Tagged: improvised

Annoyed Hibernation

Christoph Erb / Frantz Loriot
Sceneries
PORTUGAL CREATIVE SOURCES CS356 CD (2016)

Creative Sources is a super-prolific label; due, possibly, to its founder, Ernesto Rodrigues’ curation policy of literally going into partnership with the artists on each release. It’s an interesting list of artists on their website, too. The names immediately popping out on the front page are Lawrence Casserley, Hannah Marshall and Axel Dörner and all in collaboration with other European players. Already there may be up to fifty further titles available since this item was published. This particular title is a cracking disc of free-playing, in which Messrs Erb and Loriot set up an environment of high anxiety, tension and disquiet. Sceneries is full of strident events, sudden dips in weight; as if the ground were suddenly falling away under your feet, cacophonic interludes, disconcerting melodic information appearing from the shadows like Victorian ectoplasm, only to mysteriously disappear again moments later. This is achieved with the most modest of means – Christoph Erb plays tenor and soprano saxophones, while Franz Loriot pushes himself to his limits on viola. Erb founded the Veto Records imprint, through which he has released his collaborations with other improvisors such as Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, Jason Roebke, Frank Rosaly, Jim Baker, Keefe Jackson, Tomeka Reid and Jason Adasiewicz. Frantz Loriot works with “acoustic &/or electric viola + preparations + fx set + tapes” in groupings such as Der Verboten, Notebook Large Ensemble and Systematic Distortion Orchestra, as well as in duos with percussionist Christian Wolfarth, and clarinettist Jeremiah Cymerman, plus other loose groupings involving Christian Weber, Christian Kobi, Theresa Wong, Pascal Niggenkemper and others.

There are five separate tracks, recorded by Daniel Wehrlin in May 2015 at a venue in what appears to be a housing co-operative in Kriens, Switzerland called Teigi Fabrik. Great interplay between the two musicians and along with moments of risk-taking there is that feeling that you only get when seasoned and experienced practitioners are in the room. What is immediately obvious is these two chaps have drilled so deep into their respective instruments that initially, it is hard to square what you’re hearing with the instrumentation they use. In an inspired move, on the second track, “Floating In A Tempest”, Christoph Erb physically moves away from the recording microphones and we hear the acoustic reverberation of the space they are using. At the end of “Annoyed Hibernation”, I imagine that Loriot’s viola is making a noise closer to that of the desperate swallows of someone drowning than any sound I’ve heard produced by that instrument before. Judging only by images on Loriot’s own website, I would suggest that he may amplify his viola as part of his technique, but this is not stated in the sleevenotes, so it may not be the case here.

To be more general, this is an area where, in the loosest sense of the terms perhaps, free jazz overlaps with electro-acoustic improvisation. The production is crisp and clear which affords us an unblinkered view of this sonic whole. The Alexander Calder-esque, or Pop Art-reminiscent sleeve design is by Carlos Santos. One of the best jazz/improv records I’ve heard in a long while – strongly recommended.

Crow Call

As the quiet crow flies (FARPOINT RECORDINGS fp058) is a team-up between two Irish improvising duos – The Quiet Club, and crOw. As far as I can make out these four guys know each other quite well and the record came about after the four of them were forced indoors during a terrible storm in 2015. The notes stress the warmth and friendliness of the situation, “an unexpectedly free evening in each other’s good company”, failing only to mention the possible presence of a bottle of Jameson’s hard by. It is this warmth which emerges on the record, a continual piece of improvised music some 33 minutes long. All four of them play in the so-called “electro acoustic improv” mode, by which I mean there is use of amplification, e-bows, effects pedals, loops, and live electronics, taking place alongside the acoustic elements which include stones, objects, toys, and the alto saxophone of Cathal Roche. If you were expecting a portrait of the 2015 storm – most likely they are referring to “Storm Frank”, which caused horrendous damage sweeping cars into the sea and leaving many homes without electricity – you may be slightly disappointed by the quiet and understated music in these grooves, which is a slow and thoughtful exploration of sonic interplays and long tones. However, the packaging is extensively decorated with evocative photographs (by Doreen Kennedy) of landscapes, grey clouds, and skies, and the listener can’t help but hear echoes of weather and oceans (and the cries of seagulls) in these abstract sounds. This may indicate that these players, unlike some more recondite EAI players, have not lost sight of some basic truths which help to root their work in the real world, and they’re not afraid to tell stories in their music. This is refreshing; one gets tired of all that non-associative music, which often ends up blank and empty, and As the quiet crow flies is bound to connect to any human being who has travelled overseas, gone for a solitary walk on the hills, or even simply gone outside. Limited to 500 copies, from 19th September 2016.

