canaries on the pole #2 |cs135








































Clarinets, percussion, violin, reeds in the order above. Scattershot free improv, more jittery than the prior disc, from this Belgium-based quartet. Most enjoyable on one long track where a mic is hung outside the window of the recording studio--nothing earthshaking but it makes for a richer experience. Even less my cuppa than the above, but competent on its own terms. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

An den Polen wimmelt es von Kanarienvögeln wie in Island von Blaumeisen. Das belgisch-deutsche Quartett von JACQUES FOSCHIA - Klarinetten, MIKE GOYVAERTS - Percussion & Ketten, CHRISTOPHER IRMER - Geige und GEORG WISSEL - Saxophone streut mit Canaries on the Pole #2 (cs 135) Futter für imaginäre Schnäbel und für Ohren, die für die krausen und polymorphen Aspekte der Geräuschwelt ebenso offen sind wie für das Glockenspiel von Mechelen. Musik wie ein Meisenknödel und so vorsichtig wie die Mutter der Porzellankiste. Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

The opener for this album "May I help you," comes out of the speakers like a clarion call: tight-but-playful improvisation is alive and well. This is the kind of rapid exchange of squeaks, scrapes, plinks, booms, and clatters that graced recordings by the likes of Bevan/Kingston/Lewis and Russell/Durant/Butcher from the U.K., and Reams/Hoskin in the U.S. It's fun stuff, light yet somehow surrealistic. "Fur Lotte" and "Fishing for compliments" are other short pieces that have a similar feel.
Lest the listener thinks she has them pegged, however, along comes a more experimental piece like "In/Out." Perhaps something like an improviser's take on John Cage, the piece is based on the clever idea of placing a mic outside the studio to record city sounds as the band plays inside. The illusion is subterranean: the live studio room paired with the rumble of traffic and sidewalk chatter gives the impression that the listener is down in a manhole with the band. This effect is heightened by the band's use of techniques evocative of the creatures and substances that might inhabit such environs. However, eventually tower bells outside playing hymns take over too much of the sonic space to the point of annoyance. The group begins to seem somewhat at a loss for "words," and the piece with something of a whimper.
But no matter. One of the things setting this CD apart (perhaps paradoxically) from so many other current documents of improvisation is its promise of variety. After a few tracks, it becomes clear that the unexpected is to be expected.
Surely one element that explains this is that the group is capable of unusual singularity of vision. For example, on "Schone Mullerei," all of the players initially commit to a frantic non-tonal rattling and burbling. Just when it seems that they are being too hesitant and conservative with the music, the stasis is beautifully broken as one of the players begins bellowing in a horn-like sound.
On this and a couple of other pieces the musical development rivals the control and drama of compositions. "Decompression" shows that the group has good ears for outside harmony. Long slow tones where nearly all are well chosen to maintain the haunting sense of mystery. The counterpart, "Compression" is a quieter piece. the horns and violin practicing whispery overtones while the drummer makes soup in the other room. My favorite track on the CD, "Once upon," has an impressive sense of drama, the evolving shapes of the sounds and techniques unfolding a story for the listener. An incredible degree of listening-based interplay is going on here, where the players seem to either know each other's playing extremely well; or perhaps they're psychic. Wyman Brantley (The Squid's Ear)

l quartetto composto da Jacques Foschia (clarinetto), Mike Goyvaerts (percussioni, objects, toys), Christoph Irmer (violino) e Georg Wissel (alto sax preparato e sax tenore) bissano il precedente disco, uscito pochi anni fa per la Free Elephant, con la seconda parte di “Canaries on the Pole”, progetto nato nell’ambito di una sperimentazione di natura impro-jazz. L’iniziale may i help you? alza immediatamente i toni lasciando intravedere una spontanea irruenza in nuce di una considerazione più cervellotica dell’improvvisazione. Ma è solo un breve intro. Eccetto che per una manciata di lunghe suite (vedi in / out o schone mullerei), in cui viene dato ampio respiro alla ricerca avanguardista, predomina nel disco un senso di codificazione stilistica, di una riuscita sintesi, prima ambita e poi finalmente raggiunta; dalle sottili note sospese di decompression ed ai suoni trattenuti di compression, alla massificazione di fur lotte e all’irrequietezza di the great ippener, emerge una padronanza della materia da parte del quartetto e una spiccata comunione di intenti. Nel panorama attuale, l’improvvisazione più che sulle idee e sulle intuizioni, si gioca sull’alchimia tra i suoni e la sensibilità di chi c’è dietro, e in “Canaries on the Pole” ne trovate da essere poi soddisfatti. Alfredo Rastelli (sands-zine)

