|back to Aleatory Grammar||reviews|
|The Wire (253) March 2005
by Clive Bell
Another installment of Aleatory Grammar, from two musicians who have relocated to Barcelona- former No Wave New Jersey trumpeter Mark Cunningham (ex-Mars) and Danish elctroacoustic composer Jakob Draminsky Højmark. Both have worked with Pascal Comelade, and Cunningham also describes himself as a floating member of Genesis P. Orridge's Thee Majesty.
Jamming live in the studio, Cunningham and Draminsky deploy their machines to layer loops of considerable liveliness and rhythmic ambiguity. "ynm"
sounds like some folk in a hurry shaking a wooden fence, while "xct" feels darker, like a Burundi bass harp. Much of this is generated by Draminsky
from self-played woodwind or strings recordings, corralled through a Max/MSP ensvironment as beloved by laptopians everywhere. However the only clear instrumental presence is Cunningham's trumpet, processed via a Kaos pad.
Personally I find a little processed trumpet goes a long way, and by the third track I was longing for the emotional directness of a naked trumpet
note, free of banal delay or harmonised chord. Cunningham needs to locate the off switch on his effects unit, as his intimate, Don Cherry-like sound
deserves more space. Apart from this reservation, Aleatory Grammar's explorations are lucid and worthwhile, and the album's second half improves steadily. Electro keyboard sounds and weirdo bell chords lead to harder stuff, as arcade game noises squirt and splash Space Invader juice over the propelling rhythms. Aleatory Grammar are engaged in an experimental project of proper integrity, but there's also a pleasant, stoned jazz quality here that warms the heart.
|Rockdelux (227) marzo 2005
ELECTRONICA Mark Cunningham (Nueva Jersey) y Jakob Draminsky Højmark (Copenhague) llevan mas de una decada instalados en Barcelona. Empezaron a trabajar juntos en las filas de la Bel Canto Orquestra de Pascal Comelade y su asociacion, que pasa, entre muchas otras cosas, por diversas actuaciones en el fenecido G3G Club, ha cristalizado en Aleatory Grammar. "abcedminded" es la segunda grabacion del duo. El sonido de la trompeta, mutante y deslizante del ex-Mars, Don King y Raeo, procesado a traves del sintetizador, se mueve sobre las bases creadas por el saxofonista danes con cuerdas, percusiones e instrumentos de viento volcados en un programa de software y activadas con un portatil Max/MSP. El resultado pasa de una graduacion tensa y brumosa, como si se tratara de un paisaje cuya linea del horizonte se difumina entre la escarcha, a la creacion de unas atmosferas repetitivas y calidas, de suaves y prolongadas cadencias, resumiendo asi, entre polos opuestos, la gestacion de un personal y absorbente minimalismo electronico.
|www.fakejazz.com april 2005
Mark Cunningham has kept busy since the dissolution of Mars in 1978, but hes not likely to fully escape that shadow of band who played less than 25 shows in a short lifetime in Manhattan. He helped with fellow Martian Sumner Cranes wonderfully bizarre John Gavanti project, and played in Don King for six years, though theres precious little in existence as far as evidence. Cunningham relocated to Barcelona in 1991, releasing a solo disc, and forming the collaborative relationships that resulted in Raeo and Convolution. Late in Don Kings lifespan, Cunningham had begun to experiment with the use of effects on his trumpet, an approach thats since become a hallmark of Cunninghams sound. Aleatory Grammar, his duo with Danish composer Jakob Draminsky Højmark, finds Cunningham running live trumpet through Korgs Kaoss II Pad, with Draminsky using a laptop to recontextualize a corral of acoustic samples in real time. ABCEDminded is the duos second release, following a self-titled release in 2004.
ABCEDminded takes its title from an excerpt of Joyces Finnegans Wake, but isnt as twisted as its namesake. Underneath the cool digital veneer of the music, Draminsky focuses on the repetition of minor events as rhythmic structure, recasting his acoustic output on wind or string instruments as mechanical pulses. Cunninghams sound depends largely on the effect through which his trumpet is strained, ranging from subtly inorganic to completely synthetic. At times, the transformations are so absolute that Cunningham might as well be playing a synthesizer, but its when his natural tone mingles more prominently with the effect in which its bathed that Cunninghams alterations are at their most interesting. When ABCEDminded becomes more transparent, one can hear the life in Aleatory Grammars music, like toy soldiers come alive, ordinary things behaving in new ways. Too often, musicians who use interesting samples and manipulation of instruments become bogged down in the process of transforming them, and frequently lapse into normalcy, to the point where the sound sources mean nothing if theyre making the usual electronic sounds. Aleatory Grammar arent always able to avoid this pitfall, but, when they do, the results can be exciting.