what we talk
Music for the radio program This American Life
Bitter Love Songs
We Were The Phliks
Song Songs Song
From the Diary of Dog Drexel
Five Frozen Eggs
Disaster at Sea
Running with Scissors
Theres an enhanced CD among
the recent releases by Ernesto Rodrigues Creative Sources called Drawings. The enhancement consists in a 55-minute MP4 video Der Raum, by Arno Oehri which shows the working processes between Scott Fields and German visual artist Thomas Hornung, who lives in Basel and spends about one hour every evening by making spur-of-the-moment drawings on A4 paper sheets, typically in black but occasionally in colored chalk, as per the guitarists words. The three collaborators first met in 2004 during a residency in the Swiss Alps, yet only after a while the American decided to dig out something from those sketches, converting them in a multi-page graphic score whose constitution is better explained by the composer himself in the liner notes.
Fields, one of the most interesting phrase scramblers in contemporary jazz also in more regular outings (check his efforts on Clean Feed), asks the listeners to play the 98 audio tracks of the disc in shuffle mode the same method applied to Hornungs 171 pictures, previously selected, when he performs this work live. This modus operandi is not really crucial for the ultimate result, as the severely fragmentary conciseness of the solos causes the whole to sound exactly as a haphazard reproduction of the initial program even when the record is played straight; I seriously doubt that a remote chance of memorizing this album exists. What needs to be noted is how brilliantly this man manages to conjure up a growing quantity of uncommon timbres, chordal surges, skeletal counterpoints and unclassifiable pitches from his axe (manipulated conventionally or through various kinds of implementations), elevating the music to a degree of consequentiality on a par with its pictographic complement.
Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault
German artist Thomas Hornung has
the habit of making many quick drawings, most of which he discards, and some he archives. Guitarist Scott Fields made this CD to accompany these drawings and to mimick their creation. The CD consists of 98 tracks, ranging from 8 seconds to 1 minute. In this short period, theres hardly anything to tell, and thats what it sounds like: short snippets of sound, with no apparent sense. Unless this makes sense to you: Eventually I decided to convert some (as it turned out 171) of his drawings into a multi-page graphic score. To do that I made a matrix of pitch rows and numbers that represent playing techniques. Then I reversed Thomass drawings so that what was black became transparent. Finally I laid each drawing over the matrix and used what was visible as an element in an extended, modular composition. It is pretty painful that you need to explain all this, and much more, in two pages on the liner notes. In my humble opinion, music is about music, not about some intellectual and cerebral creation. Click on the cover above to see how much notes remain after the color reversion. The point of this approach totally eludes me. There are about five trillion other ways to organise notes based on external circumstances, most of which are possibly more valuable than the approach taken here. I have no problem that other art forms can generate inspiration for musical evocations, quite to the contrary, but not through such a mechanistic intellectual process. What Fields does, is just to create randomness. There is no link whatsoever between the drawings and his music. And none of the 98 pieces actually has anything to tell. Theyre just a few sounds on one or several strings. Less interesting than a bee buzzing around your head. The good news is that I had 254 takes, 171 of which I kept (
), a month later I culled the 171 acceptable takes down to 99, one for each track possible on the CD. We were saved from listening to a triple CD.
Stefan Gijssels, Free Jazz Blogspot
Der Chicagoer Gitarrist Scott Fields,
in Köln lebend und mit diversen musikalischen Formationen wie z.B. dem James Choice Orchestra im experimentellen Improvisationsbereich arbeitend, hat mit Drawings eine Solo-CD veröffentlicht. Er spielte im Loft in Köln Miniaturen mit einer Gibson-E-Gitarre ein. Die 99 Kompositionen, keine länger als eine Minute, wirken wie Improvisationen, in denen Free-Jazz-Einsprengsel aufleben, einsame, schwermütige Bluesriffs angeschlagen werden, für Momente Heavy-Metal-Gitarrenattacken losbrechen, sich atmosphärisch-dröhnende Soundflächen einstellen, Garagenrocksound-Versatzsücke sich Raum verschaffen, Geräusch- und Tonexperimente eingebaut sind. In den kurzen Stücke nimmt sich Fields die Freiheit von Extemen, sich einerseits ruhig in eine sanfte Melodie einzufühlen und andererseits einem fahrig-heftig-harten Gestus von Rhythmus nachgehend. Wobei eine zutiefst lebendige, in sich stimmige Dynamik entsteht.
Auf dem Cover von Drawings sind die weižen Linien einer Grafik auf schwarzem Grund abgebildet. Die kurzen Tracks der CD haben auch den Charakter von freier, ungegenständlicher Zeichnung. An abstrakten Expressionismus erinnernd. Und im speziellen geht es um den in Basel lebenden deutschen Künstler Thomas Hornung, der Inspiration für die Kompositionen war. Er verbringt so manchen Abend in seinem kleinen Wohnatelier am Zeichentisch. Minutenzeichnungen herstellend mit Kreiden auf schwarzem DIN-A4-Papier. Dabei Wein trinkend, Musik hörend. Cellostücke von Dvorak etwa. Blätter von Hornung waren Vorlagen für Scott Fields Partitur.
Tina Karolina Stauner, Textem
Whats your framework? Every creative
musician, even the freest, operates within one. Consider Scott Fields, for example. Theres a lot of spontaneity in the Chicago-born, German-based guitarists music, but it arises from carefully selected structures. In the case of Drawings, he has both internalized and responded to another artists process in order to stoke his own. Each of its 99 brief performances is an immediate response to an image by Swiss artist Thomas Hornung.
The albums sleeve notes portray Hornung, who is apparently so obscure that he is virtually Google-proof, as a man of rigid habits. He spends each day following the same schedule, lives in two identically furnished rooms, and each night he spends an hour dashing off images on one piece of A4 paper every minute or so, with time out for cigarette breaks. Fields, in turn, took a sheaf of Hornungs drawings (which are reproduced on the tray card) and tried to play for as long as Hornung had drawn; the denser the inking, the longer he played. But nothing lasts too long, and the whole CD runs just 46:20.
This brevity may be a formal triumph, but it makes for frustrating listening. Theres a fair bit of variety, from Nels Cline-like shredding to swelling feedback to elegantly plucked shapes to music box-like chimes. But none of it develops. Of course, these tracks werent supposed to, but the result is still a choppy and unsatisfying listen. Ironically the soundtrack to an accompanying video by Arno Oehri, which shows Hornung and Fields at work, is more engaging. It is comprised of raw material from the sessions, drastically slowed down and pitched so low that it doesnt sound like guitar anymore. Since the video has no other sounds, one has plenty of time to savor Fields slow-mo gestures, and plenty of motivation; the videos 55 minutes is way too long to watch Fields play divorced from anything you hear.
Bill Meyer, Dusted