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Dalaba Frith Glick Rieman Kihlstedt - "DalabaFrithGlickRiemanKihlstedt"

This improv project is a first-time session by three Bay area musicians: composer and multi-instrumentalist Eric Glick Rieman, who initiated this meeting, plays prepared and extended Fender Rhodes electric piano; celebrated guitarist and composer Fred Frith, who had worked Glick Rieman at the Mills College; Tin Hat Trio and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum violinist Carla Kihlstedt: and former New York downtown player, now Seattle-based trumpeter Lesli Dalaba.

All four musicians demonstrate their inimitable attitudes and sensibilities towards their instruments, as if they are not playing in the most conservative sense of this concept but preferring to put their instruments through strange and unpredictable treatments, manipulations and effects, a kind of very free and experimental playful playing. Such an attitude might result in a very serious, academic exercise, but with their shared sense of adventure, idiosyncratic languages and high level of focused interaction, the end result is quite fascinating.

There is no leader on the session. All four musicians work to make form from improvisation, most of the time leaving the pieces without a specific shape until they have exhausted their ideas. Frith, as one might expect, plays all over the guitar, using its strings as a kind of percussion instrument, scratching them and producing sometimes distorted, bluesy lines. Dalaba explores her extended breath control technique, blowing otherworldly long chords and adding her "maniacal laughter" to "Lucy Has A New Pet Kitty." Glick Rieman produces ambient, drone-like sounds from his Rhodes piano, and Kihlstedt proves that she is one of the most promising improvisers to emerge from the Bay area, pushing the range of her violin through high pitch pizzicato plucking as if it were a strange transformation of a Japanese koto, then moving into folk-style playing. Fifty-five minutes of unusual, challenging, exceptional and strange sounds, but most of the time beautiful music.

     - Andrey Henkin, All About Jazz

That guitarist Fred Frith is one of the more proficient players on the planet should be a given in pages as these, but during a strong set at the 2002 Victorville Festival with former Kronos Quartet cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs and koto player Miya masaoka, Frith showed he could lead without taking a lead. As their extended improvisation slowly drew to an apparent ending, the players dropped out one by one, leaving frith with a thread wrapped around a single string of his guitar, creating a quiet scrape. He jumped around rhythms and patternsbringing the volume back up until the rest of the group realized, some smiling, that it wasn't over. They took up their instruments and began again, a new piece borne of Frith's soft noise and patient insistence. Frith's exceptional talents are well documented (and becoming more readily available with the new fred Records imprint of Recommended Records.) These two recent discs, however, show him not asa a soloist but as a valuable part of two worthy wholes.

The San Diego label Accretions issued a quartet neeting initiated by pianist Eric Glick Rieman (heard here on electric keyboards and prepared Fender Rhodes) in which all the players beautifully subsume into a strange sort of glistening shadow. Filling out the quartet , who hadn't played together before this session, is Lesli Dalaba on trumpet and carla Kihlstedt on violin (all the players reside in california where Frith has taken up professional duties.) The instrumentation, however, is not the point of how this group works. They more role along and fall together, a muffle of sonic effects creating a deeply fascinating singularity and a fairly beautiful album.

What the sound dictates on both these releases is odd and enigmatic, an internal logic not easily dissected but rewarding to absorb.

     - Kurt Gottschalk, Signal to Noise (from a double review with fred Frith/Anne Bourne/John Oswald)

Accretions appears once more, firstly with a four way improv/free form album: Dalaba on trumpet, Frith guitar, Glick Rieman piano and Kihlstedt violin. As must be apparent by now, I often approach this style of music with some trepidation - how harsh atonal and arrhythmic will it be. And usually, as this time, I am pleasantly surprised.

