Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre
Sebastian Lexer - piano+
Seymour Wright - alto saxophone
recorded at Trinity College, Greenwich, London in May 2008
“With its third batch of releases, Another Timbre reinforces the impression created by the first two batches—this is a label whose every release is likely to surprise and delight the listener, a label that is documenting improvised music's journey into interesting new territory. This is an exciting release, and one which shows that Another Timbre is a savvy label, with its finger on the pulse. Pianist Sebastian Lexer and alto saxophonist Seymour Wright are two of the new generation of improvisers who have captivated London in recent years. Both are members of 9!, the ensemble that emerged from percussionist Eddie Prevost's regular improvisation workshops which have been running since 1999. Lexer and Wright have other AMM connections too: Lexer has had John Tilbury as a piano teacher while Wright has recorded live with guitarist Keith Rowe. Hence, the emergence of this new generation feels as if the baton is being passed forward to them.
Certainly, Lexer and Wright show every sign of having learnt from the very best. Both exhibit great restraint and empathy; it seems vitally important to both of them that each note is correctly placed and of the right duration and tone. Lexer often plays inside the piano and also uses computer technology to augment the sound of the instrument, producing sounds like conventional piano alongside those that could just be electronically produced. The greatest compliment to his playing is that he sounds like a pupil of Tilbury's.
Quoting Steve Lacy, Wright has spoken of his own saxophone technique as "grappling with the saxophone". He certainly does not display straightforward conventional technique, but instead problematises this area of his playing. The end results combine well with Lexer's playing, producing music that has its own satisfying logic and coherence, surely a test that we should expect any music to pass.
Intriguingly, a future Another Timbre release will feature a trio including Wright and trumpeter Jamie Coleman, another member of 9!. On this evidence, that will be worth checking out.” - John Eyles, All About Jazz
“ ‘I feel a certain moral responsibility and need to work with the saxophone in a way people do not seem to at present,’ writes seymour Wright, ‘to look beyond the scope of orthodoxy (even of current saxophone unorthodoxy) into the potential of the instrument, what it is and what it can be. This entails spending time with the instrument, as object, concept, history 7 imagined future.’ On these two extended duo improvisations, recorded in Trinity College, greenwich in May last year, he’s joined by sebastian Lexer on “piano+”, that plus referring to a self-designed Max/MSP application he uses for real-time sound processing. In similar vein, you could add both a plus and minus sign to “alto sax”, as in performance Wright frequently dismantles the instrument and spends as much time sucking and blowing its constituent lengths of tubing, not to mention exploring their resonances with extraneous devices including handheld electric fans.
But there’s nothing disjunct and abstruse about the result; lexer’s processing - of his own sounds on track one and Wright’s on track two - is so subtle you often don’t notice it’s there, and the musicians’ patient exploration and analysis of their material is as mature and spacious as vintage AMM (both men have studied with Eddie Prevost and John Tilbury). But this certainly not Little League AMM either - Lexer has inherited Tilbury’s immaculate timing but paints with a palette of prepared piano colours all his own, and Wright’s daring deconstructions of syntax and instrument alike take the music into a dark, dangerous and hitherto unexplored territory. Blasen is convincing and exciting proof that there is still much to discover in the post-AMM lowercase world.” - Dan Warburton, The Wire
“Piano and alto saxophone, in turn processed by a computer over the course of two
lengthy improvisations. As stated in the liners, “sometimes the origins of the sounds
are transparent, but often they are ambiguous”: this pretty much sums up the specific
aesthetic of this album, a straight-faced investigation of the scarcely visible connections
linking the insides of instruments belonging to completely diverse families. The
players expertly move across a shady setting, in which candle-lit images of reciprocal
correlation get misshapen by distorting mirrors; the preparations utilized by Lexer
transform the strings of the piano in rudimentary generators that magnify an unstructured
awareness, the notes now murkily resounding in inexpressibly indefinite agglomerates,
now appearing as percussive calls to attention, the artist always in search of the
perfect spot to minimize the recognisability factor. Wright is a percussively detached
analyzer of the saxophone’s viscera and (generally) unused parts; this does not detract
from the absolute musicality of his irregular differentiations, where “musicality”
is a definition that should delineate an organism fusing the human initiator with
a sound-producing apparatus. The importance of silence in this context is fundamental:
the couple appears in fact especially interested in the maintenance of a quiet environment
despite the abruptness of certain solutions, apparently born and instantly dead.
