Grand Mal | Bruckmann/Diaz-Infante/Shiurba/Stackpole

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Diaz-Infante's MySpace Stackpole's MySpace Bruckmann's MySpace Shiurba's MySpace

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Jazz: Free Jazz Jazz: Modern Free Jazz Moods: Type: Experimental
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by Grand Mal

Combines the discipline of a classical foundation, weaving together American free jazz & European free improv. "Grand Mal is solid and uncompromising proof that the Bay Area improv scene has really taken off." Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Magazine
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Catatonic Posturing I
3:15 album only
2. Nervous Tic
1:45 album only
3. Gray Matter
5:27 album only
4. Spatial Agnosia
2:11 album only
5. The Final D in Grand Is Not Pronounced
6:55 album only
6. Big, Bad
1:46 album only
7. Retrograde Amnesia
10:41 album only
8. Shaking Palsy
2:18 album only
9. Tonic Clonic
4:39 album only
10. Catatonic Posturing II
6:33 album only


Album Notes
Kyle Bruckmann, oboe
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, steel-string acoustic guitar
John Shiurba, electric guitar
Karen Stackpole, percussion

Critically acclaimed oboist, electronic musician, and composer Kyle Bruckmann, a fixture in Bay Area's thriving experimental music underground, teams up with San Francisco Bay Area luminary musicians Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic guitar), John Shiurba (electric guitar) and Karen Stackpole (percussion). This CD combines the discipline of a classical foundation, weaving together American free jazz and European free improvisation, with the raucous sensibilities of Dada and punk in a dizzying variety of artistic endeavors.



to write a review

François Couture, All Music Guide

fresh, exciting, and genre-pushing...Recommended!
This album (which bears no filiation with the Amsterdam improv trio Grand Mal) is a beautiful meeting between East Coast and West Coast free improvisers. Technically a first meeting, it is backed by a complex network of previous experiences between all four musicians. The music sounds fresh, exciting, and genre-pushing, and has been beautifully captured by engineer Myles Boisen. The defining personality of the session is Chicagoan Kyle Bruckmann. His double-reed instruments (oboe, English horn, and suona) unfold unusual sounds and he twists them around the other players, drawing a path through the maze of the music. Using circular breathing, he produces long shimmering drones. He occasionally takes a lot of space, eclipsing the other players (in "Shaking Palsy" in particular), but not to the point of disturbing the force. Ernesto Diaz-Infante and John Shiurba entangle their strings (acoustic and electric, respectively). Diaz-Infante provides mostly textures, his quiet playing involving guitar preparations and the use of a small fan at some point. Shiurba is more lively, throwing muffled chords like bumps on the ride or strident cries. Percussionist Karen Stackpole (a member of the Left Coast Improv Group, with Diaz-Infante) plays a delicate role. Sticking to hand-held instruments and cymbals, she flutters around the others, shaking, rubbing, rarely striking something loudly. Her sense of time and place is mostly impeccable -- Grand Mal could be her best session yet. The music sits comfortably on a tension line between maximalist and minimalist improv. Recommended.

Federico Marongiu, Music Extreme

A must for improvisers and spontaneous music lovers.
Killer improvisations is what we have here. We didn´t expected any other than superb spontaneous music by Ernesto Díaz-Infante. Here we have three other improvisers with him: Kyle Bruckmann playing oboe and english horn, John Shiurba playing electric guitar and Karen Stackpole on percussion. From the first second the madness and imagination of this musicians is unleashed over the lsitener. Here there are over forty five minutes of pure improvisations and generation of musical ideas. Thisquartet of spontaneous musicians interact really well creating fascinating passages where the moods change fastly alternating fast parts with climatic slower ones. There is also a search for the ultimate sound of the instrument and also for the multiplicity of sounds that can be achieved on each of the isntruments present on this recording. Here you have to be really open minded to lsitenb to all the ten composaitions that the quartet presents here. A must for improvisers ans spontaneous music lovers.

Eduardo Chagas, a puta da subjectividade

um murmúrio orgânico complexo, assaz delicado e plenamente satisfatório.
Grand Mal, publicado em parceria com a editora de Ernesto Diaz-Infante (Pax Recordings) é o resultado de uma sessão de música totalmente improvisada que teve lugar no Dia de Ano Novo de 2001, algures em Oakland, Califórnia. Kyle Bruckmann (oboé, english horn, suona) já tinha tocado anteriormente com os guitarristas John Shiurba e Diaz-Infante, embora juntos não tivessem desenvolvido qualquer projecto musical consequente. Reunido o trio e estabelecidas as coordenadas, ter-lhes-á parecido adequado à criação do ambiente pretendido convocar a percussionista Karen Stackpole, instrumentista afiliada do género lyttonesco na abordagem das percussões, longe, portanto, do que se possa parecer com um tipo de tratamento convencional.