The Canaries on the Pole #2 are Brussels-based Jacques Foschia (eb and bass clarinets), Christoph Irmer (violin), Georg Wissel (‘prepared’ saxes) and Mike Goyvaerts (percussion, etc.) Canaries show uncanny affect for surroundings, whether bandmembers or ambient neighborhood (hours sounding and carillon from church outside their open window on “In/Out”). Sonic variegation of instruments assures a certain degree of timbral and textural interest, even if the gamut runs lean - the tenor’s wheezes and mouthpiece squawks or bass clarinet trills and grumbles; the violin’s dry pizzicato and eerie harmonics. Still, overall, the date is kinda tetchy, wispy, faint and bone-dry. Since the longest stretch of pitched sounds come from a church carillon across the street on “In/Out” (and occasional brief altissimo lines and the odd tremolo from Irmer’s fiddle) this may qualify the album’s genre as ‘real-time atmospherics’. Chicken scratchings (fiddle, percussion) and cluckings (two horns) account for much of the rest. Whether the barnyard rants run fast and funny (“Fur Lotte”) or slow and hazy (“Compression”) or faint coyote-yodel-y (“Once Upon”), the players’ insistent preoccupation with bizarre sounds for their own sake soon grates. Only on that latter track does Foschia play - for a hot minute - a gritty, sforzando-rich passage that sounds like...a bass clarinet! Fred Bouchard (All about jazz)

Here’s another example of music that meshes very nicely with the rural serenity of a Sunday morning (one of my favourite moments for the ritual of listening, in case someone missed previous references). Canaries On The Pole was realized with clarinets, percussion, objects, toys, violin and “prepared” saxophones at Jazzzolder, Mechelen (Belgium) in 2007. To better highlight the concept of simultaneousness that defines this quartet’s approach, the longest track “In / Out” was enhanced by a microphone placed outside the studio, which captured alluring echoes of the nearby urban environment – including a gorgeous bell tower - while the musicians were improvising. There’s a sense of closeness around the notes, the idea of sharing something extremely profound, which brings several episodes of intense suspension where the players utilize rarefaction and conscious postponement of events to further increase the selflessness factor. Yet we also meet sections where a major determination is perceivable, the instruments in turn coming at the forefront of vivacious interactions never running towards inconsistent behaviour or narcissistic attitude; this collective vibe of ridged awareness remains a constant presence, either in movement or in stasis. It’s exactly this uncharacteristic unevenness that gifts the CD with an aura of inexplicable attractiveness, like observing a hybrid creature of uncertain origin slowly turn into a ravishing vision. Outstanding stuff all the way. Massimo Ricci (Temporry Fault)

Carefully measuring every sound and gesture produced, the Canaries on the Pole (CotP) ensemble stays true to its microtonal roots. But on this provocative CD it finds time to expose the sonic spectrum available from close interaction, extended techniques, multi-instrumentation … and chance.
Reacting to the unexpected is most pronounced on “In/Out”. Here a microphone placed outside the studio captures the daily sounds of Mechelen, Belgium, as members of the four-piece German-Belgian group strategically respond to reverberations from a massive church bell, supplementary peals from smaller bells and snatches of a child’s conversation. With wide tessitura exposed by Christoph Irmer’s alternately squeaked and vibrated violin strings, as well as the quivering and sibilant textures of Jacques Foschia’s clarinets plus Georg Wissel’s saxophones, further abrasive concussions arise from Mike Goyvaerts’ percussion, objects and toys.
Weaving among the solipsistic timbres of the cup-shape and clapper-produced reverberations, the CotP produces a contrapuntal intermezzo, based on rubbed and smacked cymbals plus drum top whacks and thumps; scrubbed string positioning and curlicue extensions – as well as reed textures that result from lip burbles and high-pitched squawks. The end result is both an extension and commentary on the already existing, site-specific sounds.
The Canaries are as impressive left to their own devices and self-generated processing, but this isn’t surprising, considering each Canary is an experienced, non-idiomatic improviser. Irmer, for instance, has recorded with British saxophonist John Butcher and Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández. Belgian Goyvaerts works with dancers, poets and instrumentalists such as bassist Peter Jacquemyn. A member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, Foschia is also involved with sonic art. During more than two decades of playing, Wissel has developed so-called preparations on his saxophones which he uses to concertize with, among many others, British drummer Paul Lytton and American violinist Malcolm Goldstein.
Combining for this second CotP outing, interaction and meiosis are part of measuring or diverting the effects of cumulative creation. The drummer’s rolls and pops, for instance encounter chalumeau bass clarinet tones and saxophone tongue slaps; while widely-spaced string splashes convene in the same spectrum as reed pressures – leaving the clarinetist to develop an ostinato. Elsewhere, antipodal blowing from both horns complements Irmer’s spiccato scratches as well as hammered gong-like resonation from Goyvaerts. With the instruments’ node partials perceptible as well as the expected tones themselves, the resulting textures follow their own logic, as additional spetrofluctuation, key percussion and whistling is also apparent.
Never neglecting expressive impulses as well as instrumental prowess, this aviary flock doesn’t have to replicate bird songs. It has created something inimitable on its own. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)