Contusion

On Zashomon (HYBRIDA 06), we’ve got an exciting team-up between Miguel A. García and Japanese player Seijiro Murayama. Seijiro used to be the drummer in Absolut Null Punkt (or A.N.P.) in the 1980s, performing with the ferocious guitar monster K.K. Null, to produce some memorable LPs of experimental rock noise. He’s also performed with Keiji Haino, Fred Frith, and Tom Cora, and more recently teamed up with contemporary French improvisers and composers, including Jean-Luc Guionnet, Eric La Casa, Stéphane Rives, and Eric Cordier. Zashomon plays as a continuous 40-minute piece, although the track titles indicate a four-part structure to the work, including the intriguing third episode ‘One Perjury’…both players credit themselves with “electro acoustic composition”, and in places it does feel quite pre-arranged; the work is full of carefully managed changes and shifts in tone, allowing for quieter events to contrast with the continual stretched of rich electric drone-noise.

Early on there’s a fantastic piece of interplay between drums, synths quietly pulsating and buzzing, and what may be an electric guitar plucking occasional notes; the dynamics here are astounding, real moments of tension and vast gaps of white space in the puzzling music. After the duo settle for a slightly less bold exploration of textures and drones, but there’s still a lot of air and space in the music (especially compared with García’s default position which is to try and occupy as much space as possible), and there’s a taut mystery in the air. Murayama shows his mettle; he has that iron discipline that allows a musician to create a stern, unwavering sound, and keep the emotional register carefully in check. Consequently, his minimal percussion stabs ring out like hailstones on a wintry day, and his alien voice – a bullfrog’s murmur slowed down to the rate of a creeping snail – add a terrifying dimension to the record. At times, García is almost relegated to the position of an admiring acolyte kneeling before the feet of this high priest of minimal improvisation.

The bulk of the record presents a close-up and intimate study of…something, perhaps the craggy face of a lost tribesman or the details of an ancient monument, but it ends with about ten minutes of glorious release which creates a near-epiphany; off-centred drumming, an eerie but uplifting layered noise which may be erupting from the clouds like mutated thunder, and twisted vocal whoops from the Japanese half of the act. A very strong combination and collaboration, packed with strikingly original sounds and bold playing. Limited to 99 copies. From 19th September 2016.

Petalody

Karoline Leblanc
Velvet Oddities
CANADA atrito-afeito 006 CDR (2016)

This arrived with a hand-written note on a very nice piece of marbled paper. Perhaps the marbling is the work of Karoline Leblanc as well, perhaps not. The design of the cd sleeve is also very striking. A warm-yellow sleeve; a single fold-over piece of card, but professionally printed in full colour; the yellow on the outside augmented with a four bar graphic – three turquoise bars and one red on its face. Upon opening, on the inside the background is red with the same graphic but with one red and three white bars. There is no written information on the inside apart from the indication that these are nineteen individual pieces of piano improvisation. This description is included on the back cover as a helpful subtitle for the casual observer. The longest piece of music is just under four minutes while the shortest is very brief at only 58 seconds. I use the term “music” deliberately; these are very “musical” improvisations; no extended technique, Cageian preparation or augmentation with everyday objects here. These nineteen tracks actually work very well if listened to straight through in one sitting and perceived as a whole piece, or a whole movement. Leblanc demonstrates some very technical playing and clearly she is a very accomplished pianist – I think she plays instruments other than piano as well, namely violin, harpsichord, organ, and most interestingly, the Ondes Martenot: an early electronic orchestral instrument. If you are not familiar with the Ondes Martenot, imagine something not unlike a scaled-up Stylophone. And go and source a copy of Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony and be amazed. I’d be very interested to hear her tackle the Ondes with a similar approach to this.

