amber |cs031








































No less than six new releases on the Creative Sources label, placing the label right in the centre of improvised music.
[…] In a totally acoustic vein in the release by Rhodri Davies (harp), Robin Hayward (tuba), Julia Eckhardt (viola) and Lucio Capece (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone). The recordings here are studio recordings, which can be heard, the quality is much better than on a live recording, and it seems to me the whole thing is mixed with great care. The four instruments make two strong pieces of blowing, rubbing and scratching. The instruments are mostly played as objects here, and none of the instruments takes the lead. It's a beautiful interplay of a great variety of sound possibilities and each player uses his instrument with great skill and to a great extent. Towards the end of the first there is a strong crescendo in the use of feedback, which adds extra tonal qualities to the music. After Vasistas an almost easy listening work. Frans de Waard (Vital)

Dwa niezwykle plastyczne utwory z niezwyczajna latwoscia i lekkoscia przechodzace od lagodnie szumiacego (quasi)ambientu do intensywnie trzeszczacego (pseudo)noisu zagrane zostaly z nadzwyczajna troska o szczególy przez czwórke muzyków dzielacych swoje zainteresowania pomiedzy muzyke improwizowana a wspólczesna muzyke powazna.
Wydaje sie, ze to wlasnie w tym obszarze mozna ulokowac "Amber", ale niezaleznie od szufladki, w której próbowac sie bedzie pomiescic te plyte, nalezy przede wszystkim wspomniec o licznych zaletach tego nagrania.
Wsród nich chcialbym wyróznic przejrzysta i precyzyjna, a jednoczesnie dosc nieoczywista forme utworów; nietypowe, a przy tym jakze bogate i nasycone brzmienie oraz telepatyczny wrecz poziom porozumienia pomiedzy muzykami. Tadeusz Kosiek (Gaz-Eta)

The surefooted - if barely perceptible - liberalization of a sexless perfidiousness crawling around this quartet's sonic prospects represents the passage from the unembodied contiguities of groups like AMM to the long-headed analyses of electroacoustic foeta that not even the involved musicians can predict the future of. Resonant strings - Davies' harp or Eckhardt's viola - suddenly raise clouds of blemished imagery in squawking telepathy, while Hayward and Capece prepare a full drainage of malfunctioning lungs transforming their fatigue in a miniature power plant. The sum of the parts consists of a worm-eaten geometry of loopholes from disciplined obstination, rich in ample morphing and bitty statements of intent. This music has the same dangerous behaviour of a stricken serpent who is not dead yet: touch it barehanded and you're done. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

The two tracks on Amber are derived from studio quartet recordings made in Berlin 2004 by radical Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies, Berlin-based English tuba player Robin Hayward, Julia Eckhardt, a violist working of Berlin and Brussels who has played improvised and composed new music over the last decade in a number ensembles including Q-O2 and Incidental Music and Lucio Capecce, an Argentinean reeds player now living in Berlin who plays bass clarinet and soprano saxophone both solo and in various groups. This is improvised music from that realm of extended techniques in which string instruments are scraped, rattled and knocked, brass and reeds yield arrays of hisses and plops, and everyone avoids the notes of the chromatic scale like the horrible plague they are. At its best, it is labile and engrossing, featuring both subtle changes in shifting layers and more abrupt discontinuities as the four players answer or build upon each other’s contributions. However, it is not free of nervous post-reductionist fidgeting and hermetic droning, both of which too often lead the music into somewhat monotonous terrain, but readers tolerant of drone and repetition will not be discouraged. Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)

I'm continually surprised at the rate with which Ernesto Rodrigues releases discs on his superb Creative Sources imprint. As most folks reading this know, the excellent viola/violin/electronics improviser began to document Portuguese and Spanish improvisation several years back and has quickly developed his label into one of the premier outlets for improvisation at the intersection of European free music, electroacoustics, and new music. I recently opened up my mailbox to find a package stuffed with seven of the label's latest goodies. All told, it's a strong batch.
[…] Finally, one of the strongest, most beguiling releases of this batch is Amber (CS031). A wickedly good quartet – Rhodri Davies (harp), Robin Hayward (tuba), Julia Eckhardt (viola), and Lucio Capecce (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet) – deliver two rich improvisations, recorded in April 2004 in Berlin. Four acoustic instruments are reduced to their granular essence, and these instrumentalists reconstruct sound through their expert, knowing use of breath and articulation. The huge round sound from Hayward's tuba, the gentle hiss and release from lightly bowed strings or reedwork, and the always unpredictable Davies work in concert to create a singular sound. Whether bowed, breathed, plucked, or struck, the instruments slowly merge into one another to produce a rich palette where tones blend, colors combine, and shapes shift. What's even better is the way in which the quartet frequently achieves – through exactly this kind of blending – a sound that is very close to electronic music, with nuances of feedback, sine tones, and so forth (I suspect Davies may be using an Ebow here). In general the mood is very still and quiet, so that the few passages of raucousness and aggression have more power. One of the better discs I've heard so far this year.
Taken together, this septet of discs is worthy not just for their quality but also for their documentation of this music (and some of its lesser known players). Rodrigues already has a new batch out. In the meantime, however, don't miss out on some of these gems. Jason Bivins (Bagatellen)

