freistil article

Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre

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The following article was published in the Austrian magazine Freistil in autumn 2009


“Simon Reynell had been working for English television for 25 years, most of the time on soundtracks for documentaries. Dissatisfied with his job and helped by a legacy from an aunt, he sought out a new creative challenge. A concert by The Contest of Pleasures [see also freistil 26] stimulated his wish to produce a disc with them. John Butcher agreed. Thus in November 2006 the label 'Another Timbre' came into being with the Contest of Pleasures’ disc 'Tempestuous' (at01).  Reynell's personal taste was and is contemporary music.  He   iis also an enthusiast for improvised and electronic music.  In conversation with John Eyles of 'All about Jazz' he says  'I first got into contemporary music from the classical end - Stockhausen, Nono, Berio, Cage, but soon discovered free improvisation and as a student bought lots of Incus, Bead and FMP LPs.'  He also cites as amongst his favourites Hugh Davies, Derek Bailey and AMM.  Reynell particularly likes music that blurs the frontiers between contemporary composition, electronics and free improvisation.   Another Timbre lays emphasis on straightforward modest ensembles as Reynell is attracted to improvisations by small groups rather than solos or big bands. So far Another Timbre has published twenty discs, but what does the future hold?  Reynell is planning.a limited edition of CDRs with little known musicians. In England he sees great potential for keen young improvisors.  He foresees a regular supply from the Improvisation Workshops led by the AMM veteran Eddie Prevost. ‘I would like to produce several CDs with them, but that would bankrupt me. I therefore produce CDRs which are cheaper especially when I do the recording and processing myself.  But it is important that these CDRs make no compromises with musical quality.  I will go for the same standards as the existing CDs from the existing Another Timbre catalogue’.


Here is a small selection from Another Timbre’s catalogue: Being gender insensitive, let us start with the high-point, the second album of the trio Toot [Alex Dorner, Thomas Lehn, Phil Minton, at14].   Voices and mood change more quickly than the associated beats per minute. Dispensing with extras, such as a background rhythm - although Thomas Lehn conjures magical heavy bass frequences from his Analogue synthesiser, and a wonderful balance of tones and countertones is created.  Two live associated pieces, 'ling' from Esslingen and 'kla' from Klagenfurt, transmit the whole splendour of improvised music, its egalitarian character, the impossibility of settling on a definition, and of striving ever further.  Powerful sentiments without sentimentality, unconstrained pop without populism, the beautiful unrecallable fleeting moment.


On Midhopestones (at19) the underlying technical perception we would expect from Rhodri Davies, Michael Doneda, Louisa Martin, Phil Minton and Lee Patterson. The title indicates the site of the recording, the church of St.James the Lesser in the village Midhopestones.  The quintet sizzle at their leisure.  Analogue and digital play around each other; the computers take control of the players and vice versa.  


We browse in a notebook of stillness.....Tom Chant, Angharad Davies, Benedict Drew and John Edwards (Decentred, at18) pay their tribute to the special qualities of the label, contemporary electronic music and its crossover into Improvisation, and they master the open composition of Four6 by John Cage in the same way as indeterminate pieces by Michael Pisaro.  Here too the tension is balanced between two streams, on the one side the structure, on the other the realisation.  This quartet had previously brought off a rendering of Treatise, the graphic score by Cornelius Cardew, and here they have taken it a significant step further.


Finally comes the quartet Octante from Barcelona [Ruth Barberan, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Ferran Fages, Margerida Garcia, at17].  Finely balanced sounds of accordion,bass, various objects and oscillators.   Above them Ruth Barberan sprays original and often rough cascades, and out of it all comes an intense bubbling minimalism.  Another crystal clear album from Another Timbre.”


Andreas Fehlinger,  Freistil  magazine, October / November 2009