Jean-Luc Guionnet‘s practice is subdivided into as many parts as occasions arise for him to think and act in sound and image. A Parisian artist active in several fields (music, visual arts, cinema), he has worked mostly in electro-acoustics but also has a career in free improvisation and field recording, playing alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, church organ, and electric organs. He studied musique concrète under Iannis Xenakis and tends to extract the tiniest details from sound, appreciating slowness and the obsessive exploration of simple processes. Music, for him, is a way to test reality. His organ performances are about encountering the machine, the mechanism of the organ. Imagining the organ halfway between a vehicle and artificial intelligence, he thinks of it as an organic device, every element of which can be made useful: it is at once a piano, a synthesizer, a drum, a mixing board, and a primitive computer with which he can drive, navigate, compute, conduct, mix, and auscultate. He seeks to incorporate the faults of any particular organ into his work, bringing them to resound with organic affect while keeping their raw qualities. Each organ is unique. For Guionnet, the project is to find out what makes it unique.
Norbert Rodenkirchen, Robbie Lee, and James Ilgenfritz make up an inventive trio that injects the sensibilities of improvised deep listening and new composition into medieval music idioms. With Rodenkirchen on medieval flutes, Lee on matching and unusual woodwinds, and Ilgenfritz on arco double bass, their music finds common ground between improv in the American grain, Eurocentric composition, and spectralism and its discontents. Microtones and harmonics interact with the timbral complexity of electronic music while maintaining a nuance of performance unique to wooden instruments. Norbert Rodenkirchen is a famed German flutist and scholar, one of the few true modern pioneers of medieval instrumental music. Here he plays specially tuned medieval flutes built for him by several makers from around the world. He is a core member of the legendary early music ensemble Sequentia, and lives in Cologne. Robbie Lee is a New York based multi-instrumentalist, here focusing on the baroque flute, as well as folk clarinet and sopranino saxophone. In a wide variety of settings he has worked with the likes of Brian Chase, Jozef Van Wissem, Baby Dee, Cass McCombs, and Neil Hagerty. James Ilgenfritz’s unique approach to the bass, featuring intense arc bowing and altered tunings, has made him a pivotal figure both as performer and composer, leading to collaboration with Pauline Oliveros, John Zorn, JG Thirlwell, George Lewis, and more. His recordings include the opera The Ticket That Exploded, Hypercolor (Tzadik), and solo compositions of Anthony Braxton.
Photo: Peter Gannushkin.