[…] À cet amas post-industriel répond le raffinement bruitiste d'Amber (CS 031 cd) par un quartet ou quatuor dirais-je, tant les personnalités rassemblées par l'altiste Julia Eckhardt, qui vit à Bruxelles, participent autant des milieux de la musique contemporaine que de ceux de l'impro libre nouvelle manière. Le tubiste anglais Robin Hayward, le harpiste gallois Rhodri Davies et le clarinettiste basse et saxophoniste soprano italien Lucio Capece s'associent à Eckhardt dans une concentration sonore vraiment séduisante. S'impose d'emblée une grande précision dans l'intention et la réalisation, alors que le devenir de l'impro est laissée béante dans toute son ouverture. Évidemment, difficile de distinguer parmi les instruments en présence quelles sont les sources sonores de la musique de cet ensemble. Parfois le souffle d'une anche se détache, et encore, allez savoir! Le harpiste utilise un archet et des objets qui altèrent la résonance des cordes. L'altiste décompose le geste au point que le son se fragmente. La première génération de la musique improvisée a (entre autres) aboli la frontière entre les bruits et les sons musicaux (duo Parker - Lytton, Derek Bailey, Paul Rutherford). Cette troisième génération a créé le bruit doux, la démarche du soft noise. Le phrasé mélodique, même le plus freak - out est évacué au bénéfice de l'attaque purement sonore de l'instrument. […] Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Improjazz)

Visions of formally attired symphonic types producing shimmering glissandi or of Harpo Marx manhandling the luminescent strings remain in most folks’ minds when they think of harpists. That may be why the 27-string symphony harps or smaller 34-string Celtic harps are usually musically underrepresented except for their coloration qualities.
Welsh harp-slinger Rhodri Davies may be the antidote to all that. Born in Aberystwyth, he has played the harp since the age of seven, and was educated enough in standard techniques to easily work in the so-called classical, pop, and traditional fields. Slotting himself as an experimenter, however, he’s spent the past decade investigating electro-acoustic environments, adding noise, silence, textures, and abstraction to his sound through preparations, detuning, and bowed and e-bowed strings. The connective thread among three recent releases, he’s matched with different international ensembles on each.
[…] British-born, Berlin-resident Hayward himself joins Davies on Amber (Creative Sources), as do two lesser known players. Argentinean in Paris Lucio Capece plays bass clarinet and soprano saxophone. As someone who studied with French reedist Louis Sclavis, he moves between improvised and notated music, most prominently with the Q-O2 Ensemble directed by violist Julia Eckhardt, who is also featured on this disc. As well as performing chamber music and in contemporary music ensembles, Belgian Eckhardt improvises with veterans of that genre such as Beins.
Elsewhere, timbre mutation distinguishes Amber from the other quartet CD, since the number of add-ons and attachments in use dwarfs the extended techniques Eckhardt adapts for her fiddle. Transforming his horns into unharmonious sound objects, Capece mixes individual extended techniques with instruments prepared with ping pong balls, water, different kinds of paper, fragments of plastic bottles, analog electronic setups, and other objects. As for Hayward, he twists and blocks his valves and bell in such a way that the subsequent pressure leaks give his lumbering brass unique and distinctive tones.
A scope is available for all these strategies nearly 33-minute first—of two—tracks. Muted, stopped tones from sibilant reeds and buzzing valve tones join with droning string resonation to overcome a rumbling pitch and condense into a wider and more viscous sound. Together the Bronx cheer-like reed pitches and breakneck string sweeps accelerate into electronic-mimicking whirls that grind like the motor on a conveyer belt.
Soon the harp’s pizzicato plinks swell and are extended by abrasions and thumps from wooden sticks inserted among them. Simultaneously, tuba growls are blocked with twisted spit valves, while on the reed side, measured tongue-slaps and key pops turn into strangled cries and pitches, and then coalesce into a concentrated tone block. Eventually the spherical drone is pierced by earth-shaking tuba vibrations and Capece sucking and kissing his reed. Two-thirds of the way through, a sound variation on a rolling marble—from the reedist’s body tube?—presages a quiet interlude which is then interrupted by wood-rendering string yanks that gradually reach a crescendo of rattling, scratching, and shrilling uneven tones, and are sustained by blocked-valve flatulence and mallets tapping strings for new resonances.
Inflating the capacity and impermeability of horn vibrato, irregularly pulsed motions from the strings add double counterpoint in the final section allowing the irregular pulse subsides into silence.
Wobbly string clatter, lathe-turning buzzes, cross-blown reed puffs, and twisted valve redirection are the second piece’s only distinguishing features from the first. Overall though, appreciation of both it and the entire CD demands a blind adherence to the necessity of group creation. […] Ken Waxman (One Final Note)