She appears to be involved with an improvising scene in Montreal; I think her initial entry-point some time ago being through free-jazz. She runs the atrito-afeito label with another musician, the improvising drummer, Paulo J Ferreira Lopes. I think Velvet Oddities is a very impressive piece of work with a good flow throughout the course of the album. Indeed, with this many short pieces, I’m sure a lot of thought would have gone into the sequencing of tracks, which benefits the material greatly. It works very well; is very dynamic, and because of the high level of technique, a lot of it is leaning towards – or revealing the influence of – classical piano music more than it is Electro Acoustic Improvisation. But that’s no bad thing. Yeah, I like it. Edition of 100.

Library Of Liberties

Some Some Unicorn are a small army of free improvisers, and on Unicornucopia (CLUTTER MUSIC CM023) I counted at least 40 names before I ran out of fingers and had to buy a new abacus. It’s a pretty healthy gender balance, too; a lot of women musicians in the group. Shaun Blezard is the mover and shaker that’s mustered this army, a fellow whose background is electronica, samplers, laptop and dance music, so it’s interesting to find him masterminding this project involving real human beings instead of machines, and music that’s mostly produced by acoustic instruments. That said, there are a large number of players credited with electronics on this record too.

Some Some Unicorn started online as a collaborative thing; now they see themselves as a collective, or even a small community, of like-minded souls who value real experience over dwelling in the virtual realms of Facebook likes and Twitter responses. The music here was recorded in a number of venues through 2016, in Salford, London, Lancaster and Ulverston; Blezard did a lot of the recording, and mixed and mastered the release itself. I’m already daunted; I feel like these 40+ energised souls have a lot of material in the pipeline, and this diffuse and sprawling record represents only a smattering of the things they are capable of doing. It would be a bold man indeed who would try and categorise the music on offer, since it’s so diverse; although you may think you can recognise elements of “traditional” free improvised music here in the free sax and trumpet blowing, there’s also drone, choral music, percussive meditational tunes like some form of souped-up Tibetan bowl music, classical chamber music, and even a species of folk tunes. Quite often, three or four of these styles and genres are blended freely on the same track, the musicians doing so in an entirely unselfconscious manner. It’s not a forced mash-up, more a natural melding of forms and expressions.

Even though not everyone is present on each track, it’s still impressive to get this many people together and not end up with a muddy, shapeless cacophony. Indeed, the simple clarity and directness of the music is one of the hallmarks of Some Some Unicorn; without trying too hard or over-intellectualising the idea of “freedom”, they’ve ended up creating music that’s arguably more free than many well-known hardcore improvisers can manage. There’s a real open-endedness to this music which invites the listener to enter and join in, rather than shut them out; and the players themselves are clearly enjoying making their explorations, which take place in a very friendly and collaborative place. That’s rare. But real unicorns are rare too. One of the benchmarks we’re reminded of is the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, which is a very apt comparison, and in particular I would suggest those voice-choir experiments John Stevens conducted in the early 1970s, such as For You To Share (which featured untrained members of the audience joining in). I’m also reminded of Cornelius Cardew and The Great Learning, though thankfully this album Unicornucopia is entirely free from Marxist and Maoist dogma of any sort, nor does it follow the wearisome and stultifying trajectory of Cardew’s old warhorse of a piece.

While some of the wordless vocalising may seem a little “arty” in places, for the most part this beautiful record is a total delight, injecting new life into a genre which has lately seemed in danger of becoming stultified and crippled by its own history and baggage. Mr Blezard, and all the musicians named on this record, can feel proud of this achievement. From 23rd September 2016.

Direct Access

Paolo Valladoid & Gary Rouzer
Directions for Viola and Cello
UK CONFRONT COLLECTORS SERIES ccs41 CD (2015)