A Belgium based ensemble here, a four piece which explores the different and endless (or ended?) solutions of improvising. Interesting work, infact they combine different registers, different forms of interaction and above all different dynamics thus you pass from the opening animated track to some soft compositions, you have nervous playing like in “für lotte” and contemporary quasi soundtrack theme like “Once upon”. It looks like they gave a lot of importance to interaction instead of putting the accent on soloism, I think when play silently they reach the climax above all when working on those mysterious melodies. That’s a good point, sometimes it all reminded me a bit of Lounge Lizard just put in an improvisational contest, some piece they’ve been using for soundtracks are definitely not that far from this quartet. There’s a slight free jazz feel but nothing that strong to justify a classification as jazz improviser, it’s a sort of background colour I’ve perceived here and there. Another background colour is the contemporary classic music mood you have to take for granted above all when they’re playing these long silent track which as I’ve said I think it’s one of their best peculiarities. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)

Combien de fois m’a-t-il été donné de saisir la musique de ce quartet sur le vif ? Je ne me souviens plus du nombre exact de ces occasions merveilleuses... Par contre, j’ai gardé clairement dans l’esprit une série de moments musicaux qui m’ont réellement éclairé. Chacun d’eux se distinguant des autres par leur dynamique respective, la dimension de chaque mouvement dans le flux de la musique, la vitesse de rotation des idées ou bien cette capacité individuelle de développer chacun une idée, un matériau particulier indépendamment des autres. Qu’ils décident de se distinguer l’un de l’autre ou de jouer comme les quatre doigts de la main (« Pouce, ça ne compte pas » disait Bobby Lapointe), l’auditeur a vraiment l’impression d’entendre le même groupe. Alors, cet ultime concert de 2010 dans cet endroit discret de St Gilles fut encore un révélateur de l’empathie rare qui unit chacune de ces quatre personnalités aux trois autres, l’une à l’autre, deux par deux ou chacun avec l’entité distincte du groupe.
Selon mon expérience, très peu de groupes parviennent ainsi à varier les plaisirs dans la mise en place et l’économie de leurs échanges. L’instrumentation, percussion, violon, clarinettes basse et sopranino, saxophones alto et ténor - souvent préparés - est peu commune, mais si ces individualités avaient-ils joué du trombone, de l’accordéon, du cor du sampler ou du clavecin, leur musique aurait gardé cette configuration aussi peu conventionnelle dans l’instant. Pour y parvenir, les membres des Canaries se rassemblent régulièrement pour jouer « hors de la scène » et cela depuis leur création en 2001. Le but de ces réunions est de dépasser leurs limites et de rechercher les possibilités de jeu collectif. Quand ils jouent en public, leurs improvisations spontanées folâtrent avec une telle assurance que le cadre semble défini dès le départ. Mais il n’en est rien : tout reste à faire et rien n’est dit. L’improvisation est totale ! Un grand nombre de jeunes improvisateurs s’esbaudissent face au phénomène AMM et leur manière unique ; il ne leur viendrait pas à l’idée que des provinciaux anonymes pussent brillamment relever un défi : comment improviser collectivement après cinq décennies sans piétiner les sentiers battus. Jean-Michel van Schouwburg (orynx-improvandsounds)