Univers Zero (Belgium) – “Heresie” (reissue)
The Microscopic Septet –
“Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk” (Jazz)
The new Microscopic Septet CD released on Cuneiform, Friday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk features original arrangements of 12 Monk tunes, half from “back in the day” and half newly-written for this recording. The humor and angularity of Monk’s compositions mesh easily and joyfully with the elaboration and juxtaposition of the Micros-style arranging. Definitively not a dry deconstruction, this is a true celebration of Monk by a group that can arguably be called his most sensitive and sensational heirs. Featuring gorgeous art work by New Yorker artist Barry Blitt, the man responsible for the infamous and controversial "Michelle and Barack 'fist-bump'" cover and other contentious-yet-humorous artwork, and liner notes by jazz critic and long-time Micros fan Peter Keepnews, Friday the 13th is surprising yet inevitable: a long overdue party with the master, at which The Micros Play Monk. Friday the 13th arrives amidst a perfect storm of works in multiple media devoted to or about Monk. Transcending mere tribute, the Microscopic Septet’s Friday the 13th distills Monk’s heady and humorous essence, revives his iconoclastic spirit, and revels in, and with, the creative compositions of Monk.
Jason Robinson –
“The Two Faces if Janus” (Jazz)
The Two Faces of Janus is the lat¬est project by critically acclaimed reedist and composer Jason Robinson. Robinson performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with groups he co-leads (Cosmologic and the Cross Border Trio), as a leader of varying ensembles performing his original music, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. Robinson's 5th release as a leader, The Two Faces of Janus positions Robinson, a West Coast transplant, ensconced within New York’s most innovative community of creative and visionary jazz musicians. It features ten of Robinson’s original pieces, which range in instrumentation from two reed duos to sextets with wildly evocative textures. To perform his music, he recruited an absolutely stellar cast, all of whom are distinguished figures in jazz and improvised music as well as band leaders in their own right. Released by Cuneiform Records, The Two Faces of Janus is one of three high-profile jazz projects by Robinson that will be released simultaneously by three different labels in September and October 2010. Each of these projects is different; Cerulean Landscape, to be released by Clean Feed Records, is Robinson’s duo album with noted pianist and composer Anthony Davis. Robinson’s third Sept/Oct 2010 release is a solo saxophone album with interactive electronics, Cerberus Reigning, which is his second in a trilogy of solo releases
on Accretions Records.
Uz Jsme Doma –
“Jeskyne” (Avant-garde Rock)
Uz Jsme Doma is a living, fire-breathing alt-rock rock legend: one of “the two great Bastions of the Czech alternative scene,” said the Prague Post, which ranked them in importance beside the Plastic People of the Universe. In 1989, when the Velvet Revolution ended Czechoslovakia’s communist rule, Uz Jsme Doma burst like a fireball from unlocked doors and began taking siege of every public stage worldwide. Since then, the band has blazed across multiple continents to perform literally thousands of concerts (they will celebrate playing their 2000th concert in March 2011), and played
50 to 60 shows annually for fans back home. To these audiences, Uz Jsme Doma‘s music rooted in punk’s DIY ethic and driven by progressive and avant-garde musics‘ post-modern scavenger aesthetic was the symbol of artistic freedom: the freedom to
create without boundaries or restrictions. For 25 years, the band‘s music has ignored genre walls, absorbing varied influences from punk rock (the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned), from avant-garde and avant-progressive bands (the Residents, Pere Ubu, Chrome, Fred Frith, Henry Cow and the Rock in Opposition movement), and even from folk
music of its native land. It has also transcended artistic media. The band‘s leader Miroslav Wanek, who is also its composer, lyricist, and lead vocalist, maintains that Uz Jsme Doma‘s music is “three parts: music, pictures and lyrics,“ and that artist Martin Velisek, who designs all band artwork, is a full band member whose “instruments“ are brushes and paints. This multi-media emphasis allies the Czech band with the Residents and Sleepytime Guerilla Museum, two bands whose members have collaborated with Uz Jsme Doma in the past. For its newest project, Caves / Jeskyne, Uz Jsme Doma collaborated for the first time with the American label Cuneiform to release its 7th album in North America and Western Europe. The CD is accompanied by a 12-page booklet featuring Velisek’s artwork and English translations of Wanek’s lyrics. The album’s 11 songs create a potent and improbable mix of avant-punk‘s power, aggression, and urgency, and progressive rock’s compositional complexity and thematic integrity. In Caves, Uz Jsme Doma mines a motherload of rock music, extracts fragments of gems from both East and West, and forges the fertile ore into its own unique sound. Forged in Prague amidst that capital city’s 21st C. renaissance, from choice elements mined locally and in the West, Uz Jsme Doma’s dynamic and confident new music heralds the dawn of New Europe as it emerges from the shadows to its west.
