[pe33]Carlos Giffoni
Lo Que Solo Se puede Expresar a Traves Del Silencio y Una Mirada de Ayer
[pe32]Luv Rokambo
[pe31]Inu Yaroh
Takede from Nostradums Live
[pe30]Noring / Day
[pe29]360 Sound
A Scratch on the Surface
[pe28]Hair and Nails
[pe27]Shlomo Artzi Orchestra
Pizza Little Party
[pe26]Kangaroo Note
[pe25]Fukktron / Hair and Nails
[pe24]Jorge Castro & Carlos Giffoni
Guitarras del Olvido y Pensamientos Dimensionales
[pe23]Naoaki Miyamoto
Live at 20000V
[pe22]Various Artists
Analogous Indirect
[pe21]Prototype Earthborne / Wren & Noring / EHI
Audio Cleansing
[pe20]Cornucopia / Musique:Motpol
60 Years
[pe19]William IX
Dawn Variations
[pe18]Zanoisect / Sistrum
Day Fills Night The Way I Walk / Furukizu
[pe17]Jorge Castro
The Joys and Rewards of Repetition
[pe16]Prototype Earthborne
Wiseman Flux Disintegration

Emergency String Quintet - On The Corner (Market and Sixth)
CD-R (San Francisco, CA)

-on the corner (market & sixth)
-dancing in the 21c
-the quality of mercy

Emergency String Quintet: Jeff Hobbs, Kevin Van Yserloo, Jonathan Fretheim, Bob Marsh, Damon Smith
Recorded 12-13-2001

(All Music Guide) Recorded seven months after the Emergency String Quartet¹s debut CD Hill Music, On the Corner (Market and Sixth) sees the group expand to a quintet with the addition of viola player Jonathan Fretheim. Violinist Kevin Van Yserloo has also stepped in to replace original member Tom Swafford. Jeff Hobbs (violin), Bob Marsh (cello), and Damon Smith (double bass) round up this Bay Area free improvising group. String ensembles (be them quartets or quintets) have rarely tackled the Improv idiom whereas saxophone quartets are aplenty. Why? Maybe it has to do with the fact that in a string ensemble, individual contributions are difficult to isolate -- they loose themselves into the greater good that is the group sound. That¹s what happens here, especially with a bass player like Smith, who¹s not shy to use the full range of his instrument. Recorded in a single session one day of December 2001, this album (a CD-R released by Public Eyesore) doesn¹t match the intensity and quality of Hill Music, but it still has its moments. Dancing in the 21C and the concluding Nocturne feature some great interplay. Five minutes into the title track, things come to a gentle stop before being set into motion again. These exciting moments are offset by bland passages. If the mind wanders a bit during the listening of this album, it still holds enough interest to be worthy of your time. - François Couture

(Aiding & Abetting no. 236) Four pieces, five players, fifty some odd minutes. Unlike most Public Eyesore releases, this puppy doesn't sound improvised. The music is most definitely avant garde, using "noise" (in this case, plucking, thwacking and scraping bows on strings, among other things) as well as traditionally cultivated sounds to illustrate the ideas of the composer. You either really dig this music, or you sit around and say things like "turn that shit off." I'm in the former group, and my wife is in the latter. We're still happily married; disparate views of what constitutes music isn't a barrier to a good relationship. Still, this isn't the sort of album you toss in the discer for a blind date. Looks like I'm dancing around here without saying much about this album. Well, I like it. I like the way the five members of the quintet play around with the music and each other. There is a very strong sense of the group in these pieces. That sense, and the composing, is what keeps these pieces woven tightly together. Music of sonic exploration isn't for everyone. I know that. But if your tastes run to the avant garde (you know, as in classical and such), then this just might pique your interest. There are more than a few ideas here worth hearing once or twice. . - Jon Worley

(Inkoma) The Emergency String Quartet is an ensemble with two violins, viola, cello and double bass, "On the corner" is their cd edited by Public Eyesore. The quintet plays a frenetic, intricate contemporary chamber music, with the bows that designs complicate and abstract scores, but in some moments the musicians play more quiet passages. The constant use of dissonances helps the composition's tension to stay high, and surely the musicians are really able to hide the melody. For many of you, this cd might be enjoyable, even if the album has got an effective conceptual value and we can consider this as cultured music. In particular, On the corner is hard to relate to anything, because it's a sort of soundtrack for an imaginary movie, abstract and emotive in an insidious way, that is so much influenced by the techniques of the free structures of jazz (especially the parts of double bass) and avant-garde. Beautiful album. - Vono

