logo  Loos / Armstrong (OD12034)
 
Musicians Peter van Bergen — tenor sax, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet,electronicsFTE.1,FE.3
Gerard Bouwhuis — piano
Huib Emmer — electric guitar
Johan Faber — drums, percussion
Patricio Wang — electric bass guitar, electric guitar FT.1, FA.3
Dennis Rudge — vocals
Cover and Artwork cover
graphic design: L.E. Molnar
art design: William Mohline
Songs

1. FTE.1 (Damnila) text: Volt "Amoooore" (1916) (18:17)
2. FA5.1 (4:57)
3. FE.3 (Life/Death) text: Sun Ra "The Endless Realm" (1985) (11:25)
4. F.001.6
(3:46)
5. FT.1 (2:04)
6. FA.3 (6:38)
7. FL.1 (3:43)
Total Time: 60:51

Recording Info

recorded at:
Airwave Recording Studios
June 30, July 1 & 2
1999

recorded by: John McCortney
mixed by: John McCortney & Peter van Bergen (September 2 & 3, 1999)
produced & edited by: Peter van Bergen
executive producer: Bruno Johnson

compositions by: Peter van Bergen BUMA / STEMRA

Liner Notes

FTE.1 (Damnila) (1998)
It begins with an artificial reconstruction of a man and a girl talking in Italian. As if both are taking part in a language course for mannequins or marionettes. Then come elegant tone rows, strings of lights. High-pitched electronic textures. Futurist performances revealed in the instantaneous, the dynamic. Isolated lines of dialogue emerge from the music. They are adapted from ‘Amoooore’, a theatrepiece by Volt, real name Fani Ciotti, form the volume Archivoltaici published in Milan in 1916 by Edizione Futurista di Poesia. A ‘THEATRICAL Parolibera SYNTHESIS’; it presents three dynamic sequences simultaneously, involving Musical synchronism, a puppet show in a hotel hallway, and the Futurists’ most notorious murder victim, moonlight.

A love story for emotional machines can be heard, unfolding in simple repeated sentences.
  Ti dono il mio cor (I present you with my heart)... Damni la (Give it to me)...
 
Non posso, ho guirato fede ad altri (I can’t, I swore to be faithful to others)...
  Lei gli offre al fronte (She offers him her forehead)...

‘The Futurists are, in a way, the industrial form of the same theatrical things which I find connected to Sun Ra, Armstrong, and Stockhausen,’ Peter comments.

Footsteps and a rain storm, elements from some forgotten radio play, come and go. And beyond them, a vast electronic world, offering the possibility of new sounds and structures in music.

‘I use electronics as a soundscape but in a way that are aligned out of a free jazz composition. Electronics are an extra line which represents free jazz. Again, as in all those pieces, it’s structure and expression that are fighting each other. One of the lessons you learn from things people say about free jazz is that it’s very expressive but after a while, it has no structure any more. It’s so predictable. But I do like the high energy and the directness of it.’

FA.5.1 (1994)
I swear...The structure is so concise, the compression of thought so extreme that Dennis Rudge’s voice appears to have been squeezed out of the music; a compacted mania formed under pressure.’ ‘I swear...the words become raw slivers of sound, lost in silence.’ ‘I swear I blew my top!I swear...’ Peter van Bergen explains, regarding the composition’s tight, percussive thrusts. ‘I regard it as a melodic song. In this piece only timing, length, and repetition are free.’ The text, a simple line of five words caught somewhere between laughter and rage, is taken from an old Louis Armstrong record. Why Armstrong?

Because he is a colorful person and he has all kinds of different sides to him, so what he does is very expressive. I regard it as sometimes very joyful and sometimes very sad. It’s very expressive in terms of his musical playing, but also in his facial expressions. He is very explosive in what he does. I see him as a great artist, and for me he has a very strong connection with people I feel closest to. People like Sun Ra, Stockhausen, Anthony Braxton. For me, he is in that same line.’

FE.3 (Life/Death) (1997/8)
‘Life...Death...’ Words are also sounds. They reverberate in the silence. Their meaning expands to fill the space around them. What we are listening to now is the sound of Sun Ra reading aloud from one of his own texts.’

  ‘Forget the word "life"’.

Peter van Bergen: ‘For me, silence is as important as what is played. One of the nicest features of jazz and improvised music is that you can hear the musicians think. And this is an aspect of the silences in these compositions. You can feel the tension: where will the music go next? Will someone take a solo? What direction will the piece take? There are so many possibilities in compositions such as these, which consist of very small elements. That is why the pieces are called "The Factory Series", because there is a row of factors which make up each piece, and you can switch form one chord to another but never in the same order, of course. So this is one aspect...’

  ‘To be rather than to die.’

‘The other aspect is its connection with Noh Theatre and to its thinking about Yin and Yang: silence and sound.’

  ‘Everything you do here affects other beings...above.’

What is apparent to me about Sun Ra and Armstrong, is that they have a very funny side, a very aggressive and expressive side, and also a very sad side. They have many theatrical sides, which offer so many more possibilities for expressiveness. Sun Ra has these sides. I met him and the Arkestra a lot, and what struck me was the very joyful songs and, at the same time, the extreme anger in the free improvisations.’

The second text, declaimed by Dennis Rudge, ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is adapted from Book 3/XXI: ‘Anger’ from The Dialogues of Seneca, a praetor of Imperial Rome who was entrusted with the education of young Nero. He eventually committed suicide.

