Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rob Mazurek & Sao Paulo Underground to Tour Europe in Spring 2014

Rob Mazurek's Brazilian-infused
Sao Paulo Undergroundstakes claim to Europe in spring 2014

After releasing two albums on Cuneiform in 2013 with Sao Paulo Underground & the Rob Mazurek Octet, Mazurek's post-modern/trans-American jazz power trio hits the road to ignite European festivals.

spu band
[credit: Jason Marck]

Sao Paulo Underground
May 2014 European Tour

May 16, 2014 - Vincenza, Italy

May 17, 2014 - Forli, Italy

May 18, 2014 - Foligno, Italy

May 20, 2014 - Schwaz, Austria

May 22, 2014 - Bergen, Norway

May 24, 2014 - Cerkno, Slovenia

May 25, 2014 - Wels, Austria


 Beija Flors Velho E Sujo
[Cuneiform, 2013]

"The Love I Feel For You Is More Real Than Ever" (mp3 download)

"...the results are a mix of electric jazz, minimalism, and Brazilian samba, bossa nova, and street sounds. Percolating textures, crackling cornet (smacking of Miles Davis and Don Cherry), and surreal electronica process local riffs and rhythms for music that dances and frolics with all the joy and cheery chaos of a São Paulo street fair."- Icon "São Paulo Underground are one mind blowing group and the trio’s stature has risen yet another level with the release of their latest full length... This album is huge and one that I think will grab the ears of many different types of people. Tropicalia never sounded this modern and alive post 70s."
- Sound Colour Vibration


Tres Cabecas Loucuras
[Cuneiform 2011]

"Jagoda's Dream" (mp3 download)

"Limitless in its possibilities." - Rolling Stone"Post digital, post industrial psychedelia."
- The Wire

"A modern approach to Brazil's tropicalia, that takes into account advances in sound manipulation and engineering. It is street music from the Brazilian subterranean avant-garde and it is confusingly wonderful." - All About Jazz"Rob Mazurek returns to Brazil and floats his cool blue cornet over a spellbinding collage of saturated textures, syncopated rhythms and sundry electronics."
- Time Out Chicago - Voted one of the Top 10 jazz albums of the year - 2011

"...the results are a mix of electric jazz, minimalism, and Brazilian samba, bossa nova, and street sounds. Percolating textures, crackling cornet (smacking of Miles Davis and Don Cherry), and surreal electronica process local riffs and rhythms for music that dances and frolics with all the joy and cheery chaos of a São Paulo street fair."
- Icon

"São Paulo Underground are one mind blowing group and the trio’s stature has risen yet another level with the release of their latest full length... This album is huge and one that I think will grab the ears of many different types of people. Tropicalia never sounded this modern and alive post 70s."
- Sound Colour Vibration

SPU live vid

Sao Paulo Underground Bio/CD Information

São Paulo Underground is an electronica-laced tropicalia funhouse, a secret passage between Chicago’s volatile avant garde jazz scene and Brazil’s teeming creative capital.

Featuring Chicago maestro Rob Mazurek on cornet, harmonium and various effects, and São Paulo’s Guilherme Granado on keyboards, synths, sampler and vocals, and Mauricio Takara on percussion, cavaquinho and electronics, SPU delivers its fourth revelatory album Beija Flors Velho E Sujo.

In its latest incarnation, SPU is a power trio and a post-modern orchestra rolled into one, marked by glistening sonic textures, seductive eletronica beats, unabashedly beautiful melodies, an expansive improvisational palette and fiercely gleeful interplay. A potent program of new material honed during a 2012 North American tour, Beija Flors Velho E Sujo captures an ensemble hitting a fierce creative stride.

Ecstatic, roiling and utterly unpredictable, the music flows from three distinct musical personalities united by “the idea of infinite love, the idea of breaking through to the other side through sonic power and beauty,” says Mazurek, a veteran disrupter of genre conventions. Rather than stretching out for extended improvisational flights, the trio delivers a series of brief blasts, each brimming with musical incident.

Dauntless sonic explorers, SPU continues a relentless search into the mysteries of sound. “Sound has such potential, and needs to be split, cracked, slammed, caressed, kissed, sunk, buried, catapulted into new dimensions in order to begin a dialogue of the universes,” Mazurek observes.

The São Paulo Underground sound dares you to define it, knowing that even when -- not if -- you fail to do so, you’ll still be so deliriously immersed in the group’s dizzying swirl of styles that you’ll simply be happy to surrender to its unnamable charms. Along the way, you’ll reach for such sonic signifiers as “jazz,” “Brazilian music,” “avant-garde,” and “electro-acoustic” in an attempt to tag Três Cabeças Loucuras, the ensemble’s third album and first for Cuneiform. Sure, when American cornetist Rob Mazurek gets together with his Brazilian buddies Guilherme Granado (keyboards, electronics), Mauricio Takara (drums, percussion, cavaquinho, electronics) and “fourth member” Richard Ribeiro (drums), all of the aforementioned flavors are on the musical menu, but ultimately, it’s best to just term the end result a kind of joyful “chef’s surprise” that gleefully upends expectations.

Each of the musicians is an example of the new vanguard in music; Rob in contemporary jazz and forward-looking rock and the 3 Brazilian musicians in updating and modernizing Brazilian musical forms. São Paulo Underground embodies a fascinating musical mixture of Sun Ra-esque cosmic noise and rhythms and phrasing from samba, maracatu, rock and free jazz traditions.

