Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Up Half-Known Roads: Solo Drumming Records, Installment 2

Where does the time go? The other day, while checking out the post listing for this humble blog, Disaster Amnesiac noticed that it's been almost a full year since my last installment of Up Half Known Roads. When I had initiated this mini-series, I had planned on posting them with more frequency! With that fact in mind, I figure it's high time to describe and enthuse about a few more solo percussion records! Drummer jokes welcome in the Comments Section, naturally.

Simon Barker-Driftwood; Kinmara, 2012
In the 2009 film Intangible Asset Number 82, Australian drummer Simon Barker is shown as he embarks upon a quest to Korea, in search of that country's top practitioner of their intense shamanic drumming style. Throughout the film, Barker's deep and abiding love for the form and all of its musical and ontological complexities is in evidence as he overcomes many obstacles in order to finally meet up with Kim Seok-Chul, who is literally a national treasure in that country. Driftwood definitely exposes the fruits of that labor. Simon incorporates the jing, a large gong (and overdubbed shakuhachi on one track), into his trap set for six tunes of somewhat contemplative soloing. Not that he doesn't get intense at times, for, when he wants to, Barker can roll around the traps with the best Jazz drummers, beating out quick tattoos and around the kit flourishes. For the most part, however, he seems to try to stir up more intensely intimate vibes, as he uses the long-ish tones from the jing to voice, in concert with his beautifully low tuned bass drum and floor tom tom, spiritual, speaking sounds. Simon's mixture of space and notes, particularly on the track For Dong Won, give the proceedings a serious, darkly ritualistic air. At one point in Intangible Asset, Barker and a Korean shaman talk about letting the sound flow in a more natural sense, away from the ego and its showiness. On Driftwood, Simon Barker goes to those deeper, more meaningful places with his drumming. Find a quiet place to sit and listen to Driftwood, and hear those subtler pulses of life.

Nick Hennies-Objects; Kendra Steiner Editions #189, 2011
As opposed to Driftwood, with its roots in older spiritual streams, Nick Hennies' Objects takes for its conceptual inspiration from the more modern matrix of Object Relations, a subset of psychoanalytic theory. Object Relations stresses, according to Hennies' liner note, "an innate desire to form and maintain relationships[.]"  He proceeds to use a very minimal approach on congas, woodblocks, and claves, striking them with incessant, repetitive eighth note patterns. This aspect of the piece brings images of Plains Indian pow wow action to mind, along with the perhaps more obvious reference to post-Cage Modern Composition. It is with the addition of of vibes as a kind of resonating apparatus that the composition takes on a really interesting effect. Paired with the sound of sticks striking surfaces, or wood hitting wood, the vibes are vibrated with waves that make up those sounds; with careful attentiveness, the listener is treated to all kinds of micro-sounds from this blending. Disaster Amnesiac assumes that the point of this action is to reveal how entities transform each others' effect through their interaction. Disaster Amnesiac also just really enjoys sliding this disc into the player, putting on headphones, and trippin' out on the all of the echoing micro-tones that bounce around my head. Highbrow, I know. Seriously, though, Objects rewards close listening. Read the liner note in its entirety, too, and get a bit more educated as you drift.
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This will conclude 2013's first edition of Up Half-Known Roads. Disaster Amnesiac can't promise another installment this year, but, rest assured I'll be filling my ears with more solo drumming delights. Perhaps I've convinced you to do the same some time. 

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