Words are just events in time. Like lives: Lucius Annaeus Seneca (AD 4–AD 65), Sun Ra (22/5/1914–30/5/1993). The third text, The Endless Realm’ is taken from The Immeasurable Equation by Sun Ra, originally published in 1972 by Infinity Inc/Saturn Research, Chicago, and then reissued in an abridged form in 1985. Dennis Rudge’s delivery conveys a majestic impression of nothingness without limit, ‘that stretches out, realm beyond realm...’

‘And then it disappears into space. It ends with electronics and Dennis laughing.’

  ‘Life...Death...’

‘The length of the chords is partly specified and partly open,’ Peter comments. ‘This is one of the main rhythm features of the pieces because decay is a very important element out of which to organize a rhythm feeling. Techno works that way as well, did you know that? The rhythms in Techno are determined by the decay of the echoes, but in jazz, classical and free improvised music it’s a highly underestimated feature. In fact, it’s a technique. The implications of working with chords like these, which is why I mentioned Techno, offer great possibilities for connecting music with electronics.’ And will electronics play an increasing important role in future compositions?

Pause. ‘Yes.’ Laughter.

F.001.6 (1996)
Peter van Bergen: ‘It’s a vehicle for Huib Emmer. He can direct the group, and it’s a kind of solo piece for him.’

Huib Emmer: ‘There are a few tones I play on my guitar-four tones, in fact- and we switch around groups of musical gestures. So if I play a G sharp, the players go into one group of musical gestures, but if I play a B, they go into another one. I conduct the ensemble through these separate groups of ideas. These four notes become four triggers that lead towards different textures.’

A composer in his own right, Huib Emmer has worked closely with both Girard Bouwhuis and Peter van Bergen since their time playing together in the Hoketus ensemble during the 1980’s.

Peter van Bergen: ‘Huib’s ability to shape things is apparent in this piece. It has a very clear form, and he’s very funny in his playing. His musicality comes out.’

F.T.1 (1995)
OK, let’s go crazy. ‘What is it you got that my wife thinks you so hot?’

‘That’s very much Louis Armstrong.’ Splayed out against the staccato of intensities of Girard Bouwhuis attacking the piano in his opening solo. Or Johan Faber’s busy percussion work powering up beneath Peter van Bergen’s flailing, unfettered tenor sax.

‘This is not a kind of historical CD. I don’t want it to be seen as a rediscovery of Louis Armstrong. It’s about how much you can get from a few single elements. You throw four elements on the ground, and they start to react with each other and it gets more and more volatile, like a chemical reaction, so you add the element of the voice to the piano, and you have little things coming in from the group, which all have very different characters. Then you start to move them around, and they set each other off. The chemical reaction becomes more and more explosive. The role of Dennis is that he’s the guy who takes a lighter and sets is on fire.’

FA.3 (1994/5)
Born into poverty in New Orleans, the son of a Storyville prostitute, Louis Armstrong was arrested as a young boy for carrying a gun.‘...Happy Dixie Band...’ He learned to play the cornet in Joseph Jones’ reform-school marching band. The name inspires confidence. Commands a little respect, even.

‘This is a blues number,’ Peter observes. ‘A beautiful song with a lot of entertainment, but what it consists of is being torn apart.’ As its core is the sound of a divided social space collapsing in on itself, as Armstrong’s words become heightened fragments of a barely controlled inner frenzy.

‘The Armstrong text pushes this very blues-like song more towards hysteria. I made an arrangement with Dennis that he has to break up certain lines and the happiness should be turned into a kind of madness.’

  WellhulloJack.’

As a recording artist Louis Armstrong was able to cross certain barriers which the color of skin would not otherwise permit. Where black performers in mainstream movies were kept firmly in the background, the studio microphone permitted him to get up real close to his audience. Meanwhile, hundreds of ‘race movies’, featuring all-black casts were being made for segregated theatre audiences. Imagine the forces at work: big band singer Herbert Jeffrey appearing as a singing cowboy in The Bronze Buckaroo and Two Gun Man From Harlem, or Dusty Fletcher in Boarding House Blues, with Crip Heard, a one-legged, one-armed dance act.

  ‘WELL HULLO JACK!’

There’s an icy moment of suspension: Huib Emmer and Patricio Wang chiming together on electric guitar over Peter van Bergen’s billowing bass clarinet lines. ‘The boys and I are...’ The performance takes on an impassioned schizophrenic urgency, no longer contained by conventions by stage or screen. ‘...glad you came.’ ‘As an entertainer,’ Peter says, ‘his psychological behaviour is treated in the same way as a blues, and the blues is completely torn apart, and that is what happens to Louis Armstrong in this song. He flies away into madness.’ ‘You wait until I come back.’

FL.1 (1994/5)
‘This is not so much music theatre.’

The mood is one of pure abstraction wordless and serene. It offers a subtle distillation of what occurs between the separate musicians in LOOS as they work towards the concentrated silence and sense of stillness which this ensemble is capable of attaining both live and in the studio. ‘That’s why I picked these musicians. They have the ability of knowing when to stop and when to go. We have been playing together now for ten years.’ The discipline and restraint are both impressive; apparent from the accumulated textures and chords at the very start of this composition and throughout its subsequent development. ‘This is a very melodic piece, very musical, with a separate line for guitar and piano. Three people within the ensemble can give the cues. In other pieces more can do this, but in this piece, it all happens at the same time, constantly. The group should perform the melodic line, but towards a designated row of chords. What they must do is use this material to perform, within this technique, a beautiful musical melody. It’s a game all the time between individuality and a group feeling. It’s a battle too, but when the process is working, individual expression is able to come out clearly along with the group feeling. For me, that’s an ideal situation.

Energy and directness.

From the beginning of the century to the end of the millennium.

Ken Hollings


[top]

Reviews  
  © OKKADISK