MASSIMO MAGEE & DAVID W. STOCKARD
KSE #316 (CDR album)
Massimo Magee: acoustic, amplified and feedback sopranino saxophone
David W. Stockard: snare drum
recorded at Goldsmiths, 25 May 2015
cover art by MP Landis http://www.mplandis.com/
$8 US postpaid / $11.50 elsewhere postpaid
payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com
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Proud to welcome saxophonist and theoretician-of-improvisation MASSIMO MAGEE back for his fourth release on KSE, this time giving us two extended sound-paintings of sopranino saxophone and snare drum with percussionist David W. Stockard, recorded in London in late May 2015.
“With this translucid, volatile substance, the surface…is stripped as bare as possible, its monochrome ground heightened to near transparency; lines become faint threads, figures white traces like membranes of infinitesimal thickness. This minimal, almost residual painting—-almost risking vacuity—-is defined as a space of physical pulsation, of visible, tangible palpitation, open to every sense and perception.” Agnes de la Beaumelle, from “The Challenge of Miro’s “X”.”
INTERROGATORIES is a logical next step from Magee’s previous KSE album, SOPRANINO SOLO. Working in a range above the soprano saxophone (which many players disregard feeling it is too high-pitched and difficult to control), the sopranino saxophone is an instrument that is rarely used and even more rarely featured. It provides Magee with a distinctive palette for his paintings in sound—-I am reminded of the scratchy, astringent canvases of Cy Twombly, full of life-force but somehow muted in tone, appearing clipped yet bursting with energy at the incisions, capturing the process of creation with their erasures and over-writing. I doubt you’ll hear anything else this year which SOUNDS remotely like this album.
Partnering with Magee on this set is percussionist David W. Stockard, who limits himself to the snare drum here, yet manages to find a universe of potential within this unique instrument, not like any other drum. I’ve heard some Austin experimental musicians such as Lisa Cameron and Sarah Hennies (the latter based in Austin for many years, now in New York state) do some amazing things with the snare drum via extended techniques and the loosening of the snares. There is of course a metallic element inherent in the snare drum, thus providing a potentially rich and unexpected range of possibilities for the imaginative player. Stockard manages to evoke everything from Cage-esque prepared piano to gamelan-and-gong with his snare, yet also works very subtly in the quieter passages, playing with the lower limits of auditory perception, creating almost inaudible “waves” that crackle and hum….or is that my nervous system I’m hearing?
This is a totally original album from artists who question EVERYTHING. If like me you feel that a lot of the “free-improv” out there has as much wanking to it as the worst 70’s fusion, why not try this thoughtful but dynamic duo album which explores new areas-in-sound art with both concentration and abandon.
The only album I can think of to compare this with would be FACE TO FACE by The Spontaneous Music Ensemble’s duo format, but it’s 40+ years and a million miles from that….as John Ashbery once observed of Gertrude Stein, MAGEE and STOCKARD are attempting the impossible, because nothing else is worth doing!
And let’s not forget another beautiful original artwork by MP Landis on the front cover, perfectly evoking the album’s content. Please check out Mr. Landis’s website for a wide variety of exciting and life-filled paintings.
I asked Massimo Magee for a brief statement regarding this album, and he produced the following, as always an example of both the intellectual rigor he brings to any project and sense of play, of wonder, and of an openness (indeed, an excitement) to work whose form is ever-becoming: “As it plays in the background now, what can I say of this music that it doesn’t say for itself? That it is improvised is probably obvious; that it owes a debt to the influence of Eddie Prévost via his weekly improvisation workshop is less so, but no less true. It is, outside of the workshop, a first meeting. Although the exact set-up that I brought to this meeting (in particular the electronic element) was a configuration I had not used before, I of course have a significant history with the sopranino saxophone. To say that it is a recording of two people ‘searching for sounds’ within the materials before them is not the whole story, but I think it is a useful frame of reference for considering our actions – actions that are an attempt at what, by this point, several generations have done before us, but that gets no easier the more it is attempted. Each time we resume the struggle. What the listener has is a document of selected facets of those actions at that time and in that place. What those actions mean is a more difficult question. – Massimo Magee”
While ordering INTERROGATORIES, why not also pick up some other of our recent CDR albums of experimental, forward-thinking sound art…..all $8 in the US and $11.50 elsewhere, postpaid (see above for ordering instructions):
KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”
KSE #310, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “ACCIDENTAL PRIZES”
KSE #303, FADENSONNEN, “PD 7”
KSE #308, JEN HILL, “THE SHAPE OF IT”
KSE #314, BELLTONE SUICIDE, “THE COMPLETE NON-CONFORMIST SESSIONS”
KSE #294, FOSSILS WITH BRIAN RURYK
KSE #305, RAMBUTAN, “Remember Me Now”
KSE #299, LISA CAMERON & ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, “Sol Et Terra”
KSE #296, THE GARMENT DISTRICT (featuring Jennifer Baron), “Luminous Toxin”
KSE #298, GIFT FIG: ALFRED 23 HARTH and CARL STONE, “Stellenbosch,” live in South Africa, September 2014
As always, thank you for your support of KSE and of all independent, non-aligned arts collectives…