Sitting on the table in front of me is the familiar and comforting sight of the trademark generic metal tin from Mark Wastell’s reliably excellent Confront imprint. After the hard-to-design-around clamshell cd case that was used for the early Confront editions, it is reassuring to see an instantly recognisable yet highly individual design protocol with its simple provision for information on the rear using black stickers with white text. Elegant and simple. The discs inside are invariably of the black “vinyl” imitation style. I have previously very much enjoyed a release from Gary Rouzer on his amptext imprint: Studies And Observations Of Domestic Shrubbery, which had very little obviously to do with plants, but a lot to do with how many ways Rouzer could think of to make bits of cardboard interacting with his cello sound new and fantastic. This I would recommend you search out without delay. Rouzer also spends his lunch-breaks in worthwhile public pursuit of outdoor improv kicks in his hometown of Washington DC with his chum Jeff Surak as Salarymen. There’s an interesting short film about them by H. Paul Moon. Paolo Valladoid (sometimes spelt “Valladolid” elsewhere) is a new name to me, but a very interesting practitioner as evidenced by the albeit meagre evidence of his musical endeavours on YouTube which I also heartily recommend you check out. Apparently, Rouzer first met Valladoid “…around 2009 for the recording of a large string group put together by double bassist Daniel Barbiero”. The pair have subsequently – or simultaneously – produced two more albums available as free downloads: Reasons For Viola and Cello and Viola Cello Room.

On Directions for Viola and Cello, the action takes place in a tunnel in a park in Alexandria, Virginia USA, a location which I assume was chosen as a convenient locale for both musicians, as well as for the variety of environmental sounds within; water, traffic, cyclists using the bike path through the tunnel – a shout is heard on the third track; “Inside Out”. This is clearly a strategy that Rouzer enjoys. In fact, he has taken a similar approach in a different tunnel in Alexandria with accordionist Eva Zöllner since. Given the very public nature of their location documented here, it comes as no surprise that the duo’s peregrinations are augmented here and there by the auditory evidence of cyclists and passers-by using said tunnel to get from A to B. The music is split into six tracks – all with individual titles – on the cd, but apparently “…no further editing, processing or post-production was done other than fade in and fade out”. So far, so puritanical. The material is unsurprisingly dark and ominous due in no small part to the reverberant nature of the players’ chosen environment.

Interestingly, the titles are themed around physical positioning: “Overhead”, “Besides”, “From Within” and so forth. Whether these terms have a direct correlation to what was happening around the musicians or even to the musicians themselves is unclear, but it lends a nice sense of cohesiveness to the package.
Overall, as was the intention, all six tracks work well together if listened to in one sitting, and indeed, at only a 23:25 duration it is brief, but satisfying nonetheless. The final track; “Sidelong”, finishes abruptly – perhaps this is deliberate, or perhaps the batteries and/or tape ran out – it is an effect I think really works; it underlines the unpredictability of working outdoors, I feel, and draws a heavy line under the project.

Orion’s Belt

We’ve previously heard a solo record by the French viola player Frantz Loriot, the 2015 album Reflections On An Introspective Path, which is an interesting benchmark of the extremes to which he’s prepared to go when he’s pushing to find new sounds on his vicious, biting stringed device. Good to see he’s found some like-minded fellows to make music with on Orion (WIDE EAR RECORDS WER022), where he’s joined by four other players to form the quintet Im Wald. Actually the above doesn’t properly represent the release, which is in fact composed and led by Tobias Meier, the Swiss composer and saxophonist. I just hapen to like Loriot, so we have to dive in somewhere.

Meier’s a real maverick when it comes to occupying and colonising that disputed space that lies between composition and improvisation. “He is interested in architectural gestures,” according to his own web page, “the scenarios and methods of design, the setting of tonal coordinates, along which the music gradually develops.” I kinda like this approach which seems to see music making as something similar to drawing a map, trying to tame the wilderness with grid references and longitudes. I might think he likens it to using CAD software, a process which also relies on plot points to create drawings and images, but such a suggestion would overlook the all-acoustic nature of this Im Wald record.

The other players include Matthias Spillmann, who is blowing constrained and taut passages on his trumpet as though his own life was in danger. You’d think he had a gun to his head and was bound and gagged in the basement of some masked kidnapper, petrified with terror. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad way to elicit a performance of great tension from any improviser. I might even advocate a programme of kidnapping improvisers on that basis, or even do that just for the hell of it. Loving these deathly Spillmann trumpet tones. He’s another Swiss guy who also puffs the flugelhorn and is well represented in many jazz bands, mostly appearing on the Swiss label Unit Records.

Additionally there’s the cello work of Nicola Romanò, and the bass of Raffaele Bossard. I’m not sure which of these sawing dudes is responsible for the lovely bassoid creaks and drones that underpin these tension-filled performances. But they both add a palpable air of menace to the whole Orion album, as though we’re waiting in slow motion for some dreaded event to pass, which we can see looming before us on the horizon. Both these guys are Swiss too so it looks like Loriot is the token French player here, even if he is also half Japanese.

