various artists – Free Percussion

Artist: various artists
Title: Free Percussion
Keywords: experimental abstract adventurous drums free free form improv improvisation minimalist percussion tape music Granada
Label: tsss tapes

When you realize that free percussion isn’t free, you might think ‘oh no they tricked us!’, only to realize that in this case ‘free’ doesn’t stand for that it’s up for grabs for the feasible amount of nothing, but for free improvisation. Sorry for all the cheap skates who came here for the bargain, but than again the whole thing isn’t unhealthy in the price is right genre. Especially when you realize that you can get the whole collection on a cassette tape! That is if you are quick as F, as on the day of publishing this post there are just 5 tapes left & time is running out!

Free Percussion is apparently packed with twelve percussionists, so this tape might be a bit like those eighties dating tapes, but instead of featuring videos of humans talking about them selves in the hope for a mix and a match, here we can hear percussionists doing their free thing so we could choose the ones that we liked the most. So if you had ever been in the need for a percussionist you could simply listen to the tape, count which track you are on and than when you had found the right percussionist for the job, google the F out of them.

It’s of course a highly personal thing, every body likes a different kind of percussion, rhythm etc. but I thought for good old party sake to dive into this tape and see if there is anyone out there that would suit my future project of gamelan metal. I went in and here are my honest thoughts as written out for moral support:

Claire Rousay brings a piece titled ‘her striped shirt’ it is one of the highly avant-garde ones, you can close your eyes and imagine her doing a slight comedic act of playing drums after the intake of muscle relaxants. Hands with drum sticks slap huskily on the skin, brush softly on the high hats or brush a bit like a spastic attack on either the Tom or the snare. I don’t know if it was meant to sound like this but it felt comical and amusing, very lose hands tranquilized as they played freely… I would hire her if I was going to need a percussion but in a slap stick movie.. maybe another big plan in the future!

Up next is Rie Nakajima, which seems to intimidate my alarm clock, making it walk away by itself as the sound of percussion could never been beaten by that poor little clock that annoys every morning. In fact this might be the ideal percussion piece to be used as an alarm. Now if only I could program it so it would be the track to wake me everyday.. also would suit quite well as the alarm sound for a train crossing. You know the lights go red, the gates closes and this free improvised percussion work plays to bring awareness to the blind not to cross – or be flattened by the train. Yes, I see lots of potential over here…

Chris Dadge’s Walking Spruce seems like a bit of a nervous one, ticking speedily with the sticks as if it is in a hurry, checking out of the Jam jars are half ful or empty. I would say that this percussionist goes on the list of potential talent that could serve the gamelan metal project probably well.

Håkon Berre sounds a bit like how I always stir my pots and pans. Round and round in circles, trying to get to the bottom of all this. It’s as if the percussionist had gone into the rusty garden shed to do some cleaning and DIY stuff. A whole collection of it is being showcased here, from the cooking pots, to funnily playing around with crayons, beans or a shovel with cat litter grid… gosh the sounds of this percussionist are speaking to the imagination… perfect match if you need some creative percussionist that could turn every normal item into something bang or shakable. I think it’s really cool, the kind of percussionist you would want to hear when in a high!

Oh but than we have the free percussion by a certain Ted Byrnes… wow. Does Ted works in the recycling center? Or is Ted a fervent drinker and collected all the empty glass in a huge bin to shake and tumble around in the recording studio? It might as well be a whole lot of steel cables or other more rusty bits of iron.. I don’t know but it feels as if Ted makes art out of garbage. A true recycler at heart if you needed one.

Next up is Tim Daisy, one that clearly loves the sound of cymbals and crashes. Who could blame Tim? After all Tim is a percussionist. It also seems like Tim got a basket for of pegs, or screws or who knows what at his disposal. You can clearly hear him playing with the whole bunch like a true experimentalist that seems to take the concept of percussion into a new kind of level.

Will Guthrie also comes up with a showcase of percussive abilities. Will’s free percussion comes across as the stuff that modern day new age cuckoos are thrilled with. The perfect suitable material for so called ‘sound baths’ is what Will seems to have created over here. Everything is very relaxed, mindful and perfect for those yoga meditation things that will leave the contestant all positively refreshed. Will might not be the one to go for the gamelan metal, although who knows; this percussionist might have some gamelan instruments in its arsenal.

Simon Camatta is pretty active on this tape, lots of things are going on, the sound of a nervous nerve wreck yet that somehow not comes across as nervous at all. Playful might be simply the better word for it. Concrete Love is the free percussion piece named, which somehow makes me think that Simon is the right person if you want to get all your buttons pushed and for an active love making session that is quick, innovative and efficient.

Kevin Corcoran comes across as the serious person among the other percussionists, he just does even though I cannot really put my finger on it why that is exactly. There is a lot of rumbling action going on in Kevin’s track, making me think of a DIY hobbyist that invited us in his shed for a showcase of new tools that he had been working on. The title of the work reveals that it’s made for bells and snares so that’s probably what it is that my ears (and maybe yours?) are hearing. It’s very abstract and busy, as if we just bumped into his workplace at the wrong time, while he was in the middle of something..

Skyler Rowe’s work feels as if the spoons, forks, knifes and some shaking bells had been placed on a drumkit for this percussionist to do some magic with. It’s all shaky as if it’s a side effect of Parkinson’s with enough tremors to make it all sound funky and cool in the end. I like this, how it becomes a cool drum at the final bits, groovily grooving out in a way that I quietly think that this might be the person for gamelan metal. Innovative and rhythmic … skyler’s work made me dance!

Francesco Covarino also makes an appearance. This work here feels similar to eating wet snacks, like a juicy apple or soaked crayons or perhaps popcorn in a wooden bowl. I don’t know what to make of it other than that this free percussion piece is making me hungry!

The last one on the tape is João Lobo, one that made something that sounded quite fun. As if the free percussionist had written it all out, playing like a solid orchestra player on things that feel as if it’s a bird cage or some small pots and cups; it’s quite friendly and a nice ending to feel happy about. Light but tight might be the best key sentence to describe it.

And there we have it, I checked them all out, let their free percussion works do their impressionistic things and can cone to the conclusion that all of them have their own differences, their own qualities and styles. There is probably at least one that would suit all the occasions that you could need a free percussionist for. But together as a whole it’s a rather fun listen, I wonder what kind of people would play this in their cars as they go for a drive,., so much things to think about, yet so little time to discuss any further. If you want percussion as done in a freestyle way; seek no further:

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