A force on Chicago’s singularly inventive sound scene for two decades, Mazurek is an intrepid sonic explorer eager to investigate new configurations. From his variable Chicago Underground units (duo, trio, quartet, and orchestra) to the Exploding Star Orchestra, Starlicker and the Pulsar Quartet, he’s mastered a protean approach in which his collaborators give substance to a composition’s form by creating layers of sound. After a fruitful eight-year sojourn in Brazil, he recently returned to Chicago, where he first gained notice as a visionary player and composer.

Born in 1965 in Jersey City, NJ, and raised in Naperville, about 30 miles west of Chicago, he studied at the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago after high school, and by the early 1990s was performing around the UK with his hard bop quartet featuring drummer George Fludas, bassist Joh Webber, and pianist Randolph Tressler. Always looking for new musical directions, he launched the Chicago Underground workshop at Chicago’s storied jazz club The Green Mill in 1994. Eventually the workshop gave birth to the Chicago Underground Collective, an ensemble that recorded several albums for Delmark and Thrill Jockey records and featured many of the scene’s rising stars (including guitarist Jeff Parker).

Considered one of the leading voices in the new post-Tropicalia wave of Brazilian music, São Paulo native Mauricio Takara, has performed and recorded with a dazzling array of artists. From Brazil, key connections include Nacao Zumbi, Vanessa Da Mata, Sabotage, Naná Vasconcelos and Marcelo Camelo. On the international scene he’s allied with heavyweights such as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, and Prefuse 73.

Besides Rob Mazurek’s São Paulo Underground, Takara has also worked with such other Chicago-connected projects and artists as Exploding Star Orchestra, Jason Adasiewicz, and John Herndon. Born in 1982, Takara started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of seven. Two years later, he took up drums. He played with local hardcore punk bands throughout the ‘90s and started Hurtmold in 1998, releasing five records on the Submarine label. He released the first of four solo albums for Desmonta Discos in 2003, including the latest, 2010’s Sobre Todas e Qualquer Coisa.

Guilherme Granado is in the vanguard of Brazil’s electronic spiritualism sound makers, devoted to promoting music, beats and ideas in Brazil. Also hailing from São Paulo, he is the bass synth motor for the São Paulo Underground. Proving the point that good bassists never lack for work, he’s been avidly sought after by a disparate array of artists, including Prefuse 73, Naná Vasconcelos, Tulipa, Pharoah Sanders, and Exploding Star Orchestra. Granado has also released three records under Bodes and Elefantes, his solo project, and is an integral member of the Brazilian Rock group Hurtmold.

For more information on Sao Paulo Underground, please see: | Cuneiform


Skull Sessions
[Cuneiform 2013]

"Galactic Ice Skeleton" (mp3 download)

"Mazurek finds a challenge irresistible, and this is one of his most exciting projects"
- The Wire

A major force on Chicago’s singularly inventive music scene for two decades, cornetist Rob Mazurek has recorded with high profile artists such as Tortoise, Jim O'Rourke, Stereolab, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and is an intrepid sound explorer.

Skull Sessions combines two of Rob's groups: Sao Paulo Underground and Starlicker with additional personnel. The band is an international cast of masters, including drummer John Herndon (of Tortoise), vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz and flutist Nicole Mitchell, (both DownBeat poll winners on their respective instruments), Guilherme Granado on keyboards and electronics, Carlos Issa on guitar and electronics, Mauricio Takara on percussion and cavaquinho (Brazilian ukulele), and Thomas Rohrer on C melody saxophone and rabeca (a rustic Brazilian viola associated with the northeast). The fusion of these musicians ignites a beautiful cosmic burst!

The big bang that led to Skull Sessions detonated when the We Want Miles exhibition at SESC Sao Paulo requested that Mazurek devise a presentation related to his deep affinity for the music of Miles Davis. In characteristic fashion, he decided against recreating any of Davis’s music, instead composing new pieces and rearranging earlier works for the Octet’s particular personalities and unusual timbres. The resulting album is a exploratory album that puts great musicians and compositions together and trusts in them enough to simply let them go!

For more information on the Rob Mazurek Octet, please see: | Cuneiform

Monday, April 14, 2014

HAPPY SPRING 2014!!! Everything is in bloom here in DC, and we're in the mood to celebrate.

It's Cuneiform Records' 30th year –  led by Steve Feigenbaum since 1984! – and to celebrate expanding into another decade, we've expanded our presence world wide, on the web. We're now on the internet in multiple manifestations. You can visit us online at your site of choice, and explore Cuneiform's vastly intriguing catalogue in various ways.

Our internet presence now includes:  

Cuneiform's new website includes:
information on all ARTISTS & ALBUMS released by Cuneiform from 1984–present, including INFO about the artists, and ARTIST PHOTOS, ALBUM ART & PRESS RELEASES for the MEDIA;
SAMPLE TRACKS from every Cuneiform album, along with links (Amazon, iTunes, Bandcamp) to purchase these albums;
an informative "ABOUT CUNEIFORM" section, containing info on the label & its history;
a TOUR page, listing Tour schedules for all Cuneiform artists and
a GOOGLE CALENDAR with upcoming Cuneiform artists concerts that you can sync with your personal calendar;
a list of our DISTRIBUTORS worldwide;
a link to our online sister STORE, WAYSIDE MUSIC;
and a CONTACT page. The site is still in-progress; we'll be refining the content over the next several month.
[Many thanks to Amelia, Cuneiform's Queen of Graphics, for designing & constructing our new site. The new site replaces one we launched in 1999!]