(Ampersand Etcetera 2003_A) The ESQ is two violins, viola, and double bass – directed by Bob Marsh on cello. I assume the four pieces here are improvised, as they have that free-flowing movement. But to my ears, an advantage string ensembles have is that the sort of noises and notes that improv uses are not that dissimilar to modern quartet and beyond written pieces which makes aural assimilation much easier as the language is more familiar – compared to picked scraped prepared guitar or blurting brass. The opener (and title track) supports that feeling – from sliding string notes it shifts into melody with plucking, there are some wild stirrings and skittish high notes with deep sustains, but also extended melodies. 'Dancing in the 21C' is similarly approachable as pizzicato and scrapes become melodic sustains with some Glass-like rapid repeats through the track. It ebbs and flows with some delicate moments, a little gypsy-feel and almost electronica, layered and billowing. There is more of a improv touch to 'The quality of mercy' with percussive scraping and sawing plus stranger sounds extracted – kazoo, buzz-drones and high electronics. A buzzing chord with deeper melody, instruments loop, there is more of the combined small gesture approach. A sliding dance into a wild crescendo, sliding sirens, mellows then a playful violin to a final climax. An alluring and alluding opening to 'Nocturne' as night-animal sounds are created – a howler monkey, rainsticks, animals growl and purr, insects sing – building to a furious middle before a quite delicat conclusion. An excellent collection of string pieces. - Jeremy Keens

(Touching Extremes) Recorded in San Francisco in 2001, here's one of the nicest string quintets I've ever heard. Jeff Hobbs and Kevin Van Yserloo (violins), Jonathan Fretheim (viola), Bob Marsh (cello) and Damon Smith (double bass) take the listener by the very ear and close him in a cellar where there are not many lights, just a lot of changes in mood and atmospheres. Emergency go from parallel glissando to scratching and hissing in a split second; they're capable of producing the most involving phrases - always firmly circumnavigating any consonance, of course - and letting you fall deep down in a cluster inferno. Also, the percussive aspect of their music is something you have to do with; some of their parts are not so far by Frank Zappa's music for strings contained on his "Yellow Shark", at least as a distant impression. This is a group putting Kronos Quartets and similar yuppies to sleep, once and for all. - Massimo Ricci

(Blastitude no. 15) The title made me think this would be a string quintet playing outside at a busy San Francisco intersection. Doesn't sound like it, though, sounds like they're in the same pristine studio that the Kronos Quartet or whoever uses. Maybe they played at 4AM when no one was around. Too bad it wasn't rush hour so this could have some kind of element of field recording surprise, or at least some heavy atmosphere, like that one from Japan where they played cellos and violins under huge Tokyo overpasses really late at night. (What was his name? Kuwamaya?) So the recording quality is dry and clear instead of grimy, so it hit me as played-out too-pristine Cadence-approvable free jazz. Or is it? Track three's almost 17 minutes long and it slowly makes its way through a slow shifting howl for almost that entire time, so that by the time they build into the de rigeuer tail-chase scratch-fight bow/pluck hoedown, they've actually earned it! - Matt Silcock

