Opduvel on Live at Ftarri

a2048475887_10“Not long after the release of the fascinating Live in Beppu, the new English free sound artists Sam Andreae (saxophone), David Birchall (guitar) and Otto Willberg (bass) will release a new edition, this time at the London Raw Tonk label. This time the musicians from Manchester are joined by the Japanese Toshimaru Nakamura. His instrument is the no input mixing board, an electronic instrument that produces sound without any outside audio input.

The no input mixing board is an unpredictable instrument and that requires the mixer. According to Nakamura, an attitude of obedience and resignation is necessary in relation to the system and the sounds it produces. The instrument ensures a high degree of indeterminacy and surprise in music. It is therefore not surprising that the three English gentlemen, when they were in Japan, came into contact with Nakamura and started making music together.

The latter happened during the same tour in Japan as in which Live was recorded in Beppu, because the recording of Live at Ftarri took place four days earlier, on 13 April 2017. Ftarri is a shop and concert stage specialized in improvised and experimental music.

The four musicians have in common their open vision of what music is and can be. The game with sounds comes first, not so much as making rhythmic or melodic music. These musicians conduct research into sound, the possibilities of their instruments and how they fit into the sounds that the others produce. This can be done in a conventional, but certainly unconventional way. This leads to music that comes across as abstract, from which the joy of playing is dripping and which, as a listener, often leaves you astonished: what have I just heard?

The contribution of Nakamura ensures that the music gets a more expressive character in relation to the trio plate. Especially the beginning of opener ‘Sprung Forth Digressed’, in which all four musicians are very active, is lively. The sounds that come from four different sources do not enter into a covenant, but they do interact with each other, so that in some hectic, something of cohesion is suggested. After a little five minutes the storm will go. The unrest remains; these are impatient musicians who are much ‘eager’ to show their spontaneous finds. Andreae uses his saxophone as a wind and percussion instrument, Birch’s sounds are a-rhythmic and are also created with the help of objects, Willberg squeals and chops his bass and Nakamura thunders with sharp sounds all over. And then it’s only about a small part of what happens in the first part.

In the second piece, ‘Prism Dialect’, Andreae’s sax is a bit more prominent at first, fragmentary, staccato and sharp. However, it is the unpredictable sounds from that strange instrument of the Japanese who determine the musical direction. The three Englishmen seem to move around there, looking for the right way to relate audibly to those electronic sounds. Willberg makes his bass heavy, and Birchall searches it in the low register on his instrument. Outright noise is lurking, but does not reach full maturity because the musicians keep control over their instruments. After a little six minutes Willberg strikes his strings and Andreae taps on his sax. Birchall goes into battle with Nakamura, where it is sometimes difficult to determine which sounds come from the guitar and which from the mixing board.

‘Gathering Micron Glass’ opens with open guitar sounds from Birchall, while Nakamura squeaks, yells and creaks. Sometimes the electronic sounds are long, but usually they move uneasily and seemingly uncontrollable. Yet the Japanese manages to give guidance, even if it is in a free and unpredictable way. Also in this piece there is a lot of space for percussive sounds, even woodblocks and a basin seem to be involved. Halfway through, the noiseknop goes full and the sax is boxing up against a wall of sound from guitar and mixing board. The sounds are sometimes shrill, but Nakamura also produces loudly hissing noises. Birchall pricks and stimulates and Willberg slides quickly over the bass strings. The different techniques alternate rapidly.

In the last part of the album, ‘Fluent Still Spill Sealent’, is in the beginning an a-rhythmic pattern of Birchalls guitar which is most striking. Andreae sounds sharp and mean and Willberg’s bass growls and growls. Nakamura produces long sharp sounds, but also noise. He uses dynamic contrasts. It ends in a noisy climax around the fifth minute. Even now the game is mostly fragmentary and searching. Towards the end the Japanese knows how to create tension with threatening sounds.

