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Improvijazzation Nation 

Issue # 43 REVIEWS:


Let's start off this new issue with some GUEST reviews by our long-time friend Henry Schneider.  Henry visited me recently (he's working in Warren, Michigan for a while), & sent me some new reviews right after our conversations...

Murat Ses Culduz (KALAN CD 158, CD 47:02)
Murat Ses, a Turkish synthesist, has completed his exploration trilogy with Culduz, his first CD release. I was impressed when Murat released Binfen (part two) several years ago. Culduz is a marked improvement. Containing 10 tracks, Culduz is an amalgam of East meets West cultures. Each track has its own distinctive voice. Whether it is the Euro-synth pop of Humbaba, the pseudo-harmonic chanting on Ulug Bey, or the watercolor washes on Cathay, Murat's music delights the ear. Not afraid to try new ideas, Murat successfully integrates a slightly out of tune piano sequence as the foundation of Azimuth, coincidentally the high point of the disc. To this foundation, he adds layers of drum machine, blown bottles, oboes, etc. evoking images of belly dancers and whirling dervishes. Also of note is Piri Reis (Kaptan-I Acun), a listening experience where you would be well advised to apply sun block as the blistering electronics are likely to fry your skin to a crisp. Rounding out the disc are two interesting tracks, Creuset with its sampled Arabic chanting and Seven Seas with its ascending/descending organ wavelets, electronic surf, and sonar pings. Support this independent artist and allow Murat Ses to transport you on a musical journey of discovery through Middle Eastern culture.  [Kalan Muzik Ltd. STL IMC 6. Blok No: 6608 Unkapani-Istanbul, TURKEY, Henry Schneider - June 2000

Present No 6 (CD 47:02) No 6 is the latest release from Roger Trigaux's band Present. This Belgian ensemble continues the musical tradition pioneered by King Crimson and extended by Richard Pinhas. The opening track, The Limping Girl, at 17 minutes fits well in this vein of Frippish guitar licks, complex chord progressions, and ostinatos. Unfortunately, Part 3 of this piece tends to wear a bit thin with 96 repetitions of the same note sequence that barely evolves over its 4 minutes. The next track, Le Rodeur, an excellent quiet, ambient atmosphere bordering on the industrial with its scraping and moaning guitars, in my humble opinion, is much too short at 2 minutes. Next in line is Ceux d'en bas (suite) clocking in at about 20 minutes. This composition is another tour de force of Frippish guitar, shifting chords, etc. but it is truly a Present piece. The disk closes with Sworlf, a more sedate excursion into the same realm. The musicianship is impeccable throughout No 6 with each performer allowing his partners the room they need to develop their musical expressions. An excellent release that should appeal to all fans of King Crimson, Heldon, Richard Pinhas, Art Zoyd, Universe Zero, etc. [Carbon 7 Records, 23, AV, General Eisenhower, B-1030 Brussels, Belgium;;;] Henry Schneider - April 2000

