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Marcos Fernandes, Bill Horist - "Jerks and Creeps"

Recorded at two stops during their 2005 tour of Japan, Jerks and Creeps finds Seattle-based prepared guitarist Bill Horist and Accretions boss/electronics maverick Marcos Fernandes collaborating with two sets of guests. Horist and Fernandes are highly tactile and imaginative players, who bring a sustained motion and sense of playfulness to these non-hierarchichal soundfields. At the Kobe concert they were joined by vocalist and electronician Haco; the performance is dense and congested, from the opening sounds of spinning metallic bowl to the slurping frequencies at the end of the second piece. Individual noises whiz, whoosh, bang and whistle with a concentrated commotion, and the results have the jostling feel of a cramped, overheated kitchen in a small highway diner. Haco's baying vocals bring a recognizable human element, while Horist's taps and teases occasionally merge from the rough and tumble caterwaul. The single track from Osaka is more austere, despite the presence of additional musicians (trumpeter Masafumi Ezaki, electronics whiz Bunsho Nishikawa and American bassist Tim Olive); only Ezaki's trumpet squeaks are audible through the industrial noise. There's not much to distinguish the two sessions, but that's hardly a knock against the musicians, as the interplay and focus are formidably high throughout.

     - Richard Moule, Signal to Noise

And from Accretions, Jerks and Creeps by Marcos Fernandes (phonography, electronics) and Bill Horist (guitar, electronics) (www.accretions.com, ALP046) which is primarily two tracks from concerts in Japan. In Kobe which supplies three fifths of the album, they were joined by Haco on electronics and voice, while in Osaka Masafumi Ezaki (trumpet), Bunsho Nishikawa (electronics) and Tim Olive (bass) helped out. The two concerts are spacious explorations of the possibilities of the instruments: they only occasionally slip into recognisability. Fernandes had left behind his percussion and provides textures and depths to those emerging from the guitar. My notes read like an abstract poem which follow the music, words scattered over the page - mysterious, ambient, processed occur throughout. The guitar is percussive, tonal, sliding frippish, arpeggios. The density is in flux, at times dropping almost to single sounds at others a nightmarish display, and then again some ambience, but always absorbing. Haco's most obvious addition is strangled vocals at times throughout Kobe. The phonography is sometimes obvious - the Middle Eastern horn and drums late in Kobe 1 or a tannoy - but it is not always apparent. In Osaka the sound is fuller (not surprisingly) but again swinging between density and more spacious sections. The part played by the members of the ensemble is harder to extract - some possibly blowy trumpet sounds, string scrapes could be either bass or guitar. And electronics is electronics! I am not sure the 2 minute Kobe coda adds anything to what is two strong pieces, but it doesn't diminish them either. More in-ya-face than Shelf Life, but not too aggressively harsh though its intensity is satisfying.

     - Jeremy Keens, Ampersand, etc.

Three improvisations that sound innovative, fresh and surprising, different outlooks on electroacoustic microcosms that hide many untold secrets worthy of being revealed. Fernandes works with "phonography and electronics", while Horist is a great exponent from the latest wave of prepared guitar manipulators. Two segments were recorded in Kobe and feature Japanese experimental artist Haco (once the singer in After Dinner), herself distorting and camouflaging her voice behind electronic processing; the third was taped in Osaka together with Masafumi Ezaki (trumpet), Bunsho Nishikawa (electronics) and Tim Olive (electric bass). The tracks with Haco are probably better developed and, if I'm allowed to say that, a little bit glossier, the ones that tickle the unconsumed aesthetic sense of the audience, subjected to repeated doses of amorphous slinging, resonant clatter, colliding strings and introvert contractions spreading all over the place in about 32 minutes of truly alternative, almost neurotic action against sensual immobility. Hums and zings, mumbles and moans, radios and unrecognizable timbres, at times reaching unexpected apexes of incongruent beauty. The Osaka performance is certainly harsher yet not the least provocative, distortion and hiss more evident in the mix but very far from the "sheer noise" approach. Halfway through tenebrous and shattered, the sounds put forth by the quintet are enough to raise the eyebrows of sleepy consumers, forcing them to pay the utmost attention to a network made of myriads of tiny cells that - taken as a whole - transport the players in a collective poor man's nirvana. An increase of the urge of freaking out will likely be measured in unstable by-passers.

     - Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

There's a story of how Bill Horist invited the audience at one of his performances to take along anything they wanted for him to improvise with on his guitar and someone brought a six foot ladder. The anecdote goes some way in portraying Horist as a man with a love for exploring his instrument in unusual ways - and as a musician who found more inspiration in John Cage's prepared piano studies than in the "Concerto d'Aranjuez".