The foregoing is no more than some sketches of what can be experienced at Live at Ftarri. Describing the music really is not feasible, for that reason simply happens too much in a short time. A well-defined context is lacking; it concerns four individuals with a whole arsenal of playing techniques and an enormous imagination in which musical research is paramount. This sometimes sounds noisy and chaotic, but it is precisely the turbulence in combination with the audible love for innovation in which the beauty of this music lies.”

Original Review in Dutch is here!

https://opduvel.com/2018/06/14/andreae-birchall-nakamura-willberg-live-at-ftarri/

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Vernacular reviews by Spontaneous Music Tribute

“Young, rebellious improvised music from the very center of the United Kingdom, continued! Manchester in attack, not only in the football dimension!

A brave rule of DIY (do it yourself), gray cartons, compacts, cd-ry, vinyl single, freedom, freedom, anarchy, improvisation – how beautiful!

The tiny label run by guitarist David Birchall – Vernacular Recordings *) – was just sixth catalog item. We will look at it in detail, and then also on the previous items, and one will only recall, because it has already been reviewed in these pages.

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Sam Andreae / David Birchall / Otto Willberg Live in Beppu (VR 006, 2018)

Beppu, Japan, April 2017; Andreae himself – alto saxophone, Otto Willberg – double bass, David Birchall – electric guitar; 1 fragment, nearly 62 minutes.

An improvised environment, three musicians, a bar, a yard next to it, children, adult voices. City sounds, trains, planes, instruments and everything that musicians have at hand. Microbiology of sound, the immensity of specific field recordings. In the purely musical aspect, a lot of individual, broken phrases, unfinished narrations, sentences finished in half a word. Improvisation of abandonment, punk dirt, anarchy of phonic decomposition, software nonchalance, the ethos of the contestant. 6 minutes, the first passing train, like a counterpoint to the rebellious story. A lot of humor, artistic banter. Equality of all sounds, each stage behavior. 9-10 minutes, a bit of psychedelia straight from the guitar’s neck, supported by a windmill imitating non-existent air conditioning, it does well to this collective play in unobvious phonics solutions. A narrative in which dissonance and the insistence of deconstruction are more important than making a coherent story (15 minutes, another train). 18-20 minutes, a bit more music straight from typical instruments, guitar, saxophone and double bass. When improvisation goes to play, what happens around within the sounds of the outside world seems to be even more interesting. 28 minutes, the musicians descend to the level of silence and everyone listens to the sounds that are created outside the stage. Waiting for what will happen there … Sounds of silence, children, voices, the roar of air (smog?). Music that is really concrete – crackles, abrasions, buzzing. 32 minutes – we regulate the watches, because another train passes by. A mysterious background is probably the intended effect. Dog toys to use! We love anarchy! Objects tremble, groan and whine. A real surf in the saxophone tube (35 minutes). After 40 minutes, there would be more music in our ears again, even a bit of noise. Andreae in spite of all conventions of saxophonists, Willberg, who likes to hang on a double bass, a Birchall seeking, tireless, it is from his side that the most interesting things come to us. 46 minutes, the narrative almost stops again. We listen to children. Noise and minor feedback. Waiting, lazy tension. Sonorism not connected to the power side. Fussy sounds. Forgotten love stories, onomatopoeia. Anarchy seems to dominate over improvisation. 57 minutes, microbiology returns, water drips from the ceiling of the sky, it’s probably an attempt to quell the ambivalence of the reviewer. Punk’s Not Dead? Indeed! We are looking for a punch, and life goes on. Another train, already on the last straight of this performance. We are left alone with the sound of the world around us. It’s probably not a concert, rather street street improvisation. Live in Beppu!

The previous album of this trio, studio A Hair In The Chimney (VR 004, 2017), was reviewed here.

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David Birchall / Colin Webster Gravity Lacks (VR 002, 2016)

London, May 2015; David Birchall – electric guitar, Colin Webster – tenor saxophone; 4 fragments (two solo, two duet), 57 minutes.

