November 17, 2009

Stuart Dempster, Tom Heasley & Eric Glick Rieman - Echoes Of Syros (2009, Full Bleed Music)

When I recently wrote about Tom Heasley's “On The Sensations Of Tone” CD, I checked out his Myspace page and was excited to read that he'd recently been working with Stuart Dempster, a founding member of Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening Band. This Fall, Heasley released two CDs on his in-house Full Bleed Music label, the first being a collection of older free-jazz trio recordings, and the second a live collaboration with Dempster and keyboardist Eric Glick Rieman entitled “Echoes Of Syros”. Recorded live in Oakland, CA, the album has a very “free” and improvised feel to it, but manages to explore some very deep and lush sonic territory. In fact, I found the opening 34 minute-long title track reminiscent of the drone-ambient mastery of Steve Roach's “Magnificent Void” or “Early Man”, yet entirely organic in instrumentation. The highlight for me is still Heasley's dense, blasting tuba soundclouds, giving even the most potent analogue drone boxes and synthesizers a run for their money, but now they are blended with other-worldly layers of mouth sounds, circular breathing and “extended instrument technique” on trombone, didjeridu, conch shell and garden hose by Dempster, substituting sonically for the abstract synth noise, field recordings and resonant filter sweeps of traditional electronic ambient music. Reiman completes the trio on “prepared” Rhodes electric piano, which seems to take more of an indistinct, background role, with occasional rhythmic note taps and soft harmonic swells. The overall sound is almost primitive at times, evocative of whale sounds and bellowing beasts, with occasional soft percussive noise rattling in the background (presumably Dempster's “toys”, as credited on the cover), transitioning into long sustained drones that sound slightly Eastern-tuned. The final two pieces, “Interzone” and “The Chimaera” delve into more atonal, experimental textures, emulating bird sounds and whinnying horses via found-percussion, noise makers and horn toots. Not exactly meditative, but intense journeying music and very nice for deep listening!