Browsing All posts tagged under »free improvisation«

Review Of The Year 2014: 20 Albums

December 20, 2014

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My views on end-of-year roundups in general are quite aggressive, and can be read at greater length in the introduction to last year’s selection, here. Suffice it to say that I think anyone claiming to know which are the best few albums released in any given year is seriously delusional; my selection is simply some of the records I liked the most out of those I happened to come across. These records are all seriously good, but there were over a hundred other albums that could equally well have made it onto my list; my advice is, yes, investigate these records, but more importantly, go hunting for …

The Grip – Celebrate (jazz)

November 14, 2014

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This band make a sound with a great big gaping hole right through the middle of it. Conceptually, jazz has been (among other things) about the relationship between single lines and harmony, for a considerable number of decades – perhaps this became an overriding concern with the advent of be-bop, when harmonic complexity increased concurrently with a reduction in the resources commonly available for orchestrating the music. Don’t ask me, I’m not a jazz historian, and I’m far too lazy to do the research, but I reckon it’s plausible. Either way, there’s been an ongoing …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

September 4, 2013

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We’ve all seen some pretty rough justice in the wake of global capitalism’s recent crises, but Greece has suffered worse than any other part of the developed world. The Figures Of Enormous Grey And The Patterns Of Fraud appears to be a response to these circumstances, although it’s too complex an album to be pinned down quite so glibly. Choral voices are layered with a complex variety of rock textures, ranging from post-rock atmospherics, through mathy convolutions to heavy prog riffing. It’s the big epic sweep of things that tends to predominate, rather than the individual voice or the…

Jez Carr, Simon Little & Mike Haughton – Foreground Music, Vol. I (jazz)

June 11, 2013

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All that Simon Little, who seems to be the member of this trio with principal responsibility for promoting Foreground Music, Vol. I, has to say about this music on his Bandcamp page is that ‘[i]n November 2012, three musicians came together to play freely improvised music and recorded everything.’ Freedom, it should be noted, is a big place, and a statement like that gives little clue as to what the results might sound like. What are the parameters within which the musicians improvised? Is the music consonant, dissonant, tonal, atonal, serial, aleatory, or some combination of these and other approaches? Is it metrical, arrhythmic, calm, frantic or what? Do the musicians concern themselves principally with pitch, timbre, texture, dynamics …

Mere – Mere (dark-ambient improvisation)

October 29, 2012

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Improvisation is a complex matter, and often a contentious one: some degree of musical freedom is usually identified with it, to the extent that freedom is sometimes regarded as its defining characteristic, its essence, or indeed as the thing itself. Thus some more partisan free improvisers would not really regard formulaic improvisation (improvisation within closely bounded harmonic and rhythmic parameters) as improvisation at all. I’ve never had much time for debates that centre on the definitions of musical styles or characteristics, but I guess that if you’ve staked your career and practice on a particular ideology of creative freedom the stakes might look higher than they do to me. Personally I think there are other parameters of improvisation…

Mittimus & Nix Pickler – Devices (free improvisation)

July 28, 2011

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Free improvisers take a lot of different routes to a lot of different destinations, or to put it another way, improvisation can be free in a lot of different ways. When it first burst into the world it was as an avant-garde practice within jazz (although most became aware of it when it was sufficiently established to warrant an album release on Atlantic Records). At this point, what it was free from was harmony, and to a lesser extent, metre; timbre was already a subject for transformation and exploration in jazz, although early free improvisers did exploit this further, but...

Steve Lawson – 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything (ambient)

May 7, 2011

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The pieces on this album are indeed highly atmospheric, but don’t let this lead you to believe that ambience is all, or even principally, what the music is about. The principal quality of these tunes, their defining feature, and the central locus of Lawson’s creative effort, is melody.