Cuneiform's YouTube channel includes:
a SAMPLE TRACK for every album in our vast catalogue;
ORIGINAL MUSIC VIDEOS created for Cuneiform releases;
videos of LIVE PERFORMANCES by Cuneiform artists; and more.

We are continually adding new content; SUBSCRIBE to our Channel and enjoy all our new video postings!
[Many thanks to our YouTube Channel managers - Brandon, Jeff, & Michael – for creating, building & managing our new Channel.]


To give our fans greater access to our music, enabling them to buy albums in various digital formats, we've listed our entire catalogue on BandCamp - and included a sample track from every album! Visit, and explore!
[Many thanks to Javier, Cuneiform Publicity & Promotion, for this massive undertaking.]


Become our FRIENDS on Facebook and visit us often. We add new content daily – and we look forward to receiving content from YOU!


FOLLOW us on Twitter, to see what Cuneiform and our Artists are doing – or thinking about. There is a LOT going on at Cuneiform World Headquarters, and we try to let you know about it my posting often.
Cuneiform Records invites you to visit with us, on whatever online platform you choose.  Take your time when you visit, to explore music by not only your favorite artists, but others who are new to you.

We promise you an entertaining time – a world of sonic wonder, new music to surprise, and delight.

Best regards,
Joyce, Director of Publicity & Promotion
April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Richard Pinhas releases TWO new duo Albums; co-stars w/ Japanese Noise Stars in a FIMAV World Premiere performance; and tours Europe & North America

Storming the Globe in Spring/Summer 2014 on an Unrivaled Tidal Wave of Sound Experimental Rock Icon
Richard Pinhas
releases TWO new duo Albums; co-stars w/ Japanese Noise Stars in a FIMAV World Premiere performance; and tours Europe & North America 

European and North American
April-August 2014 Tour

Richard Pinhas' Spring/Summer 2014 Tour includes performances at several international festivals of avant garde/experimental music
and a birthday concert in Paris

April 19
Nantes, France - Bitche Party; Richard Pinhas and Friends! 3 rue de Bitche

May 7
Paris, France - Richard Pinhas and Friends celebrate Richard's birthday in a very special concert at Le Divan Du Monde, 75 rue des Martyrs - Featuring: Noel Akchoté, Patrick Gauthier Band, Bernard Paganotti, Antoine Paganotti, Duncan Pinhas, Kandinsky Effect, and more!)

May 16
Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada - FIMAV (Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville - World Premiere Performance: Richard Pinhas with Japanese noise masters Keiji Haino, Merzbow, and Tatsuya Yoshida - Click here for more information or scroll down

May 23, 24
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA - Details TBA

May 28
Oakland, California, USA - Details TBA

May 29
San Francisco, California, USA - Details TBA

June 1
Silver Spring, Maryland (Washington D.C.) - Sonic Circuits Presents -
Pyramid Atlantic, 8230 Georgia Avenue [DC Metro-Red Line-Silver Spring]

June 7
St. Etienne, France - Festival des Musiques Innovatrices 2014
Musée de la Mine St. Etienne

July 7
Marseille, France - Festival MIMI 2014- Richard Pinhas & Etienne JAUMET
Hôpital Caroline - Iles du Frioul

July 19
Gorlice, Poland - Ambient Festival
Gorlickie Cultural Centre, Beskid Niski, in Gorlice

August 3
London, England - Corsica Studio
4/5 Elephant Road

"This is the sound of rebellion, of chaos and trashed beauty all rolled into one as a new genesis, forming a new aesthetic from the ruins.”
- All Music Guide

“...ambient soundscapes that prove noise can indeed be beautiful, and that it’s possible to dispense with conventional constructs of rhythm, melody and harmony yet still create something both musical and profound.”
- All About Jazz


Two Richard Pinhas Duet Albums:

Welcome In The Void with Yoshida Tatsuya
Tikkun with Oren Ambarchi
released May 27, 2014 on
Cuneiform Records

Richard Pinhas expands his impressive discography by releasing two duet albums with experimental music stars Oren Ambarchi and Yoshida Tatsuya. Both albums feature cover artwork by French artist Yann Legendre.

cd yoshida

- Welcome In The Void
Richard Pinhas & Yoshida Tatsuya

"Part One - Intro" (mp3 download)
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

On Welcome In The Void, Richard Pinhas again pushes sonic and compositional boundaries, this time in a very special collaboration with the legendary Yoshida Tatsuya, "the indisputable master drummer of the Japanese underground." Yoshida is one of the most important musicians of the Japanese experimental music scene for the last 35 years, spearheading at least a half dozen of that country's most important and best known experimental groups, including Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei and Korekyojinn. Teaming up for their first duo recording, Pinhas and Tatsuya push each others' creative limits to make something that even for the experimental master Pinhas, is a new experience: a single, 64-minute, all-instrumental track consisting solely of guitar, percussion and electronics. The spontaneity, intensity, and sheer force of the music created by the duo is a marvel. The Pinhas/Tatsuya collaboration is an ongoing one, and the duo has plans to tour and record more material in Japan in the near future.

