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That said, The Relatives is   generally more conventional-sounding than the flights of fancy on Song Songs Song, Parker’s collaboration with experimental guitarist Scott Fields. The CD starts off innocently enough. The Parker-penned “LK 92” pits a low-register, loping, minimal groove against swinging jazz-inflected melodies; the language wouldn’t be out of place on a Metheny or Frisell release. By the album’s second track, the Fields composition “Untitled, 1968, Bing Cherry Juice, KY Jelly, Ketchup on Vellum,” we are off to the races! The piece is a thirteen and a half minute assemblage of various avant-garde trademarks — feedback, atonal soloing, pointillist textures — brought together with a degree of whimsy and improvisatory character. Parker and Fields have a certain chemistry; they manage to find order within the chaos and the various diverse juxtapositions work, delightfully. Even more cohesive is “Untitled, 2004, Dried Blood on gauze, Elastic Strip,” which has a considerably appealing misterioso character; if Webern wrote for two electric guitars, this might be the result! — Christian Carey,   Signal to Noise

Fields adopts an unplugged approach,   playing nylon-string classical guitar; it is fascinating to hear him, stripped of amplification, effects, and feedback, improvising strictly in the pitch-rhythm domain. One part Stockhausen post-modern chamber music and one part ethnomusicological exploration, Christangelfox is a haunting, sonically beguiling work. — Christian Carey,   Signal to Noise

“The best plan for listening   to this music is to treat it as a whole rather than worry about what came from where,” writes Chicago-born guitarist Scott Fields of this five-movement suite (if you’re interested in the title, check out the scrambled eggs on Fields’ website, www.scottfields.com) featuring Fields himself, Carrie Biolo on pitched and unpitched percussion, Guillermo Gregorio on alto sax and clarinet, Kyle Bruckmann on oboe and English horn and Greg Kelley on trumpet. The first four movements (“Conflicted”, “Pissed”, “Bummed” and “Agitated”) also require a conductor (Stephen Dembski), whereas the finale (“Medicated”) was constructed by Greg Taylor using Max/MSP software to work on solo improvisations by the ensemble members. Rossbin regulars expecting another helping of austere, spare improvisation (the label has released excellent and highly acclaimed work by Annette Krebs, Andrea Neumann, Toshi Nakamura, not to mention Greg Kelley’s second solo album) are in for a surprise; in both instrumentation and structure, this has more in common with Varése and Birtwistle than it does with Taku Sugimoto. Fields intentionally blurs the distinction between composed and improvised material in accordance with the fine AACM tradition he grew up with, with the result that “FTDODD” joins the 4CD Rastascan box set of Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music and Masashi Harada’s 1999 “Condanction Ensemble” as another great example of top-notch improvisors bringing their skills to bear on material of a more composed / structured nature. Bruckmann and Gregorio have plenty of opportunities to showcase their outstanding multiphonics, and those familiar with the extraordinary sonorities Kelley can summon from his trumpet on his solo recordings will be duly impressed by his mastery of Fields’ arching melodic lines. After the swirling, snarling tour de force of “Pissed”, “Bummed” is a wondrous, strange, bassless landscape inhabited by muffled plunks from Biolo’s xylophone and Fields’ nylon-string guitar and plaintive wails from the wind instruments. “Agitated”, despite its title, is a decidedly fresh flowing tangle of delicately scored melodic lines, before Fields stands aside in the final movement to allow Greg Taylor to extract tissue samples of solo material and subject them to cold laboratory scrutiny with his Max/MSP software. The resulting music is, like the entire album, intriguing and impressive, if a little frosty and detached. Of course, hardcore improv snobs will dismiss it as too composed and aficionados of the likes of Ferneyhough and Finnissy will probably find it too loose, but that’s the risk you run if you want to set up shop in this particular no man’s land. However, as this album demonstrates time and again, far from being barren wasteland between two frontier checkpoints, the territory in question is bursting with miraculous new life forms. — Dan Warburton,   Paris Transatlantic Magazine and Signal to Noise

The music is marked by   its dynamic sensitivity and unforced flow. The forms are elastic enough for the musicians’ characteristic voices to emerge, but there is far less polarity than empathy between them. While Fields generates some atonal lyricism, almost an extension of Jim Hall, and Parker can insinuate blues connotations into the most abstruse discussion, what stands out is their affinity, the ease of their give-and-take. — Stuart Broomer,   Signal to Noise


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