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Damon Holzborn - "Adams & Bancroft"

Though he's no stranger to the studio, this is the first disc of Damon Holzborn's to come my way. On this outing, the founding member of the experimental/improv Trummerflora collective abandons his guitar for the world of solo electronic manipulation. From a video game in hyper drive to what could easily be mistaken for closely mic'd kitchen appliances, he crafts sounds into what even the electronics-skeptical might identify as music despite themselves. Though his compositional pedigree includes Frederic Rzewski, Brian Ferneyhough, Will Ogden, and Rand Steiger, I couldn't help but imagine a closer alliance with the work of Nicolas Collins while listening to tracks like "O/Radio." The piece is a ten-minute struggle to tune in not this week's Top 40 hits, but more likely the communications of extraterrestrials or maybe even God. Regardless, John Cage must be smiling down and maybe even phoning home.

     - Molly Sheridan, newmusicbox

DIGITAL ASHES IN A DIGITAL STURM
California improviser Damon Holzborn's Adams And Bancroft (Accretions) is computer noise at its most candid. Although it's a stomach-turning jet-engine blast, every digital corner, computer glitch and clinical edit is nakedly audible. Rumbles, field recordings and silence provide a bed for grungy digital accents to noisily bonk the air, undressed and robotic. They are startling and infuriating, but the open space provides a wide arena to discover the color and mood of Holzborn's misshapen punctuation-the album reading like random bursts of typewritten gibberish, the perfect template to admire the stateliness of a font.

     - Christopher R Weingarten, CMJ

Damon Holzborn's 'Adams & Bancroft' is a rough ride through the contemporary sonic landscape, a random and sizable assortment of sounds plucked from the air like WiFi spillage siphoned from routers by drive-by sniffers. Though he pays little if any attention to musicality, at least in the extremely traditional sense, Holzborn is highly attentive to sonorousness and rhythm, and even his most outward-bound excursions are kept to a song-like length (with the exception of one 10-minute piece). What could be a field recording of mall traffic, on "Adams & Bancroft II", is folded until it has the comfort of routinely worn cotton; when it gives way to verbal refuse that only a mystic could interpret, it emphasizes a slow modulation that registers in all but the least inclusive ears as tonality. "Field and Stream" starts with the latter and builds quickly to long tones and traffic noise; in just under five minutes, you experience suburban sprawl secondhand. "DDDsc" takes electric piano sounds and tosses them like a high velocity riff on the more introspective minimalism of Terry Riley and Steve Reich; the cut has no immediate metrical core, but one develops over time, coming to view like an image buried deep in static. Other tracks venture closer still to straight-ahead composition, as on "DDDs", a quarter-speed epiphany for what sounds like solo organ, and "Clutch", which resembles a cheap microphone overwhelmed by the intense sonic toxicity of a rave. Throughout, Holzborn moves from sonic element to sonic element, rarely repeating himself, and avoiding anything familiar--like, say, a guitar, the instrument with which he was previously most closely associated.

     - Mark Weidenbaum, e/i

This founding member of the Trummerflora collective is a favorite of chin-strokers, and even a cursory pass through his improvisational electronics bears that out. These are closer to sound experiments than songs, with gurgling digitalis and pulsating tones creating an expressway to LSD island. It'll scare kids.

     - Bucky Dent, URB

Subtle and quiet but somehow aggressive. That's the direction my mind went upon hearing Damon Holzborn's Adams & Bancroft a strange and slightly spooky drifting exploration of experimental soundscapes. A dark ambience pervades while textures buzz and flow. It's not exactly white noise; it's more of an electronic stir fry, like the recorded sounds of cosmic transmissions run through some kind of random filter operated by a Martian experimental artist. Of course, that's an odd description but hopefully an evocative one. Some audio of this variety defies ready description and it's easier to convey a tone, a feeling, than it is to simply say, "it sounds like this." Holzborn's Adams & Bancroft falls into that category. It ebbs and flows in the most elongated way, with extended crescendos and reversions to quietude, electronic lifeforms stretched to non-recognition, thus reformed into new beings entirely, much in the way your brain might be once this audio journey is completed.

     - Kristofer Upjohn, Raves.com

Damon Holzborn appears on a range of San Diego/Trummerflora releases, and has an album of solo electronics, Adams & Bancroft, out on Accretions (ALP035 www.accretions.com). And it is very much electronics - much of it is hard edged and scrabbly, processed sounds vying for foreground. The title track (part 1) opens it with a cycling thud which sounds likes processed guitar, fast squiggles propelled over (possibly voice - there are a few voicey components through the set), squiggles sweep at the end (part 2 is more silvery and buzzing). Or the slow controlled explosion of hissing harshnesses, swirling, thereminish sweeps that builds through Summit; most extremely in O/Radio which is a scrawl of noises that sounds like a trawl through radio-space, with a very occasional hint of speech. Between these and other electronica are the DDD series - four tracks with a different suffix (eg DDDp) which are based on more musical elements (computer music, layered tones) which seem to change randomly, some fast some slow, but are much lighter elements. And then there is the pairing of If we're all going to get it and Field to stream - both of which are much subtler and incorporate obvious and extensive samples. This could in no way be described as a pretty album, but an initial uncertainty is tempered by repeated listenings that reveal subtle complexities.

