Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics
Jason Alder, Thanos Chrysakis, Caroline Kraabel, Yoni Silver
Duration 47.32 | Released April 2019
Jason Alder | bass clarinet | contra bass clarinet | clarinet in B♭ | clarinet in E♭ | Thanos Chrysakis | laptop computer | synthesizers | Caroline Kraabel | baritone saxophone | voice | Yoni Silver | bass clarinet
Recorded at OneCat Studio in London
on the 6th of December 2017 by Jon Clayton.
Between January — February 2019
at Meridian Studio.
About the Artists
Jason Alder is a low clarinet specialist and holds degrees in clarinet performance (Michigan State University- US), bass clarinet performance (Conservatorium van Amsterdam- NL), creative improvisation (Artez Conservatorium- NL), as well as post-graduate study in the application of the advanced rhythmic principles of South Indian Karnatic music to contemporary Western classical and jazz music (Contemporary Music and Improvisation through Non-Western Techniques). He is currently conducting PhD research on the sonic possibilities on the contrabass clarinet (Royal Northern College of Music- UK). He is well-established as a performer of contemporary music and frequently works with composers to develop and premiere new works either as a soloist, with his flute-clarinet Shadanga Duo, the Four New Brothers Bass Clarinet Quartet, or in a variety of other formations. As well as composed music, Jason regularly performs internationally as an improviser, electroacoustic musician, and in world music and jazz bands. He is often found performing, lecturing, or on panel discussion at festivals around the world, including the International ClarinetFests, European Clarinet Festivals, Istanbul Woodwind Festival, American Single Reed Summit, Netherlands Gaudeamus New Music Festival, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, and Leeds International Festival of Artistic Innovation. He is also sought after as a recording engineer for many classical and jazz musicians around Europe. Originally from metro-Detroit, Jason has lived in Europe since 2006 and is an endorsing Artist for Selmer clarinets, D'Addario reeds, Behn mouthpieces, and Silverstein ligatures.
Thanos Chrysakis’ output consists of composition, performance, and installation. He was born in Athens in 1971. After residing in the UK between 1998–2014 he moved in 2015 to Belarus.
With several albums to his name his work has appeared in festivals and events in several countries, including CYNETart Festival, Festspielhaus Hellerau – Dresden, Diapason Gallery – New York, XXII “Sound Ways” International New Music Festival – St Petersburg, Spektrum – Berlin, Artus Contemporary Arts Studio – Budapest, CRUCE Gallery – Madrid, Fylkingen – Stockholm, Relative (Cross) Hearings festival – Budapest, ZEPPELIN festival – Barcelona, Festival Futura 2013 – Crest-Drôme, XIII Festival Internacional de Música Nueva – Monterrey, Areté Gallery – Brooklyn-New York, Nádor Terem – Budapest, Konserthuset, Grünewaldsalen – Stockholm, Utzon Centre – Aalborg, Oosterkerk – Amsterdam, Störung festival – Barcelona, Fabricca del Vapore – Milan, Center for New Music – San Francisco, Västerås Konstmuseum –Västerås, BMIC Cutting Edge concert series - The Warehouse – London.
His music has been frequently aired by BBC Radio 3, RAI Radio 3, RTP Antena 2, RTV España Radio 3, RTÉ Lyric FM, Polskie Radio, RTS — Radio Belgrade 3, and Sveriges Radio P2 among other radio-stations.
His work was amongst the selected works at the International Competition de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques de Bourges 2005, in the category œuvre d'art sonore électroacoustique, while received an honorary mention in 2006 at the 7th International Electroacoustic Competition Musica Viva in Lisbon.
Caroline Kraabel came to London from Seattle as a teenager, just too late to realise her punk dreams and instead discovering the saxophone, street performance and busking. There were ideas about freedom in the air, including the punk ideal of music as something anyone could do, which led to music in which one could, with application and inspiration, do anything: improvisation. London’s vibrant improvised music scene and its many great musicians gave Kraabel opportunities to explore extended techniques (especially the use of voice with the sax) and to spend time thinking about acoustics and the interactions of electricity and music: reproduction, synthesis, and their implications.
Caroline Kraabel is committed to improvisation as a way of living and working, making music in unexpected ways and places (Taking a Life for a Walk; Going Outside) but also composing and playing written music (Mass Producers and Saxophone Experiments in Space for large groups, and many pieces for smaller groups). She has worked with Anri Sala, Maggie Nicols, Andrea Zarza Canova, Evan Parker, Annie Lewandowski, John Tchicai, Cleveland Watkiss and Susan Alcorn, among many fine artists, and was a director of the London Musicians Collective, which created Resonance 104.4fm, London’s art radio station.
