VARIOUS ARTISTS: 25 – Celebrating 25 Years Of Sonic Explorations (Accretions Records)


Posted on Apr 1st 2011 12:40 am

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Various Artists: 25

25 – Celebrating 25 Years Of Sonic Explorations
Accretions Records 2011
12 Tracks. 58mins39secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD

Summing up twenty five years in twelve tracks is totally inconceivable, and is in no way the aim of this compilation. What 25 does however is offer a fascinating overview of what the focus of California-based imprint Accretions continues to be, from contemporary jazz to outwardly exploratory work.

Launched in 1985 as an arts and culture magazine, and again a year later as a record label, Accretions has since found itself at the forefront of contemporary experimental music, with a particular affinity for jazz and improv. The label is home to a variety of artists and formations from the likes of musician and filmmaker Hans Fjellestad, percussionist and composer Nathan Hubbard, guitarist Bill Horist or multi-instrumentist Eric Glick Rieman to bands such as Burning Bridges, Donkey, the Trummerflora collective or, more recently Dawn Of Midi or Axis Trio.

Far from being an exhaustive collection, 25 however gathers a particularly vast array of genres and styles. The album opens with the textured input from Damon Holzborn, Intro, on which he plays both electric guitar and synths. Later on, Bill Horist offers a very different angle on The Psoriasis Coast as he layers guitar distortions and feedback to create a somewhat disconcerting piece. Donkey, the duo formed of Hans Fjellestad and Damon Holzborn, who collaborate here with Marcos Fernandes, distill a highly distorted and corrosive piece with Jazzorca En Vivo, as they assemble electronics into a series of miniature noisy structures. Equally, Synchronous Aether sees saxophonist Jason Robinson purposely deconstructing sax phrases and shredding them until there is virtually nothing left. He his joined in the second half of the piece by trombone player Michael Dessen, for a further moment of intense abstraction. Perhaps not quite as distorted, Marcelo Radulovich’s Circumambulating is nevertheless an offbeat piece which, wouldn’t it be for its highly processed backdrop, could very well pass for a drunken sailor’s song.

At the other end of the scale, Dawn Of Midi’s The Far Seam is a gentle jazz piece which, although focused mainly around Amino Belyamani’s light and confident piano, builds on the trio’s superb chemistry, while Hans Fjellestad delivers with The Keeper a colourful and contrasted beat-heavy piece.

Haco’s Much Much More is a much more (no pun intended) minimal composition, which opens with a poetic glockenspiel sequence, but, following a brief solo sax interlude, is soon replaced by a hypnotic tap rhythmic pattern sampled from animated movie Happy Feet, while a series of distant soundscapes continuously take shape in the background. While quite a dubious sound source, the rhythmic section actually works surprisingly well here. Eric Glick Rieman’s contribution is even barer. Playing on a prepared and modified Rhodes electric piano, he weaves a wonderfully serene melody, at times sounding somewhat oriental in both tone and structure, which he continuously offsets as to appear slightly out of synch with itself. Later on, Marcos Fernandes and Nathan Hubbard deliver two textural pieces, but their respective approach is radically different. While the former uses field recordings to constructs quite a complex sonic canvas, the latter processes live drums to create something which sounds like a recording of the inside of an alien piece of machinery. Closing the album is Spanish saxophonist and sound artist Santiago Latorre, whose beautiful improvisation, suitably entitled Solo, makes exquisite use of his live sound processing, progressively turning the sounds from his instrument into a dense soundscape.

Neither a retrospective nor a comprehensive overview, 25 nevertheless captures the essence of Accretions’ excellent catalogue by simply letting some of the label’s artists do what they do best: experiment with sounds and textures. There could be no better introduction to a label sadly all too often overlooked.


Accretions Records
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD

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