Shaking Box Music

(SBM021) Neil Campbell & Richard Youngs – ‘Six Scores’ LP
First new duo LP in over 15 years from these UK-based experimental stalwarts. Six Scores is a puzzling record of score-based (musical & directive) songs, playfully rigid yet entirely absurd in both process and the result presented on the LP. In advance of a live gig in Leeds, Neil and Richard figured they would try making songs by giving each other directions. Both agreed to pick one instrument each, in addition to vocals. Richard chose electric violin and Neil chose casio/electronics. After coming up with six song titles, lyrics were written independent of one another. They also wrote six scores to be played or followed by the other, so each would be singing their own lyrics while also attempting to play the other’s score. For the gig, neither showed the scores to each other beforehand. Neil made verbal instructions, “sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, that I thought might cause Richard some problems performing.” Richard’s scores were long, carefully notated pieces that, in Neil’s words, “would definitely cause me some problems, as I don’t read sheet music. To compound it, he later told me most of them were unplayable anyway.” In laying this approach to record, each recorded their contributions independently without reference to the other’s playing. Neil took effort to play the actual notation as closely as he could, giving each piece a general tonality. He recorded three tracks and told Richard the track lengths, so their contributions would be the same length. They recorded three songs each in this manner, eventually mixing their contributions over each other so that any interaction between their playing is coincidental, with only key and track length forming the cement. Edition of 300.

(SBM022) Friesen/Waters Duo – ‘No. 3’ C48
First new tape in several years from Calgary-based ambient/free jazz duo of guitarist Devin Friesen (aka Bitter Fictions) and saxophonist Nate Waters. No. 3 is their most assured outing of spontaneous compositions yet, reflecting several years of improvising and performing together. There is a copacetic lightness to the playing, even when it gets murky – a floating swamp of effected & prepared guitars poked and prodded by Waters’ entirely clean playing, carving spaces between shearing distortion, melodic sensibility, and enveloping textural droning. The ambient zones are deeper, the dissonance cuts sharper, and the tape recording keeps everything just warm enough to keep from freezing. Recorded & mixed by D.F. in the Library Basement, 2016. Blue cassettes with black ink-screened print. Edition of 80.