(Aural Innovations no. 23) Emergency String Quintet is a San Francisco based, all string, free-improv ensemble. The band consists of Jeff Hobbs and Kevin Van Yserloo on violins, Jonathan Fretheim on viola, Bob Marsh on cello, and Damon Smith on double bass. I had been introduced this past year to Hobbs work with the Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra and Left Coast Improv Group, and to Marsh, also in the Left Coast Improv Group and The Abstractions (see AI #21 for reviews of all). I love the use of string instruments in free-improv music and this a thoroughly enjoyable set, being a blend of chamber classical and Carl Stallings at his most creatively zany. There are four tracks ranging from 8 to nearly 20 minutes so the musicians really take the time to stretch out and develop the pieces. The music is highly expressive and always has a narrative feel, seamlessly evolving back and forth through slow paced delicate segments and faster, even frenzied sections. There are times when each musicians' contribution is distinct, and others when the strings come together in a more orchestral and even free-jazz style, and in these moments the double bass usually serves a rhythmic role or creates a low drone foundation upon which the rest of the ensemble builds increasing layers of emotion, intensity, and even good fun whimsy. The music flows so smoothly and the musicians seem so completely in communication with one another it would seem that much of this would have to be composed. In fact, I'm assuming that it's improvised based on the previous Marsh and Hobbs projects I've heard, though I'm blown away time and again when I confirm that such music really is improvised. (The credits do list Marsh as Director so the music may be improvised but with some discussion beforehand.) Recommended to all free-improv fans, especially if you're interested in something challenging but relatively accessible. - Jerry Kranitz

(Dead Angel no. 58) Unclassifiable sounds from the land of improv free jazz, in prime PE territory. Four long tracks recorded in December of 2001 at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco with two violinists, cello, double bass, and viola. Directed by cellist Bob Marsh, they behave very much like a traditional string quartet, only they deal in pinched, plucked, and hampered sounds rather than traditional chamber music. The results are often a highly orchestrated combination of bizarre noises accompanied by broken screeching that still retains a highly musical character without degenerating into pure cacaphonous noise. (Well, most of the time, anyway. Sometimes it's just wild abandon and wallowing in grotesque sounds, but that's okay with me.) It would be interesting to see what they're doing, exactly -- sometimes the sounds coming through the speakers bear no resemblance whatsoever to what you imagine could come out of a hunk of wood and wires -- but even without visuals the sounds are intriguing and evocative. The early pieces are a bit busier and the later ones more inclined toward spare plains of near-ambient drift, but all four offer a tasty (if sometimes perplexing) audio sampling of gourmet sound. No cheese or artificial flavoring, just pure whole grain goodness. Enjoy. - RKF

(AmbiEntrance 2/03) This is not your grand aunts' classical music... the twisted symphonics take off on skewed strands which veer and plink through On the Corner (Market & Sixth) (7:43) ; they hang a sharp left, squeaking, squawking, stretching and sawing rather haphazardly (save for a few mellow phrases). Dancing in the 21C (18:40) steps out on randomish plunks and twangs... this seemingly unorchestrated "dance" involves multiple instruments morphing between something like a honking seal, old-worldish interludes, suspenseful moods, spastically-bowed horsehairs and intricate fretboard maneuvers, cool bass riffing and much more... all strewn along a meandering path. The Quality of Mercy shows little compassion for those expecting a conventional concerto, though its quieter moments brood along nicely enough (except for the thin, queasy squeakdrones, maybe...) . A fourth and final track Nocturne (closing the disc at more than 54 minutes) bristles and blurts, moans and keens, occasionally smoothing out, but mostly spasticizing all over my last nerve, sorry to report. Though, if someone wants you to stop playing that "weird electronic noise" now you can tell them you've got a string quintet you'd like them to hear! - David J. Opdyke

(Splendid Ezine 2/19/2003) The Emergency String Quintet consists of Jeff Hobbs and Kevin van Yserloo playing violin, Jonathan Fretheim playing viola, cellist and director Bob Marsh, and double bassist Damon Smith. They seem to specialize in extended techniques -- for instance, sound effects created with instruments by playing them in ways other than the standard fashion. Thus, On the Corner (Market and Sixth) is rife with pizzicati (plucked strings), bow-scrapings, and microtones (notes that fall in between the pitches of the traditional Western chromatic scale). This release of four improvised pieces works, on the whole, rather well. The players seem to know their Sixties and Seventies avant-garde classical composers -- many of the moments and textures they create show a cognizance of Ligeti, Penderecki, Berio and Crumb. What these composers have at the ready, which the ESQ lacks, is the pre-determined formal structure of a notated score. As such, the ensemble must listen closely to each other to create the events and trajectory of each piece. It's apparent upon hearing On the Corner that the players involved are very sensitive and capable of close interaction, which makes the album's many labyrinthine and complex structures attractive indeed. - Christian Carey

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