Quatro instrumentistas europeus tocam cinco instrumentos acústicos – harpa, tuba, viola, clarinete baixo e saxofone soprano. Cordas e sopros trabalham em associação sonora sobre o objecto micro-som, o átomo sonoro. Empregando todo o potencial acústico do baixo volume, apertada disciplina e organização, o quarteto de Rhodri Davis, Robin Hayward, Julia Eckardt e Lucio Capece faz uso das chamadas extended techniques, colocando-se numa variedade de situações sonoras invulgares, relações de continuidade / descontinuidade, ambientes em que se esculpem as duas peças musicais de "Amber", registadas em Berlim (2004).
Nelas, poesia sonora de recorte atípico convive com acidentes aleatórios e deliberadamente provocados, sons musicais e ruído orgânico experimental analógico, próximo do glitch electrónico. "Amber" mistura vários lotes tímbricos, conjuga diferentes zonas multipolares em que plasticamente se interseccionam as diferentes vibrações instrumentais em movimento. Eduardo Chagas (Jazz e Arredores)

Für Amber (CS 031) zeichnet ein in jeder Hinsicht bunt und international gemischtes Quartett verantwortlich aus dem walisischen Harfner RHODRI DAVIES, der 1966 in Brighton geborenen ROBIN HAYWARD, der Violaspielerin JULIA ECKHARDT, Leiterin des belgischen Ensembles Q-02, und dem Argentinier LUCIO CAPECE an Bassklarinette & Sopranosaxophon. Mit jeder Minute der dröhnminimalistischen Klangentfaltung wächst die Verblüffung. Wie kann man derart ‚elektronische‘ Ambient-Sounds mit rein akustischen Mitteln erzeugen? In ein flach dröhnendes ‚Feedback‘-Grundrauschen, bei dem es fast unmöglich ist zu sagen, ob es mundgeblasen wird oder durch Arcotechnik erzeugt, plinken sporadisch winzige Perkussivgeräusche, die sich ebenso schwer zuordnen lassen. Die Elemente Luft und Erde herrschen vor, der lange Atem natürlicher Prozesse. Ein atmosphärischer Soundscape, der den Ohren, die dem Auge Informationen liefern sollen, nur eine kaum bewegte Oberfläche zeigt. Die Amber-Prozesse laufen unsichtbar ab, vielleicht auch nur zu langsam, um sie sofort zu erkennen, wie Photosynthese, das Wandern von Dünen, Hitze und Kälte, die im Fels arbeiten. Nach etwa 20 Minuten ereignet sich eine kurze Konvulsion, eine Verdichtung des Rauschens, Windstöße der Tuba, Geröllverschiebungen. Dann wieder die langsamen Mikroprozesse, ein Halteton des Sopranos, schabende Schleifgeräusche der Saiten, mit einer zweiten heftigen Erruption von Noise nach 25 Minuten und einer sich ganz allmählich anbahnenden dritten, der aber die Kraft zum Ausbruch fehlt. Der zweite, nur zehnminütige Anlauf mischt erneut perkussiven Pointillismus mit zischenden, knarzenden und schnarrenden Geräuschen, weniger Natur- als Klang-‘Bild‘ jenseits von Abstraktion und Gegenständlichkeit. Der Angriff auf die Synapsen erfolgt direkt. Nicht Bilder werden injiziert, sondern ein Stoff, der in jedem Hirn andere Effekte auslöst, aber wohl kaum beruhigende. (Bad Alchemy)