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Magnetic River

Sébastien Branche, Thanos Chrysakis, Tom Soloveitzik , James O' Sullivan, Artur Vidal, Jerry Wigens

Duration 43.35 | Released October 2012

SEBASTIEN BRANCHE : tenor saxophone | THANOS CHRYSAKIS : laptop computer & electronics + piano / inside piano  | TOM SOLOVEITZIK : tenor saxophone | JAMES O'SULLIVAN : guitar | ARTUR VIDAL : alto saxophone | JERRY WIGENS : clarinets |
| EDITING AND MASTERING AT MERIDIAN STUDIO
THANOS CHRYSAKIS | RECORDED APRIL 2011 |

About the Artists

Sébastien plays soprano, tenor and C-melody saxophones. He got started with improvisation through workshops with musicians coming from contemporary jazz or improvised music. Interested in perceptive phenomena, he works mainly with sound as material, describing himself as a “sound crafter” for an audience to listen to. His interests also extends to body and space, as he regularly confronts his practice with contemporary dancers. He plays in the saxophone duet Relentless, in duet with viola player Cyprien Busolini, in large orchestra with IMO, and with dancers in Okx! (duet with dancer Miguel Ortega), Emma Jupe or Les Imprévisibles(music-dance collectives), and regularly meets other artists, either for practice sessions or performances. He has played around Europe in various venues and festivals, for concerts, dance performances or soundwalks.

Sébastien teaches Mathematics in high school and also gives a workshop about soundscapes at the same school.

 

Picture of Sébastien Branche

Thanos Chrysakis’ output consists of composition, performance, and installation. He was born in Athens in 1971, residing in the UK since 1998. With several albums to his name his work has also appeared in festivals and events in several countries; to name but a few : CYNETart Festival, Festspielhaus Hellerau – Dresden, Academy of Arts / M:AI (Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst NRW)– Berlin, Diapason Gallery – New York, ohrenhoch - der Geräuschladen Gallery – Berlin Neukölln, XXII “Sound Ways” International New Music Festival – St Petersburg, Artus Contemporary Arts Studio – Budapest, CRUCE Gallery – Madrid, Fylkingen – Stockholm, Relative (Cross) Hearings festival – Budapest, ZEPPELIN festival – Barcelona, Futura 2013 Drôme, Festival de Música Contemporanea “Ramiro Guerra” – Monterrey, Störung festival – Barcelona, BMIC Cutting Edge concert series - The Warehouse – London . It has also received airplay -among others- by RAI radio 3, BBC radio 3, Radio Portugal Antenna 2, Radio Nacional de España, FM Brussel, Polskie Radio (Warsaw), Elektramusic (Strasbourg), Undae! Radio and Onda Sonora - Radio Circulo de Bellas Artes (CBA) (Madrid). He composes for electronic and acoustic instruments as well environmental sounds, focusing on the structural, aesthetic and tranfigured capacity of sonic matter. His work was amongst the selected works at the International Competition de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques de Bourges 2005, in the category œuvre d'art sonore électroacoustique, while received an honorary mention in 2006 at the 7th International Electroacoustic Competition Musica Viva in Lisbon.

 

Picture of Thanos Chrysakis

Tom Soloveitzik is an improviser, saxophonist and sound artist residing in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Over the years he has developed a personal practice whose main concerns are the relationship between improvisation and composition, silence and the use of textures of sound. He was awarded a BA in Music & Philosophy from Haifa University and an MA in Sound Arts from the London College of Communication (UAL). During his stay in London he was a regular attendee of Eddie Prevost's weekly free improvisation workshop and performed widely. He has also played with many leading musicians in Israel and abroad  including Eddie Prevost, Julyen Hamilton, Wade Matthews, Stale Lavik Solberg, Duane Pitre, Frantz Loriot, Jennifer Allum, Sebastian Lexer, Grundik Kasiansky, Seymour Wright, Daichi Yoshikawa, Chris Burn, Ute Kanngiesser, Artur Vidal, Sebastien Branche, Tom Chant, Korhan Erel and Kevin Davis. His latest CD, "Three States of Freedom", was released with the Creative Sources label. As a sound artist he has participated in numerous festivals and group exhibitions presenting diverse work, such as sound-walks, installations, phonography, performance and audio-visual pieces.

