Sequential Numbers

Dan O’Connor
IN/EX
AUSTRALIA TONE LIST TL001 CD (2016)

An intriguing set of seventeen trumpet improvisations from young Perth-based musician Dan O’Connor. There may be seventeen individual pieces of music here, but blink and you’ll miss something – the longest is only one minute and eleven seconds long. This adds up to a grand total of thirteen minutes of music on this standard cd. 1

The pieces on IN/EX are simply titled one to seventeen and this, what I consider a “taster” approach of very short tracks, seems a bit miserly, good as the material is. I would have liked to hear some of these ideas developed into longer forms. As they are these short pieces could have been augmented by another ten or more and still would have held my interest. O’Connor largely concerns himself with all the possibilities afforded by extended technique with no apparent concession to orthodox methods except perhaps on “Ten” and “Fourteen”. There are some interesting practitioners in the area O’Connor works in – i.e. brass – individuals I particularly enjoy include Birgit Ulher, Seymour Wright, Charlotte Keefe or Mattias Forge. He lacks the delicate touch of these examples, but this is probably natural for someone who I think is nearer the beginning of his development. What Dan O’Connor lacks in subtlety he makes up for in enthusiasm. “Two” seems to be comprised of the expulsion of one single breath only, followed by a brief rest. This I think is a deliberate strategy – all the pieces end with a similar “empty space”. “Five” features a burst of split tones briefly, and on “Nine”, O’Connor plays with inward breaths only. “Fifteen” begins with O’Connor manipulating the valves of his trumpet. Whether he goes as far as taking his instrument apart physically – à la Matthias Forge – is unclear.

On the whole, this disc is nicely recorded, close-mic’ed, with a great deal of clarity by O’Connor himself. Indeed these recordings are completely self-produced; he handles the mixing and mastering as well. O’Connor also treads the boards with an improvising trio going by the name of Orphans. The label, Tone List, seem to be involved in this year’s (2018) Audible Edge music festival.

  1. I feel that it would have made a nice 3” disc, but then these days, when some people would have us believe compact discs are already almost obsolete and an Apple Mac’s disc drive won’t accept anything other than a standard 5” disc (I had a recent experience in a commercial recording studio where a Mac swallowed a 3” disc, refused to read it and then wouldn’t spit it out again for half an hour, much to the engineer’s embarrassment), who is going to be able/want to actually play it? A number of my friends have already ditched their “old-fashioned” hi-fi equipment in favour of playing music from a device.

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