In the 1970s, English saxophonist Evan Parker began developing and combining a series of extended techniques, including circular breathing, false fingerings, harmonics and multiphonics, eventually creating sustained improvisations that could simultaneously suggest flocks of birds and keyboard works by Terry Riley. Eventually he combined these processes with multi-tracking and electronic musicians, further mutating and extending the materials. Between 2008 and 2011, Parker worked with composer/sampling artist/turntablist Matthew Wright to construct a piece using materials from Parker’s collection of recordings, resulting in Trance Map. In 2017, the original materials became the basis for the group heard here, Trance Map+, which adds bassist Adam Linson, turntablist John Coxon and Ashley Wales, all three employing electronics.
This performance from the Austrian festival Konfrontationen 2017 is as complex and engaging a performance as one may hear from the world of improvised music, a maze of sound in which different sounds come to the fore, most frequently Parker’s soprano but the others as well, whether foregrounding the ambient bass rumble of heavy amplification or the subtle harmonics of Linson’s bass.
At the beginning, there’s a passage of bird song in the foreground, a literal trace from Parker’s recordings. That sample of the natural world floats into the soprano’s mechanical world. Then the mirror worlds of Crepuscule unfold, combine and shift: saxophone and bass, bird chirp and insect song, oscillator blip and needle scratch, tease and confound the ear, mutating into and beyond one another’s identities.