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at22     empty matter

Lucio Capece   soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, preparations, sruti box

Lee Patterson  cd players, pick-ups, ebowed springrods, springplate, hazelnuts

1.   Impeler           5:50

2.   Suspender       3:35

3.   Fervesce         6:35

4.   Ventilar           7:48

5.   Coriolis            5:45

6.   Insuflar           7:48

7.   Sostener         5:12

8.   Burning           9:56

                TT:   53:18

recorded in London, June 2009

youtube extract


“My breath is long-that's the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath.
~ Allen Ginsberg

first, last, outer, inner, only that breath
breathing human being.
~ Rumi

Lucio Capece has contributed his reed instruments, shruti box and carefully developed concepts to quite a few releases in the past few years. Listening through a clutch of these, I decided to focus on three duos from the past two years. While these three projects pair Capece with disparate temperaments and instrumentation, I began to hear an aspect of continuity and cohesion across the pairings that points to Capece's understated role as a framer of the pieces- his breathy reeds and shruti box limning, shading and subtly nudging the direction the duos take, not unlike the way in which Keith Rowe's recondite but sturdy sounds-at-the-edges-of-the-canvas operate.

Drilling down deeper into the gradually emerging, unflickering presence and influence Capece attains with the gentlest of sounds, even when his foil is the amplified plangency of metal springs, motors and frying pans, as in his stunning collaboration with Lee Patterson, Empty Matter, I hear what the unitive element is for me.

It is his breath- when measured, applied and integrated as Capece does in these meetings, there is nothing less intrusive or obvious, nor more tensile and powerful, than the mindfully measured breath. Capece's breath lengths, as well as the textures of tongue and lips, find their analogy in the privileging of the breath as the basic metric of the poetry of Ginsberg and his contemporaries, as Rowe's analogous, likewise initially imperceptible role as a 
canvas for his collaborators has its metaphor in abstract painting.

No start, no ending, no development, Capece has said of his musical aspirations, at least not in that [nor in any] order. Indeed, some of Capece's work, particularly the duos with Radu Malfatti and long-time collaborator Sergio Merce, can easily be imagined as unspooling endlessly in the aether, riding the breath, without beginning or end.

This adamantine quality of Capece's breath-work is rigorously tested and teased in his fantastic duo with Lee Patterson on 
Empty Matter. Patterson's pallette includes an amplified spring-board redolent of Will Guthrie's junk instrumentation, and a frying pan of chattering chestnuts [the sonic cousin to his marvelous-and I'm not being ironic- recording of fried eggs on his 2009 Cathnor release, Egg Fry #2]. In other words, Patterson tosses ingredients into the mix other than the steady-state pitches endemic [and frequently anaemic] in drone works. This makes for a more visceral, at times raucous affair; again, Capece holds his mat with superbly focused long tones and nuanced variations in pitch. Equanimity is not an absence of imagination nor flexibility, and I hope I am not conveying the idea that Capece is somehow rigid or unresponsive in adhering to the anchoring breath. On the contrary, he can move between his partners' clamour and absurdist sound sources with a flexibility that serves each project admirably.

Capece floats, shimmers and at times seems to disappear among these three duo works. Sometimes a musician in this area of music will challenge themselves with an extreme reduction of means for sound production, or reimagine the archetypal instrument [whatever you call that object guitarist Keith Rowe approaches with increasingly bracing results]; Capece has been working with that most elemental, immediate and available sound source, the breath. In some respects, he is making some of the most, as Rumi would have it, human-sounding music around. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”

Jesse Goin, Crow with no Mouth

“I really enjoy the sounds that Capece and Patterson make. In both cases their output is quite original and is immediately identifiable.

 I really like what they do, and they do it with great subtlety here, so it’s a given that I like this album a lot.....