Welcome In The Void is the second album in Pinhas' Devolution Trilogy, concerned with mankind's ideological and physical devolution at the hands of our modern socio-politcal world and technology. For the past several years, Pinhas the musician/philosopher has given thought to, in his words, the "Devolution of mankind, civilization, Capitalism's devolution, and mainly devolution of [human/biolgical] faculties related to the rise of machines". He describes Welcome in the Void as "a kind of journey, not more into the being but into the Void - the nothingness that is now the "center" or the absence-of-center of our societies." The first album in Pinhas' Devolution Trilogy was 2013's Desolation Row, a sonic protest against the rise of neoliberalism, the global economic cricis and rising social unrest.


cd tikkun

- Tikkun -
Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi

"Washington, D.C. - T4V1" [excerpt] (mp3 download)
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

With Tikkun, Pinhas switches gears from Welcome...In The Void, using his collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi to take on new themes and sonic frontiers. Instead of focusing on the slow degredation of our society and faculties, Tikkun is almost a response to the devolution trilogy, and deals with repairing the world, the mind, and our emotions after they have been so brutally devastated by modernity and technology. The album is named after a main concept in the Ha Ari Kabbalah, ancient Jewish mystical writings, and Tikkun as both concept and music name previously appeared as a track on Pinhas' album Metatron. But this is the first time that Pinhas named an entire album after Tikkun, and he did so "because the concept of TIKKUN is IMMENSE, Very very Big and Important, not only in the original Kabbalah but in all the para-gnosis "jewish" theoretical concepts. It is about the spiritual creation of our world...a kind of parable.. TO REPAIR something deeply Broken is the POINT...and TIKKUN is the concept that this operation or this PROCESS can be named."

Pinhas worked in duo with Oren Ambarchi to bring the album Tikkun to life. Ambarchi, a truly international musician, was born 1969 in an Iraqi Jewish family in Australia. He began his music career in free jazz percussion before focusing on experimental guitar skills, working with to drone band Sunn O))), Burial Chamber Trio, and countless other music collaborations. For Tikkun, Pinhas and Ambarchi worked together in Paris, recording several studio sessions and two live public performances. The result is a double-disc release featuring a CD of studio recordings and a live performance DVD. Mixed in Paris and Australia, it also includes contributions by other longstanding collaborators, including Joe Talia, Masami Akita (Merzbow), Eric Borelva and Pinhas' son, Duncan Pinhas. Tikkun is a staggeringly powerful work, perhaps musically closest to Pinhas' early recordings with his band Heldon. The cover art, designed by French ilustrator Yann Legendre, is also reminiscent of Pinhas' Heldon days. Legendre also designed the cover art for Welcome in the Void, for Desolation Row, and all of Pinhas' recent albums, beginning with Metatron. Pinhas notes that he and Legendre "will work together again...of course! He is very brilliant." Pinhas' collaboration with Ambarchi is also ongoing, and the two look forward to releasing other recordings.

"Yoshida and Oren are great musicians and great men...they are fundamentally IN THE MUSIC."
- Richard Pinhas

Official Website
Web Deleuze
(Gilles Deleuze site run by Pinhas)


Richard Pinhas' 2013 solo album,
remains in the global spotlight

“The big crisis is coming now in Europe,” says avant-rock icon and philosophy PhD/writer Richard Pinhas. “Desolation Row is an image of what we can Feel and See coming during this neoliberalist era... neoliberalism transforming ultimately into TEKNOFASCISM...the real Big Brother!” Morally outraged by the corporate greed that caused Europe’s (and America’s) 21st century economic collapse, shattering the public’s (the 99%) wellbeing and undermining democracy itself, Desolation Row finds Pinhas returning to his philosophical and artistic roots and resuming his stance behind political barricades. His recent solo album is as politically charged, musically radical and artistically potent as those he created with his band Heldon during a prior era of socio-political change. While a young student at the Sorbonne, studying under French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, Pinhas had manned the Paris barricades during the May 1968 student uprising. Experiences from those years would infuse his later work, in a music career launched in 1974 when Heldon released its debut recording, Electronique Guerilla. 40 years later, the original Electronique Guerilla re-arms himself with guitar and electronics as weapons in a stance against Teknofascism.  Says Pinhas of Desolation Row:  “Music is a way to fight...and to bring weapons to people, to make them feel outside of their servitude, and perhaps to make them happy, even for one minute...a way to fight THE POWER!”
"It [Desolation Row] is... a phantasmagorical hybrid of techno and prog rock, jazz and industrial, sound art and sonic oblivion."

"His music is as mammoth and mind-altering as always. Pinhas's looped guitar figures chime together and fold back on themselves all Frippertronics-style, before splintering off into peals of space-shredding distortion."

