Paul Hartsaw's SocioCybernetic Music Machine | Oakland 2007

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Oakland 2007

by Paul Hartsaw's SocioCybernetic Music Machine

Avant-garde chamber music interpolating written materials in the context of free improvisation. Featuring creative musicians from both the Bay Area and Chicago including Phillip Greenlief and Damon Smith. Liner notes by Guillermo Gregorio.
Genre: Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation
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  Song Share Time Download
1. 32 Moments for Octet
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51:48 album only
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
Kristian Aspelin – ele. guitar, Ara Anderson – trumpet, Jerome Bryerton – percussion , Phillip Greenlief – soprano saxophone, Aurora Josephson – voice, Jacob Lindsay – clarinet, Scott Looney – piano, electronic, Damon Smith - double bass

Excerpt from Guillermo Gregorio's liner notes:

“...What really caught my attention listening to this CD was that, in spite of the heterogeneous concoction of expressions that this music contains, the different episodes, changing atmospheres, alternating articulations of texture, and other occurrences are perfectly discernible events of very clear characteristics. The clear articulations between those events bestow a rare and attractive consistency to the whole musical discourse. The tendency toward saturation (both of density and volume), repetition of routines (crescendo/decrescendo development, as an example), an overly pathetic expressionism, and other repeated tricks so common to many contemporary improvisations don’t occur here. The quality and skills of the players in this record are—indeed!—main factors to achieve that uniqueness.”


to write a review

Andy Hamilton

SCMM review from the August 2009 issue of WIRE magazine
Paul Hartsaw's SocioCybernetic Music Machine
Oakland 2007
Metastablesound CD

SocioCybernetic Music Machine consists of eight Bay Area improvisers, directed by saxophonist Paul Hartsaw. Born in 1973, he founded the small Improv ensemble Desiring Machines in 1997, and this larger group is an outgrowth of that project.

With this 52 minute work for octet, Hartsaw traces a distinctive path between the poles of composition and improvisation, to create a music of extreme contrasts -- between solo and group sounds, gentler consonance and extreme dissonance. The opening is just one compelling instance. Vocalist Aurora Josephson begins unaccompanied, then the music swells into a luminous fanfare for the whole ensemble, to be followed by the most uncompromising free Improv from several players in turn. Collective passages recur, in a pattern that distantly resembles Ornette's Free Jazz -- there's a particularly gorgeous, shimmering example at the 25 minute mark.

In his extensive sleeve notes, Guillermo Gregorio explains Hartsaw's concept of a series of moments in which each player is assigned either a plus sign (play/improvise), a minus sign (lay out), or a double plus sign (solo). Gregorio criticizes the common view that the only element to be considered in appreciating a piece of music is how it sounds -- here, he argues, "the procedure is the music." Hartsaw aims to include musicians of many different backgrounds, and to subvert what he regards as clichéd approaches in improvisation -- the tendency to saturation of density and volume, repetition of routines and "overly pathetic expressionism." The inclusion of a fairly expressionist singer -- though it's hard to avoid an emotive charge with the voice -- to some extent goes against the grain, then, but in other ways Hartsaw's approach is novel and refreshing.

Andy Hamilton