Two of the tracks here refer to star formations (‘Nebulae’ and ‘Orion’) and immediately suggest the vastness of space. The music also creates space. This must be where the architectural gestures come into it. Carving up space like a town planner. The idea is “open and multi-layered sound fields”. We need more of these in the world, if this is anything to go by. If produced more actively, such fields might open up all sorts of possibilities for education, politics, and the environment. They would certainly help free the mind, give a man a chance to think. Meier is trying to bring together tiny musical gestures and large blocks of a grand design together in the same schema. To convey this, he uses the metaphor of a forest. Others, myself included, use less familiar metaphors, but the end result is the same. Meier somehow manages to keep his work creeping along with a slow but undeniable force, like the power of eighteen snails harnessed to a wind farm. He calls this an “agile organism”, but I call it liquid jelly…jelly laced with explosives that release their energy in a long, protracted ka-boom.

It takes rare skill to maintain this level of control and discipline for long periods of time, and these five fire-eaters are just the boys to do it. Although these understated acoustic drones may appear unassuming at first, you’ll soon be drawn into the zero-gravity zones they create, and find yourself exploring a vast realm of the unknown. Issued in a nifty screenprinted box and an art print foldout, with notes by Berni Doesegger, a mini-essay which he calls “The Space Of Music”. A slow-burning package of woodwind and string goodliness. From 21st September 2016.

Digging It

Thea Farhadian / Klaus Kürvers
eXcavations

USA BLACK COPPER EDITIONS blackcopper002 CD (2016)

In a week when Donald Trump and Angela Merkel got together to shoot the breeze at the White House, here’s another US-German collaborative enterprise for you to consider. Listeners will decide for themselves which they find the most edifying.

Thea Farhadian is a San Francisco Bay Area violinist, with deep roots in classical music as well as avant garde experimentalism and improvisation. A one time member of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, she’s since created an impressive catalogue of solo projects, collaborations, gallery works, acoustic, electronic and laptop experiments. Klaus Kürvers picked up the old bull fiddle in the 1960s, playing with the Essen Youth Symphony Orchestra as well as numerous jazz, free jazz and jazz rock combos. After a short 40 year break to work as an architect and cultural historian, he’s now an active member of the Berlin improvisers’ scene.

The fruits of their collaboration can be enjoyed on eXcavations, with twelve miniature improvisations for violin and double bass. The title suggests an archaeological approach, scraping away the layers to reveal more and more of what lies beneath. There’s certainly a lot of scraping going on (quite literally), and, at times, the double bass makes a noise like a stone sarcophagus being prised open. But it’s also true in a metaphorical sense, as deeper and deeper structures are revealed, hints of jazz tunes and chamber music emerging from the noise like fragments of Roman mosaic being turned up in a ploughed field. The artists themselves talk about “evoking a sense of the past” and creating a “rusty” sound, so the title is well chosen.

One question that it’s worth asking about improvised music is how well you feel the musicians are responding to each other. If it feels like they’re all just banging and scraping away without actually listening to each other, it’s not a lot of fun for anyone who wasn’t there at the time. On the other hand, if it feels like they’re really paying attention and creating something together in the moment, the results can be quite magical. I’m pleased to report that this record succeeds on that count.

eXcavations is the second release on the Black Copper label 1, a new imprint dedicated to improvised music. The website was down when I tried to check it out, but hopefully they’re still with us, preparing to launch more of these satisfying sounds into the world. Or perhaps Black Copper too has become an archaelogical artefact, awaiting excavation from the midden heap of defunct labels. Either way, it’s worthy of discovery.

  1. We noted the first one here – Ed.

Yellow Fever

Norbert Möslang / Ilia Belorukov / Kurt Liedwart
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RUSSIA MIKROTON RECORDINGS mikroton cd47 CD (2016)

The packaging for this is bright yellow; a kind of black grid graphic; it looks like it has been photocopied black on yellow. The whole thing is yellow; you open the gatefold digipak and inside its bright yellow. I once had a friend whose favourite colour was yellow. She often maintained that yellow was “the colour of madness”, but that was a long time ago and I expect she’s grown out of saying that sort of thing now. I had another friend who painted her baby daughter’s nursery lemon yellow. Not my favourite colour. I’ve got nothing against the colour yellow, although I must say I prefer the shades nearer to orange than green.

