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Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no 364, 21 mars 2003

On February 18th 2002, these four gentlemen came together in a studio in Oakland. Frith had brought his guitar with him. Derome had his saxophone and many other wind-instruments as well as some little percussion instruments in his suitcase. Tanguay arrived with his drums and all kinds of objects. The fourth musician, Boisen came with empty hands and did the real-time sound manipulation.

The idea was to spend the day with spontaneous improvisations, to be processed in real time by engineer Myles Boisen. 8 pieces found their way to the CD format and are availbale now on this new release on Ambiances Magnétiques.

Frith’s first release of improvised music was his album “Guitar Solos”, released in 1974. This one was engineered by David ‘White Noise’ Vorhaus. The liner notes say: “No overdubs were used, the music is heard as it was played… The only sounds not produced ‘naturally’ by guitar or prepared guitar are those of the fuzz box… ” So the task of the engineer here was only to register. To the listener these quotes want to make sure that he trusts his ears: yes, you hear it as it was played. And yes, it is the guitar that produces all these strange sounds. So don’t question it.

With All is bright, but it is not day we have a situation that is very different. Here the engineer is the fourth musician. “Real-time processing is a fundamental asset here, as the new sound matter it brings forward have a radical effect on the perception of music.” I’m not sure what kind of technology is involved here and what use Boisen made of it. I suppose that during the playing of the trio he alters the music according to his own musical intuitions and gives the music it’s definite shape. So on the one hand it may remain a question if we hear the music as it was played by Derome, Frith and Tanguay. But on the other hand it is no question at all if we emphasize the role the fourth player: engineer Boisen. He is responsible not only as an engineer but also as a musician in the recording of the music.

By the way Myles Boisen is also guitarist, member of the Splatter Trio and played with many West Coast improvisors, Rova, Club Foot Orchestra, etc. As a recording engineer, Myles started in 1979 and worked since on about 150 productions. Derome and Tanguay know each other from numerous cooperations since 1980. Allthough the four know each other from other occasions, they work together here for the first time. Together these four musicians present here their first cooperation. The cd opens with somebody laughing painfully. Another voice says: “that’s an interesting technique” Gradually the laughing is adopted by the players and the music starts to develop.

Does all technique and technology end up in interesting music? Yes, some brilliant moments are catched here: strange magical sounds, dark atmospheres. At other moments humour and childlike tunes takes over. But I like it most because it is an convincing experiment. Ending up in interesting blend of live impro music and real time processing.

Yes, some brilliant moments are catched here: strange magical sounds, dark atmospheres.

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