Colin solo! Deeply immersed in the tube, dancing on its edge, jumping between the jets, screaming in the middle of the mouthpiece. Sonorism at the peak of development. A slim, inquisitive narrative, care for the quality of each embouchure. Tenor saxophone in a compulsive march after yours. Precision, technique, control over emotions – as usual with this music model. And these inborn tendencies to punk dirt in sound! Applause!

David solo! The strings and amplifiers draw a consistent, slow, delicate story. A pinch of onrism between the strings, the metallic charm of each … sound. Step by step, a touch behind the note. The narrative loops up and grows, brilliantly engages and grimaces. 5 minutes, a type of rock, somewhat noisy incidents. Shortly thereafter, a quick return to the original state. Much foni in a unit of time, as if we were listening to a duet or even a guitar trio. The real ferria of electric guitar colors in the arduous process of improvisation. David perfectly controls the instrument, including the emotions of the reviewer. Precise volt with a hint of Hindu ragi somewhere in the middle of the sound box, on the last strings of the strings. Filings of genius on the fingerboard! Perfectly! 12 minutes brings further scraps of noise, as well as particles of silence suspended between them. A real poem of improvisation for solo guitar! For the finale, the molecular display of the grille sliding on the grille that puts the strings in micro resonance. It’s like a guitar whistling! On the last straight dance dipped into the ears in the nanobiology of psychedelia. Strictly Wonderful!

Duo 1! Masqued, though slightly fuzzy sonoratics of the tube and strings. Shorts, kisses, guitar loops. Fast turn to noise incidents. Colin hangs on the nozzles, David as if he was continuing the excellent exhibitions from the previous solo part. The Siamese brothers fall into each other like butter. Routes of both musicians compatible with pain. Improve crazy noise, improve slow motion! What ever you want! Descent into silence is lost in lazy psychedelia, which catches noise like a flypaper. 8-9 minutes, a parade of somewhat inconsistent drones, but perfectly effective. Sonority of silence has similar parameters, and it rushes us around 13 minutes. Kisses from the nozzle straight into the face of the neck, almost from mouth to mouth. Body into body, breath after breath. Perfect identity!

Duo 2! A molecular game without grammar of the structure and principles of grammar. It is difficult to indicate the level of intenseness at which this duo merges into one body more effectively. With everyone! Here, another dense short circuit, kisses and bubbles. In this group, everything can happen! There is no shortage of imitation at a high level – the guitar sounds like a saxophone, and the saxophone gets a new strings. Sonic magicians! A show of tricks and fireworks! All this second duet episode spins like an idle snake. It is only at the finale that he wags his tail, which he does not have. A perfect, small escalation. Bravo!

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Richard Scott’s Lightning Ensemble & Jon Rose Auslanders: Live in Berlin (VR 001, 2016)

Berlin, June 2015; Richard Scott – synthesizer, David Birchall – acoustic guitar, Phillip Marks – drums, Jon Rose – violin (only in the second part); 2 fragments, 40 and a half minutes.

Trio! Quite acoustic exposure despite the presence of a synthesizer. It turns out that a talented musician with such a tool can also run on truly acoustic expeditions. Rws the recording space incidents are definitely non sustained. An example of sophisticated electro-acoustics with a large portion of the imagination (Birchall on the guitar without electricity!). Watchful drummer – plates, percussion in more frequent use than snares and toms. Thick, extremely sensual, carnal improvisation. Narrow band, but good acoustics of the concert. Synthesizer hidden, non-invasive, dramatically intriguing. During the escalation, musicians with feline agility enter noise attributes, also in high registers. A lot of sounds per minute, at times you can get lost in the places where they appear. After all, the synthesizer itself has so many electroacoustic possibilities. It is worth underlining the drummer’s great job at every step. At the same time, Birchalla guitar drowns in the stream of innovations that its partners bring to the stage. Dramaturgically, however, we can not be sure of anything at this concert! Audio phonics are hidden in every alley. 16-17 minutes, a bit of long-lasting sounds. From the synthesizer, maybe also from the guitar, which somewhere caught a bit of amplification. A more peaceful fragment, which is, however, effectively devastated by the drummer’s activities! What a fire! The guitar boils acoustically, the synth sizzles and the plum, but the third instrument remains in the foreground! The rest seemed to levitate.