Michael Masley - CYMBALENNIUM:  We reviewed Michael (quite favorably) many issues back from a submission for the "Olympia Experimental Music Festival".  His music is highly original and entirely "homemade".  I enjoyed it immensely the first time around & this ride is even BETTER!  Smooth string-based music similar to dulcimer that is amazing in depth and breadth... you'll swear the secrets of the ancients are comin' thru those magikal overtones, volkz (& they prob'ly ARE).  He also integrates some wonderful flute work, too.  What makes it stand out away from other classifications is Masley's original playing techniques - indescribable, you'll have to LISTEN to comprehend.  Could it run as "background" music?  Of course, ANY music can - but you'd be doing your earz (& yer' mind) a disservice!  This is the kind of music you'll want to WRAP around your braincase (with headphones, of course) & deliberate fully upon.  Highly accessible and enjoyable, "CYMBALENNIUM" gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer.  Contact at POB 5232, Berkeley, CA 94705 or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Saturnalia String Trio + Daniel Carter - MEDITATIONS ON UNITY:  Jonathan LaMaster on violin & electronics, Vic Rawlings on prepared cello, serangi & electronics, and Mike Bullock's bass (supplemented by Mathew Heyner on bass on the last two tracks) in collaboration with veteran Daniel Carter (saxophones, flute & trumpet)... this CD is not for the timid.  My favorite cut (as I imagined it might be from the title, "Spontaneous Contagion") was track 5... tho' the pace is not (quite) as frenetic as I thought it would be (from the standpoint of tempo, anyway), there is a sense of being "on the edge" all through the piece, & Carter's sax is more noticeable.  The whole key to listening here is to make sure you've got the headphones on & up full-tilt, so as not to miss any of the little nuances.  Almost as tho' you WERE meditating... without that sense, you may view it as little more than a subdued swirling maelstrom; when in fact, it's a miniature symphonic adventure!  Track 9, "Release", is a fast-moving piece with nice sax tones... enjoyed it a lot as well.  All in all, the CD falls out in a category of "all by itself", which is as it should be, I'm sure.  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for fans of improvised music that demands sensitivity in the listening.  Contact at Sublingual Records, POB 391516, Cambridge, MA 02139, via e-mail to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Andrew Neumann - SCRAMBLE|LOCK|COMBINATION:  Ken Field (reviewed in ISSUE # 42) told the folks at Sublingual to make sure we had plenty of review material.... they did NOT let him down.  Neumann's CD takes us through some percussion/sample sequences that will boggle even those whose circuits are already twisted!  While it's true that many of these sounds are machine generated, Andrew's music lights the way for those (like me) who believe that improvisation on machines IS the frontier.  Of course, I'm not talking about boring repetitive-loop stuff - that's EXACTLY the kind of twaddle that turns serious improvisors away from electronic improv... but Neumann has produced an extremely effective (& well composed) exploration into electronic percussion improvisation!  This is a TOTAL KEEPER!  The strange sounds/effects that permeate his rhythmic twists & turns will make even the "best trained" stop & take notice!  I just LOVED this CD, & will look for WAY MORE from Neumann.  This gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "most forward looking improvisation").  Simply SUPERB!   Contact at Sublingual Records, POB 391516, Cambridge, MA 02139, via e-mail to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Simko - EXCURSIONS:  Emily Simko performs some beautiful and moving orchestral music that will have you dreaming the dreams again.  Heavily synth-oriented, some listeners will (probably) reject it out-of-hand, 'coz it's not played on a real instrument.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  You will be pleasantly WRAPPED in the music she creates, taken on a magical journey to the farthest reaches of her mind & talent.  It doesn't stay purely in the purely orchestral zone, either... she uses rhythms as an undercurrent & counterpoint to her classical leanings VERY effectively.  If you enjoy music that lifts the spirit & can help to put you back in touch with (many of) the reasons we are here - to express the joy & love of having been created!  This is unique and very much her style!  If it's ever possible, I believe a collaboration between her & Steve Cochrane would be SHEER joy!  I enjoyed it greatly & those who purchase this one will readily agree with my declaration of it being HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

the cocker spaniels - LITTLE WHITE TRUTHS:  Not a bad lil' CD from Texas, in from fellow taper Sean Padilla.  Kid-rawk oriented stuff that sounds like it was played by 18 to 19 year olds (though the production values belie that).  I wouldn't be surprised if this was TOTALLY home-produced, but it SOUNDS near studio-quality.  If these guys aren't sendin' stuff to Don Campau's NO PIGEONHOLES, they surely SHOULD BE!  There's th' typical mix of power git-arz, drums & rhythm guitar... one of the things that really made this stand out from the pack was the VOCAL mixing.  Youthful voices on "Platonically Yours" are woven tightly together to make what might come close to "art rock".  STRONG talent here - gets (believe it or not) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, even though it's listening audience might normally be limited to teeny-boppin' bubble-gummers... 'coz some o' you "over 30's" NEED to LISTEN to this!  Contact at SPME, POB 84642, Waco, TX 76798, via e-mail to or at his page!  Rotcod Zzaj

Natsuki Tamura -  WHITE & BLUE:  Crisp trumpet improvisations, integrated with some VERY percussive moments!  We've reviewed Tamura's music before (many times), of course, but this CD explores turf not often inhabited by those who improvise.  Percussion that isn't just "in the background", there are orchestral movements & counterpoints (to his amazing trumpet) that will wake your ears up.  Sonically, this is one of the best recorded albums I've heard in many years; ALL the nuances are captured, not one beat lost.  Much of the percussives are furnished by Jim Black & Aaron Alexander, & the interactions with Natsuki's horn are (quite simply) AMAZING.  They're not afraid to incorporate stretches of (momentary) silence either, & it's clear from the first bar that you will HAVE to pay attention, or lose some of the experience.  A highly challenging listen that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who can't do without adventure in their musical excursions.  Contact Natsuki via e-mail at  Rotcod Zzaj