-Tiny Mix Tapes

"Every moment of Desolation Row shifts in some subtle or major form, merging as one entity of sound that relies little on intricate mixing and showcases a pure rawness of abstract guitar, dynamic drumming and shape shifting synth driven music that is unparalleled in 2013."
-Sound Color Vibration
Richard Pinhas: Artist Bio

Richard Pinhas is recognized as one of France’s major experimental musicians. A composer, guitarist and electronics innovator, he is a key figure in the international development of electronic rock music. During the 1970s, his stature in France was analogous to Tangerine Dream's in Germany: the father figure of an entire musical movement. His band Heldon fused electronics, “diabolical guitar work” and rock to create a pioneering, aggressive music that was a precursor to the industrial music and techno to come. Pinhas released 7 groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed albums with Heldon during the 70s, and has released a steady stream of solo projects to the present day.

Ceaselessly innovative, Pinhas' later solo guitar and electronics "Metatronics" system expanded the limits of Robert Fripps' Frippertonics.All of Pinhas solo projects and Heldon recordings are reissued and/or released on Cuneiform, which has worked with Pinhas since 1991. Heldon’s music remains vital and unsurpassed today, evident in its worldwide revival among a younger generation. New electronic and digital artists and DJs are emulating Pinhas' early work and incorporating it into their own. Heldon tracks have been sampled in recent years by UNKLE (Never, Never, Land, Island, 2003) and legendary electronic artist Bill Laswell (for a CD with Peter Namlook) and have been included in a DJ compilation by Four Tet (DJ-Kicks, !K7, 2006). In recent years, Pinhas has begun recording and performing with some of the most prominent artists on the international noise scene.

The Cuneiform label has released all of his recordings with Merzbow, and one with contributions by Wolf Eyes. In 2010, he and Merzbow performed at the 10th anniversary of the Sonic Circuits Festival, Washington DC's premiere festival of experimental music, and Cuneiform released the DVD. Pinhas' recorded ventures with Yoshida and Ambarchi, and his 2014 FIMAV performance with the quartet of Yoshida, Merzbw, and Keiji Heino, mark new territory for a constantly expanding, iconoclastic artist. In addition to his musical career, Pinhas-who has a PhD in philosophy from the Sorbonne-runs webdeleuze and has written/edited several books on the late French philospher Gilles Deleuze, his friend and former mentor.

World Premiere Performance:

Richard Pinhas, Merzbow, Keiji Haino, Yoshida Tatsuya
Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville
FIMAV 2014

On May 16, Pinhas will play at North America's premiere festival of avant-garde music
- FIMAV, in Canada's Quebec province - with an earthshattering lineup of longtime collaborators and new partners

From the FIMAV website:

"French guitar hero RICHARD PINHAS is back in Victo with a Japanese project that blends rock, noise, and drone music. In 2011, FIMAV made possible a live encounter between PINHAS, MERZBOW, and US trio Wolf Eyes, for a noise improvisation summit immortalized on Les Disques VICTO. This time around, PINHAS, a living legend of progressive rock (through his band Heldon) and a loop guitar pioneer, has put together a four-way meeting of high-calibre musicians all well known to - and appreciated by - our audience: MERZBOW (several performances at previous editions of FIMAV, solo and alongside KEIJI HAINO and Pan Sonic), KEIJI HAINO (with Fushitsusha, Thurston Moore, solo), and TATSUYA YOSHIDA (with Koenjihyakkei, Acid Mothers Gong, Satoko Fujii).
The presence of YOSHIDA, an incredibly energetic drummer, alongside PINHAS and MERZBOW (who now form a long-standing duo) guarantees thrills; the inclusion of HAINO, the prince of mystical blackness, promises drama."

More info on the FIMAV date HERE.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Swiss Experimental Rockers SONAR Tour Static Motion in Europe 2014

Sculpting a Sonic Architecture of Mystery & Power:

Swiss Experimental Rockers SONAR Tour Static Motion in Europe 2014

Following the release of their critically acclaimed album, Static Motion (Cuneiform), Sonar focuses their laser-like intensity on live audiences over the Spring/Summer/Fall months

Sonar European Spring Tour April 11 - October 30, 2014

April 11 - Perlaton Festival - Friction - Zürich, Switzerland
April 24 - EXIL - Zürich, Switzerland (CD Launch party)
May 10 - Sedel - Luzern, Switzerland
May 15 - Stanzerei - Baden, Switzerland
May 16 - Klubi - Zürich, Switzerland
May 17 - Tangente - Eschen, Liechtenstein
June 6 - Grabenhalle - St. Gallen, Switzerland
June 8 - Festival at the Mines Museum - St. Etienne, France
June 13 - Gate 68 - Solothurn, Switzerland
June 19 - Ono - Bern, Switzerland
June 28 - Brüggli Bar - Thun, Switzerland
July 24 - Komm Doch Festival - Luzern, Switzerland
July 25 - Festival L'abore - Hauptmannsgrün, Germany
September 28 - Moods - Zürich, Switzerland

October 2 - Mahogany Hall - Bern, Switzerland
October 30 - Playground Lounge - Bern, Switzerland


 Static Motion

[released on Cuneiform, January 2014]

Listen to a free Track from Static Motion, courtesy of Cuneiform Records:
"Static Motion"
(mp3 download)

"one of the five great albums you should hear in 2014"
-Prog Sphere

“A really fascinating blend of art-rock, groove-based minimalism and abstract mathematical theory, all woven together to great effect.”
- John Schaefer, host of New Sounds

"This quartet is unlike anything you've heard before. How often can you say you've encountered a truly unique act? Rarely. Here's one that qualifies"
- Anil Prasad, Innerviews

