Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: Memory/Vision (ECM 1852)


Evan Parker soprano saxophone, tapes and samples
Philipp Wachsmann violin, electronics
Agustí Fernández piano, prepared piano
Barry Guy double-bass
Paul Lytton percussion, electronics
Lawrence Casserley signal processing instrument
Joel Ryan computer, sound-processing
Walter Prati electronics, sound-processing
Marco Vecchi sound processing, electronics
Recorded October 2002 at Norges Musikkhøgskole, Oslo
Live sound: Cato Langnes and Pål Klaastad
Recording engineer: Henning Bortne
Mixed December 2002 at Gateway Studio, Kingston-upon-Thames by Evan Parker and Steve Lake
Mixing engineer: Steve Lowe
Produced by Steve Lake

An introverted biological excursion percolating through the crevices of reason? The fundamental opposition of oil and water made whole? A wired caterpillar turning painfully into butterfly? If images exist in answer to these questions, Evan Parker has drawn them throughout the massive intimacies of Memory/Vision. He and his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble have created a monster, and its name is “chronotopology.” The selfsame theory, invention of esoteric philosopher Charles Musès (1919-2000), sees the phenomenon of chronology as an effect of microscopic breaks in the space-time continuum. Relativity strings these breaks into beginning, middle, and end. In its attempt to embody chronotoplogy to the utmost, the EAE hurls ghosts of instruments—through real-time electronic manipulation—into the abyss exploded by violinist Philipp Wachsmann, pianist Agustí Fernández, bassist Barry Guy, percussionist Paul Lytton, and Parker himself on soprano saxophone. Dancing with a wide array of accoutrements, and aided by a first-class team of sound processors, this nonet dives headlong into the piano’s harp skeleton and resurfaces with the voice of a prophet in its teeth. One can draw points of contact between it and, for starters, the work of jgrzinich, George Crumb, and even later Heiner Goebbels. Yet rather than read into it, I propose that you let it read into you.

What you hear is the voice of an un-caged bird looking for the past that flourished beyond its capture. The rush of water would sooth you in this dream were it not for the drought that veins the land with understated death. Suddenly, the piano turns upright and levels its paroxysms on a field of ebony and ivory. Reeds and bows balance on the edge of something free, coughing out the fulcrums of their revolution as stardust. Shades of recital bring their hummingbird thoughts to bear upon insectile realities. This is the corona of a storm that will never blossom and wither. A thistle of sound, prickly and rare.

What you see is yourself falling down the rabbit hole, your fingers scratching glyphs into the dirt and roots that funnel you into oblivion. Each of these yields a navigable direction. The patter and movement of birds indicate a world beyond the beyond.

What you feel is the sky growing cilia, tickling the borders of your skin and the biases it wears. Shifts of color and water link worm-hooks of possibility into recycled chains.

What you taste is the mineral of your anxiety, the acid of expectation folding into spontaneous acceptance. Itself a form of improvisation, it splashes across the ornaments of your social life until they glisten anew. With them comes the flavor of experience, the privilege of assumptions made after the fact.

What you smell is something burning from the inside out, singed bones crackling with transformation: the promise of embers condensed into charcoal and scribbled across the face of an unwound clock. Breathing in the haze of this cerebral (de)construction zone, you do not cough, but rather sleep for all the warmth that has embraced you.

You’ve hit the ground. You’ve experienced all these things, have through them known the measure of your life. If the music treads above you, it’s because you are beneath it. If below, it’s because you aren’t low enough. Parker and company have thus accomplished the impossible: breathing out by breathing in.

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