Brian Auger - VOICES OF OTHER TIMES:  Gourd (that's thee deity of veganz, ain't it?), it's nice to hear this music.  I (actually) still HAD a tape ("Closer To It") of his earlier material... this is FRESH, straight-ahead & FUNK-ee, people!  Auger's Hammond is one KICKIN' instrument, & comes across with a sense of pure joy & right-on rhythm.  Of course, he's playin' other keyboards (Rhodes, Korg & Pro-X) as well, but it IS that B-3 that makes it for these aural appendages. Title track takes you (as you might have imagined) back to the sounds you heard the original "OBLIVION EXPRESS" doing, but with more jazz influences than those daze - it's my favorite cut on the album.   Another really COOL thing about this iteration of "OE" is that his son (Karma on drums & percussion)  & daughter (Savannah on vocals) lend their significant musical skills.  I just LOVED her vox, totally her own voice & style!  Doesn't matter if you didn't grow up (as I did) on music like this, you'll agree with me totally - this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & gets our PICK of this issue for "best funk&rhythm"!  THIS one will stay in my collection for 50 years (if I stick 'round that long)... it's a CLASSIC (again)!  Contact through Miramar Recordings ( ) or through Creative Service Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918... also via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Mortal Loom - ALCHEMY THROUGH DREAMS:  Think "Tangerine Dream"... think dangerous swirling synths that serve as background for the dreams that paint the world of your tomorrows.  If your imagination is (even) half as powerful as you THINK it is, you'll have it identified.  Heavy use of beautiful strings, simple patterns as a core for them to swirl over, under around & through.  Some VERY interesting rhythm combinations, as in (one of my favorites) "Trip Hop Thing".  There are moments when it comes off sounding a little too synth-based, but in the overall, it's a very pleasant listen with high energy.  If you don't enjoy electronic-oriented musics, you'll probably shy away from this - but you SHOULDN'T.  Tastefully crafted music that deserves a listen & gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    )

Hipbone - DECOUPAGE:  Bret Hart's been using his new InstrumenTales label to re-release CD's (this one is VERY well-produced, crystal-clear) with various musical groupings from over the last several years.  Hart's vocals/compz/guitarz are featured on this outing... he's joined on this wild romp by Rev. Keith Prescott on drums & Peter Zolli on bass/guitarz as well.  Those who first discovered Bret in the "old daze" will hear a new Hart here... solid compz', some very rawk/volk-oriented pieces that will make all th' retired hippies teary-eyed.  His vox are uniquely his, & the lyrics totally thought-provoking.  If yer' lookin' for background music, go somewhere else!  Hart is able to capture the joys & sadnesses with a punch & vigor that hearkens back to th' HOTTEST groups of th' '60's!  This is some of the most accessible & enjoyable music I've ever heard Bret do (& BELIEVE me, I've heard him do a LOT).  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & the "PICK" of this issue for "best folk-rock"!  Contact at 609 Morehead Street, Eden, North Carolina, USA 27288 or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

SIGNAL TO NOISE:  We don't often review 'zines here anymore... partly because there aren't that many (quality) publications out there anymore... in other regards, because so many of them are (now) on the web.  Pete Gershon's is an excellent example of one that merits review, however.  This issue (July/August 2000) is a perfect issue to review.  The interview with Borah Bergman was one of the best-written & "jaded perspective" I've seen in some years.  The magazine is always chock-full of timely articles, interviews & reviews about jazz artists, mainstream as well as those more underground oriented.  That does NOT mean "obscure", the staff seems to have an uncanny knack for lining up content that is challenging but timely.  This particular issue has a focus article on "Electro-Acoustics: Dangerous Improv?" that truly peaked my interest (of course, WE would prefer that the emphasis was even STRONGER on "odd-istry", but I guess that's what OUR 'zine is for, eh?).  Any way you slice it, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at 416 Pine St., Burlington, VT 05401, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii Orchestra - DOUBLE TAKE:  Talk about the differences (NOT the competitions) between East & West.  Fujii hit on a brilliant idea here... had her Japanese orchestra play her composition ("The Ruin") on the first disc.  Second disc is the American orchestra she plays with (both too many players to list here).  It's an exciting contrast for those who dig orchestral jazz & the well-composed energies Satoko is (by now) famous for.  An odd experience, too, because I found the East version(s) to be slightly more "ON/vibrant", somehow, something I wouldn't have really expected.  That shouldn't prevent you from listening to the West side at all... just sort of a sidebar... they are BOTH very challenging listens, with balls-to-the-wall horns that paint WILD impressions in your brain!  I'd recommend headphones & severe concentration for both discs, but try & set it up so you won't be interrupted; best listened to in one swell foop!  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as "PICK" of this issue for "best orchestral jazz".  Contact at  Rotcod Zzaj


& now, yet ANOTHER section of reviews from an OUTSIDE reviewer... our L-O-N-G-time underground pal Bret Hart (who has collabs with Zzaj & MANY OTHER artists on HIS site, at )!  He's been listenin' up a STORM, volkz:

ELVIS X   "words and live by"
(obtain CD at in this appearance-driven world, if ELVIS X were to judged by appearances only, they'd have a following.  smoke-mouthed Tucker (vox), bare-chested Muir (guitar), groovy candle-wielding Tuttle, and Scotty Irving in a Residents t-shirt clutching an electrified crutch...big eye-candy.  Listening through the tunes, I'm hearing cheap keyboard sounds layered over readings from the Scripture...sung spoken-word...distant cymbals...apocalyptic imagery....(next tune) skeleton-funk! fat-ass bass mating with strange and buzzing guitars (great effects usage!)...I HEAR A Space Drum IN THERE SOMEWHERE!!!!...the stereo vocal-processing is
SPIFF...(NEXT TUNE) YOU figure out the time-signatures at the beginning of this, I GET
PAID BY THE HOUR, bustah!...  brilliant drumming, and listen to how the musicians slide in and out and in and out of powerful entertainment and groove damage!...NICE...ELVIS X effectively build environments of freight-train 'lectronic sounds and guitar-thunder...LOTS OF HUMOR in here too...I keep thinking I've just heard a cartoon theme, then it's gone...this is intelligent and Dadaistic modern rock.  BUY IT!  (7/23/2000)  -Bret Hart

Clang Quartet    "Jihad"  (obtain CD at
Scotty Irving is most easily defined as a 'percussionist' by those who have seen/heard him
play LIVE.  But, his recordings, as "Clang Quartet" [his solo performance vehicle] are another thing entirely.  The studio becomes an instrument on this, CQ's second solo CD release this year (the first is an unedited live concert recording entitled CQ:4-15-00 on InstrumenTales Records   CONTACT:    $10 ppd).  Irving, who has been featured in Modern Drummer) employs [from liner notes] "electrified handsaw/stapler/water bottle-combo, used with an E-Bow and drumstick; electric guitar without strings; hockey mask covered with finger cymbals and bells ("shake face"); junk metal percussion; cicadas; sounds
made under a bridge; broken cymbal that is beaten/sawed/dropped/...; "family tapes"; dead
tree used as a drum, and a creek".  Throughout, Irving expresses opinions regarding
spirituality and education.  This stuff ROCKS like Caroliner Rainbow used to rock! Great.  -Bret Hart (7/29/2000)

VA:  Demain  - a Silber Records Sampler  (obtain CD at )   Many new artists - domestic and international - represented on this album of looping, drone-piling, sampled and modified ambiences, minimalism, and tone-wrestling.  They (all) are: Origami Arktika, Peter Aldrich, small life form, My Glass Beside Yours, Remora, Clang Quartet, burMonter, Vlor, fade, and Still.   Some of the titles are mysterious, evocative, and *prep* yer head... "Angel Stalk", "Thirteen Layers of Heaven", "each day is like  winter".  This genre/these genres of listening music are the bastard offspring of Lamonte
Young, Terry Riley, Tangerine Dream, Eno, and Phil Glass.  Patience is required, and rewarded.  I reviewed scads of sound-art/soundscape music while writing for Option and Sound Choice in the 80's.  Then, the leaders were Mnemonists, Al Margolis, Jeff Grienke, RRR's output, some things on Cuneiform, and thier ilk.  Silber Media is [re-]promulgating a new way of listening; one whi9ch dissolves perseverative thought and opens new gates.  [from Jon DeRosa's liner notes] "...a culmination of nomadic sound architects and sonic
refugees from around the world...the soundtrack for confusion, frustration, triumph, and despair."  Great for your mind.  -Bret Hart  (7/24/2000)

Remora / Clang Quartet   Cemented in Stone
(obtain CD at )
Remora is Brain John Mitchell.  He approaches guitar from a spacious, vast-sounding place.
As a player, I am so impressed with how he takes relatively simple signal-sources and transforms them into giants.  Layers of timbrally-modified guitar are stacked and layered in long vistas - buzzing and sweeping, giving off heat and reflection, simple, melancholy, organic...   Planted on Remora's *back* are the sounds, noises, and thrum of Scotty Irving.  [I was there, at a Rockingham County Recyclers' practice, when he unveiled "the electric
stapler -w- E-Bow"!!]  Remora/Clang Quartet do not do "songs", per se.  They paint with tone,
rhythm, and timbre.  Beautiful in a post-apocalyptic way.  Evocative, like photographs and roadkill; elections and tele-evangelism. BUY SILBER MEDIA PRODUCT and grow more brain in yer haid!!
-Bret Hart    (7/24/2000)

We hope you are all enJOYing the additional perspectives we've been gaining from other reviewers... I know I have found them entertaining & enlightening!  Spread th' WORD!!!!


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