The music transcends typical definitions to represent the consecutive modifications
in the different states of matter: an enthralling combination of gaseous and grainy,
scraping and popping emissions enriched by a reverberating uncertainty, the whole
signifying an anomalous kind of seclusion. But it’s the spartan intransience of this
probing record that matters most, constituting its major point of attraction.” -
Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault
“During the later half of 2008, British reed player Seymour Wright got a modicum of well deserved attention with his self-produced solo release Seymour Wright of Derby as well as a duo release with Keith Rowe. This duo with pianist and electronic musician Sebastian Lexer should be added to the solo as recordings not to miss. Wright and Lexer are part of a nexus of musicians who have been participating in regular Friday workshops in London run by Eddie Prévost since the late ’90s, which gives an indication as to their aesthetic leanings. Wright is one of a handful of reed players who have managed to define a truly personal vocabulary out of extended reed technique. Zeroing in on the core sonic properties of the mechanical and acoustic components of his alto saxophone. He’s integrated every breath, burred reed vibration, keypad flutter, and hissed microtone into a unique improvisational language. Likewise, Lexer has delved into the strings, sounding board, and mechanical action of the piano to develop a quietly-nuanced approach to the instrument. He’s also a computer programmer and adds a system for real-time electronic processing to the session. What is so striking about this disk is the intense focus and subtlety of the interactions. Every sound is placed precisely into the overall context of the two expansive improvisations. There is a constant measure and balance of attack and decay; resonance and sympathetic overtone; metallic reverberation of strings and percussive snap of sax keys and pinched alto cries. As to the electronic processing, it is striking only in its lack of obvious presence. Lexer describes it as filling in the space between the traces of ideas and contributions of the performers. It is so fully integrated that the extended timbral control of the two musicians blend seamlessly with the minute electronic shadings of the processing. This one’s another stellar release from Another Timbre and yet another reason to check out Seymour Wright.” - Michael Rosenstein
“The first of the two tracks here is one of the strongest things I've heard in while. Lexer has something of Tilbury in his playing--not the obvious (no redolence of Feldman, particularly) but a similar sense of tone, touch and placement, of managing to get the best of each in one keystroke, a rare enough achievement. Wright melds beautifully here; one often forgets entirely the instruments at hand and just experiences the music, which is remarkably cohesive and, for all its spareness, full and tactile. Beautiful work. The second piece is pretty good as well, a bit more diffuse, a little less gripping.”
- Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
“The Another Timbre label certainly takes the non-existent award for label of the year. Throughout 2008 it has released disc after disc of generally good to great music.....On Blasen, the really wonderful release by the London duo of pianist Sebastian Lexer and saxophonist Seymour Wright, the interplay between the musicians is stunning, a superb example of great timing linked to exceptional choices and placement of sounds. Several of my favourite releases of 2008 are just damned good examples of excellent improvised music and Blasen is right up there amongst them.”
- Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
“ This duo of piano (Sebastian Lexer) and alto sax (Seymour Wright) is imbued with a sonic introspection, slowed down with some help by electronics (Lexer). The music develops in a detached way, but with an insistence to delve into the depths of sonic material that is hiding in nooks and corners of the piano and the mouthpiece and bell of the saxophone. Sounds float around as though they are an integral part of the environment. The murmurs escaping from the resonant body of the piano each time that a string is struck at around 17 or 18 minutes into blase_37:18 are produced with great skill. Towards the end of this piece the air seems to vibrate infinitely, inducing both a total relaxation of the senses and an extreme concentration.
The second long improvisation, blase_25:34, unravles with a serene mystery that is close to suspense. Silence and sound are alive, extinguishing and penetrating each other inextricably. Whoever knows the London improv scene and attends events like The Freedom of the City will have come across these two musical activists who are both deeply involved with the renewal of the local improv scene. They are also close collaborators with Eddie Prevost, and you can easily imagine them playing a trio with the percussionist. But they are quite sufficient in themselves. In fact these two discrete, open musicians have succeeded wonderfully in a search for new sounds that was initiated by the 'reductionists' and other practicioners of 'lower-case' improvisation who have sometimes/often had to settle for the rating of an 'honourable attempt'. But this is exemplary music, and gives even more confidence in the label another timbre, which keeps presenting us with beautiful surprises.”
- Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Improjazz
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