Picture of Tom Soloveitzik

James O'Sullivan is a London-based electric guitar player. He has performed in numerous groupings of musicians, many of whom he met through Eddie Prevost's weekly improvisational workshop. In addition, he is the founder, alongside longtime friend and collaborator David Hurn, of Four Seasons Television, which explores the relationship between improvisation, composition, recording and performance. His activities span the two poles from free improvisation to more 'composed' song forms, and he has collaborated with songwriters, improvisors, improvising songwriters and other permutations of these elements in an attempt to unpack ideas of terms such as 'free', 'composed', 'technique', 'melody', 'noise', 'rhythm' and 'improvise'.

Picture of James O' Sullivan

Artur Vidal was born in León, Spain, and grew up in Paris, where he completed his degree in Art History at the University of Paris I Sorbonne. His musical studies include workshops and courses with Francisco López, Lê Quan Ninh, Fred Frith and Eddie Prevost, with on-site work in Capadoccia, the Amazon, Paris and Trièves, among others. His sound activities revolves around field recordings, dance, “site-specific” works and improvised music. He has performed in many countries including performances with his duo, ‘Relentless’, and collaborations with musicians such as Ingar Zach, Ruth Barberan, Wade Matthews, Thanos Chrysakis and Alexander Bruck, among others. www.arturvidal.com

Picture of Artur Vidal

Jerry Wigens is an improviser and composer who plays guitar and clarinet. Most of his musical activity has taken place in London although he has also performed in Zurich, Geneva, Berlin and Athens. His interest in improvisation started at an early age and he attended John Stevens' workshops at the age of nineteen. Since then he has worked in various musical contexts including rock, jazz and contemporary classical and has performed with Eddie Prevost, George Lewis, Sylvia Hallett and Walter Cardew, among many others. He has also had work performed by guitarist Alan Thomas and contemporary ensemble Vamos. He has studied with Roger Redgate and participates in Eddie Prévost's workshop sessions which he has occasionally convened in Prévost's absence. He also plays guitar in prog/improv band Astrakan.

Picture of Jerry Wigens

Presspectives

Eyal Hareuveni — All About Jazz —October 6, 2013

Magnetic River is an exercise in a highly reserved and demanding form of collective, free improvisation, where silence is as important as any other sound and any sound is welcomed. The group of musicians—three sax players, clarinetist, guitarist, pianist and laptop/electronics player Thanos Chrysakis, also the head of the label—was recorded n April 2011.

The first improvisation is slow and patient. All the musicians stress minimal and sustained sonic gestures and create a fragile, almost transparent, enigmatic sonic envelope. These gestures deliberately challenge the conventional sonic spectrum of all the instruments, undermine any conventional structure, and aim to create new ambiance that blurs any attempt to identify the individual contributions or personal temperament. After the brief, quiet second improvisation, the third and longest one is 17 minutes and features more recognizable reed sounds, atmospheric, and abrupt ones, colliding with delicate, distant radio sounds. The interplay is still minimal and reserved, but more open to rhythmic variations, still, not in any structured form.

Suddenly, after the brief fourth improvisation, the fifth improvisation blossoms into a cinematic soundscape with repeated sonic gestures. All still performed in the same kind of subtle interplay, but the reed players allow themselves to indulge with much more energetic bursts of sounds, while the gentle touches of the piano keys are recognized as such and the electronic background is less threatening.

A demanding and haunting sonic experience.

Héctor Cabrero, Le son du grisli - December 2012

Magnetic River – du groupe formé de Sébastien Branche et Tom Soloveitzik (saxophones ténor), Thanos Chrysakis (laptop, electronics, piano), James O’Sullivan (guitare), Artur Vidal (alto saxophone) et Jerry Wigens (clarinette) – est ce genre de musique improvisée que l’on dirait écrite sur du papier millimétré, où les queues des notes n’en finissent pas de faire des lignes et des graphiques. Mais de la feuille les dessins parviennent à se libérer.

