NON CREDO: “Impropera” ******


Recorded 2006


The duo of LA-based drummer Joseph Berardi and singer and multi-instrumentalist Kira Vollman first surfaced in the late 1980s.  After early experiments for vocal and percussion, they began to explore a richer palette of sounds, incorporating accordion, cello, clarinets, keyboards, viola, marimba, bass and radio.  Such was their thirst for chromatic wealth that the duo apparently tried to broaden the format by co-opting other musicians, an attempt that eventually failed. 


Their strength lies in Kyra Vollman’s capricious vocalizations rooted in the heritage of musical theater and the traditions pre-dating 19th century bel canto.  But her classically trained vocal ability strays often onto operatic arias, haunting siren songs, menacing lectures – all delivered at a clip elusive even for an attentive ear.  The sound perfectionism is achieved through ample access to the duo’s Zauberklang studio.  The textural wealth of their material belies the predominantly improvisation-based musical creativity.


This is musica di camara moderna of the highest order.  It was, therefore, with great pleasure that the globally dispersed audience welcomed the long delayed update on Non Credo’s oeuvre.




Prima Punta

Carried by an orderly harpsichord continuo, Kyra Vollman commences her recitativo secco.  Her classically trained voice, laid against the spiky keyboard strokes, inevitably brings comparisons to Opus Avantra.  But when her clean, lyric soprano goes arioso, she is more dramatic and serious than Donella del Monaco ever was.  The aria decelerates exhibiting her light, flexible tone.


8 Bit Whore

This is the first time Joseph Berardi unleashes his flaring matrix of samples and percussion.  Entering with a snare drum he will refocus our attention like a magician.  This is a blindfold test that even the most attentive listener will struggle with.  First an old, edgy jazz trumpet emerges from Berardi’s keyboard-induced samples.  When exotica congas begin their jabber we are transported to the cigar-filled dens of early 1950s Cuba.  Dark piano arpeggios do not disrupt the quick runs of a damned, wild rumba.  An atmosphere of Santeria jazz is further bolstered by sampled tenor saxophone.  Over this plethora of references, only a live bass clarinet makes some brief, free commentaries.  Do not expect it to sing in Spanish…


Hubris and Greed

An engaging contrast sets in between wild, obsessive woodpecking and indifferent humming.  Vollman whispers a text about a miser bum – formerly a failed stand-up comic.  She conveys this rather sad story with no compassion, on the contrary – there are shades of spite.  The doorway cracks, opening the way to traumatic giallo of groovy Italian films.  These samples approach the innocuous suspension of a vintage Ennio Morricone or Piero Piccioni.  Vollman’s recites the text with a low-pitched, critical, almost perverse voice which contrasts with her trained, clear vocalizations. 


Bella Donna

Dull, deadpan thuds and backwardated buzz reach us from Berardi’s sample bank.  In a display of melismatic virtuosity, Vollman the Witch meets here her operatic persona. 


Trouser Role

For a fraction of a moment, a Philip Jeck-like old record scratching suffocates us with ample color of the bygone era – lupine, vermillion, chamois, ochre.  Vollman’s exuberant vocal show ranges from contralto rapping scat and non-descript coloratura to extortionate theatrical firecrackers.  Her range is so extreme and the transitions appear so latex-smooth that Shelley Hirsch’s early experiments come to mind.


Faux Afro

Vollman’s bass clarinet is left here alone, struggling with sampled, mechanic, piston and cylinder cum bass sample, known from Marie Goyette’s exquisite recordings.  Given the slightly minimalist background, the bass clarinet soundpainting evokes John Surman’s electronic period, even though the sound palette is very different here.  The track ends up on a pyre.


Deep, Deep Down

Again the affected, exorbitantly accentuated story-telling reminds us of Shelly Hirsch.  Kyra Vollman goes guttural, jumps over to fricatives, nearly chokes on ingressives, excels in oval vocalizations, then gargles and regurgitates duck-like semi-diphthongs.  All along an organ sympathizes with the vocal boneless wonder. 


Via Nino

This time Berardi offers us sampled strings.  In itself, such a trite proceeding could almost lull us into somnolence, but there is a novelty here – a    m e l o d y.  The suspense is (again) redolent of Italian film style of 1960s and 1970s.  Even though the rhythmic buoyancy tends to fingerpoint mirth, the actual vocal effect is haunting and intimidating.  Vollman’s vocal strings rise so effortlessly that the texture pleads for some friction.  Graters and metal gongs are au service, bringing back a more terrestrial atmosphere. 