“Static Motion bewitches with unique sonic rituals that beautifully combine mystery and power.
This is simply captivating music by four skillful guys who think outside of the box and defy classification..."
- Gad Kapulis, Igloo Magazine

"Had MC Escher made music instead of drawing his famously impossible and perplexing perspectives, it would sound like Sonar"
- Sid Smith, Prog Magazine

"This is truly music as you've never experienced it before and a one of a kind musical performance."
The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool UK

To the uninitiated, minimalism may seem like an intimidating concept, but in reality it's just the embodiment of the common axiom "less is more." And in the case of SONAR, less happens to be a lot more, especially on their second album, Static Motion. You don't even realize how much extraneous material exists in most of the music you hear every day until you listen to something like Static Motion and get your senses realigned. By hewing to a cunningly crafted set of constrictions on this album of nine ultra-streamlined instrumentals, the Swiss quartet somehow manages to wring the maximum amount of music out of a minimalist agenda.

SONAR is set to bring Static Motion to life in front of audiences across its native Switzerland and neighboring countries, as well as in festivals in France, during its Spring/Summer/Fall European tour. "Nik Bärtsch told me that it took him a few minutes to get used to our sound world," Thelen says, "but that he then found it very difficult to leave. I think that is a very a good description of what can happen if you are willing to immerse yourself in our music."

Sonar's minimalist aesthetics resonated beyond the music world to that of fashion in January 2014. For New York Fashion Week 2014, a track from Static Motion – "Zero Tolerance" – was featured in a video produced by Helmut Lang's 2014 Fall - Winter Collection Runway Show

About Sonar

Sonar is a progressive, post-minimal band from Switzerland. Their name stands for SONic ARchitecture, a name which alludes to their intention of creating polymetric and highly structured avant-rock. Static Motion is their second full-length release, and their first release outside of Switzerland.

Fusing a rigorous minimal esthetic with the power of a rock band, every note and rhythm is precisely composed and performed, all of which are designed to move you from one rhythmic and / or harmonic tension to the next. Sonar is the last word in a rock band that works by building their music out of blocks consisting of slowly rising and unfolding musical tension and relief. While you can hear elements of Sonar's sound in ensembles such as Glenn Branca, King Crimson, Pharaoh Overlord, Present, etc, ultimately, no one else sounds like this and Static Motion is a powerful and extraordinary listen!

Just about everything is different with Sonar: the sound, the harmonies, the rhythms, the whole musical concept. Their instantly recognizable sound is partly due to the special tuning of the guitars and the bass guitar to tritones (C / F# / C / F# / C / F#), an interval sometimes called the "devil in music" ("diabolus in musica").

A large proportion of their music is played using only the natural harmonics of these two notes, thereby creating a harmonically ambiguous musical microcosmos that the group calls "tritone harmonics" and that avoids conventional musical cliches. The group's rhythms are also highly unconventional and usually consist of layered polyrhythms and isorhythms in odd metres.

Sonar's music is always played live without any sequencers, loops or computers, using a minimum amount of equipment: 2 guitars, a bass guitar, 3 small amplifiers und a basic drum kit. Nearly effect-free (with just a touch of reverb and tremolo allowed), the band does this to keep the music as clear, direct and immediate as possible. Sonar does not consider itself or operate as a collection of soloists; rather, their efforts are oriented towards collective efforts making the music more than the sum of the individual parts of the players.

Friday, April 4, 2014

All-Star Trio Thumbscrew: Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanek & Tomas Fujiwara Release Self-titled Debut Album & Tour Two Continents

Thumbscrew celebrates their self-titled Cuneiform release & further hone their formidable collective chemistry in a series of Spring/Summer/Fall concerts across North America and in Central Europe

[credit: Peter Gannushkin]

Thumbscrew Spring/Summer Tour 
April - September 2014

April 12 - New Haven, CT - Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St, New Haven, CT
April 19 - Philadelphia, PA - Center City Jazz Festival @ Fergie's Pub

European Dates
May 22 - Warsaw Poland - Polish Radio Concert Hall
May 24 - Prague, Czech Republic - Agharta Jazz Centrum, Lublaská 57
May 26 - Innsbruck, Austria - Verein Verbale/The Early Bird
May 27 - Schwaz, Austria - Eremitage, Innsbrucker Str 14, 6130 Schwaz
May 28 - Villach, Austria - Details TBA
May 30 - Vienna, Austria - Porgy and Bess, Riemergasse 11, 1010
May 31 - Bielefeld, Germany - Details TBA

USA Dates
June 17 - Los Angeles, CA - The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut Onizuka Street
June 19-22 - Oakland, CA - Duende, 468 19th Street
June 23 - Sacramento, CA - Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th Street
June 25 - Santa Cruz, CA - Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar Street

September 11 - Ann Arbor, MI - Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. 4th Ave.
September 12 - St. Louis, MO - New Music Circle, Location TBA
September 13 - Chicago, IL - Constellation, 3111 N Western Ave

 Thumbscrew [Cuneiform, 2014]

Listen to a free track from Thumbscrew, courtesy of Cuneiform Records:
"Cheap Knock Off"
(mp3 download)

“Completely democratic, both in terms of compositions and in playing, the threesome brings [Halvorson] together with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, perfectly simpatico playmates...The interplay on Thumbscrew is super, and the tunes are suitably germinative… Halvorson…is on such a tear it’s hilarious…4 1/2 stars

"Of course they throw punches—any band with Formanek guiding it through the rocks is going to have a feisty side. But from Halvorson’s increasing poise to Fujiwara’s deep agility, even the rumble purrs now and again”
-"The Hot Box", Downbeat

"Thumbscrew implies a more intense form of free improvisation that these three could easily deliver, yet, with a few exceptions, this music often relies on subtle interaction, lower volumes and expansive compositions."