The two tracks on this disc are each just under 17 minutes in duration. The first one is called “Giallo”, presumably after the Italian horror film genre, while the other one is titled “Nero”; another Italian reference I’m guessing, this time to the infamous emperor who was more interested in practicing scales on his violin while his city was on fire. This album is the result of two sessions or performances from 2014; “Giallo” in Moscow and “Nero” in St Petersburg. Möslang is in charge of some “cracked everyday electronics”, Belorukov, alto saxophone, laptop and electronics and Liedwart on an analogue synthesiser (although as a synth nerd, I’m a little disappointed it doesn’t say which one on the sleeve), electronics and ppooll – a piece of software whose manufacturers describe as “audio and visual networking system created from Max/MSP and Jitter patches”.

“Giallo” is an uncompromising crunch-fest. Like a digital re-enactment of First World War trench warfare. Perhaps it was the result of one of those days of travelling where everything went wrong for the musicians? Someone got up late, missed connections, lost luggage, the wrong map, GPS not working, mobile phone out of charge and arrival at the venue with just enough time to set-up with minimal line check before doors open. “No-one served coffee, so no-one woke up”, as Stephen Malkmous once sang. Everyone’s playing sounds thoroughly annoyed. But in a good way. In comparison, “Nero” sounds relatively good-natured. The granular explosions and giant combustion engines producing unnatural sub bass frequencies are still there, but it seems that there is more of an accord or mood of contentment among the musicians. Liedwart’s synthesiser is more to the fore here, too and this gives the piece a perhaps more anxious feel rather than the out and out aggression of “Giallo”. At one point, a sound like wolves howling, presumably a sound sample courtesy of Belorukov’s laptop adds to the disquiet. I’ve never been disappointed by a project involving any of these three musicians that I’ve heard so far. Yeah, I like this item – looks good, sounds good, is good. This is a record I think I’ll be returning to a lot.

Rooms For Improvement

Ingar Zach
Le Stanze
NORWAY SOFA MUSIC SOFA552 CD (2016)

A new name for me, but tucked beneath the surface of several SP reviews is Norwegian percussionist Ingar Zach: an active figure on the European free music scene, though perhaps more at home among the contemplative Hubro school than vikings like Lasse Marhaug. He even racked up a couple of Derek Bailey collaborations in the early noughties, which is hardly anyone’s front page news I imagine, though it is his improvisor status that surprises most: a couple of listens into Le Stanze and I had him down as a considered, post-classical composer, not someone with a couple of Derek Bailey collaborations under their belt.

The truth lies somewhere between. The post-Gruppo d’improvvisazione(…) slither n’ scrape shenanigans that open Le Stanze maintain a haunting presence throughout, serving as a ‘spontaneous’, space-carving foil for the more ‘constructed’ sections in which percussion and electronics respectively stimulate and depress the music’s blood-flow. Perfect case in point is the galloping fit of percussion that drives halfway through ‘Il Battito Del Vichingo’: a skin-tingling, almost mechanical alignment of racing kickdrum and metallic shower that blows away the blues brought on by the dour intro, but which obligingly returns to the same after some low flying electronics have passed by. This sudden snap back to listlessness is mystifying, but we are compensated with a ‘Teo Macero moment’ beforehand, when the pounding rhythm is yanked from beneath the aviationary drone, briefly leaving us airborne.

Such dynamic extremes are representative of the varied compositional approaches brought to bear on the tools at hand, and of the potential ambivalence experienced in their alternation. For instance, while the chilling pulsations of ‘L’inno Dell’ Oscurità’ gradually acquire an arresting, almost coital momentum over the minutes, the closer – ‘È Solitudine’ – is more evidently an exploratory process; applying what sounds like an electric motor to various resonant surfaces and monitoring the resulting tonality. Neither Merzbow nor Dumitrescu, this voice of the concealed realms is by no means dull (and might even prompt a nervous jerk or two from the listener), but in isolation its purpose is less easily justified than that of certain earlier sections. Which hints at an opportunity missed: to blend the disparate and to promote cohesion between unpartitioned forces. As improvisation, this is fascinating. As composition, baffling. As hybrid, difficult to place.