     - Jeremy Keens, & etc.

Der Gitarrist und Elektroakustiker DAMON HOLZBORN ist einer der Hauptaktivisten des Trummerflora-Kollektivs, etwa als langjähriger Partner von Hans Fjellestad in Donkey und in Quibble, einem rein elektronischen Trio mit Nathan Hubbard & Marcelo Radulovich. Adams & Bancroft (ALP035) ist sein Solodebut, ein am Laptop entstandenes Konstrukt aus Fieldrecordings und Samples. Holzborns Knowhow ist akademisch hinterfüttert, neben Gitarre hat er Improvisation studiert bei George Lewis und Komposition bei u.a. Rzewski, Ogden und Ferneyhough. Seine kollaborative Seite zeigt neben dem Schwerpunkt bei der Trummerflora-Familie eine Spannweite von M.R. Abrams und Blaise Siwula über das Left-Coast-Left-Field bis zu Musiken für das Tanzensemble Lower Left. Sein elektronischer Gestaltungswille zeigt eine Neigung zu Beweglichkeit und Agilität. Selbst wenn - ganz selten - erkennbare Reste von ‚natürlichem‘ Klangmaterial so etwas wie eine verfremdete Landschaft andeuten, sind Holzborns fünfzehn Laptop-Etüden weit davon entfernt, sich ambient hinzubreiten. Charakteristisch für seine Verlaufsformen ist vielmehr eine mobile Unruhe und eine gewollte Unregelmäßigkeit, die ausbricht aus Programm und Loop in dynamisch zuckendes und splatterndes Noisepollocking und, programmatisch beim zentralen und mit 10:50 längsten Track ‚O/Radio‘, in splittriges und zerhäckseltes UKW-Browsing. Selbst wenn Holzborn mit Repetitionen operiert, bei ‚If we‘re all going to get it‘, das hinkend ein Bein nachzieht, oder den Quasifortsetzungen ‚Field to Stream‘ und ‚Watermill‘, Plunderphonien mit Hagelpercussion, Regenguss, Aquaplaning und siffendem Geplätscher, Stimmengewirr und Verkehrslärm, dann transportieren die Loops etwas Aleatorisches, den Wildwuchs von Geräuschen gerade im urbanen Raum. Auch im harschen Impulsgeprassel von ‚Classic Football‘ durchbrechen Störungen den dröhnminimalistischen Fluss. Programm hört man am ehesten noch in der Variations-Serie ‚DDDp‘, ‚DDDsc‘, ‚DDDs‘ & ‚DDDl‘ als algorithmisch sich abspulende ‚Keyboard‘-Melodien.

     - Rigo Dittmann, Bad Alchemy

Ondas de extasiante exploração electrónica abrem amplo espaço visível diante do campo auditivo do destinatário de Adams & Bancroft, a mais recente aventura de Damon Holzborn. Holzborn é um criador musical que trabalha primordialmente as fontes electrónicas, com as quais manipula sons gerados por guitarras e field recordings. Estudou com George Lewis, também ele um esteta da electrónica, com importante obra neste campo da investigação sonora.

Fundador do colectivo Tummerflora e do portal zucasa, um dos mais importantes e influentes na divulgação da nova música experimental e improvisada, membro do duo de improvisação electroacústica Donkey, que há mais de 10 anos criou com Hans Fjellestad (o produtor de Adams & Bancroft), Holzborn pôs de lado a guitarra eléctrica neste trabalho, privilegiando a versatilidade de desenho e confecção musical que o laptop permite ao nível das mutações tímbricas e texturais. Experimental na sua essência, a música não perde, contudo, a coerência e o fio condutor que liga as diferentes modulações por que passa ao longo da sua lenta e demorada exposição (62’), tornada quase imperceptível pela capacidade de se transformar e de criar tensão/distensão em permanente sensação de movimento. Estamos no domínio da electrónica híbrida, distante de objectivos comerciais ou outras funcionalidades que não passem pelo puro prazer de produzir um som estimulante e de o comunicar com o público, captando-lhe a atenção.

