The Wire, Dan Warburton
The press release is disingenuous in describing "Forlorn Green" as "lo-fi": even if Jason Lescalleet's work involves tapeloops using cheap recording gear and "trashed" speakers, his digital reworking and mastering is painstakingly perfectionist and perfect. Recorded in four different locations in the Boston area (a church, a gallery, an art school and the local Twisted Village record store) and crafted in Lescalleet's studio with what can only be described as loving care, the sonic alchemy of this work is breathtaking. Almost all the material was sourced from Greg Kelley's extraordinary trumpet playing, recorded onto microcassettes and morphed by Lescalleet into soundscapes that will have you pinching yourself in disbelief is it a double bass? A contrabass clarinet? A foghorn? A helicopter? Though predominantly slow moving and spacious, there's nothing chilled-out and soporific here instead a fantastic attention on the part of the musicians to details not only of structure and timbre, but also (rare these days) pitch. This is the new musique spectrale describing it as "improvised music" is strictly untrue, and moreover fails to do justice to Lescalleet's meticulous montage. There's a truly three-dimensional sense of depth to the mix (Giacinto Scelsi's idea of spherical sound comes to mind), and even if these guys can tear it up when they want to witness Kelley's scorching work on Paul Flaherty's "The Ilya Tree" (Boxholder) and Lescalleet's teeth-grinding noisefests with Ron Lessard in Due Process that violence is here channelled into something quiet but equally intense. There are occasional disturbing moments the jack-jerking flutters and growls of "Tight Spot" but the final exquisite "Autumn Leaves", with its slowly pulsing distant drones is as rich and dark as Audrey Lescalleet's gorgeous cover art. Quite simply outstanding.
Signal To Noise, Michael Rosenstein
After trumpet player Greg Kelley's solo release on Meniscus, it was hard to believe that anything could sound even more brash, raw, and forceful. That is, until you slap on this collaboration with tape manipulator Jason Lescalleet. This is music that melds silence and bluster, shattered amplification and near microscopic gestures into constructions that have the presence of looming rusted steel monoliths. There is the sense of wandering in the midst of a metal sculpture studio. These improvisations bring to mind the acrid smell of arc welding, the showering sparks of grinders, and the crashing ring of hammered iron. Sounds hang and then slowly dissipate as if captured in some vast and empty factory. This is not the forceful, monolithic sound of industrial noise, but rather an extended experiment into the vast gradations of sonic attack and decay.
What seems at first lo-fi is revealed to be anything but. This is analog glitch and scumble wrought from the pumping vibrations of speaker cones and wind through brass. Lescalleet's old, cranky, reel-to-reel tape players used with long crinkled tape loops and cheap contact mikes have a rough graininess that gets pushed toward saturation. But he is always carefully adjusting, tuning, and coaxing the enveloping sonic detritus into dense striations. Extended technique has made its way into an increasing number of trumpet players' vocabularies, but few have developed the control and complex shadings that Kelley has mastered. The trumpet player's long craggy bellows, quiet hisses and scrapes, squeezed shrieks, and flayed overtones ring out against the haunting hums and buzzes of Lescalleet's tapes. These improvisations are gritty sonic manipulations that gradually unfold with a palpable presence and the results are bracing from beginning to end.
Other Music, Dan Hirsch
Is it live or is it memory? On "Forlorn Green," Greg Kelley and Jason Lescalleet challenge any notion of separation between the two using prerecorded tape loops, extended technique, and post-production signal processing. This is one of the rawest, most unnaffected experimental albums in recent memory. Upon listening, one feels like an insect in a metallic wind tunnel, completely overwhelmed by the rushing air. Lescalleet's name will be familiar to fans of noise music via his involvement with Ron Lessard's venerable RRRecords and their ongoing project, Due Process. A former heavy metal singer, Lescalleet is a virtuoso tape and feedback manipulator who has forged collaborations with artists such as Francisco Lopez, Achim Wollscheid and John Hudak. Not one to settle for anything less than extreme, Lescalleet has been known to create gales of white noise by licking the inside circuitry of toy keyboards at shows. Kelley has gained attention in recent years by exploring and sounding the farthest reaches of his chosen instrument, the trumpet, expanding its vocabulary in the process. He has toured the U.S., Europe and Japan, collaborating with an impressive list of fellow improv deconstructionists: Kevin Drumm, Lê Quan Ninh, John Butcher and Axel Dörner, among others. Through his solo work (documented on last year's astounding "Trumpet") and his involvement in nmpreign, a duo with saxophonist Bhob Rainey, Kelley has created a language of breath sounds, percussive clicks, and other minutiae. On this recording, the duo explore the acoustics of various environments, including a deeply resonant church where Kelley sounds if he is playing on the ocean floor. One imagines Kelley drawing a portrait of his instrument while Lescalleet simultaneously defaces it. Lescalleet's electronics place Kelley's trumpet in a hall of broken mirrors, refracting and distorting his metallic scrapes and hissing cries to the point beyond recognition.