This might be the first released recording that really portrays the stripped down set-up that Lee has been using for the past year or two, dropping field recordings from his improvised work and using only live processes and constructions in real time to contribute tot he duo. So he burns hazelnuts (I think) on the opening and closing tracks, but otherwise works with amplified springs attached to a metal plate, eBowed found parts formed from motorised street sweeper blades, the electromagnetic output of CD players and other similar processes, but (I think) he never presses the play button on any of the players at any point. This really strips down his work away from the layered density of his previous work and brings him into the music much more viscerally into the fray, really playing his “instruments” rather than choosing something and just letting it run. This results in a much more simple, focussed approach, allowing the texture and quality of each area of sound to shine through, and revealing Patterson to be far more than someone that just lets a nice recording run in the background behind other musicians. (Not that I ever thought he was) In fact the stark, sparse nature of this album leaves nowhere to hide.

Capece on the other hand probably uses a wider range of variety in his bass clarinet sounds here, still retaining a similar simplicity of approach, but working through a number of similar but different ways to create soft, textured sounds to purr, hum and gurgle their way from his instrument. There is the sound of a ping-pong ball rolling around something resting on the bell of his instrument, scraping, rubbing percussive sounds as well as pure blown tones and hissing whispers. There are a few fine moments when he lets rip to some degree, and on the seventh track Sostener he also lets a sruti box swarm into the space, which he plays along with himself, Patterson’s input into that track is there, but more low-key. On the whole however, Capece keeps things gentle and understated.

Throughout the seven pieces the sounds presented are unremittingly gorgeous and engaging, never too much and yet also never falling into silence. There are also a good number of moments when the two sets of sounds combine extremely well and sparks, (albeit often tiny, subtle ones) start to fly, but perhaps there could be more. The tension in the album comes from the sense of slow, gentle discovery that pervades throughout, rather than through the combination, or collision of soundworlds here. I’m sure it wasn’t, but the music sounds like it was something that flowed very easily on the day, full of deep concentration and carefully chosen then combined sounds. It does not sound like their were any musical dilemmas, problems needing solving, the gritty bread and butter of live improvisation. I’m not really sure what I am asking of the musicians that isn’t already present, but the fire here is gently flickering rather than roaring away. Ironically my favourite track of the album is the final Burning, where the detailed minutae of burning nuts pops and fizzes in between jabbing little bursts of noteless clarinet, but falling away every now and again to leave the slightest of distant roars. This track really hits the spot for me and I would have loved more like this, combining the input of the two in a stunningly effective and engaging manner.

Just to be clear, this is a great album and one I recommend wholeheartedly, but I would be unfair to myself and the musicians if I didn’t say that it is only on this last nine minute piece that this highly talented pair really combine 110%. “ - Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear

“It’s not surprising that Lucio Capece (saxophone, clarinet, preparations, shruti-box) and Lee Patterson (cd players, amplified objects) should combine forces on a disc on the Another Timbre label.  The two experimentalists produce a dark, stormy music whose aesthetic imperatives match perfectly those of the lively young English label. Here their experiments create neither technical complexity nor a reassuring stable universe.  Lucio Capece provides the essential basis of the soundworld with his repetitive, granular breaths or with the humming drone he creates with his Indian shruti-box.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know the source of the sounds with any certainty.  The booklet that accompanies the disc tells you that Lee Patterson uses hazel nuts as a sound source, but how do you identify these sounds?  These uncertainties reinforce the aura of mystery, of an electronic matter that is full of fissures.  The unorthodox use of traditional instruments and diverse objects combine and create an irruption of a musical otherness, similar in certain respects to the noises you might hear in your kitchen or living room, but produced by spellbinding improvisers with a telling economy of gesture and discourse.”                                                                                                                                                   -  Jean Dezart, Le Son du Grisli