Caroline Kraabel has been playing with and conducting the London Improvisers Orchestra for many years, exploring improvisation and conducted improvisation for large groups (up to 50 musicians).
Yoni Silver is a London based performer, bass clarinetist and multi-instrumentalist.
He works within a wide array of different and mostly experimental frameworks: different forms of improvisation, Noise, (Hyper)Spectral music, Performance and composition. Besides his main instrument, the bass clarinet, he plays on the alto sax, violin, piano, computer, voice and other instruments.
His bass clarinet sound is characterised by unique techniques and ‘instrumental prosthetics’ which he has developed and which have allowed him to shift the woodwind sound palette into the realm of electronics and Noise.
He has appeared on such labels as Creative Sources, Confront Recordings, Wasted Capital, Chocolate Monk, Edition Modern, and has collaborated and performed with musicians Mark Sanders, Tim Hodgkinson, Dylan Nyoukis, Sharon Gal, Hatam/Hacklander, Primate Arena, Thanos Chrysakis, Birgit Ulher, the Israeli Contemporary Players and the Hyperion Ensemble (Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana Maria Avram) and many others.
Orynx— Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg — 21.07.2019
Label boss and electronic improviser / composer Thanos Chrysakis is often concentrated on that kind of drone music which goes in fact beyond of the features and the moods inherent to such music. With two blowers like Yoni Silver, a regular bass clarinet player of choice on the London scene, and Caroline Kraabel, an avid explorer of the baritone sax aided with her own voice and very much involved in many collective projects there, you have two great instrumental voices maintaining a kind of sonic continuity, although they manage to reach deeply different dynamics and actions to attract and to revive our active listening. Jason Alder not only plays bass clarinet but also contrabass, Eb and Bb clarinets following the demands of each piece. No one of these crafted improvisers are playing solos but ensemble playing with quite minute and astute sound variations, harmonics, subdued voicings to the point you forget and, even, you don’t care who is playing what. Thanos Chrysakis is playing either laptop computer and/or electronics and his noisy, windy sounds are inserting, slotting, meshing around and inside the instrumental proceedings. You hear also some voices from a sort of radio waves. The reed players can digress from the main line of the piece with the more adapted intensity and poise to make it coherent with the whole sound. So all in all, you have a very pleasant, well balanced spooky, a bit extraterrestrial, music made by players who are intense listeners and experienced improvisers. Aural Terrains is issuing serious works !
Massimo Ricci — The Squid's Ear — 25.07.2019
I look back smiling at my initial correspondence with Thanos Chrysakis: a polite swapping of points of view in regard to an earlier Aural Terrains release I had not found entirely fulfilling at the time. Over the next ten years or so, the imprint has established itself as a "silently serious" repository of sonic inspections, frequently involving Chrysakis with esteemed representatives of diverse areas of improvisation.
In this particular symposium the label honcho operates a laptop plus synthesizers, whereas his cohorts furnish the music with the strictly physical pneuma. The exact subdivision of the remaining roles reads: Jason Alder on bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, clarinet in B♭ and clarinet in E♭; Caroline Kraabel on baritone saxophone and voice; Yoni Silver on bass clarinet. In terms of overall sonority, we're in the "small electroacoustic ensemble" realm, halfway through lucid dreaming and scientific coldness. The five tracks highlight a keen interest in the scrutiny of molecular interstices, successfully amalgamating components of dissimilar origin. In the numerous spots where droning matters, vibrating reeds and vivid upper partials converge, an organic juice rich in cerebral nutrients starts flowing inside the listener's ears. The latter have no problem whatsoever in identifying and connecting microscopic shards of tone from collapsed phrases amidst the morphing of Chrysakis' acousti-chemical creatures.
Quite strangely, the unscripted materialization of a structure of sorts makes one conceptualize about pre-agreed compositional coordinates that, most probably, were not even hypothesized. Ultimately, we perceive a cross of professionalism and mental opening, the musicians governing every nuance of their emissions while keeping the aerials up in case of new signals appearing from the galaxy of the serendipitous. Those familiar with AT's methods can sleep tight; should an unwarranted juxtaposition be required to persuade the still doubtful, also think "Mikroton spirit".