Marcos Fernandes, vive versa, has been known for considering drums and percussions rather as tools to produce sound instead of beats - or at least not the ones you'd encounter in a standard dancing class. Both share an affinity for solo projects and the studio as well as for the stage and spontaneous interactions - which is probably why "Jerks and Creeps" has all the traits of a work immersed in improvisation, while flowing with the congruency of a well-structured symphony.

Compared to Frenandes' previous efforts, at least, this record is remarkably easy to digest: "A Mountain is a Mammal" was a razorsharp percussive feverdream, which sent my girlfriend running from the room and had my neighbours complaining, while the far-beyond-its-time "Haco Hans Jakob Marcos" almost required a pair of 22nd century ears to be enjoyed. This time, however, the whole fabric of the music is more subtle and resonates with an emotional fragility.

The nervous edges have not disappeared and there are ample high-frequency tone modulations, brusque mood swings and weird samples (of an oriental bazar, for example) to be found in all of these three pieces. And yet, Marcos and Bill are always searching for integration, for a dialogue, a trialogue or a general understanding between the various elements making up "Jerks and Creeps". Quite organically, the structures seem to gradually peel themselves off their external influence and drift off into the ether, turning self-sufficient and beginning a life of their own.

Horist and Fernandes hardly exert any pressure at all, they gently steer the music from one stretch to the next, relying on a pool of powerful sounds, clustered drones and their collaboration with a host of guests - all of which seem to agree that if your instrument sounds the way it sounds by default, you're doing something wrong: Masafumi Ezaki supposedly plays trumpet on second piece "Osaka" and Tim Olive is quoted as providing bass lines on the same track, but if there's anyone out there capable of telling me the "when and where" of their appearances, may they please step forward.

All of this suggests that the purpose of the encounter lay in stripping the music bare of obvious references, of using a particular piece of equipment for one's own proficiency in playing it, but not for the sake of its timbre or all of the associations which come with it. Quite on the contrary, everything that carries an all too obvious history has no place on "Jerks and Creeps". The album feeds from the sense of disorientation, which comes with finding one's place amidst alien structures, and then gently guides the listener down the most beautiful path through this terra incognita.

Maybe this is also why the duo allows harmony and melody in more than ever before. Especially the half-an-hour long "Kobe" offers a shimmering and swooning middle section full of lush bass vibrations, while the short appendix "Kobe 2" surprises with a sense of concreteness and a strange, gravitating rhythmic pulse.

If there is a message behind these compositions, then it must be that one needs to first throw away everything one has learnt to revel in the magic of melancholic memories. Bill Horist and Marcos Fernandes have stayed true to their roots in improvisation and experimentation yet their absolute will to build something from deconstructed parts and to firmly organise fragmented elements shines through clearer than ever. Still curious about what happened with that ladder.

     - Tobias Fischer, Tokafi

Californian Marcos Fernandes and New Yorker Mike Pride complement their set with modern tools. Recorded in 2005, their A Mountain is a Mammal pits percussion against beds of sounds. The first half-hour tends toward drums with atmospherics. It's an organic and meditative segment, where the electronics and field recordings (made around New York City) fall to the background and the light, slow drums dominate. The third track, however, takes a different turn for the final six minutes, layered with alien sounds and buried, guttural vocals. It's a surprising move, an unusual piece of audio work and the best part of the record.

     - Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz NY

Marcos Fernandes/Bill Horist - JERKS AND CREEPS: These guys are (& prolly always have been), like WACKED, volkz! Bill's guitar works have been reviewed many times in our 'zine, as have been Mr. Fernandes's electronic artistry. They are joined by many other players (Haco on electronics &voice; Masafumi Ezaki on trumpet; Bunsho Nishikawa on electronics & Tim Olive on electric bass), all in a celebration of the great, wonderful &strange things the musically talented mind can conjure up. Yes, I use that word (conjure) because I want you to understand that these folks are FAR from being "regular players"... instead, they are "wizards". No, they don't turn bars of soap into gold - but they do turn seconds into sonic wonders - "gems", if you will... & so what you wind up with is a treasure trove, nearly 60 minutes worth, of exploratory sound that will both astound and (at times) confuse you, at least in auditory ways. All the compositions were recorded during a 2005 tour Bill & Marcos made of Japan, totally in "live" mode. If you're looking for music that will challenge your mind, yet leave you walking away refreshed & inspired, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best live improv".

