Univers Zero (Belgium) – “Clivages”
Algernon – “Ghost Surveillance” (Post Rock)
Algernon is one of Chicago's fastest rising young post-rock bands. Using a line-up of dual guitars, vibes, bass and drums, the group plays music which flows and grooves like kinetic oceans, fed by sources ranging from Tortoise to Kraut Rock, from Sonic Youth to Jim Hendrix psychedelics and far beyond. The band is led by composer/guitarist Dave Miller, who's also active as a member of numerous other Chicago bands, including Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls (Delmark/Naim Records), Zing, Blink (Thirsty Ear Records), and Tim Daisy's New Fracture Quartet (Multi Kulti Records). The other members of Algernon are second guitarist Toby Summerfield (who was a member of Detroit's Larval for many years), vibes player Katie Wiegman, bassist Tom Perona, and drummer Cory Healey (who is a member of Fareed Haque's Flat Earth Ensemble). “Ghost Surveillance” is Algernon’s third album.
New York Art Quartet – “Old Stuff” (Free Jazz)
The New York Art Quartet was a band that left the scene too soon. Active for barely a year and a half, the group made just two records—their self-titled debut (ESP, 1964) and Mohawk (Fontana, 1965), both prized by generations of listeners ever since. Co-leaders John Tchicai (alto sax), who participated in John Coltrane’s ground-breaking Ascension album, and Roswell Rudd (trombone), considered to be the first free-jazz trombonist, had met a year or so earlier, working with Bill Dixon and others to expand the reaches of jazz. It wasn't until the summer of '64 that their own project together began to take shape. At first, bassist Don Moore and drummer J.C. Moses completed the group, but shortly after, with Milford Graves and bassist Lewis Worrell, the quartet found its definitive form. The band participated in the legendary “October Revolution in Jazz” at the Cellar Caf?, and performed at the "Four Days in December festival" at Judson Hallon on New Year's Eve. After Worrell's departure, the band employed a number of bassists and performed semi-regularly through the spring of '65. By the end of that summer, Tchicai went home for a visit to Copenhagen and set up some concerts for the New York Art Quartet. Only Rudd was able to join him, so Tchicai turned to other associates old and new. Before he originally left for New York in 1962, he had known Finn von Eyben as one of the only adventurous bass players in Copenhagen. Louis Moholo, meanwhile, had come to Europe in 1964 as a member of the Blue Notes, the pioneering (and mixed-race) South African group; this is one of his earliest recordings and his first recording playing free jazz. The European version of the New York Art Quartet thus represents a small but significant chapter within the group's short history. They performed two dates in Copenhagen, first at the venerable Montmartre Jazzhus, where the horn players can be heard blowing even before they arrive on stage. At the Danish Radio House ten days later, the quartet shared the bill with Oliver Nelson's group. Subsequently, they opened for Ornette Coleman's trio at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and did a radio gig in Hilversum which surfaced some years after as an unauthorized recording under Rudd's name on the French record label America. Back in New York before year's end, the co-leaders played just a few more gigs as variations of the quartet. The group dissolved early in 1966 when Rudd moved to San Francisco and Tchicai returned to live in Europe. Old Stuff, released by Cuneiform, captures the New York Art Quartet with its European lineup of Tchicai, Rudd, Moholo and von Eyben. The group plays radically different version of tunes featured on the group's studio albums, as well as tunes recorded no where else. The best-sounding recording of the New York Art Quartet ever made, and accompanied by liner notes on the group's history by jazz writer Jason Weiss, Old Stuff is the best recorded document of one of the seminal groups of 1960s American free jazz.
Radio Massacre International – “Time & Motion” (Cosmic Music)
Radio Massacre International (RMI) is a UK-based electronic improvising trio that is carving out new ground in the genres of electronic space music and space rock. Composed of Steve Dinsdale (keyboards, electronics, drums), Duncan Goddard (keyboards, electronics, bass) and Gary Houghton (guitar, keyboards), the trio improvises with a mixture of vintage and modern analogue and digital equipment to create massive, shifting electronic soundscapes. Instantly recognizable, RMI’s organic, visceral, and at times rough-edged explorations in space music transport the genre popularized by Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel/Manuel Gottsching and Klaus Schulze in the 1970s into the 21st century. The world’s best current exponents of epic electronic space improvisations, RMI expose the genre to be as vital and vibrant today as it was in its infancy, and more accessible to mainstream audiences than ever before. Since first forming in the early 1990s, RMI have released over 30 albums and performed hundreds of concerts. In 2005 the group began working with Cuneiform, who released RMI's double-disc Emissarie s that year and, in 2007, Rain Falls in Gray, RMI's tribute to Syd Barrett. This new CD, Time & Motion, is RMI's third release on Cuneiform, and illustrates RMI's sonic metamorphoses from release to release. Time & Motion remains at its core true to RMI's variant on Berlin-school electronic music, with music that gradually develops in the manner of that sound's classic pioneers; synthesizers and clouds of guitars take listeners on a cosmic journey. But the album presents a new twist to RMI's sound: a guest musician, Martin Archer appears on reeds and electronics on about 40% of the album. Archer's solo and ensemble contributions integrate a new dimension into RMI's spacey electronic music, and create, in Time & Motion, a soundscape previously unheard in electronic trance/space music.
