Click here to [close]

Friday, May 17, 2024

Clean Feed Tributes (2/3)

 Be sure to see day 1 of our celebration of Clean Feed.


Taylor McDowell:

Cortex - Avant-Garde Party Music (2017)

Certain albums - the combination of the music, title and cover art - evoke feelings and solicit expectations. Cortex’s Avant-Garde Party Music does so for me. Should we expect danceable, hummable, jubillous and free-wheeling sounds from this strain of party music? Hell yes, we should! Consider the cover art: an older woman, suit-clad in mustard yellow, slightly hunched and facing away; the tongue-in-cheek aloofness/politeness to be the face of such outrageously free and swinging music. And lastly the musicians: a sort of A-team of Norweigian improvisers - Thomas Johansson (trumpet), Kristoffer Alberts (saxophones), Ola Høyer (bass) and Gard Nilssen (drums). The result? One of my favorite albums of this last decade. It’s unpretentious, it’s fun, and it’s full of soul. It’s got all of the raw, abrasive skronk to feed my inner free-jazz fiend, but is still chock-full of memorable melodies and hearty swing. Dare I say, should I play it at the next social shindig it would hold court to some of the more adventurous party-goers.


Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra - Les Deux Versants se Regardent (2016)

You always find new artists with new labels, and thanks to Clean Feed I got to know the French pianist Eve Risser, a composer-improviser-bandleader with a rich and completely unorthodox imagination. Les Deux Versants se Regardent (The Two Sides Look at Each Other, reviewed for the Free Jazz Collective by Lee Rice Epstein) is one of six albums that Risser released through Clean Feed and the only one with White Desert Orchestra (she released another album with the Red Desert Orchestra, Clean Feed, 2022), and still one of my favorite albums of hers. It reflects on a mystical experience Risser had when visiting Bryce Canyon in Utah, where the thousands of fairy chimneys reaching to the sky seemed to her “an enormous choir of singers ready to intone the most powerful of earthly songs”. The chamber tenet - White Desert Orchestra, with Risser on prepared piano - radiates beautifully Risser’s inclusive and always poetic sonic universe that embraces and experiments with intricate elements of contemporary music, jazz, post-rock and ambient, often at the same time, but never surrenders to familiar courses. It is inventive and dreamy, playful and wild. Pure magic music that transforms the timeless vibrations of the earth into healing vibrations. Thank Eve Risser, Clean Feed and Pedro Costa for such a great album.


Don Phipps

Why the Chris Pitsiokos Clean Feed album “Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years” Deserves Special Recognition

It was tough to narrow the selection to a single album from the Clean Feed discography and say this one deserves recognition above all others. Suffice it to say, there were five most excellent finalists:

  • Matthias Spillmann Trio: “Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club”
  • Ilia Belorukov, Gabriel Ferrandini: “Disquiet”
  • Caterina Palazzi Sudoku Killer: “Asperger”
  • Chris Pitsiokos: “Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years”
  • Chris Pitsiokos, Susana Santos Silva, Torbjörn Zetterberg: “Child Of Illusion”

All of these albums are excellent and worth spending time with for sure! But there can be only one winner. And the winner is?

What makes the album the crème de la crème?

When I reviewed this album for another website (All About Jazz), I used the following words to describe it: “adventurous, hair-raising, mind-bending, dense, fibrous, layered, hallucinogenic, twisted.” Why these words? Pitsiokis’s album is extremely trippy and defies categorization. I described it as “Beyond Jazz.”

The album contains three definitive masterpieces: “Positional Play,” with its accelerated future sound, the title cut “Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years,: which features Pitsiokos’ breathless sax play and some ear-bending guitar work (courtesy of Sam Lisabeth), and “Anthropod,” with its eerie phrasing and disturbing, gruesome musical imagery.

I loved it then and I love it now. And as one in the autumn of his years, it truly is a silver bullet. Enjoy!

Is this, to borrow a phrase, the shape of jazz to come? Or perhaps this might be the shock of jazz to come. Like a drug-induced trip to Burrough's Interzone, the beyond jazz music of Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years awaits.


By Nick Ostrum:

Angles – Every Woman is a Tree (2008)

I had followed Martin Küchen through various projects by the time I came across this album: Exploding Customer, Trespass Trio, a couple gradualist releases on Creative Sources. Every Woman is a Tree, however, opened my ears. It spoke with a soulful melodicism laying somewhere between Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. Yet, somehow, it sounded fresh. Anyone familiar with the Angles series – now eleven releases deep – or the work of the other Norse contributing to this first incarnation – Magnus Broo, Mats Äleklint, Mattias Ståhl, Knell Nordeson, Johan Berthling – likely already knows some of the contours of this these earnest and pleaful lamentaitons that pointedly burst with ebullience, but at the time it was a revelation to me.

Evelyn Davis, Fred Frith, Phillip Greenlief - Lantskap Logic (2018)

In 2019, I wrote a rather gushing review of this first (of two) releases by this trio. Referring to the first track, Your ever-loving arms, I said, “The tones elevate. Rather than evoking gloom as some of the albums I recently reviewed have, this one evokes light and elevation. Rather than congestion, one feels space, motion, and, at the end, elation. Listening to this track is like traveling a path towards some abstract state of elation. The textures are deep, varied, and changing.” The second track was both lurid and dark, comprised of curious origin.(Nod to Greenlief for correcting at least one of my misattributions of these.) In the end, I referred to it as “absolutely stunning.” Upon revisitation, it still is. This album remains as enigmatic and enchanting as it was a half-decade ago.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic series, folks, for a deserving label. Well done!