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Various Artists - "25"

I love it when compilations turn me on to good bands I haven't heard of before. That is usually a crapshoot for most comps, but Accretions' 25-year celebration set introduces me to more than one band I'll be chasing down soon.

Of course, I had already known about guitar wizard Bill Horist and co-producer Hans Fjellestad, and their entries are two of the strongest in this box o' dozen tunes. But let me tell you about some other great acts you ought to check out, unless you long beat me to them. With "the far seam," Dawn of Midi gets as close pure, cool, space-age jazz as any of the wannabe cool bands who tried to get there. Damon Holzborn's brittle, low buzz "Intro" shows him to be as capable a guitar experimenter as Horist, whose "The Psoriasis Coast" still gets my vote as the best track on the record. Also worth noting are Marcelo Radulovich and Nathan Hubbard, whose augmented solo drum outing "Echodoor" is one of the best (ie: least self-important and boring) drum solos ever; it is also one with a lot of soul. Radulovich offers whimsy and trembling in "Circumambulating," a disjointed, Tom Wait's-esque drunken surreal ballad. "Solo," an appropriately titled track by Santiago Latorre – alone with his alto sax and electronics—is also memorable.

As far as label celebrations and compilations go, "25" is right up there, both in consistency and in showing off the fruits of the label. Accretions ought to be proud and ought to be more noticed for the variety of styles and talents they nurture.

     - Mike Woods, Foxy Digitalis

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. 4.5/5

     - the milk factory

The Californian label Accretions is 25 years old and celebrates it with a well-rounded compilation CD featuring its early artists (Damon Holzborn, Marcos Fernandes, Marcelo Radulovich, Hans Fjellestad), close friends and latest signings. Worth noting: an instrumental track by Haco, a great prepared Fender Rhodes piece by Eric Glick Rieman, Radulovich going almost back to his Titicacaman persona with "Circumambulating", and Fjellestad's excellent "The Keeper."

     - Francois Couture, Monsieur Delire

Le label californien dirigé par Marcos Fernandes fête ses 25 ans avec une compilation de nombreux artistes du label : Damon Holzborn, les groupes Haco, Dawnn of midi et Donkey, Bill Horist, Eric Glick Rjeman, Hans Fjellestad, Jason Robinson, Michael Dessen, Marcelo Radulovitch, Marcos Fernandes, Nathan Hubbard, et Santiago Latorre. Manifestation simple du travail d'un groupe de musiciens unis autour du label par des esthétiques d'une certaine ingénuité─ aucune critique ni réserve dans ce mot : on reçoit ce disque comme un courant d'air frais. Dans la plupart sinon dans toutes ces musiques se dévoile une remarquable qualité d'invention, un parfum musical différent puisque les occasions d'entendre sur scène sont plus que rares.

Une belle occasion de découvrir ces musiques pour qui n'a pas encore écouté de cd Accretions (nombreuses chroniques parues dans Improjazz).

     - Noël Tachet, Improjazz

L'anniversario del venticinquesimo anno, è per la californiana Accretions, l'occasione giusta per metter in piedi una bella festa. Di quelle fatte per bene, che non ti scordi per lungo tempo. Celebrazione pagana, per il tempo trascorso, ed il tempo che verrà. A giudicar dai fatti, ci sarà ancor molto da divertirsi. Venticinque anni di esplorazioni soniche, sul limitare della frontiera (e spesso oltre...). Curiosità, sperimentazione, ironia, dissonanza, contaminazione. Rilancio costante, in continuo cambio traiettoria. Vitale e luminoso il tragitto (nonché severo e rigoroso, nel suo apparente sorriso). Una ridda di ipotesi e certezze, presentate nell'occasione da: Damon Holzborn, Haco, Bill Horist, Dawn Of Midi, Donkey, Marcos Fernandes, Eric Glick Rieman, Hans Fjellestad, Jason Robinson, Michael Dessen,Marcelo Radulovich, Nathan Hubbard, Santiago Latorre. Sarabanda di chitarre, strozzate e preparate, synth analogici e digitali, spoken voice, sax, sampled, glockenspiel, tap dance, contrabbassi, batterie e giocattoli, pianoforti e flauti, elettronica e field recordings. Free jazz, free rock, sound art. Un caleidoscopico assemblaggio di stili, rigoglioso ed invitante. Fra il miracolo e il miraggio. Con nel mezzo, azioni spontanee, ricerca costante del limite e rigorose esecuzioni. Bell'età i venticinque! Siete tutti invitati alla festa!

     - Marco Carcasi, Kathodik

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