Heaven Help Us

A tight, nervous, mysterious cry for help with Vollman officiating in two roles – a naïve one and an experienced one.  Some metallic clang and a refined basso underpin this modern cantata.


Interval One

A babble arises from a crowd.  A crankshaft volunteers a clank: “Clank”. 



Sicka Siam

This second movement of “Impropera” begins simplistically, with a rhythm machine and a melodica.  Clobbered, marching music depicts a nightmarish vision of person locked up in Bangkok “on trumped up charges”.  A guitar, crawling ad libitum, responds with jangles while the bass clarinet performs over a sampled piano form.  The melodica swishes back.  Despite a very contemporary production, it is here that we recognize Kyra Vollman from her prudish-sounding debuts some 20 years before.  A string-like sample eventually takes over, cut up to pieces by the melodica’s flat-footed, pathetically constrained, plastic improvisation. 


Stock and Trade

Another diplay of vocal Fireworks from Vollman.  Bubbly, gaseous electronics is overpowered by a thorny effect – as if someone let a metal bar hit running wheel spokes.  Jaded warnings echo “nothing new”.  Samples glue distant drumming and a barely perceptible groans.


Sleeping Beauty

This is a depressing story of abandon – with a devastatingly simple, horrifying electronic pulse that occasionally triggers log drumming.  Vollman’s impudent recitativo seamlessly yields to soprano arias.  Her demoniac whisper spits out some macabre lines.  It seems that the bass clarinet parts are little more than an extension of her considerable vocal techniques.  In any case, her staccato tonguings appear to indicate it. 


Odor of Sanctity

More inertial, expansive bass clarinet lays out its dusty souvenirs without urge.  Vollman’s treatment is first breathy, then moves to a fuller tone, particularly impressive in the mid-range.  The samples showcase furtive strumming, augmented by Bernardi on long drums.  The clarinet’s tremolo rides epicycles around sampled Byzantine touches.  This is Non Credo at its most atmospheric and ill-bient. 


Interval Two

In a dreary, industrialized repetition metallic wrenches hit some object regularly, while backward tapes collect distorted voices. 



Faux Cazzo

“Impropera’s” third movement begins with dilated, kimberlite prepared piano chords, ladle-full of Cageian nostalgia (“Sonatas and Interludes”).  Manifold keyboard sheets are overlaid, some muted, some metallic, accompanied by shell-shocked percussive blasts.  Meanwhile, Vollman impersonates a seductive siren from an aquatic, Greek myth.  Detonating rhythms distract her into a baritone-like phrasing, even though her voice cannot reach that pitch. 


Laptop Dance

A tabla sample was clearly picked for the dud resonance rather than intricate Indian meters.  Rotary patterns let the music flow slowly, despite all the fluttering, honking or factory sirens.  Sirens?  Well, not really.  When the sample is allowed to fan out fully, it proves to be a jazz big band.  It is an eerily familiar sequence, but I cannot recognize the source (if you can – please leave a comment below – I am not going to venture a guess that this is Count Basie).  Vollman’s bass clarinet improvises all along, which is formally captivating; bass clarinets usually bend easily and do not have a projection that allows them to come to the fore from a full big band backing.  The prepared piano returns, in an emotional, malleable moment.  So does the washboard. 


Vienna Fingers

The track opens with a marching snare drum.  But the jolt comes from the castanets’ sticky kiss.  Vollman’s detached vocalizations turn into angry complaints about “a lie”.  Then a trio of harpsichord, castanets and snares prepares the ground for operatic soprano aria.  Glockenspiel’s transparent tinge seeps through it all.  In her insolence-inspiring martial whispers Vollman tends to sound Germanic – her consonants are devoiced and stilted, vowels angular and glottal.  Is it a pastiche?  Not more than American actors’ performance in some of the older “Second World War” movies.



This epilogue takes us back to harpsichord continuo and recitativo secco from the opening.  Upon reflection, Vollman’s dramatic mannerism probably brings her reaches an octave higher than the Italian counterpart, referred to at the beginning.  The harpsichord is too busy to be just a classic obbligato.  Rather, its arpeggiated ad-lib facets evoke the instrument’s rebirth parented by modern virtuosi and their partners – the 20th century composers. 