A laughing trumpet, somewhat treated and echoed dominates 'How light, a potato chip' with some scrabbling, big dirty guitar and feedback and violin, oh and just a touch of piano. Suggestive of a lighter touch, continued in 'The distance that separates dreams' where fast guitar or violin (I think there is picked violin throughout, and some multitracking making distinctions harder) that quietens to varying trumpet tones and guitar scrabble, violin scrapes, long piano; a bit of noise and then softer ending. 'Spicule maneuver' is appropriately titled as little spicules of sound jangle scissor and squeak and drift delicately.

After these three shorter tracks (2-4 minutes) the album continues with three double digit and a five, exploring a broader territory. In 'Worm anvils' a drone/scrape is the base for guitar and trumpet runs, echoed piano and then big electric guitar. It then shifts into percussive violin and piano rumbles while strange trumpets call, through to a drifting gentleness with some weird piano, soft percussion guitar and violin edginess, trumpet vibratos, taking us into a pulsive rhythm violin loop which the others gradually join softly - long trumpet tones, piano squalls and a hint of guitar. Through 'Shallow weather' searching twangs and plops build a rhythm and create a pleasant melody that pumps along, trumpet joining to an ambientish tonal piece. 'Lucy has a new pet kitty' is a looping jangly piece that is atonal and arrhythmic that builds to a wild knocking and stretched notes - delicious madness.

To 'Ant farm morning' which is generally reflective - cycling scrabbles through which the violin emerges, a slow melody that drifts baehind the playful noises again. Then some mellow guitar, and the group are exploring percussives and tones, growing shimmers. The trumpet makes a move to which the guitar responds before returning to a more considered mood. A thoughtful and restrained ending to a very impressive album. I really enjoyed the varied tones available through the instrumentation and the groups enthusiastic journey.

     - Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera

Having followed Fred Frith closely for a long time I've lost track of him in recent years (except for the Massacre reunion a few years back). But in addition to Fred's guitar this free-improv quartet includes Lesli Dalaba on trumpet, Carla Kihlstedt on violin, electric violin and Stroh violin, and Eric Glick Rieman on prepared and extended Rhodes electric piano. I had first heard Glick Rieman on his Ten To The Googolplex CD (see AI #18) with it's intriguing ambient soundscape explorations on the Rhodes. Dalaba has performed with Wayne Horvitz, Henry Kaiser, Elliott Sharp's Carbon, Eugene Chadbourne, Derek Bailey, among others. And Kihlsetedt has played with Philip Glass and the killer avant-prog/death-metal band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (see AI #18).

The music is focused on sound production and atmosphere, and it's often difficult to tell exactly which instrument produces a sound... is that the violin or an efx'd trumpet? Certainly Glick Rieman produces sounds that are completely unrelated to the conventional Rhodes. But this is all half the enjoyment for the listener. We often hear the Frith trademark sound of old, including some frenetic guitar runs, but for the most part he is focused on the manipulations, varied techniques, and soundscapes that his colleagues are. (Long time Frith fans will enjoy "Lucy Has A New Pet Kitty", which is the most all out rockin track of the set.)

There are 4 relatively short tracks and 3 extended works on the CD, and it was a couple of the lengthier pieces that made the strongest impression on me. "Worm Anvils" begins sparse and quiet, yet is deceptively busy. But the musicians soon get more aggressive, with pounding basslines, low drones, almost theremin-like string manipulations, and other ambient elements that create a narrative that evolves throughout the 13 minute piece. Close attention is paid to the individual sounds and how they are produced, with careful emphasis placed on a single chord strum, trumpet note, or draw on the violin. The guitar takes on many faces, from melodic acoustic patterns to harsher gut wrenching runs. "Shallow Weather" surprised me with a pleasingly melodic folk music or string quartet feel to the music at the beginning of the piece. Of course all the usual sound manipulations are heard from every direction, and it soon develops into a drifting soundscape piece with gradually developing patterns that bring to mind a somewhat jazzier Philip Glass work. Probably the most accessible track of the set that nicely blends the "musical" and the abstract.

In summary, the entire album is interesting in terms of creating sound and environment and how the quartet brings these elements together. But I found the music to be at it's best on the lengthier tracks where instead of a brief study the musicians could more fully develop both sound and theme (which could be surprisingly dramatic).

     - Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Usual and unique treatments of guitar sounds mixed with a forefront brass instrument plus others, characterize these two experimental sessions. Both are a long way from the standard six-string showcases and offer much to attract the truly adventurous. But both have downsides as well, when the apparent need to play something different moves past the exploratory to the self-indulgent.

Unattached to anything more than pure improv, the other disc is a first meeting between one Seattle-based and three Bay area players, interested in seeing what would result from their interactions. Each brings a different sensibility to the mix. Known for his stint with Artrockers Henry Cow, British guitarist Fred Frith, now relocated to Oakland, Calif. has explored the limits of improv with jazzier types like saxophonist Larry Ochs and John Zorn. Mixing extended and prepared Rhodes electric piano stylings and electronics, Eric Glick Rieman brings his new music, ambient and classical interests to this CD and other bands with the likes of Frith and Zorn.

Seattle trumpeter Lesli Dalaba, who is also an acupuncturist, earlier played in Elliott Sharp's Carbon, and the Balkan brass band Zlatne Ustne. Classically-trained, violinist Carla Kihlstedt has worked extensively with choreographers, appeared on CDs by Tom Waits and Mr. Bungle, and is a member of both the acoustic Tin Hat Trio and of the Art-rock band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. While rock, pop, ambient, classical and jazz inform this recording, sometimes the players seem so liberated from the need to conform to specific forms and rhythms that they go beyond freedom to formlessness.

Take "Ant farm morning," at 16 minutes the longest tune on the CD. Here the whistle of high-pitched fiddle lines and unidentifiable, ambient, electrco-acoustic sounds combine with long stretches of what appears to be Frith whacking his electrified guitar strings. As the squeaks, bangs and bell-like peals recede into the background, Dalaba's seemingly double-tracked trumpet line appears, with her exhibiting profound breath control, holding each note for an extended period. Eventually this sound is met by distorted electric guitar lines, pizzicato plucks from the lowest of Kihlstedt's strings and electronic swiggles that could be bubbling fish sounds.

It would facile to say that Dalaba's acupuncture training unerringly allows her to pinpoint where each tone should be placed. But except at the very end of a tune like "Worm anvils," squeals and note flurries seem to supersede surgical note placement. Elsewhere, her output seems buried -- or lost -- within the electronic miasma to such an extent, that you almost wonder if she's present. Meanwhile, on "Worm anvils" Glick Rieman's ascending electric piano cadenzas fan out so that you feel he's going to burst into "Riders on the Storm" at any minute; the guitarist's skronky screech sound like he's auditioning for the Yardbirds; and the violinist moves from squeals to aching old timey folk style.

Other times it appears as if Kihlstedt is making her points by shortening both her bow sweep and the swath of string real estate she's emphasizing. Alternately, her tone is so high-pitched, yet legato that she moves into flute territory. When the keyboardist doesn't sound as if he's busying himself testing power tools at a home handyman's workbench, his otherworldly tones can reconstitute themselves as a replication of busy West Nile virus-spreading mosquitoes. The guitar work ranges from deliberate scratch exploration over the fretboard, up the strings to the pegs to fluttering amp contortions, single staccato strokes and the odd wavering tone that recalls Bill Frisell at his most folksy. Then there's "Lucy has a new pet kitty," which showcases a cat-like yodel which could arise from a human throat, electronics or violin strings mixing it up with guitar strums, following an intro that resembles clunky Bo Diddley guitar strokes played just slightly flat.

Both these guitar-centred quartets have to be commended for their willingness to try something different and praised for some of the unusual sounds they produce. But when each disc appear to run longer than its noted time, it implies that a tightened focus would have been better for both.

     - Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly (excerpted from a double cdreview)

We have opportunity to listen to all manner of improvised music(s), compositions (often) as strange as they are scintillating... this particular CD is the cream of the crop! Many albums of this nature feature players who are (constantly) rushing for the "edge of the cusp", so to speak, with music that's so "on", it never leaves any "open space" for the listener to "hear" their own notes. Not so on this excursion... each player is totally sensitive to where the others are going, and they are able to compose "on the fly" without overdoing any aspect of it. My favorite cut on the album is track 4, "Worm Anvils", which will definitely inspire you to think of subterranean sweatshops wherworm-smithys hammer out their own shoes. Frith's guitar is (as you might expect) a great part of the wonderment you'll hear, but Eric Glick's odd use/manipulation of the Rhodes (along with all the other players, too) creates an atmosphere you have never heard before! I (personally) have only performed with a couple of players who have the level of comfort with improvised music(s) as is expressed here... this is, without doubt, the best (recorded) improvised music I have heard this year; it (not only) gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, it is also the "PICK" of this issue for "best recorded improv" of 2003.

     - Roctod ZZaj, Improvijazzation Nation

Guitarist Fred Frith lists maniacal laughter as another instrument on the collaborative session with trumpeter Lesli Dalaba, pianist Eric Glick Rieman, and violinist Carla Kihlstedt. Indeed, a sense of animated gaiety countered with sadness protrudes from many angles. The strings, horn, and keys all promote references to uncontained frolicking, remorsefulness, and many other emotions of the heart and mind. The quartet represents a tight collective responding to the wide-ranging feelings promoted by each member, ranging from stark depression to overt jubilation. References to the otherworldly also play an important role in this eclectic mirage.

Echo effects, reverberant retorts, and remote tonality filter through Dalaba's trumpet calls. She produces short, succinct lines of crispness, drawing the music into dark nether regions. Her mystic process seduces the band to join her. Glick Rieman works circumspectly to emote long, wispy sound currents of wind, and Kihlstedt makes her violin shriek with piercing jabs of unpredictability. Frith, in turn, takes an inspired journey into this strange world of atonal sound. He uses staccato punches to penetrate deeply into the bowels of the excitement while bonding with the far cries and whispers oozing from the association. Overt disruptions emerge at unexpected times from all musicians, only to be calmed by gentle breezes of sensitivity.

"Worm Anvils," one of three extended jaunts taken by the band, distinguishes itself with its longer, flowing lines. The piece has hypnotic qualities, spinning 'round and 'round in dervish fashion to draw one deeper and deeper into the eddies of the unknown. "Lucy Has a New Pet Kitty" fills the air with purring trumpet whimpers from Dalaba, while Frith and Kihlstedt surround the playfulness with aggressive attacks on the strings. The music continually spirals into a vortex of eerie sensations. Glick Rieman makes his piano speak in strange electronic tongues. His approach often emulates spatial traveling into far-off galaxies.

The quartet submerges into dreamland on the lengthy closing number, only to abruptly awaken in a sonic maelstrom. Rivers rush in rapid search for the sea as the quartet opens its floodgates to allow these waters to seek new levels of emotion. A sense of connectivity dominates. The recording is synergistic - independent musicians reacting spontaneously to the stimuli at hand. It results in music with serrated edges, certain to challenge seekers of life's more mysterious elements.

     - Frank Rubolino, One Final Note

What to do with four musicians who ignore the capacities of their chosen instruments? Put them together and let them make some of the most engaging improvised music you're likely to hear. The pieces are spare, wave-like constructs that crest and recede in overlapping moments that fill just enough space for every nuance to be heard. Fred Frith's guitar is restrained and close-miced to enhance the intimacy of interplay. Lesli Dalaba employs the most conventional approach of the four; her trumpet, muted and delayed at times, mainly hovers at the periphery of the action throughout. The most revelatory player is Carla Kihlstedt whose violin and voice unleash tonal urgency at crucial moments. Eric Glick Rieman is the nearly invisible thread that weaves it all together with sound which serves to accumulate all other sounds into an excellent whole.