Quartet! The violin throws a pinch of constructive dissonance into the crucible of the narrative. More space, blows from the ocean. The guitar sounds like it has no strings. The synthesizer begins to care more about low frequencies, while the rest makes metaphysical allusions. A bit of a billiard display. The violins burning in the welcome song are flowing violently and explosively. Wartka, multidimensional improvisation. If we liked the version in the trio, what can we say about the quartet ?! Birchall in this part is definitely more prominent. It seems that everything can be played here! Now it sounds like a Russian balalaika! Again, the step towards the narrative sounding of the narrative dulls the instrumental perception of the reviewer. But this one has no shadow of a doubt! It’s a great concert! In the 13th minute, a kind of compulsive industrial! The acoustics of the concert at 4+, it is a pity that not 5+, perhaps even more narrative nuances could be found. However – electroacoustic bauble!

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Dave Jackson / T.H.F. Drenching / Kate Armitage Shiny Windmill Bugs (VR 003, 2016)

Manchester, April 2016; Kate Armitage – vocals and various objects, THF Drenching – voice recorder, dog toys, voice, pipes, Dave Jackson: woodwind instrument, cracklebox, percussion; 1 fragment, 23 minutes.

Botanic garden in the summer heat. Toys in the service of improvisation. A multitude of micro sounds, cat heads, rich and multi-species sound. Wood ornaments. A lot of good interactions, lots of freedom, but also a specific self-discipline of all three musicians. A fluid, compact narrative, despite the use of many atypical items, not entirely familiar with instruments. After all, they do not have the slightest problems with intriguing the reviewer’s ear. The woman’s voice gives the play the taste of the onrism, a pinch of transcendence. After 10 minutes, the narration slightly calms down, we get more vocals and flute, as well as other, higher frequencies. Music tastes like Spontaneous Music Ensemble with Julie Tippets and Trevor Watts – but on light drugs. For the finale of this unusually short story, a bit more percussion displays. Filigree performance, yes improvisation, after all very successful.

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David Birchall Light Rail Recordings: Manchester // Moscow // Tokyo 2015-2017 (VR 005, 2017)

Field recordings from various places and dates (see: title); David Birchall – electric guitar, composition, post-production. 2 fragments, 8 minutes.

Electric drone, post-guitar rhetoric, more than sustained with no doubt. A lot of electroacoustic dirt and fear. The title of this modest single suggests a field recording, certainly subjected to the post-production process. The other side is the continuation of the exposure. It seems that the most interesting happens around a lazy pulsing guitar drone. The power of post-electronic fireworks. The recording is quite unusual for Birchall, but it perfectly complements his previous artistic achievements. The reviewer would like to get to know the continuation of this style in the performance of the guitarist.”

You can read the original in Polish here http://spontaneousmusictribune.blogspot.co.uk/

All the releases that are still in print you can buy here https://davidbirchall.bandcamp.com/

Quietus review of “I didn’t mind you improvising, I just wish you’d done it better”

Thoughtful review of the tape that came out recently on Tombed Visions featuring myself, Sam Andreae and Andrew Cheetham.

