David Fiuczynski — Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam!
(RareNoise RNR058, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-04-05
Guitarist David Fiuczynski is probably best known for his acrobatic, highly technical playing, but this release finds him in very different territory. The “Microjam” part of the title refers to the prominence of microtones in this music, with Fiuczynski playing fretless guitar, Jack Sherman using “microtonal keyboard” (which often sounds like an oddly-tuned Rhodes electric piano), and a variety of instruments capable of executing the pitches between the notes of equal-tempered scales: violin, suona (a Chinese double-reed instrument), and percussion. The other element that features prominently in the arrangements is birdsong, with recordings of quite a few different species making appearances. Thus, a title like “Loon-y Tunes” is literally accurate and does not refer to classic cartoons. Other factors are composer Olivier Messaien, who was known to have been inspired by birdsong, and the rhythmic style of hip-hop producer James “JDilla” Yancy. If you’re guessing at this point that Flam! Is fairly distant from mainstream jazz or rock, you are quite correct. There are a few tracks that lean a bit more to the jazz side, such as “Uira Happy Jam,” which features a drum kit and guest Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax, though no one would ever mistake it for a George Benson tune. The way mallet instruments are used often brings to mind gamelan music, but this is truly like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Fiuczynski released an earlier “microjam” album in 2012, but I missed it when it came out. Among other things, Flam! provides a working model for one way to successfully use microtones in music that’s not wholly alien to Western ears. It’s also a blending of Western styles with music from other parts of the world that doesn’t shoehorn the subtleties of non-even-tempered scales into even-tempering in order to appeal to Western ears and be easily playable on standard instruments. It’s a fascinating and enjoyable listen from start to finish, and should continue to reveal new details for many repeats to come.
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Vander / Top / Blasquiz / Garber - "Sons" Document 1973 - Le Manor – With the relase of AKT I - Les Voix de Magma, Christian Vander launched his new label to release live and unreleased studio material to all the eager Magma fans around the world, following the... (1994) » Read more