     - Eric Hill, Exclaim! Canada

Instigated by Eric Glick Rieman, this quartet's first encounter took place in Myles Boisen's studio and was captured for posterity. Fred Frith is the best known name here. Trumpeter Lesli Dalaba has been active on the New York scene but she has kept a rather low profile lately. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt is mostly known for her tenure in the Tin Hat Trio. Eric Glick Rieman has developed a fascinating approach to the Fender Rhodes electric piano, preparing and extending it into a mean electronic instrument. Each player knew the others, so this first performance cuts straight to the chase. A beautiful level of understanding is established from the start. The music is freely improvised, but sometimes sounds deeply structured nonetheless, as in the opener How Light, a Potato Chip. In Shallow Weather Frith settles into a folky picking motif, giving the piece more of a song flavor. Elsewhere, as in Ant Farm Morning, the music gets very abstract and quiet, Dalaba's long notes halfway in resounding like fog horn calls (with a nod to Bill Dixon}, perhaps?) - sadly the piece looses its momentum after 12 minutes. The stand-out track is Worm Anvils, long, slow, delicate and full of mesmerizing sounds courtesy of Glick Rieman. On this album, Boisen doesn't take part in the making of the music as on his other recordings with Frith from the same period, like All Is Bright But It Is Not Day (with Jean Derome} and Pierre Tanguay or Digital Wildlife (with Joan Jeanrenaud and the Maybe Monday trio). Maybe less absorbing than the latter two CDs, this one still provides a very rewarding listen.

     - François Couture, All Music Guide

This doesn't push the boundaries so much as push the boundaries of what music is, full stop. Instruments are beaten at random - and that's just the strings - while a wasp gets stuck in a trumpet and someone seems to be having their hair cut. Astonishing.

     - Mojo

Incontro/scontro ricco di zone d'ombra e possibile, ideale, colonna sonora per psicotiche sortite notturne su metropolitane deserte.Il progetto nasce originariamente grazie ad Eric Glick Rieman (piano notevolmente strapazzato) in combutta con Fred Frith (chitarra strozzata ed atonale) al quale poco dopo si aggiunge la tromba di Lesli Dalaba. A questo punto vi è un'esibizione per l'Incus Festival di Derek Bailey con John Zorn che porta anche all'inserimento nel terzetto di Carla Kihlstedt al violino che stabilizza definitivamente la formazione. Raggiunta la stabilità inizia una ricerca fatta di sessioni improvvisative estremamente dinamiche ed intense che paiono rivolte alla creazione di un'impasto sonoro composto di vari livelli che, di volta in volta, si sovrappongono senza mai cadere nel caos o nell'eccesso. Il lavoro in questione ci mostra proprio questa capacità notevole nel creare ambientazioni rarefatte dove gli strumenti si concedono ampi spazi predilegendo un certo lirismo autunnale che rende il lavoro un curioso gioco di specchi dove ogni singolo tassello sfuma dolcemente nell'altro senza nessun tipo di forzatura apparente. Worm Anvils e Shallow Weather sono due brani abbastanza esemplificativi dello stile del quartetto, splendidi bozzetti acustici dove si possono incontrare, senza alcun attrito fra di loro, frammenti di melodie popolari e soluzioni riconducibili ai Gastr Del Sol a spasso con piccole movenze che non possono non ricordare i This Heat ed un pelino prima proprio gli Henry Cow di Frith. Detto questo dovrebbe essere abbastanza chiaro che le coordinate sono quelle di un percorso liquido ed estremamente fruibile che non disdegna talune volte climax sonori prossimi al post punk ed a certo post rock più arguto, che rendono questo lavoro un'ideale e caldamente consigliato inizio per chinon ha mai sentito nulla del genere e si vuole avvicinare all'universo di certa musica improvvisata. Lucy Has A New Pet Kitty suona come i Comic Youth dovrebbero suonare se si decidessero realmente di tornare ad essere Sonic......

     - Marco Carcasi, Kathodik


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