     - Eduardo Chagas, Jazz Arredores

Selbst voreingenommene Geister werden verblüfft sein, mit welch schelmischer Phantasie Damon Holzborn sein jüngstes Album "Adams & Bancroft" eingespielt hat. Hier wird die Bühne zum Spielplatz der Töne. Der Klang der solo Electronics, welche das im Einzelnen sind, ist nicht weiter angegeben, entwirft ein emotional weit umfassendes Feld. Vor allem überwiegen verblüffend witzige und in ihrer Dichte, Menge und Virtuosität ungemein unterhaltsame Töne. Das ist Electro-Avantgarde, die nicht zu abgehoben und schwer ist, sondern von anmutiger Struktur und fast schon konventioneller Aussagekraft.

Vielschichtige Tonskalen umspielen sich, während melodische Soundfetzen coole Muster darunter setzen. Dann wieder blubbern und flattern konkrete Töne aus den Boxen, hier und dort an bekannte humoristische Motive ansetzend, um verspielt zu verklingen. Die Töne könnten einem Synthesizer entstammen, so klar und gewohnt ist ihr Klang. Und dann verwischt im nächsten Stück die Struktur und wird zu sphärischem Lauschen in das Weltall, etwas Phonographer-mäßig, aber gewiss künstlich erzeugt. Verfremdete Soundskulpturen flattern echogleich aus den Boxen wie Gesprächsfetzen, und es scheint, die Töne unterhielten sich.

Insgesamt ist "Adams & Bancroft" von breiter melodischer Fülle. Eher an konventionelle Musikstrukturen erinnernd, werden sich gewiss auch die nicht unbedingt am Abstrakten interessierten Electronicfreaks für diese CD erwärmen können. Wer diese traumhaften Sequenzen mit aller tonalen Witzigkeit und hörspielartigen Spannung beim zweiten Mal hört, wird süchtig oder flüchtig. Und eben weil die Soundstruktur von "Adams & Bancroft" so eingängig und harmonisch ist, kann die CD als guter Einstieg in die Welt der abstrakten Electronics gesehen werden. Mein Tipp!

     - Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi

Robert M(ontoya) e Damon Holzborn sono entrambi musicisti provenienti dal circuito indipendente della Bay Area e condividono da tempo la militanza all’interno del mega-collettivo di musica creativa Trummerflora. I nomi dei protagonisti non suoneranno nuovi ai lettori più attenti di sands-zine, vista la loro presenza all’interno di “Rubble 1”, la compilation accreditata all’intero ensemble californiano e approdata poco meno di un anno fa per questi lidi. Percussionista e improvvisatore, attivo nella scena impro–jazz di San Diego da oltre un decennio: Montoya con questo full lenght cambia registro stilistico improntando una scenografia sonora elettronica. Una sterzata nell'animo del ‘digitale’ ben delimitata, dove il tratto caratteristico della musica si distoglie da quello solito dell’autore, il quale, a risultato ottenuto, non dimostra di saper restare troppo a lungo distante da superfici – elettro – acustiche classiche, senza incappare in piccoli deja vù. Ragion per cui: chi nella raccolta aveva trovato intrigante il triangolo elettro-acustico formato dai Mrlectronic, M in compagnia di Lisle Ellis e Marcos Fernandes, resterà un tantino scottato nel constatare un mood elettronico, a tratti pacato e a tratti agguerrito, modellato secondo soluzioni scontate. You’re Soaking In It, Nebuloso 9, Tio Mate sono attimi che condividono queste ‘flebilità’, ma svelate da un utilizzo sfarzoso di correnti ritmiche etnico-tribali. Non resta che evidenziare la larga veste che ammanta un po’ tutto, tessuta da registrazioni ambientali. D’altra stazza, invece, si mostra Damon Holzborn, meno legato ai perbenismi del collega, interessato alla creazione di rumori ‘smussati’ senza troppa precisione, né grazia. Gli studi giovanili, tra l’improvvisazione di George Lewis e la contemporanea del MEV Frederic Rzewski, come piccoli spiritelli impazziti, percorrono tutto l’humus di “Adams & Bancroft”. Una percezione, a prima vista, intuibile nella (ipotetica) logica che lega in un unico blocco tutte le 15 tracce del disco. Una salita intrapresa con piccoli taglia e cuci di suoni, quasi del tutto urticanti - Adams & Bancroft I , Summit, Roll, l’analogica melodia di DDDp - che nel progredire acquistano compattezza – Adams & Bancroft II e Clutch, sino alla creazione di inconsuete suite minimaliste - DDDsc, fugace ‘parodia sintetica’ del Terry Riley di “In C ”. Un gioco che, tra sali e scendi, prosegue per tutta la durata di un CD dove, fatta eccezione per i tempi lunghi di 0/Radio, mix dai manierismi noise, tutti i brani viaggiano su tempi brevi. In California, forse complice il clima torrido, la corrente artistica legata alla sperimentazione stenta a decollare con l’elaborazione di un suono ‘proprio’, avvincente ed emozionante, che non sia legato alla tradizione jazzistica.

     - Sergio Eletto, Sands


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