For a ‘band’ whose productions have been appearing for 20 years, the total output has been relatively thin.  Of the three official CD, I consider their last one as the most accomplished. 


NON CREDO: “Reluctant Host” (1988)

NON CREDO: “Happy Wretched Family” (1992-1994)

NON CREDO: “Impropera” (2006)


Non Credo’s tracks can also be found on several compilations, such as “Bad Alchemy Nr 11” and “Poetic Silhouettes”. 


Prior to forming Non Credo, Berardi played in a quirky art-pop combo Fibonaccis.  They have left behind several recordings, the most prominent of which bears some resemblance to Non Credo’s early format:


FIBONACCIS: “Civilization and its Discotheques” (1987)


Both Vollman and Berardi have been appearing in numerous other formations – Fat and Fucked Up, Kraig Grady, Punishment Cookies (she), Double Naught Spy Car, Obliteration Quartet, Eastside Sinfonietta (he).  Although the duo has apparently contributed music to many films and performances, none of this material is currently publicly available. 


Published in: on July 4, 2008 at 6:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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André DUCHESNE: “Cordes à danser… Suite Saguenayenne” ******


Recorded 2005-2006



André Duchesne is a giant of musique Québecoise.  His breezy, melodic compositions betray his guitar technique – buoyant, gleeful, ludic, even nonchalant.  But his penchant for rich, modern orchestration adds layers of hatched lines, pleasantly distracting the listener from the basic chord structure. 


Duchesne’s art is representational, but also emotional.  Yet for all their intensity, the emotions that his music exudes are never extreme – the melodic narrative is alternatively hurried (but not stressed), uplifting (but not ecstatic), somber (but not depressed), sorrowful (but not distressed), expectant (but not overly confident). 


He first gained fame for his intricate classical guitar interplays on Conventum’s LPs in late 1970s.  To this day, these recordings remain a classic of chamber rock.  Since 1984 onwards, thanks to Montreal’s legendary Ambiances Magnétiques label, Duchesne regularly revisits our unconscious with his ornate instrumentals and impromptu chansons. 



Saguenay Country Club

The track surfaces on a hard-driven, guitar-led jazz run.  The conventional expectations are dashed when Stéphane Allard’s violin sweeps in with fluent touches.  Allard’s tone is brighter than Leroy Jenkins’s and here lies the novelty of this juxtaposition.  We are then served with Duchesne’s trademark, high-pitched electric guitar.  Allard is joined by the rest of the string quartet (Mélanie Bélair, Jean René, Christine Giguère), which complicates things – the strings seem to be gliding across, rather than along the metric advance.  The band pauses shortly for some atonal pizzicato and isolated up-bow fragments.  A solo on a buzzy guitar follows, and a conversation with violin terminates this first invitation to “Cordes à danser”.


Mon pays c’est une shop

A mellow guitar line, supported by strings opens an indeterminate but rosy theme propelled by an agile bass-drum section.  A repetitive pattern sets in, building up tension through string quartet’n’drum interplay, thus allowing the guitar to improvise freely.  Pierre Tanguay will also throw in his precious 3 Canadian cents on skins solo.  The sanguine, tuneful theme then sees some evolution in synchronous lead by the guitar and le quatuor à cordes. 


Cowboy ahuri dans une forêt de cheminées

The high range guitar buzz splashes tenebrous daubings with appropriately contrived sustain.  Slowly, a crescendo rises, hammered up by monometric drum and bass.  The string quartet first contents itself with mere responses, but then Jean René’s viola makes wistful comments on its own.  Buzzing guitar and the violins instill some drama into murky thundering until sampled crackle’n’noise switches it off.


Jumper le train de Robervay Saguenay

The guitar maintains just enough sustain to live up to unison requirements posed by the strings.  Then they bifurcate: the strings slide to and fro and the guitar adopts a more pristine timbre with a sense of a train-like urgency.  One wonders if this is not a quotation from Duchesne’s own “Locomotive”, albeit augmented here by the nimble quatuor.  Once again the rhythm section of Patrick Hamilton and Pierre Tanguay is tight and disciplined.  The “train” progresses smoothly, leaving behind a light, lyrical touch.