“In many ways, a guitar-sax-drums trio is the most liberated improvising lineup possible. Forty five years on from Derek Bailey, Han Bennink and Evan Parker’s seminal freeform blowout The Topography Of The Lungs (which, incidentally, was reissued by Otoroku at the end of last year), it’s clear the possibilites of the setup have still barely been breached. This recording of tenor saxophonist Sam Andreae, electric guitarist David M Birchall, and drummer Andrew Cheetham reopens that door once kicked by Topography Of the Lungs (coincidentally, the panning and general sound is almost identical on both records – guitar on the left, drums in the centre, sax on the right, all crystal clear and clean), and across four dynamic improvisations, the trio cross swords, hold hands and generally go nuts in an often brutally feral jam session. Opener ‘Eric Frohm Where’ builds crunchy guitar drones and sax blasts into a gathering storm which erupts as the stunning Cheetham kicks into action. A calming eye of the storm passes over, before a maddening climax throughout its twelfth minute more akin to some Napalm Death face smasher than any Coltrane shit (including that Live In Japan album). Mimicry is a theme throughout, and when one considers the atonality of Cheetham’s percussion, it’s no surprise this leads to some pretty weird parps and scrapes from guitar and sax. ‘Post Nasal Space’ is mostly sparse and skittering, while ‘Dude You Look Like Sea Sick Steve’ blasts right in our face, as wave upon wave of snare rolls underpin an increasingly similar guitar and sax. The musicianship is typically inventive and stunning, but more uniquely like Topography Of the Lungs, this trio seem to have evolved their own logic, evoking stark imagery through what sounds like total and utter chaos.”

http://thequietus.com/articles/17219-spool-out-cassete-tape-reviews-2015

DB RS

1014029_589535081124682_261531059_nA potent review of the duo tape I did with Rogier Smal earlier in the year from Mr Joe Murray. Still some copies of this one available.

“An eye-watering tape cover, all pink vibrations and Mexican skulls houses this crispy duck.

Warble-guitar rubberises snazzy drums all over side one with the clitter-clatter meshing like oilbeads.  Dave’s dextrous volume pedal work gives the six string a human voice…an open-mouthed gasp that speaks in a dialect from the lost land of Atlantis.  When the silvery bubbles of air float up they get well and truly popped by Rogier’s mini-trident as floppy skins (drum kit) pound like a war cry.  Up Helly-Ah!

Texture is explored for sure but it’s got a furry quality, like mould-ridden cheese, that makes me salivate grey goo down my shirt front.

I saw these two live recently and was blown away by their Crimsons.  Diggerty velocity and ultra-hard riffin’ that stopped on a dime leading to Pinteresque silence and uncomfortable stares.  And it’s good to hear those dip-outs, troughs and fallows on this pinky tape.  Too many beards just jam it without no contrasts…saps.  The chaps got chops!

Side two starts off all mellow and that with a ribbed ripple, a cluster of notes that dart and dive around Smal’s dropped grenades.  But these explosions become milestones, stately markers on a voyage over rough terrain before they gradually morph into the start of the Pink Panther show (circa 1979).

About halfway though coffin-opening squeaks and moans start coming from somewhere as Private Jazz gets the brushes out ‘schhhh, schhhh, schhhh’…a minute later we’re in Company Week territory with heavy improv chokes and giggles from drum and guitar.  This jollies me up and I’m sad, genuinely sad, dear reader when the extended grimble solo ends this tape.”

Spitting Feathers Review

Nice review in French here of Spitting Feather’s CDr with Olie Brice and Philip Marks. Some plans afoot to do some stuff with this group later in the year.

http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2014/05/21/29911392.html

David Birchall (guitare), Olie Brice (contrebasse) et Phillip Marks (batterie membre de Bark!) démontrent en une heure un goût pour une improvisation aérée. Que taillent quand même quelques gestes incisifs et augmente une recherche sonore qui impose à Birchall l’usage d’effets variés. Changeante, la musique du trio intéresse.

Ramallah Mumtaz Power Duo

First release from my duo with long term collaborator Nick Dobson. Featuring 75 minutes of music drawn from a couple of days of sessions that took place on the edge of the snowy North Yorkshire moors in March of 2013 it captures the duo working with small sounds, textures and focused slow evolution of the improvisation.

Ramallah Mumtaz Power Duo