), what is a drone, a white noise, being able to make the difference between a click and a crack. Then learn how to generate and work with just one material over a long period, a search of texture, sound clouds, thinking of one's instrument as an abstract source, find potentially common sounds to all."

The music issued by IMO resulted from that search. As its title implies, Archive #3 is their third volume of recordings. (Incidentally, its predecessors remain available as free downloads.) Despite IMO originally being inspired by the LIO, it is clear from Archive #3 that it has diverged from the LIO musically. For instance, of the twenty-nine musicians here (down from thirty-five on Archive #2) six are percussionists and six use electronics or laptop—a very different balance to that in LIO. IMO music is far more electroacoustic improvisation (eai) than free improv, as a brief listen to the SoundCloud clip below will indicate. Of course, producing eai with twenty-nine musicians is fraught with the same difficulties as producing free improv with that number—it would be easy for the results to become cacophonous! IMO avoid that by opting to play structured pieces at a low volume, including occasional silences and avoiding individual virtuosity in favour of group reflection and sound. The end results generally evolve slowly and gently, with no one player obviously taking the lead. They are most akin to drones that are rich in detail both on the surface and at a deeper level; IMO music stands up well to repeat listening, revealing more and more over time. .

Cyril Bondi & Toma Gouband
Hi No Tori

Compared to the complexities of IMO, the duo of percussionists Bondi and Toma Gouband is very different, but it shares the large ensemble's sense of control and absence of ego. As well as Bondi's use of floortom and loudspeaker, the pair extract percussive sounds from a range of objects. Rather than words, this release's A3 insert pictures a selection of those items, including stones, fir cones, twigs, sticks, shells, a brush, foil trays plus other less easily identifiable objects. As he demonstrated on his 2012 album for Evan Parker's label, Courant des Vents (Psi, 2012), Gouband specialises in using stones and branches to generate sounds that are so reminiscent of natural sounds, such as water dripping in caves, that they could easily be mistaken for field recordings.

Where Gouband played alone on that album, here he and Bondi interact and exchange sounds, blurring the boundary between the two of them and giving the impression of one multi-limbed, single-brained entity; there is no sense of call and response or leader and follower, the two seem to think and play together, the dynamics of their peaks and troughs matching perfectly. Throughout the single, forty-two minute piece, there is a deep, underlying pulse which comes from both players but is underpinned by the constant rumble of the floortom over which both add embellishments and further rhythms. A fine example of duo improvisation and a very satisfying listening experience.

Tracks and Personnel:

Archive #3

Tracks: 4GS ; SLC ; UNS ; MNC.

Personnel: (left to right) Beatrice Graf: percussion ; Teresa Hackel: flutes ; Patricia Bosshard: violin ; Thomas Peter: laptop ; Jacques Demierre: harmonium ; Cyril Bondi: percussion ; Sébastien Branche: tenor saxophone ; Heike Fiedler: voice ; Erik Ruffing: electronics ; Daniel Tyrrell: acoustic guitar ; Lea Danzeisen: electronics ; Rodolphe Loubatière: percussion ; Christophe Berthet: alto saxophone ; Bruno Crochet: electronics ; Regula Gerber: double bass ; Antoine Läng: voice ; Gregor Vidic: tenor saxophone ; Simon Bolay: acoustic guitar ; Christoph Schiller: spinet ; Luc Müller: percussion ; Dorothea Schürch: saw ; Thierry Simonot: electronics ; Bertrand Gauguet: alto saxophone ; D'incise: percussion ; Vinz Vonlanthen: electric guitar ; Coralie Lonfat: laptop ; Jamasp Jhabvala: violin ; Christian Müller: bass clarinet ; Filippo Provenzale: percussion.

Hi No Tori

Tracks: Duration 42' 08"

Personnel: Cyril Bondi: floortom, loudspeaker, small objects ; Toma Gouband: stones, percussions.

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