     - Dick Metcalf, Improvisation Nation

Recently Public Eyesore released a CD by Bill Horist with another guitarist Tanaka Yasuhiko, catching them live in august 2005 somewhere in Japan. Now another Japanese adventure of Bill Horist is made available through Accretions, with recordings dating from that same year. Now we find him with Marcos Fernandes, an improvisor who resides in San Diego, founding member of the Trummerflora collective and boss of the Accretions label. The live recordings were made on two locations in april 2005. Fernandes plays phonography (?) and electronics, and Bill Horist guitar and electronics. They are helped out by Haco (voice) in tracks 'Kobe' and 'Kobe 2', and Masafumi Ezaki (trumpet), Bunsho Nishikawa (electronics) and Tim Olive (electric bass) on 'Osaka'. Horist we know as an interesting improvisor on the guitar, using lots of extended techniques, operating along the paths Fred Frith, Hans Reichel and others have paved before him. But he has his very own sound and style, by constantly interrupting and changing what he is playing. He plays and builds with small and short units. Its hard to tell what Fernandes is doing exactly. But he supplies a sort of background of foggy noises and sounds. The improvisations slowly progress and take some 25 or 30 minutes. Except for the short 'Kobe 2' that closes the cd. This is very dynamic and exciting coda.

     - Dorf Mueller, Vital Weekly

Wenn der Trummerflora-Elektroniker MARCO FERNANDES mit dem seit 1995 in Seattle ansässigen Gitarristen BILL HORIST auf Japantour geht, ist das irgendwie naheliegend. Fernandes ist nämlich in Yokohama geboren und Horist hat schon mit K.K. Null ein starkes Team gebildet. Jerks and Creeps (ALP046) zeigt die beiden 2005 in Kobe im Trio mit Haco. In Osaka bildeten sie ein Quintett mit dem Trompeter Masafumi Ezaki, Bunsho Nishikawa an Electronics und Tim Olive am E-Bass. Der in Osaka lebende Kanadier ist bekannt geworden in Duos mit Jeffrey Allport, Fritz Welch und als Supernatural Hot Rug And Not Used mit Nishikawa. Ezaki, Jahrgang 1969, ist ein Spielen-wie-Flasche-leer-Trompeter (zumindest hat er sein Akibin Orchestra so getauft) und hauptsächlich auf Hibari Music zu hören oder mit Kenon auf Creative Sources. Haco hat sich vom bezaubernden Schräg-Pop, den sie in den 80ern mit After Dinner spielte, entwickelt zu einer rätselhaften Geräuschemacherin, die dabei weiterhin auch ihre Stimme einsetzt. Mit Haco Hans Jakob Marcos fand sie 2006 bereits Anschluss an Fernandes und die Accretions-Familie. Fernandes braust als Regen und als Sturm, landet als Helikopter oder rattert als Güterzug vorüber. Horist, der, wenn er Gesellschaft braucht, in Zahir (mit Lesli Dalaba) oder Ghidra (mit Wally Shoup) spielt, klingt hier so, dass man verwundert aufhorcht, was da so seltsam sich abhebt von Ezakis tonlosem Fauchen und den noisigen Schmauchspuren der anderen, die dabei keineswegs diskret zu Werk gehen, wobei ein Phantomperkussionist besonders markant klopft und rumort. Die Elektrolurche spritzen Gift, das wie glühende Nadeln brennt und sticht. Ekazaki schnarrt, jemand rumpelt in einem Blechfass, Horist krabbelt über seine Saiten wie eine Ameisenarmee mit eisernen Fersen. Zum Finale kehrt man zurück nach Kobe und einer Haco, die alles, was aus ihrem Mund kommt, elektronisch lädiert, so dass es mit dem diskant schillernden Gelärm ihrer Partner ‚harmoniert'. Sie ist so rätsel- wie zauberhaft, aber Horist ist der Magier, der einem die Ohren lang zieht.

     - Rigobert Dittman, Bad Alchemy

Il chitarrista Bill Horist è uno dei leader dell'avant-jazz movement di Seattle e come Marcos Fernandez (dispositivi elettronici) è un esponente di punta dell'improvvisazione radicale statunitense. Il primo ha collaborato dal vivo o inciso con artisti come Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Chris Cutler, Eugene Chadbourne, Eyvind Kang o Jessica Lurie, il secondo ha operato prevalentemente a San Diego dove ha promosso (in qualità di co-proprietario del Wikiup Cafe) performance settimanali con artisti locali e nazionali. È membro fondatore del Trummerflora collective ed ha lavorato con Eric Glick Rieman, George Lewis, Haco, Lê Quan Ninh e molti altri.

Questo disco consta di due lunghe performance improvvisate, riprese dal vivo in Giappone nell'aprile 2005, e di un brano molto breve posto in chiusura. Le performance sono il risultato di una radicale sperimentazione di suoni e rumori, tesa a disegnare angoscianti spazi dell'anima, con l'elettronica che ha il dominio espressivo quasi totale. Anche l'uso della chitarra preparata di Horist rende lo strumento irriconoscibile: solo all'undicesimo minuto di “Kobe” si ascolta una breve sequenza in cui elettronica e blues feeling si fondono con efficacia. In “Osaka” si aggiungono Masafumi Ezaki alla tromba, Bunsho Nishikawa all'elettronica e Tim Olive al basso elettrico ma individuare la loro presenza è una vera sfida.

