Thursday, November 28, 2013

(meanwhile) this is new...

i'm halfway through a (previously-promised) post about recent treatments of comp. 23c, so in the meantime i thought i'd better just draw the (putative) reader's attention to this recent release, from the polish label which also brought us the latest mary halvorson album, ghost loop. (see, what did i say all those months ago? she has the core trio closest to her heart... or is it just a matter of road economics, this being after all a live album? yes, no, both, neither, whatever... i still don't have a firm opinion on this one, i.e. i can't yet make up my mind whether i was right all along or just talking shit. wouldn't be the first time...)

- google "braxton quartet warsaw" at time of writing, and some of the results are still related to the maestro's sideman (or rather special guest) appearance with john zorn, back in 2009 with messrs laswell and graves; it's actually quite hard to find any reference to the current album on a site which is not in polish, and who knows, that may continue to be the case (by no means all of b's albums get widespread exposure: indeed, a fair few of them are only available from the label in question, and not always for very long at that). but the concert captured on the cd is evidently a diamond curtain wall performance, and a rather unusual one. the presence in the band of thb is as much of a given as that of the leader himself - i don't recall ever coming across a dcw performance which did not feature mr bynum - but ms halvorson, almost as ubiquitous for these, is absent from this one; instead we have another of the heirs apparent, james fei, whose association with b's music and with his groups predates even bynum's, but who rarely appears in small groups with him. (there are always exceptions to this sort of rule, natch.) rounding out the quartet is erica dicker on violin; until the last year or so, i don't believe i had heard of ms dicker - she played in the expanded gtm 'tet at the bienniale di venezia last year (ahem... one of the numerous posts i started and left unfinished, over the last couple of years) and this was very possibly the first time i had come across her name, but this year's tcf releases indicate that she was playing in b's small groups, at any rate, as far back as 2007. [the relevant recordings are NBH042 -47 inclusive, all of which are falling river music performances; having been a monthly member at the time those were released, i have heard three of them - still only once each, at time of writing - and got quite excited about one of them, back in june (when i was still smoking ganja...).]

anyway, the current album is from last year of course, and judging by the audio clip available on the label's site (relinked - i've long since got into the habit of peppering my posts with embedded urls, so can't very well expect readers to go back in search of one!), it is potent and intriguing stuff - not that we would seriously expect anything less at this juncture (*1). as i say above, i don't know widely available it will end up being, but if it doesn't show up in any of the usual uk-based retailers online, i shall very probably buy it from the label sometime in the new year. the unusual choice of personnel makes this one particularly appealing to me... i shall be fascinated to see what the four of them made of the material.

(i am still pondering over this one, as mentioned briefly last time out - b. himself isn't on it, but mr dahinden was closely associated with the music for several years, played in various live groupings, issued an album under his own name on which b. played, and which also included a rendition of comp. 136 without the composer; what with one thing and another, i think it safe to assume that this year's swisstravaganza will have been a success, and i am pretty curious to hear the results. so, yes, probably another one for the old xmas list...)


since my long-desired big breakthrough (which i had rather dreaded might never happen), i have listened to a whole shitload of music, always trying to keep myself fresh by mixing it up, but not actually listening to a whole helluva lot of braxton, which is one reason why i still haven't finished the 23c update as mentioned at the start of this post (it is on the way, promise). what i have heard has been greatly enjoyed; i've just been keeping myself very busy, checking out all sorts of stuff i had previously allowed myself to neglect... not that i'm about to list all these here, even i would draw the line at that, but the crucial thing here is that i now seem to have arrived at the point i always to reach, whereby i can flip from the most violently extreme hardcore punk or death / black metal (etc) to the subtlest free improv or free jazz (etc) and trust my mind and ears to make the necessary adjustments pretty much immediately. basically, i'm very happy to have got here at last (so much so that other, less satisfactory aspects of my current daily life are far more easily bearable than they might be otherwise) and i'm enjoying chopping and changing, delving in and out of this and that (*2). i'm not really in any great hurry, therefore, to force myself to narrow the parameters right down - even if that entails narrowing them down to a composer whose work covers an extraordinarily broad spectrum. that said, there is definitely more writing on the way... so if you haven't already, don't give up on me just yet ;-)

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