Boues rouges (lacs de bauxite)

Enter wah-wah guitar and a harmonic bass.  The violins’ clear, E-string focus leaves the center range unoccupied, which makes the projection of the bubbly guitar so much more prominent.  Tanguay remains very discrete here, surreptitiously bolstered by another rhythm guitar track.  The wah-wah meanders, letting the quartet fall into a succession of serene glissandos. 


Ca serait plaisant si les quananiches étaient éternelles

Tabla and a more insistent quartet drag us into a decisive, forceful combination of repetitive, soft guitar mélange.  The track rides on unassumingly, based on multilayered guitars and violins’ springtime interventions. 


Autant de lunois que de linge sur la corde à linge

Changement du décor: orientalizing strings’ gabled notes wrap around Middle Eastern darabukke’s dry fingerprints.  The notes, bent and mangled are cut halfway through the meter.  The guitars merely add a gossamer web of harmonic perspective.  This the realm of Light Rain minus the frenzy of Levantine skin galore.  Overlaid guitar tracks make it however much more than a Paul Klee-like reminiscence of Maghrebian deserts.  A lustrous guitar alternates with the strings.  A scorching guitar whittles down. 


Des cheminées des cheminées des cheminées

All participants are pinned down by three sustained guitar notes, engraved repeatedly against the evanescent, wavelike string background.  A promissory drumset remind us of Duchesne’s vintage orchestral scores in the late 1980s.  The three-note tidbit echoes on and on, as if sampled.  The restrained, almost taciturn live guitar will test the limits of the format, with colorful, dramatic tones squeezed out from the instrument’s neck.  This research will eventually cede to a fast-picked guitar fragment that closes this track.


Kénogami grisaille

Jean René conducts the string section into a more mobile, tensile performance.  The violins are scored against the duo of viola and cello, or against cello solo (Christine Giguère).  The quatuor advances ably, wheeled on by Pierre Tanguay’s circularly shaped instruments and snappy bass.  A gargling guitar shortly chips in.  Then the drumming stops and the strings plunge into some very contemporary atonality.  It is all clipped much to soon.


Naître jonquière (un vendredi soir, après le souper)

At the beginning, the strings perform a purely rhythmic role, but with none of the manic attacks of early Art Zoyd.  Instead, a rebellious guitar tells a story.  When it begins to sizzle, the motif is instantly taken over by the first violin – hats off to the mixing engineer (the author himself) for synchronizing this effect with guitars recorded almost a year after the strings. 


Route 175 (à défaut de)

The final and longest composition on this record introduces us to a sustained high note from the strings and some muffled drum arrhythmia.  Two guitars – one mellow and narrative, and one incandescent and searing appear somewhat oblivious to each other.  The former will tell a us story, the latter will circulate around us like an annoying insect.  Another guitar track with Arabian overtones procures additional pigmentation to the pleasantly advancing cause.  Suddenly there are more guitar participants – a trembling “mandolin” among them.  It is up to Patrick Hamilton to keep the pace, as Tanguay occasionally forays into intra-meter hand figures on his skins.  The main guitar-led narrative alternates between childlike why-regress, through solitary ruminations to proud harangues.  The stately strings, as if cognizant of the imminent closure, surge like a chorus in a Greek drama, soaring with pathos. 




André Duchesne’s records fall into three categories – richly arranged instrumentals, pensive songbooks and solo guitar excursions.  He also formed a number of guitar formations, the most famous of which was Apocalypso Bar in the late 1980s.  Of his output, I particularly strongly recommend his first, poetic solo LP as well as the guitar quartets and the last two – albeit very different – collections from this decade.


André DUCHESNE: “Le temps de bombes” (1984)

Les QUATRE GUITARISTES DE l’APOCALYPSO BAR: “Tournée mondiale” (1987)


André DUCHESNE: “L’ou’l.  Concerto pour un compositeur solitaire” (1989)

André DUCHESNE: “Le royaume ou l’asile” (1988-1990)

LOCOMOTIVE: “Locomotive” (1992)

André DUCHESNE: “Réflexions” (1999)

André DUCHESNE: “Polaroïdes” (2000-2001)

André DUCHESNE: “Cordes à danser… suite Saguenayenne” (2005-2006)

André DUCHESNE: “Arrêter les machines” (2006)


Duchesne’s music can also be heard on a number of festival sets and compilations, such as: “Association pour la diffusion de musiques ouvertes Vol.1”, “Ré Records Quarterly Vol.1 No.4”, “Festival MIMI’87”, “Une théorie des ensembles”, “Ambiances magnétiques vol.3 Inédits”, “Ambiances magnétiques vol.5 Chante!”, “Super Boom”.  Few of these compositions can also be found on his solo records.