Richard Pinhas –
“Metal / Crystal” (Chamber Rock)
In Metal/Crystal, French experimental guitarist and electronic musician Richard Pinhas summons the assistance of noise artists Merzbow (Masami Akita) from Japan and Wolf Eyes from USA to weave a spellbinding aural web that spans 2 CDs. Released on Cuneiform,
Metal/Crystal also intertwines some of the most radical electro-acoustic sonic innovations to emerge from three different continents: Europe, Asia and North America. Pinhas has been ceaselessly innovative in a career spanning more than 30 years, and
recently has been exploring areas of the international ‘noise’ scene. His newest release shows him working with two of that scene’s highest profile artists; Merzbow and Wolf Eyes are considered to be the premier ‘noise artists’ of their respective countries. Metal/Crystal is Pinhas’ second collaboration with Merzbow, the originator of Japanese noise music. In 2008, he and Merzbow released a duo recording called Keio Line on Cuneiform, Pinhas’ longstanding label. Metal/Crystal is Pinhas’ first release with Michigan's Wolf Eyes, whom he’s worked with since 2007. In addition to Merzbow and
Wolf Eyes, Metal/Crystal features several of Pinhas’ longtime collaborators: Antoine Paganotti (drums), Didier Batard (bass), Patrick Gauthier (mini-Moog) (all ex members of Heldon and/or Magma), Jerome Schmidt (electronics), whom Pinhas has recorded and toured extensively with for 2 decades, and his son Duncan Pinhas (electronics), who also helped mix the album with Laurent Peyron and Francis Gernet. The album’s artwork, by Yann Legendre and Joy Burke, features intricate, back-and-white cartoon-like drawings, with images hidden inside larger forms. The 6 lengthy tracks on Metal/Crystal
features some of Pinhas’ most melodic guitar riffs in recent years, as well as his ‘noisiest’ sonic abstractions ever. Forged from sonic mayhem during a period of human turmoil, Metal/Crystal is the most recent sonic diamond to emerge from Pinhas’ astonishingly creative and relentless river of electro-acoustic sound.
Univers Zero –
“Heresie” (Chamber Rock)
The Belgian group Univers Zero is legendary for its ominous, unsettling and uncompromising musical vision, a sound and stance that Keyboard Magazine described vividly as “Chamber music for the Apocalypse”. Keyboard was reviewing Univers Zero’s second album, Heresie, when it coined that resounding music-for-the-end-of-the-universe phrase. Heresie, ever since it was first released over thirty years ago, has served as a lightening rod for those fascinated by the darkness that coursed through the band’s
astounding music. Dark and elegantly beautiful, Univers Zero’s music, with its hybrid nature a perfect melding of classical music and rock, and its mysterious duality, simultaneously medieval and modern, was shockingly unlike anything else on the rock or classical stage. Around the time of Heresie’s first release, the young band augmented its aura as dark horsemen of a musical apocalypse, and, under the co-leadership of Daniel Denis’ and Roger Trigaux, dressed in black as they galloped across European stages, with oboes, violins, bassoons and harmoniums, and guitars, drums and bass their instruments of destruction. First released on LP in 1979 by the French avant-garde label Atem and repeatedly reissued, Heresie was the album that launched Univers Zero’s reputation as purveyors of the darkest, most menacing music on earth. It was also the release that launched them front-and-center as one of the five founding members of the Rock-In-Opposition (RIO) Movement, a European coalition of rock bands, led by Chris Cutler of the UK’s Henry Cow, who sought alternatives to the mainstream music industry and Anglo-American rock. Transcending musical genre while tapping into
European musical roots, the music on Heresie aligned the Belgian band to RIO’s avant-garde while remaining dramatically distinct. Today, the music on Heresie remains unequalled in the canons of rock or classical music, and sounds as timeless and fresh as the day of it was born. This reissue by Cuneiform transforms and updates what may be Univers Zero’s most infamous work, introducing Heresie to 21st Century audiences. A stunning, new, digipak cover designed by Thierry Moreau incorporates bits of images from the original packaging, fragments from past reissues and new elements. Cuneiform’s 2010 CD reissue also sonically transforms Heresie, by featuring a striking, clear remix made from the original, 1979 multi-track tapes. Done by engineer Didier de Roos, who has worked with Daniel Denis since the mid 80s, the remix defines and focuses the instruments with a greater clarity than any prior editions. The 2010 CD reissue is also accompanied by a 16 page booklet containing a history of the band during the years
surrounding Heresie, written by music historians RenatoMoraes and AymericLeroy and illustrated with archival photos. The work on packaging, remixing, and documenting is befitting Heresie’s landmark status: a seminal, notorious and influential album in the history of avant-garde rock, as well as a lodestar for the adventurous future of
21st Century classical music.
Sonic Circuits Festival:
This month, from September 18-25, 2010, the 10th Annual
of Experimental Music & Beyond is bringing several Sonic Circuits Festival Cuneiform Records artists from around the world to perform in our DC hometown. We are honored to be included in this highly respected and extremely exciting music mega-event. The Sonic Circuits Festival is the premiere festival of music-beyond-the-commercial-norm in DC. (Sonic Circuits also presents an ongoing series of experimental music concerts at Pyramid Atlantic's gallery in downtown Silver Spring.) The festival specializes in experimental and electronic music and beyond: music that challenges genre boundaries, explores new media, and shatters traditional forms. Every year, the amazingly organized Sonic Circuits team under Jeff Surak's super-human direction presents a massive, weeklong festival of challenging music that literally takes over our Nation's Capitol. This year, the festival takes place across the entire DC Metro area& Washington, Maryland and Virginia. And it will occupy an astounding spectrum of venues, high and low, public and private: from warehouse spaces like The Fridge to the public Fairfax Town Hall to Embassy grounds to the Kennedy Center and Strathmore Hall. The performers will include some of the most respected figures in the international avant-garde music scene Univers Zero, Miriodor, The Muffins, Merzbow and Richard Pinhas, Magma, as well as multiple all-ages denizons of DC's thriving local experimental music scene. Surreal in its musical beauty, breadth and scope, this year's Sonic Circuits Festival will take away your breath and expand your musical horizons.