architect of adversity |cs117








































One looks at the photo adorning the cover of this CD and sees a real lot of things: every conceivable object is there to be hit, scraped or somehow made appropriate for appearing in what we still persevere in defining a “solo percussion” record. But Stephen Flinn is among those artists for which the medium really doesn’t count. He makes music whose staying power in the brain is straight away evident, constructing entire soundscapes on a lone recurrence or circle - like, say, a rolling ball in a jar - or merely mangling and jumbling a thick layering of materials that may be born from direct gestures applied on wood or plastic yet sound, in truth, akin to collaged tapes containing disjointed mayhem left to putrefy in a soggy room then retrieved and put in a garden to dry under the summer sun, together with underpants and socks. In a word, amasses of distorted, transfigured colours and bitter dissonances whose inherent musicality might be unearthed through the listener’s facility to decipher their cloaked harmonic content. The equilibrium between the mechanisms looks nearly ideal, in that both the relatively short extent of the disc and the composer’s will not to surpass certain parameters of noise encrustation assure that illusionism and resourcefulness live in the same street. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Creative Sources Recordings is a prestigious label from Portugal dedicated to improvised music that concentrates on investigations in sound and textures. 'Architect of Adversity' of the American percussionist Stephen Flinn is no exception to this. You may have met Flinn earlier in Vital Weekly in my review of 'Square Circle' (Pax Recordings) that he created together with Noah Philips and Tim Perkis. He is playing professionally already for more then 20 years all over the world, but spends most of his time writing, performing and teaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. On his new CD 'Architect of Adversity' he is all on his own. 14 tracks that were recorded on two occasions are presented here - not unimportant to know - with no overdubs or whatever. Flinn plays drums and percussion, plus voice. Listening to his CD it is clear that he uses an extensive set of percussive objects that he treats in equally manifold ways. Pieces develop and unfold in different ways. Sometimes through making use of a pattern that is varied and extended during the piece (cyclic). Sometimes each step is a new one (linear). In a track like the first one, 'Magistrate', it is unbelievable that this is created live on percussion. If I were told it is a tapemanipulation of prerecorded music and sounds, I would immediately believe it. So this exemplifies the talent of this percussionist. Forget the traditional sounds coming from drums and percussion. You won't hear them here. He makes you forget how he generated the music that is - in result - a truly abstract music. Each improvisation is built around its own idea and worked out by different percussive objects. In 'Jewels In My Teeth' he uses deep and low sounds. Sometimes like in 'Heart so Strong' it is as if a melody is hidden in the music. At other moments the music makes the impression of some old machine or mill, that makes all kinds of noises due to its old age and all the dirt between the wheels. Just listen to 'Violet Bank'. In the track 'Money Punch' Flinn concludes his research with the most noisy and loud improvisation on this album. 'Architect of Adversity' has much to offer. It is a rich an varied album of an accomplished player with unusual musical visions for a percussionist. Dolf Mulder (Vital Weekly)

A drummer and a percussionist here, I've never heard any recording of mr. Flinn before and honestly I find his style is really interesting. This cd features a collection of short recordings where Flinn shows while having his own approach he can give us a varied series of compositions. I dunno if he's worked on the post-production or he managed to put effects on while performing this music live in studio (I mean if he has used electronics or analog-acoustical interventions), by the way while showing he's not too far from many electro-acoustic releases on the same label, he has created his own personal voice. Here and there I got the impression it was some sort of contained Chris Cutler, but beside this impression the corpus of the whole work is quite far from Cutler and presents a diverse assortment of scrawls. You pass from electro-acoustic short rides to bass drums, from metal sounds to scratched squeaking sounds and furthermore you have bells, brushes, cymbals, drums, hand-percussions, chains, toys, compression springs and a variety of things he also portrayed in the picture he put on the front cover. I think he's been really smart in editing tracks this way and in giving us just the best portion of these short performances, I also assume he's also pondered meticulously the tracklist infact you have tone and atmosphere changes from track to track. When working with bass percussions he goes really close to some contemporary classic drumming but in the rest of the recording you have that ludic approach you also have with other smart heterogeneous drummers like Francesco Cusa or Mirko Sabatini and that's great since it shows beside being serious experimental/improvised music it can also be ironic, on the other hand it shows a genuine interest for sounds including ordinary objects, everyday things and so on. Probably who's into contemporary experimental drumming and percussionism may say Flinn follows the footsteps of many musicians approaching "percussions" in a different way, I can simply reply even if it'strue, after having listened a ton of recordings like this, in a few seconds you can't but notice he's both style and good taste for musical solutions. (Chain DLK)