LE SILO: “3.27830” *****

Recorded 2006


Le Silo is a highly accomplished trio of Miyako Kanazawa (piano and voice), Yoshiharu Izutsu (guitar and voice) and Michiaki Suganuma (drums and voice).  They exploded suddenly in 2003 with a groundbreaking “8.8”, instantly setting a new standard for the avant-prog idiom.  The trio masterfully combined an irreverent attitude to Japanese and international classics with a penchant for sudden mood alteration.  Unlike many bands evolving in this style, Le Silo opted for a skeletal instrumentation dominated by the acoustic keyboard sound.  The pace is often frenetic and the compositions are plagued by calculated discontinuity; chopped up into contrastive subsections.


Among the myriad of ideas ranging from aggressive assaults to disjointed improvisations, there are also unexpected moments of melancholy deriving from the experiences of impressionistic European jazz.  It is not clear if this is an erudite exercise de style, or a convergence of genres, a quarter of century later. 


Undeniably, Le Silo belongs today to Japan’s foremost acts. 




The opening of the record is loud, but rather unassuming.  A robust piano, a defiant guitar, and accretive drums…  A context not heard since the heyday of Cartoon… But we are in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.  We begin to recognize the female and male voices.  After a spell of silence the trio unleashes its raw power, propelled by the vehement piano invasions.  This will remain the band’s signature throughout this recording. 


Miwaku no Hawaii no ryokoo

Aloha, or just about.  If that trip to Hawaii was so “fascinating”, then it must have been one of the honeymooners’ group tours where bored newlyweds are forced to impersonate Presley songs…  The obsessive, ugly tune here competes for Lebensraum with a crackly old vinyl record, but the chorus is thousands of miles away from the Pacific – an impotent, effete, indifferent wailing à la 1980s’ Reportaz.  The mixing is opaque and soupy.  The band breaks free through this self-imposed patina but fails to develop a melody.  Instead, it rushes through a polymetric gallery of constructivist scraps until the main guitar theme returns, calling the absurd chorus back.



After some very Nippon-style vocal interjections from Miyako Kanazawa, we are accosted by a duo of crude, unrefined piano and drums.  The keyboard will intone a simple figure, mellowed down by a jazzy drum.  When the song reaches its dynamic peak, the non-sensical, anti-climactic chorus returns, resolutely shattering the tense build-up.  It is up to the guitar to pick up the pieces.  Miyako’s soprano squeaks down from all the structural bridges. 


Nichiyoo no hiruma ni doa wo tataite okosanaide (ryaku shite nokku)

“Don’t knock on the door on Sunday to wake me up”, proclaims the title, but the knocking is exactly what we hear.  This transmutes into a drum intro for a very competent fuzz guitar.  When it weans itself from the harmonic role for the melo-rhythmic piano, Yoshiharu Izutsu’s guitar can barely escape comparisons with Bondage Fruit’s Kido Natsuki.   It will excise melodic notes with a kamikaze velocity, but then a classicist solo piano and cymbals will calm it with a dose of melancholia.  The nap does not last.  The ‘knock-knock’ is a wake up call for an angry, caustic guitar.  The indignant piano line reminds us here of Miyako’s jazz contemporary Hiromi in her more classicist ventures. 


Ura ru*shi I…

The first of the three improvisations in which, according to the description, the three musicians swap the instruments.  While the drums appear lost for direction (Izutsu), the coincidental vibrations uniting the guitar and the piano are of some interest.


Numazapa II

A first track under this title can be found on Le Silo’s first CD and together they are Michiaki Suganuma’s only compositional contributions thus far.  This one begins with a percussive entrée, followed by a very mystical right-hand keyboard arpeggio.  It approaches us slowly, building up tension while the cymbals remain almost imperceptible.  Before we are forgiven for thinking that this is a Rainer Brüninghaus recording, the guitar theme will be laid out, sketching sluggish monumental scales against those scuttling piano lines.  The piano will eventually take over the lead.  All along, Suganuma’s percussion constructs a four-dimensional structure, busily welding, riveting, filing, piling and forging his cantilevered decorations. 


Ru kusuchiaa

A barely understood English text is instantly exposed to a whispered reaction from a woman.  Soon after, Miyako Kanazawa’s composition plunges into a staccato, reinforced by a Zeuhlish choir.  Several sequences will follow in this tight, perfectly immiscible track.  Here, and here only, Miyako’s voice evokes Jun Togawa’s memorable Guernica moments.  The progression is unstoppable; distorted vocal fragments, smooth guitar gables and pilasters, and zeuhlish choirs all advance like a regiment of condemned slaves.  Impressive.



This “Snake Dance” starts with a very nimble guitar narrative, and a rolling drumset.  The piano is given a lot of freedom for an almost swinging solo against the rattling skins.  The level of complexity rises here, as the guitar chokes, piano hiccups and drums belch at competitive speed.  Miyako’s keyboard enters an atonal territory without ever sounding like a Cecil Taylor’s derivative.  The guitar will waddle in an unusual, heavy bass timbre.  These are spacious, illustrative fragments, as if destined to quote from Bill Frisell, Steve Tibbetts and, inevitably, Terje Rypdal.  But Izutsu’s sustain is shorter and the drummer is far more intrusive than Jon Christensen ever was.  Against the racket, the piano is anabolic, but it becomes very shy on its own.  Eventually, the initial theme returns, despite the attempts to re-phrase it through a brief drum solo.


Ura ru*shi II 

A very abstract piece, more accomplished than “Ura ru*shi I”.  The exact consonance of the guitar and piano leaves some doubt if this is a pure improvisation, or a replay of an earlier idea.


Sabireta machi

Izutsu’s beautiful tune has been scored adeptly for crystalline piano, circumspect electric guitar and brushes.  It is evocative, brooding, sentimental and almost ECM-ish.  This time, Rypdal’s “Odyssey” ghosts are with us for longer.  The texture is sprayed out, undulating and wavy.  When the piano takes over, one really wonders if engineer Norihide Washima grew up on Jan Erik Kongshaug’s daily staple.  The last sequence is a stroll through an abandoned, rainy cityscape – a strikingly cinematic theme.  Asia’s best film directors – from Hirokazu Koreeda to Hou Hsiao Hsien – should take note.


94K2 (kushi-katsu)

This track consists of three spokes, as if wiggling perversely toward the hub.  First we hear the voice of someone asking directions (a food stall?)  A rather shrewish sounding female explains.  Are we in Osaka?  Then we hail Chopinesque chords crashing through the spiky wall of drums – the US band Cartoon comes to mind again.  In another twist, we hear a traditional Japanese song, quickly distorted into an Alboth-like piano/drums attack.  The guitar will reproduce the plaintive song’s theme but will need to ascend and descend against the sonorous grindcore tsunami.  The vocals meddle, hysteric and over-the-top.  Is this Prince Dracula at the piano?  Spine-chilling, bowel-wrenching, frightening!  The short syllables are being belched out by the chorus, reminding us of Koenjihyakkei’s most galvanizing moments. 


Ura ru*shi III

Acoustic guitar only.  Kore de owari desu.  




When Le Silo’s debut was issued in 2003, it was greeted as a revelation.  It remains an absolute classic to this day.  This second opus follows in its footsteps, although I do miss Tatsuya Yoshida’s crystal-clear production at Koenji Studio, so apparent on the first record.  Sonic Asymmetry can’t wait for more.


LE SILO: “8.8” (2003)

LE SILO: “3.27830” (2006)


Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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KIPPLE: “Flashes of Irrational Happiness” *****


Recorded 2006


Kipple is the brainchild of Aaron Novik, a composer and clarinetist known for his contributions to various contemporary US bands and for his own inventive klezmer jazz explorations.  On this (one-off) proposition, Novik restricts himself to the role of composer and arranger, with resplendent results.  The retro hues of the adopted instrumentation (electric piano, marimba, theremin, vibraphone) are original, seductive and perfectly coherent.


Novik aligned a crew of young musicians who had studied under such luminaries as Fred Frith, Marc Ribot, John Zorn, or performed in the most exciting bands of the day – Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Trio Convulsant.  They are competent, restrained and focused.  The CD is divided into two suites, as an old-time vinyl recording would naturally be…


The Cull-spiracy Man Infests

The opening belongs to Ches Smith who single-mindedly produces generous, sparkling overtones from his cymbals.  He is accompanied on sustained electric guitar drone, and amplified, bumpy percussion. 