"The barrage of riffs are both epic and melodic, the low end beefy and the percussion massive. Expect nothing less than magic from these three avant purveyors." 
-The Village Voice

"Thumbscrew's self-titled album is a monumental achievement by one of New York's most exciting bands. This is creative music at its finest."
-Jazz Right Now

"A true collective, in which all the members contribute compositions - all of which were fresh for the project - Thumbscrew has a distinct and original sound, which is felt even more due to the strong personalities of all three of its members."
-Search and Restore

“Balancing sophisticated writing with adroit improvisational interplay, Thumbscrew is a captivating document of the harmonious chemistry shared by three master musicians. Following in the footsteps of recent releases from vanguard artists like Living By Lanterns, Rob Mazurek, and Jason Robinson, Cuneiform Records continues to issue some of the most compelling modern jazz of our time.”
-All About Jazz

"The three players explore open, undulating grooves through a frequent tightening and loosening of their interplay along serpentine lines."
-Dusted Magazine

"The swift instrumental exchanges of Thumbscrew exemplify a group where leadership is in constant rotation."
-The Wire

[VIDEO] Thumbscrew Live in Baltimore @ The Windup Space

Thumbscrew Bio/CD Information

The band’s name might conjure a fearsome image, but Thumbscrew makes inviting music full of wonder and discovery from creative catalysts on jazz’s adventurous frontiers for more than three decades.

Thumbscrew is a cooperative trio consisting of new jazz leaders Michael Formanek (double bass), Mary Halvorson (guitar), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). The group, fresh off the release of their self-titled album on Cuneiform Records, are touring extensively, with dates from April to September in Europe and North America. In Europe, they'll be doing concerts in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany. In North America, they'll tour on both the East and West coasts, as well as in the Midwest.

In one sense, Thumbscrew can be seen as a nexus between a mid-career master and two rising powers. It's a collaboration that works beautifully, producing music greater than the sum of its parts.

Watching one of the trio's early Baltimore performances, DownBeat Magazine noted that:

"[Thumbscrew's] bonds are already strong. No one needs to be loudest. Formanek and Fujiwara both write pieces whose rhythms ebb and flow, and they really hook up as bassist and drummer when the pace surges ahead, falls back or jogs sideway - even when they're in 4/4. Formanek's bass is Thumbscrew's spine and heartbeat, and he's acutely sensitive to textural changes. When [Halvorson] kicked in a doubled, reverb-drenched tone, Formanek immediately shadowed her a fraction behind, increasing the blur."

Thumbscrew is refreshingly original, and works as a strong composer's vehicle. While many cooperative bands draw on material recycled from other projects, "One of the things we said at the beginning is let's just write music for Thumbscrew and it will only be Thumbscrew music," says Formanek. "It really is a three-composer trio, and all of our tunes have our basic aesthetics attached. But we want everybody to have input. Nobody's afraid to make a decision. It's one of the first co-ops I've been in where everyone's really willing to take control at any given moment."

The trio's self-titled release on Cuneiform, Thumbscrew, encompasses an array of textures and strategies, ith each musician contributing three tunes, while maintaining a consistently open and transparent sound. Generating tremendous intensity without necessarily increasingly volume or density, Thumbscrew buzzes and crackles, burns and croons. The group is both open and composerly. Part of what makes the band's music so engaging is that they draw widely and deeply from any number of sonic sources.

Recognized as one of the most important and resourceful new voices in avant guitar to emerge in the past decade, Mary Halvorson is a doggedly idiosyncratic artist who “can define the character of an entire band’s tonal makeup without have to scream for attention,” says S. Victor Aaron.

Tomas Fujiwara is attracted to similarly polymorphous configurations. Since moving to New York City at 17 to study at the New School, he’s become one of the leading
drummers of his generation. He gained widespread attention via collaborations with Taylor Ho Bynum, including a high-wire duo, Bynum’s Sextet, and the avant Afro-Caribbean little big band Positive Catastrophe.

One of jazz’s definitive bassists, Michael Formanek has been a formidable presence on the American scene since the 1980s. Highly sought after by a broad spectrum of jazz masters desiring to play with an equal, he has also made major contributions as a bandleader, composer and educator.