Avec eux, arrivent jusqu’à nous des mélopées d’instruments que l’on reconnaît rarement, ou plutôt de leur image que renverraient des miroirs déformants. Des bourdonnements, des résonances, des vibrations, des sons parallèles et des sons diffus / informes / multiformes, viennent tous au secours du minimalisme des liens qui l’attachent à sa trop sévère définition : ici abstrait, là mélodique, là rythmique et là languissant. D'impressionnants graphiques dessinés sur du papier transparent.

Matěj Kratochvíl, His Voice Magazine, 14.01.2013

Aténský skladatel a zvukový experimentátor Thanos Chrysakis si před pěti lety založil vydavatelství Aural Terrains jako základnu pro výzkumy na pomezí kompozice a improvizace, elektroniky a nestandardních způsobů hry na akustické nástroje. Letošní CD Syneuma, na němž se k Chrysakisovi připojili James O'Sullivan a Jerry Wigens, jsme již recenzovali. Na albu Magnetic River se k nim připojili ještě Sébastien Branche, Tom Soloveitzik a Artur Vidal. Obsazení se třemi saxofony (Branche, Soloveitzik, Vidal) a klarinety (Wigens), klavírem hraným zvenku i zevnitř, s elektronikou a kytarou nabízí nepřeberné zvukové možnosti. A velkým kladem nahrávky je, jak se přitom všichni zúčastnění dokáží držet zpátky. Chrysakis sám tu tentokrát není v roli skladatele, ale jen členem v kolektivu improvizátorů, v jedné z pěti bezejmenných částí si dokonce dopřeje pauzu.

Témbry saxofonů a klarinetů jsou tu dominantní, ovšem přesně určit zdroj zvuku je občas problém, stejně jako odpověď na otázku, jak moc intervenuje Chrysakisova elektronika. Osamělý závan vnějšího světa přináší krátký vstup nesrozumitelného hlasu (snad z televize), nápadnější efekty nikde růžky nevystrkují. Když se všichni hráči ztiší a vyluzují sotva slyšitelné šelesty, rozdíly mezi zvuky nástrojů se zmenšují, jako bychom porovnávali padesát odstínů šedi. Právě přesuny mezi sférami zvuků již skoro neslyšitelných a zvuků znělých je jednou důležitou osou celé nahrávky. Tou druhou jsou přechody mezi statickými plochami, v nichž se hlasy potkávají v někdy až překvapivě libých a harmonických souzvucích, často spojených s pravidelným rytmickým podkladem jakéhosi škrábání, chrastění, ťukání, a oblastmi rozpadu a chaosu, kde na sebe zvuky poštěkávají, pravidelnost a plynulost se ztrácí, klid je zneklidněn. Každá z částí opíše mezi těmito póly křivku a jedna přechází téměř nepostřehnutelně v druhou. Mezi sytostí a vybledáváním, klidem a jeho rozkladem utečou necelé tři čtvrtě hodiny velice rychle a s každým dalším poslechem lze odhalovat nové a nové detaily.

Julien Héraud - Improv Sphere - 05.12.2012

Publié en même temps que Syneuma, Magnetic River est une suite d'improvisations pour six musiciens qui m'a déjà beaucoup plus enthousiasmé. Le trio précédent - Thanos Chrysakis (ordinateur, électronique et piano), James O'Sullivan (guitare), Jerry Wigens (clarinettes) - est toujours présent et accompagné de trois saxophonistes: Artur Vidal (saxophone alto), Sébastien Branche (saxophone ténor) et Tom Soloveitzik (saxophone ténor). J'ai déjà chroniqué les trois premiers musiciens, mais je ne connais pas le saxophoniste israélien Soloveitzik, tandis que Vidal et Branche font partie de l'excellent duo Relentless, un groupe très axé sur l'acoustique de l'environnement et les résonances exceptionnelles.

Sur Magnetic River, ce sont bien les saxos - et la clarinette de Wigens - qui semblent être la base de chaque improvisation. Une nappe de vents est le fondement sur laquelle chaque musicien va s'intégrer à la texture collective. Car l'improvisation ici est plutôt axée sur le son collectif et les textures où chaque instrument est assimilé et mélangé plus que sur la personnalité du son. Ceci-dit, il ne s'agit pas que d'un bourdon ou de flux continus, car - à commencer par l'alto de Vidal - régulièrement, un instrument se détache, une note incisive et forte surgit, jusqu'à la dernière piste où tous les instruments se détachent pour une improvisation collective plus chaotique. Oui, une grande importance est accordée aux textures et à l'entremêlement des timbres, mais aussi une grande attention aux reliefs et aux ponctuations permet à la musique de ne jamais s'embourber dans un bourdon minimaliste facile. Ces cinq pièces parviennent ainsi à retenir l'attention au-delà des micro-variations qu'elles présentent, il y a tout un jeu de tension produit par les ponctuations et les changements brusques de variations. En plus d'une production de textures assez singulières et aventureuses.

