First reviews

We just received the first reviews for our 3 new releases. Netherlands’ VITAL WEEKLY wrote down some impressions. Don’t forget to pre-order your cd bundle at the irresistible price of 35 EUR (shipping included) here or here.

“Keeping things small this time, with only three new releases by A New Wave Of Jazz from Belgium and on the first one, there is electric guitar player Arvind Ganga, of whom I heard before and Riccardo Marogna, on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and electronics. He is one half of Sho Shin Duo (Vital Weekly 1019), but I didn’t review that one. I do vaguely remember being present at an event where Ganga and Marogna were also playing, but did I see that? I honestly don’t remember. They are from the city of The Hague and have been active in the city’s improvised music scene with some occasional release. They have seven tracks here, recorded in The Hague in 2018, use T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ as a “touchstone”,
whatever that may constitute, and the interaction between both players is great. While the music is all improvised, and there is no escaping that fact, there is an interaction between them that results, at times, in some mysterious music. In ‘Oed’ und leer das Meer’ (“a phrase borrowed by Eliot from Wagner’s ‘Tristan Und Isolde'”) there are a few of these moments, and that’s just opening tracks. The electronics used doesn’t take the sound of the instruments into something entirely different, but add another layer of sound to the existing sound. Both players aren’t afraid to employ a more traditional tune, chord or melody in their work together and, right next to uses metallic brushes upon snares and pieces of tin foil rattling against the wind instruments. It is that mixture of what we know and the venture into the unknown that makes this a very fine release.

My first encounter with the music of Pierre Gerard wasn’t something I enjoyed very much (see Vital Weekly 1243), as I have very little interest in the super silent approach to music (Lopez’ early work, Bernard Günther et al), so I was a little reluctant to play his latest work. I am not sure, but this might be the first time that a release by this label doesn’t mention any instruments. The previous one used “guitar, electronics, object, abstract voice with _ into environment”, so who knows, maybe here too? There are five pieces here, of which four are over eleven minutes and the longest fifteen, with in the middle a brief piece of three and a half minute. The role of silence on this release is a lot smaller than on the first one I heard (Gerard has more releases, but mostly in very small editions). Also, I would think he just plays acoustic guitar here. Gerard plays what I would call ‘small music’. Up close to the microphone, he plays the strings individually, most of the time and very occasionally there is a small strum. This is music that is akin to that of Taku Sugimoto, but, oddly enough, with less silence (!) between the notes and fits what could be perceived as Wandelweiser music. Small, individual sounds, seemingly randomly played on the guitar, without any hurry, without much drama, and very minimal, without being repetitive. I have no idea if Gerard plays his music with some Zen-like notion, even when the silent approach of before seemed to hint at such a thing, this release too is best be enjoyed with the mind being as empty as possible, sit back and let it all just happen, not in the ambient sense, full-immersive drone sound, but as quiet events taking place and enjoy this with a general sense of quietness.

And something completely different is the double CD by label boss Dirk Serries on acoustic guitar and Alan Wilkinson on bass clarinet, baritone & alto saxophones and voice. The latter just a bit. This is from these three releases the one that is the most firmly based in free improvisation/free jazz, even more than the one by Ganga and Marogna, which seems
to have a level of control and discussion. Here the discussion is the music between two players. It is quite a radical release, with things being very acoustic but with some distance, unlike Gerard’s music, which seems very close and intimate. The first contains eight studio recordings and the second a live recording from January 2020 in London. There seems to be some difference between the studio and the live approach of the duo. In the studio there is some control, some reservation perhaps and in the live situation they find it easier to go all the way, especially Wilkinson has an expressive voice here, and Serries has, at times, problems to keep up; no doubt, also because of the different volume levels that both instruments can produce. Maybe in the studio, the balance can artificially be corrected? Comparing both discs, I am slightly in favour of the studio disc, and precisely for that reason of being able to hear both instruments on a more equal level, but also because of the
variation in approaches here, ranging from wild to intimate and chaotic to almost structured, with both players having excellent control over their respective instruments.” Vital Weekly – The Netherlands