Friday, March 19, 2010

New Release!! GLASS KEY

My old friend Ben Hall, who is a great drummer/percussionist has been kind enough to invite me to record with him on LP’s that he’s produced on his labels. The first LP we made together “MELEE+Joe Morris Cloud Atlas" (Broken Research) came out last year. It features Ben, Hans Beutow on cello and Nate Wooley on trumpet. Our latest release “Glass Key” (You Are Your Only Machine) is co-led and co-produced by Chris Riggs who also plays guitar on the recording. Chris has a very unique approach to the guitar—sort of out of the Keith Rowe school using the guitar-as-sound-canvas approach. He has invented some very rigorous methods of playing the instrument in that regard.
Ben, Nate, Hans, and Chris are very strong musicians who make very unique music. Each situation I am in with them provides me with a different challenge and forces me to try things that I might not do in another setting. I’ve always been interested in coaxing new sounds out of the guitar, but I generally avoided any preparation of the instrument, choose instead to use technique. However in 2008 I performed Mauricio Kagel’s composition Der Schall under the direction of Anthony Coleman at Merkin Hall in New York City, which called for me to use various stringed instruments with all sorts of preparation. That experience opened my mind to the process in a new way. So considering that change I feel particularly lucky to have the chance to work with these great musicians in Glass Key.

Here is what a couple of folks have written about the new LP.

Debut LP for a new private press imprint run by percussionist Ben Hall (Graveyards/Broken Research) and guitarist/inventor Chris Riggs. This is a two guitar/drums blow-out described by Hall as taking the Blue Humans’ legacy of rock-inflected electronic improvisation out of noise and back into free/jazz modes. Joe Morris is, of course, one of the most inventive guitarists ever to use jazz theory as a launching pad for nosedives. Here his musical persona is a little crankier and more ‘Industrial’ than on previous outings, still trading in actual notes but smearing them and misarticulating so that its more about timbre, the specific metallic quality of the strings, than melodic development. Indeed, the whole group have a distinctive ‘metallic’ feel, with Hall playing skittering rhythms cut up with tiny architectures of cymbal klang while Riggs, well, it’s hard to know *exactly* what he’s doing but his playing expands on aspects of his solo work , running a conveyor belt of cycling timbres and rhythms that seem completely divorced from the nature of the guitar yet are in actuality intimately related to the specifics of its construction. While the music couldn’t really be described as ‘high energy’ – the pace is slow, corrosive, deliberately nuanced – Glass Key presents some of the most aggressively aformal and unequivocally blunt music to come out of this Michigan think-tank to date. Hand-numbered edition of only 300 copies in heavy card envelope sleeves with full-colour paste-on art. Recommended. VOLCANIC TONGUE

JOE MORRIS/CHRIS RIGGS/BEN HALL - Glass Key [Ltd Ed LP] (You Are Your Only Machine 01; USA) 300 copies, numbered by hand. Featuring Joe Morris on electric guitar, Chris Riggs on electric guitar and Ben Hall on drums. We all know Joe Morris and now thanks to percussionist Ben Hall who runs the Broken Research LP/MP3 label, we now meet an experimental guitarist from Michigan named Chris Riggs. This is an odd but unique trio and ultimately fascinating. While Joe & Ben create a quick yet restrained guitar & drums dialogue, Chris plays soft noise counterpoint. This album was carefully recorded so that each sound and exchange is distinct, the dynamic range is warm and wide. On side two Mr. Morris and/or Mr. Riggs rubs his or their strings with a pick getting a most eerie sound while the skeletal drums evoke restless ghosts. The sliding and bending of the strings keep things off balance as if we are about to fall into an endless hole. Riggs sounds as if he is communicating with insects by tapping cautiously on his guitar. The overall sound is somewhat disorienting but most effective. Although each side of this record is relatively short (about 13 minutes), it seems like just the right length to contemplate its subtle wonders. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery