Random reviews, articles, interviews and other writings which may or may not have anything to do with me directly.
Review of Cremaschi–Kepl–Vrba – Resonators [Another Timbre - 2016]
Here’s another release from the ever dependable Another Timbre, arriving in a sombre white card wallet, adorned with a cryptically beautiful photograph of a windowed room. The album has four tracks, two longer pieces which outlast 13 minutes, and two shorter, at four and six minutes. The trio divide up thusly: Cremaschi on double bass, Kepl on violin, and Vrba on trumpet and clarinet. Each also plays the mysterious ‘and electronics’ - it would be nice to have these devices or set-ups further elaborated, but they do remain a mystery. The tracks were recorded in a monastery, and hall, both in Czech Republic, so (as is often a feature of Another Timbre releases) we are listening to the space as much as to the musicians. The first piece, Affective Labor, credited to Cremaschi, is a monstrous start to the album. It’s 13 minutes of drifting - yet strong - feedback, drones, and hums, with the acoustic instruments poking through from time to time. The beautifully blurry bass drones, and arcing lines of feedback, border on noisiness at points. It’s really not that far from an incredibly complex and deep piece of dark ambient music. Around the ten minute mark, the work explodes with outbursts of chirruping clarinet, and strong violin, before dissipating just as quickly. Whilst there is a general sense of purity, and ‘cleanliness’ about the overall sound, throughout the piece there are background noises and thuds, which stop it from becoming sterile. Soma, the second track - credited to Kepl - begins quite differently, with smaller, more articulate sounds and playing. However, soon enough, large bassy monoliths appear. It’s a much more shifting, dynamic work than Affective Labor, with distinct sections and separated ideas. It jumps from quiet to loud in seconds, and for the most part maintains a violence, without recourse to simple noise - often through frenzied or very hard scraping, or blowing. The third track, Locus Resonatus (assigned to Vrba), is somewhat different from the start. Simple, long notes from the clarinet are slowly complimented and built upon, until a heavy classical drone is constructed. Built out of several interlocking layers, this rich and colourful piece seems to get progressively more and more intense. With straining, high violin notes, and almost martial trumpet calls, the track seems to be much more than the result of a mere three people. Complimenting this, is the fourth and final track, Pirol; it’s the shortest effort at 4:08, and like Soma is credited to Irene Kepl. Like the aforementioned Soma, Pirol is a dynamic piece, that is perhaps less concerned with playing the performance space than Affective Labor. To put things another way, there is more emphasis on the musicians interacting with each other, rather than explicitly with the space they find themselves in - though, of course, the space is not removed from this equation. Pirol’s most striking elements are the contrasting of straight, held trumpet notes with thuggish slams from the double bass - the latter punctuating the former with visceral abandon. Though the track also notably contains various micro-sounds, bubbling, scraping, and burbling. This is a very fine set of recordings, which compliment each other very nicely, and in doing so cover a lot of ground. The trio really do dissolve into each other at points, creating a true sense of selfless, group playing. I must admit that whilst I really enjoyed the first track, Affective Labor (which, let’s be clear, is quite staggering), I also suspected that the rest of the album might follow in it’s footsteps - but Resonators doesn’t. Instead, the remaining three pieces carve out different spaces and sound-worlds (though Soma and Pirol are undoubtedly similar), and show different sides of the grouping. A very recommended release.
Martin P – Musique Machine
Review of concert, HearMe! festival in Prague 29 September, 2013:
Another unquestionable highlight of the day was the final performance, solo bassist George Cremaschi! He plays the robust instrument extremely physically, with almost nuclear power. Sometimes I felt as if the bass was being violated, or at least passionately tamed. He bangs on it with fists and sticks, literally tearing strings, crushing its body and rubbing it raw with fingers and bow. He is a master at playing with the bow. A flageolet king! On the other hand, he built up the intensity of the sound in such a way that you felt as if a chainsaw was cutting through your head.
Jan Hocek – JazzPort.cz
Conversation: Burkhard Stangl and George Cremaschi
BS: And why I am interested in this kind of moment, in general, maybe it’s just a private thing, how somebody, not educated, or forced to do something, starts to do something. It’s a general question: why someone becomes an artist. I’m asking always, okay, my parents were interested in choir music, and my brother played a little rock and roll, but why I became interested in this kind of special field, I have no clue. I don’t know this kind of input.
GC: I think one of the problems I had for many years was that I had too many interests - it was hard to focus on one thing, I liked a lot of different things, and I tried to learn them all. Too many focuses to be able to be focused enough. Now after all of these years, things are coming together in a good way, in a way that I had thought when I was young would take five or ten years, to synthesize all of the influences. It’s taken almost 30 years, because there were too many...
BS: Well, this touches me quite a lot because in our times this kind of idea to be a Renaissance human being has no chance, actually. I mean, you are punished if you have too many interests. You have to be like, okay, I study this, and then I make this, and then I make a career, and if you take a step away from this people are like, What is this? What are you doing? You know too much about art, you know too much about literature, you know too much about film….what are you? I’m still in this kind of problem, but at the same time I don’t want to be a person who is just focused on one thing, it’s not me. There is no space, I guess. But that's why I'm interested, concerning your musical personality, because you did a lot of things, and you are interested in different kinds of music, and you played in a lot of ensembles, and groups and bands, but in the end now we are here, in September 2010, and you are representing something...
GC: but I don't know what that is...
BS: but me, and some other people, do have an idea of what it is that George Cremaschi represents. Even if it's not right, but we have an idea of something, which is good – and that is an interesting point. Even if you don't agree with every kind of interpretation. You were always interested in this kind of not-commercial thinking, and this kind of resistance against something, is maybe an important part of your personality. Because not everyone is moving from the States to Europe...it's maybe this quality of resistance that makes someone move from, for example, from New York to San Francisco, and then from San Francisco to Europe. And they are real big decisions, at the end. You have to completely reorganize your life, but at the same time still try to be recognized, to show that you are an artist – it's not like, ok, I'll just get a job, and I'll teach there, or whatever, it's always like you start from zero, somehow.
BS: Why do you like this kind of aesthetics?
GC: I think that when I was younger, there was an attraction to things because they were extreme, because they were unpopular, and quite obviously that's not enough of a reason to like anything, but I lacked the ability to articulate what it was that I liked. Clearly there was some other attraction, and at this point in my life I would be happier if the things I liked were more popular, because we would all have more money. So I don't care about being in an exclusive club, anymore. But why my aesthetics are what they are? I don't know.
BS: I mean, I wouldn't be able to answer this question...you see something, you hear something, or you feel something, and something starts to tremble in your heart or brain or whatever, but the rest is just enigmatic and you cannot say it's because, whatever...
BS: In the last 100 years, we don't have anymore this kind of transcendental idea, this expression of something, we are on our own, unfortunately. I can't say, if I'm not right, that the gods are guilty – I mean it's not possible, we don't do it anymore. But art still tries somehow to find a link to this transcendentalism, to give us a reason that it still makes sense to live.
GC: One of the reasons for me to be in constant rejection of commercial or popular things is that those things are inevitably contaminated by other ideas beyond just making an artwork simply because you want be in a realm of ideas, or communication.
One of the problems with using religious terms is that they are so loaded, so I always stay away from this kind of talk. I've rejected all of the other things, I've rejected religion, and government, and political systems, everything that people believe in, I've rejected all of it, but I still have to have a reason to live. I still have to have a reason to make things, and to do things, and even though I reject the circumstances that have made most people not open, I am still trying to find those people who have been lucky enough to be able to break through, and are wandering in the desert, hoping to find a little water and someone to talk to. Otherwise, I don't really see a reason, you know? It would be difficult to get up in the morning.
BS: ...and that's also an expression of a political idea of how to live and construct a social life, you know?
GC: Whether I like it or not, I'm from the US. My story is not so uncommon among the musicians I know there. But it is uncommon here in Europe. I'm lucky that I grew up there, in that there is this idea that you can do whatever you want. The negative side of that is that most people don't understand that it comes with a level of responsibility...
BS: Freedom is not free.
GC: Exactly. One of the big problems in the US now is that the concept of personal responsibility is disappearing, and people don't seem to understand that they actually have to pay a price for this 'freedom'.
Tábor, Česká republika September 2010
Brutalsfx 25 November, 2008:
this is Cremaschi live? Tudor, meet Hymnen, Day In The Life/Beatles(end) meet Atrax Morgue skinning crib as a puppy sanctuary?? processed Penderecki pleasure pounce.
whole lotta fukt goin on!! this is going into my RFID tracking leg
implant autocompass set to epistomology.
Review of concert, 21 Grand, Oakland, California 11 December, 2009:
Bran Pos/Cremaschi/Ingalls created a very nearly exactly 30 minute landscape of electronics: actual (George) and acoustically induced by violin (Matt) and prepared cello (Jake), with some clarinet and the snakey klaggfahrhosengarrdentuben that mingalls finally picked up. Patient, tiny to giant dynamics, driven by subtle sustains and punctuating marks / distinct sections that seem to issue from a discipline of openness? listening? Dunno. But, thank jeebus, non-narratival, never pure demonstrations of technique, and no inevitable changes due to sheer velocity, or boredom. Seeing Matt's circular tinnitus clarinet covered by other sounds made me want to hear it all by itself again, something I usually swear I will never do right after I just have. Did not lose hearing, but was perpetually afraid I might, so the whole thing was totally riveting while appearing to be at a complete standstill. Restraint. Intensity. Awesome.
GAMBLE - Memory Collapse (Evolving Ear) by
Welch is part of Psi (or "Peeesseye"), one of the most
improvising groups on the American scene; George
has played with a lot of big names such as Evan Parker, Fred
and Nels Cline. Nothing of the above will prepare you to "Memory
which is a collection of miniature oddities for percussion,
and double bass that rips several pages from the comic book of
music while also massaging the skull with some eerie drone-based
fascinating like menacing your neighbour's children
a Swiss knife only to give it to them as a present after you
them to death. Repetitive-but-not-too-much clangorous procedures
the fairly splintered interplay between Welch and Cremaschi
to establish a fractured, involving narrative that stands
an intransigent ideology made of extravagant adornments and
convulsion. A plausible choice for two musicians who accept no
as far as ramshackle aesthetics is concerned.
a matter of taste: Mom is dubious about son's computer-generated
Dr Joyce Brothers
DR. BROTHERS: My son is a contemporary musician, and has
started experimenting with computerized sound in his
I don't think his work is as moving or emotional as it was
he was playing instruments himself, now that he is using
Does this make sense, or am I just prejudiced against
music because I'm old-fashioned? - M.V.
M.V.: It's great that your son is able to branch out and
with using new, state-of-the-art technology to explore
boundaries of his art. Despite your opinion of his music, you
certainly encourage him to innovate and try new things. As
as your judgment of the quality of his music that uses
or computer-generated sounds, you are, of course,
to have your own taste in music. It may be that he is
music that sounds unfamiliar to you, or that you otherwise
enjoy, so you might be predisposed to enjoy it less than
music your son was making previously. However,
there actually may be a serious basis to your opinions. In
recent study published in the Public Library of Science journal,
found that when people listened to music played by a real
a stronger emotional response was created in their brains
when listening to the same music generated by a computer. The
music still elicited an emotional response, but
wasn't as strong as when the music was being played by a person.
seems musicians can strengthen the emotions in a piece of music,
when we listen to musicians, we react to all the aspects of the
that cannot necessarily be produced by computers. In
case, you might be reacting to the decreased level of
that your son has with the actual making of his music,
feeling a less-intense emotional response to his music because
you see only one performance this entire year, you're pathetic.
But come to this and everything else is gravy. If you don't like gravy, how about rennetless harmonic digestions? This is why Odysseus took the wax out
of his ears!"
Bonbons vom Avantgarde-Künstler: George Cremaschi mit seiner ungewöhnlichen Definition des modernen Kontrabass im LOFFT
Dunkle Erinnerungen an frühe Zahnarztbesuche. Das Kreischen des Bohrers. Der Dentist mit schlohweißem Haar und ausdruckslosem Lachen im hageren Gesicht. "Sollen wir noch einen machen?" pflegte er emotionslos nach dem ersten Bohren zu fragen . Hinterher gab es ein Bonbon von der Zahnarzthelferin.
Ein ähnlich finster-undurchschaubares Lachen hat auch Kontrabassist George Cremaschi abrufbereit. Sparsam dosiert er es während seines Konzertes im Lindenauer LOFFT Der Komponist und Performer aus San Francisco (aufgewachsen in New York) hat sich seit 1995 einen Namen gemacht. Er spielte mit Jazz-Avantgardisten, der Downtown-Szene und tauchte in die wilde Punkund Trash-Gemeinde des "Big Apple" ein, bevor es ihn an die Westküste verschlug.
Vor den Augen des Leipziger Publikums malträtiert der Avantgarde-Künstler sein Instrument unter anderem mit Plastikmessern, Ess-Stäbchen und anderen Gegenständen, entlockt ihm unglaubliche Klänge, zerrt an Saiten und Nerven mit seiner nicht alltäglichen Auffassung von Musik. Er geht mit seinem Kontrabass um wie es die Hardcore-Ikonen von Black Flag mit ihren Gitarren taten: Quietschen wie von Rückkopplungen, rohe Kraft wird frei, der Meister atmet schwer, spielt stakkatoartige Riffs. Entspanntere Stücke experimentieren mit Industrial-Sounds und befremdlichen Geräusch-Collagen. Nach einer kleinen Pause verstärkt sich Cremaschi um Tilo Augsten. Der ist gefragter Pianist und Dozent für Improvisationsausbildung an der Leipziger Musikhochschule. Auch er kann allerhand mit seinem Instrument anstellen. Improvisation ist ein bisschen wie Fußball: Aus dem Können der Akteure ergeben sich Möglichkeiten und mitunter spannende Szenen, hier besonders zum Ende des Spiels. Ansonsten wird halt der Ball hinund hergeschoben. Wer es nicht mag, der leidet. "Sollen wir noch einen machen?", fragt Augsten auf Zuruf aus dem Publikum nach dem letzten Stück. "Na gut", Cremaschi und Augsten machen sich wieder über ihre Instrumente her. Bonbons gibt es am Ausgang nicht. Aber Salzstangen. Immerhin.
Sweets from the Avant-garde Artist: George Cremaschi, with his unusual definition of the modern double bass in LOFFT
Dark memories of early dental visits. The screech of the drill. The Dentist with snow-white hair and expressionless laughter on his haggard face. "Shall we do another one?" he asked emotionlessly after the first drilling. Afterwards there was a piece of candy from the dental assistant.
A similar dark-inscrutable smile has also bassist George Cremaschi on call. He used it sparingly during his concert in Lindenauer LOFFT. The composer
and performer from San Francisco (grew up in New York) has since 1995
made a name for himself. He's played with the jazz
Avant-garde, the downtown scene and hung around in the wild Punk und Trash community of
the "Big Apple" before it drove him to the West Coast.
the eyes of the Leipzig audience the avant-garde artist mistreated his instrument with plastic knives, chopsticks and other
items, he elicits incredible sounds, pulls the strings and nerves with
his unusual view of music. He walks
around with his bass as did the hardcore icons of Black Flag with their
guitars: the squeal of feedback, such as, and brute force is released, the
master is breathing hard, playing staccato riffs. More relaxed pieces experiment with industrial sounds and disconcerting noise collages. After a short break, Cremaschi is joined by Tilo Augsten. He is in demand as a pianist and teacher of improvisation training at the Leipzig Conservatory. He, too, can do all sorts of things with his instrument. Improvisation
is a bit like football: from the skills of the players opportunities
arise and sometimes exciting scenes, most notably the end of the game. Otherwise, the ball is pushed to and fro. Who does not like it, suffers. "Shall we do another one?" asks Augsten on demand from the audience after the last piece. "Well, ok". Cremaschi and Augsten make something again on their instruments. Sweets are not the output. But pretzels. Nevertheless.
Markus Wittpenn – Leipziger Volkszeitung 16 July, 2000
The trio of Saadet Türköz, Fred Frith, and George Cremaschi
are incredible and should record 10 records together. After such a long
time, I actually FELT EMOTIONS with music. All of them at once in fact.
Saadet Türköz's voice is from the worlds both before and after the human
ones. The trio moved with great continuity through a million disparate
worlds...it was like light, at once wave-like (continuous) and particle
like, where every particle carries its own internal rhythmic structure and
color combinations. At once a scene from Berg's Wozzek, the greatest rock band ever and six
orchestras, everyone on their own pitch and playing at an individual and
changing rate of vibrato like something Stockhausen might try to do and
achieve less affectively
Jorge Boehringer – ba-newmus 9 November, 2001
Music Unlimited 24: Der zweite Tag, Samstag, der 6. November
Die zweite Matinee mit großem Engagement auf hervorragenden Schauplätzen: NoSugar und Dunmall-Edwards-Corsano.
NoSugar setzt die bereits von Isabelle Duthoit angefangene Linie fort, die Stimme wird auch hier als Instrument, diesmal von Audrey Chen benutzt, dazu der perfekte Kontrabass von George Cremaschi und der einwandfreie Stil von Liz Albee. Die Leistung der Letzteren hat mich an den Minimalismus von Axel Dörner erinnert. Habt ihr übrigens gewusst, dass der eigene Dialekt von Audrey Chen dem Altenglischen aus dem XVI Jh., in welchem die Sonette von Shakespeare geschrieben worden sind auffallend ähnlich ist? Ja, Marika Hughes, wusste das; nahm ganz ihre Nadeln taktvoll in die Hand und begann zu stricken.
George Staicu – Frontjournal 28 November, 2010
Biggi Vinkeloe, George Cremaschi, Miya Masaoka, Gino Robair Klang. Farbe. Melodie. 482 Music
An album of nonidiomatic free improvisation performed by a collective consisting of alto saxophonist/flutist Biggi Vinkeloe, bassist George Cremaschi, 21-string Koto player Miya Masaoka and percussionist Gino Robair. Spontaneity and avoidance of cliche carry the day. The 13 miniatures (the longest track is a shade over 5 1/2 minutes) are for the most part sparsely constructed and quietly rendered. Vinkeloe is a compelling player, very sensitive and attentive. That said, my favorite track is one from which she's absent: "Minous" is a lovely trialogue between Masaoka, Cremaschi and Robair. Masaoka and Cremaschi click beautifully, sharing some of the same tonal and melodic ground, while the discerning Robair embellishes their conversation. Similarly memorable is "A Marginal Icon," whereupon Vinkeloe adds her voice sparingly but effectively to the discontinuous flow, while Robair does a kind of slow-motion impression of Sunny Murray. Robair's various ancillary percussionisms are interesting, but I like the sound he gets out of a drum kit. There's no other drummer like him. There aren't any hummable ditties here, yet it's a CD I suspect I'll keep coming back to.