No doubt, the synergy that ths dynamic collaborative trio have become known for will only increase in scope and tone on their upcoming tour.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Janel & Anthony Announce Their European Premiere (May 2 - 17, 2014)

DC's Avant Music Stars
Janel & Anthony 

Announce Their European Premiere

Fresh off the success of their Cuneiform release, Where Is Home, Washington, DC's cello/guitar/electronic virtuosos head across the pond for a series of spring European appearances


Janel and Anthony European Spring Tour
May 2 - 17, 2014

May 2 - La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland - L'entre-deux Cafe, 27 rue Jaquet Drot
May 3 - Lyon, France - Kraspek, 20 montée St Sébastien
May 4 - Milan, Italy - La Casa Di Alex, 5 Via Moncalieri
May 6 - Nice, France - Le Zonme, 7 bis rue des combattants en Afrique du Nord
May 7 - Perpignan, France - L'Anthropo Asso, 28 bis rue des rois de Majorque
May 8 - Toulouse, France - Amanita Muscaria, 3 rue Viguerie
May 9 - Chateldon, France - Le Festival Rural de Chateldon
May 10 - Grandis, France - Librairie Compagnon, Rue des Ecoles
May 12 - Orleans, France - le 108, 108 rue de Bourgogne
May 13 - Paris, France - (More info TBA)
May 14 - Paris, France - "Espace Jailloo", 6 rue Eugène Berthoud, Saint Ouen
May 16, 17 - Rekjavik, Iceland - Mengi, Óðinsgata 2

Listen to a free Track from Where is Home, courtesy of Cuneiform Records: 

"Big Sur" (mp3 download)


After having long established themselves as highly-respected musical innovators in the nation's capital, and entrancing audiences in tours across the USA, the musically omnivorous experimental duo Janel and Anthony will make a long anticipated voyage overseas and tour Europe this spring. The group will spend most of their time in France, with a few stops in Switzerland, Italy and Iceland along the way.

Cellist Janel Leppin and guitarist Anthony Pirog are recognized as leaders in Washington, DC's flourishing experimental music scene, respected for both their studio recordings and their frequent and always-captivating live shows. Their second album, Where Is Home, released by Cuneiform Records in 2012, bolstered their rising stardom even further, and spread the word internationally of their lush recordings. Now, for the first time, Janel and Anthony bring their intimate and intoxicating live performances to the international stage. Where Is Home
[Cuneiform, 2012]

"They've studied and performed everything from surf rock to jazz, modern classical, and Hindustani ragas...those assorted influences mesh into one, beautiful whole."
-Alarm Magazine

“They are sonic experimenters, often improvisational and almost always hauntingly, eerily beautiful.”
- Washington City Paper

"Ethereal...conversational magic"
- The Village Voice

“...two absolute virtuosos... The result is a marvelous surprise at every turn, as the duo creates atmospheres that at times evoke the music of Steve Tibbetts, Brian Eno, even soundtrack music. ...Exquisite...4 stars"
- DownBeat

"Janel and Anthony...both exist on so many levels, each piece is like a hundred doors opening up!"
- Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins)

"A beguiling, thoughtfully crafted album... 4 stars"
BBC Music Magazine’s

"Though primarily instrumental, [Janel and Anthony] isn't ambient background noise...You'll find yourself drawn in anew with each song"
- Washington Post

Artist Bio
Sharing the inclusive spirit of jazz and 21st century classical music, elegant experimentalism is the hallmark of Janel and Anthony's lush, orchestral sound. While they began in the DC suburbs, Janel and Anthony have captivated live audiences around the world by blending styles to create a unique aural experience, unconstrained by genre. Sophisticated, yet accessible, their music is wholly evocative of Washington D.C.'s rich and eclectic culture.

Janel and Anthony is the collaborative venture of two of the leaders in DC's burgeoning experiential music scene: Anthony Pirog, an omnivorous guitarist, with influences ranging from surf to ambient, and Janel Leppin, a conservatory trained cellist steeped in North Indian and Persian classical music, free improvisation, experimentalism and jazz. Acclaimed performers in their own right, the duo came together to form Janel and Anthony in 2005 and the result has been sonically spectacular.

Given the many facets of its their tastes and interests, Janel and Anthony's music is difficult to categorize. The textures and tones create a sound both timely and timeless. The elements of electronica, looping and lo-fi timbres mingle intimately and majestically with acoustic instruments and melodies reminiscent of folk tunes and blues. Their music is global in its sonic, instrumental and emotional reach, while remaining touchingly intimate.

The performance features compositions alternating with brief improvisational encounters, artfully employing the use of loops and electronics. The duo features Pirog on electric guitar and Leppin on cello. While exploring themes of restlessness, homesickness and feelings of disorientation, the music is deft and focused, shimmering with vivid professionalism.

Leppin and Pirog each grew up in Vienna, Virginia. While they attended the same high school, they did not begin playing music together until college. They have collaborated on two albums, 2006's Janel and Anthony, available on Cricket Cemetery Records and 2012's Where is Home, available on Cuneiform Records. Janel and Anthony toured the East and West Coasts in the summer of 2012 and are hitting the road again this summer in support of Where is Home, this time in Europe.

Anthony Pirog is a studied yet unorthodox guitarist with a degree in guitar performance from NYU. Pirog has played in bands ranging from surf and roots rock to hard rock to experimentalism and jazz. He leads his own jazz and classical ensembles and has played shows all over the country. Janel Leppin studied cello performance at GMU with a minor in World Music and a focus in classical Indian and Persian music.

D.C. Music Download recently called the group, “One of the best live performers in D.C., the duo does a fantastic job of improvising on stage and complimenting each other’s music prowess.” Janel and Anthony are leaders in the D.C. experimental music scene, and in the past year alone have played crowded, dynamic shows at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Biowall in downtown Silver Spring, and many other venues across the city and country.