Un sextet de musiciens jeunes et moins jeunes, qui nous offrent une musique chaleureuse, dense, riche, et créative.

 

[EN]

Released at the same time as Syneuma, Magnetic River is a series of improvisations by six musicians which impressed me much more. The previous trio- Thanos Chrysakis (laptop, electronics and piano), James O’Sullivan (guitar), Jerry Wigens (Clarinets) are still present, but now accompanied by three saxophonists: Artur Vidal (Alto Saxophone), Sébastien Branche (Tenor Saxophone) and Tom Soleveitzik (Tenor Saxophone). While I have already chronicled the three first musicians, I was not aware of the Israeli saxophonist Soloveitzik, whilst Vidal and Branche make up the excellent due Relentless, a group whose activity is very much based upon the acoustics and exceptional resonances of the immediate environment.

On Magnetic River, it is very much the saxophones- and the clarinet of Jerry Wigens- that seem to form the base of each improvisation. A layer of wind instruments forms the base upon which each musician integrates himself as part of the collective texture, as the improvisation here is rather centred upon the overall sound and textures, where each instrument is assimilated and mixed-in, instead of the personality of the individual sounds. That said, it is not here a question of a drone or continuous flux- as regularly, starting with the alto of Vidal, an instrument detaches itself and a strong incisive note rises, whereupon all of the instruments release themselves from this overall texture for a more chaotic collective improvisation. Yes, a big importance is given to textures and the interweaving of textures, but also a focus on relief and punctuation allows the music to avoid becoming bogged-down in a simple minimalist drone. These 5 pieces manage to keep one’s attention beyond the micro-variations that they present, as there is also the play of tension between the punctuations and sharp changes in variation within them, not to mention the adventurous and singular nature of the textures produced themselves.

A sextet of young and older musicians, who offer up a warm, dense, rich and creative music.

John Eyles — All About Jazz — 1.2.2013

Magnetic River was recorded in April 2011. Across five tracks of improvised music, lasting some forty-four minutes altogether, it combines O'Sullivan, Soloveitzik and Wigens in a sextet with Athens-born pianist (and Aural Terrains proprietor) Thanos Chrysakis, tenor saxophonist Sébastien Branche, and Spanish alto saxophonist Artur Vidal. That line-up of four reed instruments plus electric guitar and piano may raise certain expectations about the music on offer here; if so, the actual music will probably give the lie to such expectations. The most prominent characteristics of the music played at the workshop are its restraint, instruments often being used to produce atypical sounds, the use of electronics and the focus on interaction between players—all of which are clearly in evidence here.

The mood of the album is set right from the start of the first track, entitled "I"; the players combine small sounds and gestures into a subdued, continually-evolving soundscape in which it is difficult to ascribe individual contributions. So, occasional percussive sounds are most likely to have been produced by the sax players. Rather than conventional piano, Chrysakis favours inside piano, laptop or electronics, frequently providing a background wash of sound behind the recognisable instrumental tones. Individual contributions are short-lived and overlap with others in an effective collective piece.

After the all-too-brief and beautifully gentle "II," the longest track, "III," features the four reeds over an electronic backing—possibly shortwave radio, judging by the sound quality. Following an introductory passage of overlapping short staccato sounds, the reeds gradually introduce longer, mellower notes which combine with the shorter ones into a rich, rhythmically complex piece that makes satisfying listening. Another brief and subtle piece precedes the final track "V" which is replete with recognisable instrumental sounds, not least because Chrysakis plays piano. The six fit together as if they regularly play with each other and, despite its nine-minute duration, the piece flies by and seems to finish too soon, leaving no option but to repeat it again. Yes, music this good demands to be heard over and over.