Brown Vs Brown – “Odds & Unevens” (Avant Prog)
Brown Vs Brown is an intense, stunningly tight and complex 'rehearsal-intensive' avant-garde rock band from Amsterdam, Holland. It was formed in 2004 by Dirk Bruinsma (saxes, vocals), Viljam Nybacka (bass), Gerri J?ger (drums) and Jeroen Kimman (guitar, banjo). A true musical collective (all member contribute compositions), the band members’ common ground is a love/hate relationship with jazz, a quirky alt/punk-rock mindset and the genuine need to create a new music that is coherent and personal. Out of this electrifying chemistry the group's sound was born. Denying single stylistic terms and defying simply description, its sound has been linked with math-rock, stumble-funk, avant-progressive, punk-jazz and what-not. Brown vs Brown's music is high energy and inventive, tight but dirty, complex but loose; it is music where amputated rhythms collide with spring-loaded melodies and surprise awaits around every corner – and there are a lot of corners in Brown vs Brown's world. In 2008, Brown vs Brown received a grant from the Netherland Fund for the Performing Arts , which it used to develop and later record the material for its second album, Odds and Unevens. Released by Cuneiform Records , Odds and Unevens was recorded by noted engineer and producer Bob Drake , who captured all of the nuances and explosive ensemble sound of the group. After 5 years of joint creative exploits and playing hundreds of concerts throughout Europe, Brown vs Brown has developed a musical universe that categorically denies stylistic description. Seemingly contrasting elements clash and recombine on Odds and Unevens : meticulous composition vs. improvisation, complexity vs. raw energy, and breakneck stumble rhythms vs. irresistible swing. Perhaps the biggest miracle of all is that four utter individualists have become such a close-knit unit, thanks to (or despite of) all those years and all the miles. Notorious for its super tight, telepathic ensemble-playing, Brown vs Brown is more than the sum of its parts, a band in every sense of the word. Capturing this telepathic interplay and energy on disc, Odds and Uneven is Brown vs Brown’s best album to date.
Univers Zero – “Clivages” (RIO)
The Belgian band Univers Zero is legendary for its uncompromising musical vision – a sound and stance that Keyboard Magazine described as “Chamber music for the Apocalypse”. Simultaneously medieval & modern, its distinctive, dark and elegantly beautiful music has set the standard for “chamber rock”, a New Music hybrid of Francophone origin and worldwide appeal that UZ pioneered. UZ’s singular sound derives from its unique instrumentation (piano and keyboards, violin, clarinets saxophone, oboe, bassoon, English horn, electric bass, drums) combined with brooding gothic imagery, elements of European folk and other world musics, the iconoclasm and intensity of rock, the relentless sonic experimentation of the avant garde, and leader and composer Daniel Denis’ classically-inspired writing style, influenced by early 20th Century avant garde classical composers. Today, several decades after Univers Zero first forged its unique sound, critics cite its oeuvre as the precursor to the best avant-garde rock and classical music of the present day, from post-rock to the numerous late 20th/early 21st century classical chamber ensembles integrating rock into their repertoire, such as Bang on a Can, Kronos Quartet and others. One of the founding members of the “Rock In Opposition” [RIO] movement, Univers Zero formed in 1974. Since then, it has released over a dozen critically acclaimed recordings, all of which are now on the Cuneiform label. Since 1999 alone, Univers Zero released 5 recordings: two new studio recordings (1999’s The Hard Quest and 2002’s Rhythmix), a live album capturing the current band in performance (2006's Live), and two archival projects (2008's Univers Zero, a remastered reissue of the band's first recording,a landmark in Chamber Rock, and 2009's Relaps: Archives 1984-1986 ). In addition, in recent years, Univers Zero has become an active presence on the international concert scene, playing numerous concerts and headlining at festivals worldwide, including 2009's Rock in Opposition Festival-France. Clivages is Univers Zero's first release of new material in over 5 years. More importantly, it is the group's first studio release in over 20 years - since 1986's Heatwave - to feature the energy and sound of a ongoing, working, live performing ensemble recorded in the studio. Clivages features Univers Zero's current line-up, which has been performing together for some time now: Michel Berckmans (bassoon, English horn, oboe), Kurt Bud? (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax), Pierre Chevalier (keyboards), Daniel Denis (drums, sampler), Dimitri Evers (bass), Martin Lauwers (violin) with guest Andy Kirk (who was a member of the band in 1979-1983, 1985-86 and has been an ongoing guest in performances for the last several years as time allows) (guitar and percussion). Clivages represents both a consolidation of sound from Univers Zero’s past 30 years of work, as well as some steps in new directions, as befitting a band that has made forward motion part of its DNA. Most notably, Denis has opened up the compositional duties to other members of the band, allowing Berckmans, Bud? and Kirk to contribute strong pieces to the UZ 'book'. In addition, Clivage allows the rock and classical sides of Univers Zero's music to separate more than any other album in their catalog, as the title ("cleavages") implies. Clivages is a tremendously strong work from a band that has an astoundingly full catalog of essential discs.