Descrivere i brani è impossibile, vista l'aleatorietà delle trame e del codice di riferimento artistico: elaborazioni sonore quanto mai varie si fondono e si sovrappongono con rumori d'ambiente, voci filtrate, motivi ancestrali e un brulicante sottofondo elettronico che sembra emergere dalle profondità dello spazio siderale. Una sperimentazione “aperta” che va fruita come un flusso ed apprezzata per la ricchezza cromatica e la livida drammaticità di alcuni suoi percorsi.

     - Angelo Leonardi, All About Jazz Italy

Recorded during Marcos Fernandes and Bill Horist's Japanese tour in 2005, "Jerks and Creeps" is what some would call an experimental feast for the ears. It's a lot more than just that of course. With Fernandes in charge of electronics and phonography and Horist on guitars and electronics, the duo also adds Haco on vocals and electronics, trumpeter Masafumi Ezaki, electronics guru Bunsho Nishikawa and bassist Tim Olive. Spread over two long pieces [around the half-an-hour mark and one short tid-bit] the ensemble rely heavily on development of a common language. Unfortunately, most of the time the development is like grinding nails on a chalkboard. This means only one thing - the further one proceeds into the record, the more coherent the sounds become. Improvised music with a heavy electronics tangent, "Jerks and Creeps" is only for those who enjoy their music rough and dirty.

     - Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta

Au Japon, le duo Fernandes / Horist a enregistré deux longs morceaux, le premier en trio à Kobe avec la vocaliste Haco (cf alp040), l’autre en quintet instrumental à Osaka. Manière élégante de rapporter d’une tournée autre chose que les concerts qu’on y a joué, un pas de côté que les improvisateurs devraient apprécier. Bien que les musiciens soient fortement unis par le traitement électronique des sons (c’est vrai aussi du quintet), la sonorité de Kobe est assez aérée et garde la mémoire d’une légèreté des trios avec chanteuse. Dans Osaka, plus industriel, trompette, électronique et basse s’additionnent au duo de base,dans un grouillement favorisé par le traitement électronique. Pourtant, si le son est roi, les musiciens ne renoncent que par éclipses à des successions de sons, des semblants de mélodies qui détachent un segment de musique. Des phonographies, souvent peu reconnaissables, entretiennent un lien entre la vie normale et la musique, entre le monde extérieur et le studio comme un petit théâtre où il n’est pas figuré mais évoqué par des résonances et des harmoniques. Dans ces musiques de voyage, constamment mouvantes et sans définition préalable, les musiciens travaillent le détail bien plus qu’une masse sonore qui se défait autant qu’elle se construit. Le voyage que constitue ce cd apparaît comme une suite de moments exceptionnels pour sortir de ce qui pourrait être retracé comme une histoire linéaire. Il se clôt par 2’30 d’une musique intense où des sons glissants du trio Kobe semblent passer en accéléré jusqu’à rupture finale de la bande.

     - Noel Tachet

Registrato durante il tour giapponese intrapreso dal duo nel 2005, "Jerks And Creeps", è una gran bella zuppa sonica primordiale. Parziale testimonianza di due date. A Kobe con Haco (voce ed elettronica), ad Osaka in quintetto, con Masafumi Ezaki (tromba), Bunsho Nishikawa (elettronica) e Tim Olive (basso). "Jerks And Creeps" conferma e rilancia l'affetto che proviamo da queste parti per i due musicisti. Fra chitarre, piatti ed elettronica strapazzata/strapazzante, i due organizzano un teatrino dal sicuro impatto performativo che saltella incantevole fra devasto, sospensione e impatto emozional/fisico (l'escursione ReR elettroacustica che diluisce in pantano blues alla "Paris, Texas" di Kobe, la poltiglia concreta/sibilante, dark/ambient/krauta trasportata a colpi di percussioni rituali in medio oriente di Osaka (poco meno che strepitosa...), il suono che si auto-dimentica di Kobe 2.); che altro voler di più? Ostica bellezza; spigolosa. Frequenze penetranti (le sinewaves di Osaka), deragli di corde amplificate, gestualità improvvisativa; emozionalità acustica e sensibilità post-industrial. Materiali che scottano, trattati di stratificazione, di sottrazione, mantenuti in costante stato precario, fra l'autistico e l'ansiogeno-comunicativo; scintille acustiche che sprizzano per attrito tutto intorno. Di elettricità, silicio e metalli; nel mezzo la carne che palpita. Di quella bellezza che mantieni i muscoli tesi e conosce il sapor della polvere di un ricordo. Odora di continuo movimento; di cammino. Posseggono la visione. Raccolgono meno di quanto meritano; prima o poi qualcuno se ne dovrà pur accorgere.

     - Marco Carasi, Kathodik


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