Craftly Apples

This is Kipple’s tour de force.  An insolent voice proclaims: “You can’t stop progress”.  Snare joins when Mitch Marcus initiates the obsessive, repetitive figure on Fender Rhodes.  It will bathe in a cocktail from Moe Staiano’s rich menagerie of dry percussive sounds.  The guitar goes mantric, allowing the Fender piano to meander with something of a harmonically constrained solo, while well-suited marimba splutters chromatically.  There is no sense of urgency here.  The drum section dissimulates the regularity of the relentless beat with the scraping attitude to the skins.The guitar solo unfolds imperceptibly within this structure.  In fact, we do not even notice these solos – there is simply so much else going on there.  Suddenly, a dubious epiphany.  This is actually hornless retro-jazz/rock!  This music does draw repeated comparisons to 1970s Miles…  Still, Kipple has absorbed all the other lessons of ethno-jazz and rock that Teo Macero could have never dreamed about.


Con Aria

Erik Glick Reiman’s theremin impersonates a mezzosoprano as Graham Connah’s keyboards add splashes of fast receding color.  Guitar strings are scraped and the ensemble blurbs, bleeps, clanks and swishes.  Not surprisingly, Moe Staiano seems to feel at ease in this abstract environment.  .


Infinity Plus One

More potent bass drive courtesy Lisa Mezzaccappa, sizzling cymbal rolls and two drummers (Ches Smith and Tim Bulkley) – create a powerful migratory wind for the guitar and Fender Rhodes.  After several minutes, the prattling of four drumsticks disrupt the voyage until a rather Frippian guitar and the electric piano retake initiative.  A fragment from a sci-fi novel is being read, apparently reproduced from a crackly vinyl recording.  Frictional percussives and the rhythm section will try again to continue blithely, but the keyboards ruminate, increasingly sterile, dissipating into eerie twilight. 


The Excess Is Novel

Staiano’s ‘bug’ device emits an unlikely rattle of low resonance, but hyper-speed marimboid tones.  Excessively congenial commercial talk about oceanic sightseeing fails to stir our imagination.  The vision becomes more all-too deceptively outlandish as high-note synthesizers pierce our ears.  The incessant pounding and crashing Chinese cymbals build up an anguished atmosphere.  The crescendo ascends further, with hyperactive marimba clucks and uncontrollable clatter from other sources. 



Thus begins the second suite.  It is initially nondescript and takes some time to rivet our attention.  Dahveed Behroozi extracts some otherworldly clouds from his synthesizer, but the 4-people strong rhythm section will keep us firmly on earth, sometimes south of Rio Grande, thanks to the choice of non-pitched wooden percussives.  Despite some interesting special effects, this track seems to be circulating within an all-too familiar territory.



Another tape recording from a sci-fi flick (?).  Dispassionate female voice sounds the way our typical venusian or martian should sound, i.e. dispassionate.  Prepared vibraphone, acoustic bass and bowed cymbals generate glass-like, scintillating, pristine beady sounds.


Why Scat Alone, Ian?

Merry-go-round ambiance is being introduced with Lowrey organ tones and undulating rhythms.  This will be a more guitar-based track.  John Finkbeiner limits himself to two-three chords, but Myles Boisen joins here to let his instrument purr and squawk.  This could be tedious, were it not for the fluidly transmuted polyrythmic framework. 


Back and Forth Forever

Kipple’s closing statement begins with a stately intro, largely dependent on the aerial synthesizer.  The meter changes when theremin and guitar engage in a unique interplay.  Jason Levis on marimba provides the backbone for this unusual duet, while Staiano’s “bug” takes care of the texture.  The track ends with street noises – sirens, passing vehicles and, eventually, silence. 





Aaron Novik also appears on a number of recordings by Telepathy, Karpov, Transmission and Edmund Welles.  I have not heard any of them.  But I have heard Gubbish and found its elegant version of klezmer chamber jazz quite appealing.  It compares favorably to some of the recordings on Tzadik label, but probably lacks the sharper edge that fans of the genre often prefer.


GUBBISH: “Notations in Tonations” (2004)

KIPPLE: “Flashes of Irrational Happiness” (2006)



Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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