“Capece plays soprano sax, bass clarinet, preparations and sruti box (featured in a delightful drone piece called “Sostener”, one of my favourites), while Patterson is active on CD players, pickups, eBowed springrods, springplate and hazelnuts. The duo is endowed with a considerable percentage of mutual receptiveness, a factor that often transforms even the most ordinary occurrences into dazzling sounds. The harmonic substance of a single pitch can become, pertinently magnified, an ascetic choral hymn. The coincidence of frying pan activity, reiterated notes and unpromisingly vague rattling heard in “Fervesce” is outright splendid, among the disc’s top episodes, immediately followed by the affecting thickness of “Ventilar”, an improvisation that exploits the junction of echoing metals and squealing insinuations (the latter made me look out of the window twice to see if cats were doing damage somewhere in the garden). Underscoring the activities, the steady throbbing of a low-frequency underworld keeps us prepared for a display of power that instead remains merely hinted, unexpressed. Persistently acute intrusive emissions by Capece attempt to limit a latent tendency to needless lavishness (with all that menacing jangling, you never know), confining the interaction in face-to-face dialogues between regal roar and gritty roughness. In “Coriolis”, old-fashioned, but still efficient percussive patterns are supplemented by the intrinsic features of their original source, giving life to dissentient trance tarnished by rust, symbolizing a routine that is both physical and rational yet, somehow, lets the victims get a glimpse of non-illusory methods for escaping.”                                     Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault

“Lucio Capece plays soprano saxophone, as well as bass clarinet and shruti box and Patterson CD players, pick-ups, e-bowed springrods, springplate and hazelnuts.  They recorded the eight pieces, which if you don't pay attention to the CD player go by as one track.  There is an equal balance between both players, really melting together the sounds they produce. Delightful and delicate are the words that apply to this release.  This slightly by-passes the regular paths of improvisation, mainly due to whatever Patterson does with his CD players and pick-ups. It gives an additional electronic layer to the music, making this perhaps a bit more drone based than the usual releases of Another Timbre, but throughout this is a pretty strong release, which ties together improvisation, electro-acoustics and drone based music. Excellent.”                                                                                                                           -    Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

“Another Timbre has only been operating for a couple of years, but its blend of prolific outputand stringent quality control have quickly propelled it to the front rank of UK Improv labels.  It’s hard to think of another imprint that has chronicled so astutely recent developments in post-Reductionist era Improv, in particular the electro-acoustic strain’s ever-evolving relationships with both the genre’s historical legacy and modern compositional idioms.

The pairing of Lee Patterson and Lucio Capece ostensibly makes sense.  The two are burgeoning talents, and each traiuls a string of ear-catching releases: Patterson’s superb Seven Vignettes solo debut and the well-received Buoy with Phil Durrant and Paul Vogel; Capece’s Berlinerstrasse 20  duo with Radu Malfatti, and Trahnie with Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio.  Much of Empty Matter  focuses on subtle adjustments to layered textures (either complementary or subtly contrasting), with a shared propensity for drone dynamics.  Sure-footed and polite agreement is initially the order of the day, with Capece’s clarinet and soprano nimbly picking their way through Patterson’s glistening electronics and crackly field recordings.  A sense of tension gradually creeps in, culminating in Insuflar, the stand-out track, whose dramatic drone exchanges mutate into abrasive rattles......Substantial enough to satisfy followers of both musicians and the label.”                                                                                                                                                                           - Nick Cain, The Wire

“Osobně je pro mne nejpůsobivější z této kolekce asi album Empty Matter, pod nímž je podepsán argentinský, v Berlíně nyní působící saxofonista a basklarinetista Lucio Capece a zvukový mág Lee Patterson. Ona pomyslná absence podstaty je zde kongeniálně naplněna. Pocit vyprázdněnosti je relativně absurdně saturována absolutní zvukovou substancí. Sice do jisté míry výrazně dekadentní dílo má v sobě i nesmírnou živočišnost, kde sice nepřichází jednoznačná katarze ve smyslu očištění, ale katarze ve smyslu nových dimenzí. Chvílemi tu však najdete odpočinek a uklidnění. Zcela signifikantně máte na konci této nahrávky pocit, že vám kolabuje přehrávací systém a musíte zmobilizovat své smysly, abyste pochopili, že tomu tak není. Je to dílo, které vám evokuje teroristické akce i drobné křivdy od sousedů a svými subrytmy evokuje každodenní strádání a frustraci, ale ve svém finálním vyznění tam tu relativní očistu najdete.”

                                                                                                                                         - Petr Slabý, Raw

Anyone who can provide a translation of the Czech review above, please get in touch

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