Tudo menos convencional é esta música misteriosa que o quarteto explora intensamente ao longo de dez movimentos, percorrendo um leque diversificado de territórios já anteriormente visitados, mas susceptíveis de revelar insuspeitadas e interessantes (re)descobertas, relatadas em discurso colectivamente improvisado de progressão lenta. O propósito do colectivo aponta claramente no sentido da investigação pormenorizada e microscópica das texturas invulgares criadas pelas duas guitarras, eléctrica e acústica – dificilmente identificáveis como tal – sopros micro tonalistas no limite do audível e percussão espectral. A música é quase estática, ou por outra, evolui milimetricamente quase sem se dar por isso, tal como a vida no interior de um formigueiro, criando um murmúrio orgânico complexo, assaz delicado e plenamente satisfatório.

Frank Rubolino, All About Jazz

These Bay Area renegades continue to push the envelope...
A branch of improvising artists with roots on the USA West Coast flourishes on not being satisfied with the status quo. These Bay Area renegades continue to push the envelope in search of that which is truly new. Their unique experimental environment has beckoned woodwind player Kyle Bruckmann from his Midwest abode on several occasions. On this trek, he unites with Ernesto Diaz- Infante, John Shiurba, and Karen Stackpole to form a union of sound processors submerged into one bubbling caldron of atonality.

Bruckmann plays an unusual assortment of double reeds, including the oboe; its larger sized but lower pitched cousin, the English horn; and the Chinese suona, whose conical bell generates penetrating nasality. With the staccato string outbursts from Diaz-Infante and Shiurba gurgling around him, and delicately placed percussive punctuation marks from Stackpole surfacing through the cracks, Bruckmann takes eerie, calculated steps toward a world of unconventional sound production. He squeezes a tonal spectrum of high-pitched nuances out of his horns, while an irregular form of discordant cadence marks the rout-step procession into areas rhythm makers fear to tread.

Ernesto Diaz-Infante is a charter member of the California alliance. He may be classified as a guitar player, but there is no avenue of sound he will not explore in his search for the purity residing along its corridors. Using any method available to eek stark messages from his acoustic instrument, Diaz-Infante turns the guitar into a form of primitive percussion device complete with frame raps and palm massages to counter-balance the sensitive string songs he very cautiously allows to escape from his magical bottle.

Shiurba takes the electric avenue in seeking the source of truth. From blunted notes to high- volume cascades of amplification, he coexists in this strange sound world. His instrument at times emulates a motorized vehicle rushing over the highway hitting speed bumps that jar the output to form a tangled olio of music/noise/static. Stackpole weighs her input thoughtfully using gongs, bells, and miniature forms of percussion. She splatters the canvas with intuitively placed strokes to ensure the ride will not veer toward conventionality.

When all these ethereal forces forge together, a strange new world of dawning knowledge emerges. The program gains momentum and descends in cloudbursts of multi-phonic signals to announce the collective meeting of four minds. It is music without any preconceived dictate on direction, yet the musicians arrive at their destination as though it were a planned route. The journey affords numerous challenges to the open mind, which in turn cleanses the soul through its chaste and fully unpredictable nature.

Nate Dorward, The Squid's Ear

notably on the magnificent...Strong stuff.
On Grand Mal, a set of free improvisations recorded in January 2002, Bruckmann is in the company of three Bay Area players, guitarists John Shiurba and Ernesto Diaz-Infante and percussionist Karen Stackpole. The ten improvisations are pithy expositions of sonic texture and color. This is the kind of improvisation that starts with its premisses already in place, rather than with a period of searching for them: on each track a musical situation is quickly and confidently outlined, explored, and rounded-off, sometimes in as little as two minutes. In addition to oboe, Bruckmann plays English horn and the Chinese suona on this date, though the feral sounds he gets out of them make the exact choice of instrument almost immaterial. On some tracks he squawks and clucks in a manner reminiscent of Zorn's classic duck-call period, but his specialty is the multiphonic exploration of a single held note: the results of this kind of sonic incision are not as visceral as they can be on soprano saxophone (see Stéphane Rives' Fibres for a good, recent example), but Bruckmann nonetheless gets under the skin through sheer, demented persistence, notably on the magnificent “Catatonic Posturing II”. Strong stuff.

Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Magazine

Grand Mal is solid and uncompromising...
Six months later, Bruckmann, this time armed with his oboe, English horn and suona, was out in Oakland CA where he teamed up with local guitarists Ernesto Diaz-Infante and John Shiurba and percussionist Karen Stackpole to record Grand Mal (not to be confused with Justin Bennett's trio of the same name on Andy Moor's Unsounds label, though that's worthy of your attention too). Curiously enough, on "Catatonic Posturing I", Bruckmann's reeds sound more like a Moog than anything else. Shiurba's electric guitar work is especially vicious on "Nervous Tic" (imagine Heinz Holliger jamming with Borbetomagus) and contrasts nicely with Diaz-Infante's acoustic scrabblings. Stackpole's percussion work is attentive and imaginative throughout. On "Big, bad" Bruckmann's microtonal phrases are brilliantly punctuated by shards of guitar and percussion in a track that says more in 1'45" than most albums manage to do in fifteen minutes. All in all, Grand Mal is solid and uncompromising proof that the Bay Area improv scene has really taken off. It's up to you to make sure Barely Auditable's balance sheet does likewise.

Marco Carcasi, Kathodik

disco altamente consigliato.
Copertina nera con ingrandimento color argento di tessuto nervoso aggredito da tossici agenti esterni; eleganza e funzionalità.
"Grand Mal" è opera complessa che predilige la diluizione dei singoli elementi, piuttosto che lo scontro frontale; ne deriva un lento e talvolta raffinato mescolarsi di aromi che evita in maniera brillante la semplice ed usuale classificazione sotto sigle spesso, eccessivamente, ingombranti come Avant ed Impro.
E' materia bruta questo è vero, ma non ti stende definitivamente i padiglioni auricolari poichè a due buone randellate sul coppino preferisce un'approccio intossicante a base di metalli leggeri che lentamente ti fotte il sistema nervoso. Ci si muove impercettibilmente come un bradipo in un'ambiente oscuro dove le singolarità sono bandite in virtù di una scrittura corale che genera strani effetti ipnotici sull'ascoltatore grazie al lento stiracchiarsi degli strumenti impiegati di volta in volta; le percussioni metalliche di Karen Stackpole se ne vanno da una parte mentre la chitarra acustica di Infante viaggia su di un'altro binario; poi come per incanto un'accenno di elettrica disgregata sopprime il tutto, mentre un qualche suono naturale chiude l'improbabile sessione. L'ecletticità è comunque una caratteristica ragguardevole nel bagaglio espressivo dei coinvolti, da ricordare brevemente le collaborazioni della Stackpole con il duo di metalli e gong degli Euphonics e con Moe Staiano, Kyle Bruckmann è nome da annotare per l'opera svolta in connubio con Olivia Block, Guillermo Gregorio e Fred Lonberg-Holm, di Shiurba diremo soltanto, e forse può bastare, che è un caro accompagnatore di Anthony Braxton , mentre lasciamo per ultimo Infante di cui caldamente vi consiglio l'acquisto del suo "Solus", ma anche del lavoro a nome proprio "Ernesto Diaz Infante". Le ascendenze sono dunque molteplici ed il rintracciarle spesso diviene un giochino simpatico da fare, come non dire infatti che l'ellittico solo di oboe di Catatonic Posturing 1 ci ricorda Palestine, in occasione di Nervous Tic è semplice rintracciare cromosomi di scuola Fat ma anche, come nella seguente Gray Matter, elementi riconducibili a certe istanze più fuori di testa del glorioso catalogo 'Sst' come Saccharine Trust o Tom Trocolli's Dog e poi ancora piace il voler insistere su forme spesso quasi classiche che si deformano in ambienti sonori tipicamente europei ed ancora diverte il senso di follia riconducibile alle registrazioni spesso, quelle si, veramente brute di Dave Knott.
In conclusione se ancora non lo si fosse compreso dopo questo girovagare di parole inconcludenti; disco altamente consigliato.

Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz

creativity working in tandem...interesting twists and surprises...
Sound shapes. The shapes that spring from the imagination. What is formless swirls and settles into shape. Or maybe it bloats into excess and then collapses in meaningless heap. The four players on this workout get their collective creativity working in tandem, coming up with some interesting twists and surprises until the final encounter.

Sound is their escape into another world. Power gets gnarled and knotted, a paean to pain or so it would seem in the gnarled knots that seep through their gray matter. Oboist Kyle Bruckmann has a penchant for breathing exercises, loosening bubbles in percolating plenitude. Karen Stackpole comes in on percussion to counterpoint the long, intense lines Bruckmann unleashes in coiled intensity on "Catatonic Posturing I." The last tune, the second Catatonic coming, however, jars because of its relentless tension, and in the context of the album the only reason for its being seems to merely indicate another adjunct. The kaleidoscope of images are wrought in agonised cries on "Shaking Palsy" (well, they don't get any prizes for the song titles) and on a quieter plane with Ernesto Diaz-Infante when they find some "Tonic Clonic." Diaz-Infante also uses the guitar as a percussive instrument adding flavour to the sounds. Overall, the images sustain listening.