Guerrilla Mosaics is a sax-koto-percussion conversation with results as unexpected as would be expected from these players. Butcher introduces his vocabulary of multiphonics, high frequencies and unique articulations to Masaoka's koto and laser-triggered koto; Robair ranges over the course of the disc from barely audible texturing to explosive full drum-kit. The players work both with and against the cultural resonaces of their instruments, often subverting common modes of interaction. This is recognizably strings, wind and percussion, but with the enjoyable element of a first encounter, where no-one feels they already knows what it should sound like. Working in a format without established precedent, this trio of all-star free improvisers spontaneously creates a unique sonic environment that challenges the traditional roles and sounds of their instruments. 'There is no other recording that sounds like this,' says Robair, an active performer, music journalist, and founder of the San Francisco Bay Area label, Rastascan. 'The battle is of three musicians trying to create an overall sound where you can't really tell what the different instruments are. John avoids sounding like a saxophone as much as possible and I avoid sounding like a drummer as much as possible. Miya's MIDI triggering laser koto doubles and triples the things she's able to do.' Although all three players are influenced by and well-versed in electronic music, the foundation of Guerrilla Mosaics is the skillful manipulation of the acoustic properties of their instruments. From Butcher's percussive use of the saxophone's keys and string-like overtones, to the low drones Masaoka creates with the body of the koto, to Robair's textural manipulation of found objects and cymbals that simulate the double-stop techniques of a string player, each musician utilizes well-developed personal ability to enhance the spontaneous collective discovery of playing together for the first time. 'I think we're all borrowing from what we know to be the musical possibilities of the other kinds of instruments,' explains Butcher, a former physics Ph.D. candidate whose use of articulation, breathing, and multiphonic techniques has created new roles for the saxophone over the last two decades. 'It's creatively stimulating to play when you have no idea what the form should be like, what shape the music should take, and, in particular, what the hierarchy or role of your instrument should be. The group actually becomes an entity through the process of playing. When it works, you end up doing something no single person could have imagined or planned.' John Butcher lives in London and has played the saxophone for about 25 years. By the early 80s he had developed an individual voice, while also completing a physics doctorate on the theoretical properties of charmed quarks. His music now ranges through free improvisation, composition, multitracked pieces, work with pre-recorded tape, and also with live electronics. His solo work was featured in the BBC TV series 'Date with an Artist'. Groups he has played with include Derek Bailey's Company, John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Chris Burn's Ensemble, Butch Morris' London Skyscraper, Polwecshel, EX Orkestra. Duos include concerts with Gerry Hemingway, Fred Frith, Phil Minton, Derek Bailey. Gino Robair is a percussionist, music journalist, and published composer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gino frequently tours North America and Europe as a soloist and often improvises in ad-hoc groups. He has performed and recorded with Anthony Braxton, John Butcher, Otomo Yoshihide, Tom Waits, Eugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, Nina Hagen, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and he is a founding member of the Splatter Trio. Gino has studied percussion with Ron George, AMM percussionist Eddie Prevost, William Kraft, and William Winant; studied composition with Barney Childs, Lou Harrison, David Rosenboom, and Larry Polansky; and has earned two masters degrees--Electronic Music and Composition--from Mills College. Miya Masaoka works simultaneously in the varied musical worlds of jazz, Western classical, electronic music, traditional Japanese music, and free improv. She has studied Japanese music with court musician Suenobu Togi, and holds music degrees from San Francisco State University and Mills College. She has performed solo and with a wide variety of musicians and traditions, including Pharoah Sanders, L. Subramaniam, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Steve Coleman, George Lewis, and others. With an array of extended techniques that include strumming, bowing, scratching, and thumps, and using various triggering devices in tandem with live samples, ultra sound, light sensors and digital signal processing, she employs fragments of koto-created sounds to weave an organic synthesis of the acoustic and electronic.
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