Todd M. McComb — Jazz Thoughts — 18.06.2019
Thanos Chrysakis is someone I noticed relatively early in this project, and especially since the pace of his album releases is more modest than e.g. Ernesto Rodrigues, albeit still steady, I've been discussing many or most of them since. In fact, it's kind of funny to reflect back on this space, and the feeling that I'd started from much more traditional or conservative music: That's certainly true to an extent, but (as noted last August) I'd already mentioned Rodrigues in early 2012, and then first mentioned Chrysakis in November 2013 (with Zafiros en el barro) & again in March 2014 (with Garnet Skein). Both of those albums are what I might characterize as more keyboardistic than his recent output, but I already noted how Chrysakis was able to highlight particular lines & relations in order to create a sense of balance, i.e. a sort of order from chaos, something that I'd noted again more recently (in January this year) around Iridescent Strand. Chrysakis seems to be moving away from even non-traditional keyboards, though, into more of an electronic environment that emphasizes manipulation of pitch & timbre, and this direction reaches a new level of sophistication with the marvelous Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics. One might even note something of a trilogy then, beginning with the similarly generically named Music for Two Organs & Two Bass Clarinets (discussed here in May 2018, so a little over a year ago), an album that both interrogates a broad sonic landscape & more specific timbres (doubling an earlier duo release, which one might thus compare to e.g. Face to Face, as discussed earlier this month, in its overlapping timbral relations between synth & reed). After that acoustic album (with Chrysakis credited on chamber organ alone), Iridescent Strand had projected more of an industrial tapestry, largely because of the metallic contributions of guitar, but also due to broadly chaotic interactions around instrument changes & electronic manipulation. Rather than illuminate a line of exploration within rumbling chaos, then, (the also five movement, as seems to be a predilection for Chrysakis) Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics retains a more contrapuntal (or broadly textural) emphasis, while restricting electronic participation to Chrysakis himself, yielding what at times feels like a horn trio being interrogated & manipulated — not unlike on World of Objects as just mentioned, or indeed even the acoustic Empty Castles, where "the space itself" takes on the character of an electronic framework via physical reverberations, etc. Electronics tend to be subtle in that regard here, although sometimes burbling or hissing in the background, or perhaps in fragile ringing overtones, but then emerge more explicitly into the foreground with what seems to be samples of military radio in the 4th track. (It's strangely affective within its broader musical context, but if the discussion of "Weasel Island" is supposed to evoke any specific historical event or context, it doesn't for me.) Despite the title, the horns do also change sometimes in the person of Jason Alder, an impressive technician who was new to me, but who does (surprise!) have a new duo album soon to appear on Creative Sources, Contradictions. Joining Alder & Chrysakis — also from the English scene, the edges of which seem to supply most of Chrysakis' performing colleagues in general — are then Caroline Kraabel & Yoni Silver: Kraabel, who is originally from Seattle, is also credited with voice (although that isn't apparent sonically), and has performed extensively with the London Improvisers Orchestra, from which I'd heard some of her compositions, as well as writes liner notes of late (e.g. for Vulcan). And I'd mentioned Silver in conjunction with (prior Aural Terrains duo release) Home around Ag in February 2018.... Perhaps its difficult to render such a generically titled album as Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics as distinctive & revelatory, but besides the strange military radio presence in the following track, e.g. the central (& longest) track presents another sort of recitative feel (which had seemed to be the goal of Iridescent Strand at times), with difference tones & small scratchings moving from a low roar into chirping atmospheric shifts & beats, finally into what can only be described as a novel lyricism.... (One might say that it involves a Scelsian concept of melody & perhaps even a Scelsian sense of time.) Indeed, Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics is often brilliantly lyrical — in an emergent sense — while usually remaining disorienting, as it generates its own sense of space. Clearly it also involves some planning in its "symphonic" form, which isn't discussed, but presumably improvisation within a conceptual plan & perhaps editing longer takes... track breaks generally presenting affective changes as well. (I should further note two other Chrysakis favorites of yore, namely Carved Water, discussed here in January 2017, with its sound installation approach, and then Skiagraphía, likewise with double electronics as discussed that April, with its relatively silhouetted wave of activity, both featuring viola & reed.... There, contrasts emerge more from major technical differences in the instruments, whereas here they're derived from the finest grain of articulation.) The use of radio might evoke another sound installation, but Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics comes off more as "absolute music," i.e. as "instant composition" as it's increasingly observed today, and does so within a broadly shifting field of frequency relations that never seems content with traditional Western (discrete) forms, i.e. as a truly postmodern (or postcolonial) production. (One doesn't hear echoes of Mozart, then, as one might on some earlier Chrysakis albums....) Rather than the constraints of the traditional keyboard, one hears the electronics as a source of timbral & more broadly, relational innovation. Intensity & exploration track all the way down to the smallest particles, the grain of reed articulation, and up again into a broadly symphonic form — including subtle structural unfoldings via tempo relation (around maintained linear tensions) to yield a strongly balanced & coherent synthesis across perceptual levels. Chrysakis thus seems to have completed a real arc of development in this latest, affectively satisfying album: It can leave one (subsequently, immersively) listening to silence for quite some time.