Will Guthrie: Spike-s

Pica011. 7" single. Released autumn 2009. Audio sample.

Two intense pieces of drums/electronics blow-out from Australian soundwizard Will Guthrie. War metal drumming meets free-noise spazz bliss. Will says: "The two pieces were made with the central theme being an old melody I ripped from an LP of folk music from Brittany, which was then transformed in the studio. The same melody is used on both pieces, and some of the same takes of my drums is also used on both pieces, the first being a kind of free spazz anthem, and the second being a cut-up electro-acoustic piece."


The press release for this Pica Disk 7" has me intrigued from the off - 'free noise', 'electro-acoustic', 'war metal drumming'.. All phrases we should hear more often. On the first side of 'Spike-S', Will Guthrie channels what sounds like it could easily be several noise performances at once into one busy monster which is then liberally laced with Chris Corsano style hyperdrumming. A brief and psychedelic experience which couldn't be much more different from the flip, which cuts up elements of the original track and sews them into a stop-start patchwork that makes a real virtue of space. Consider me impressed! (www.normanrecords.com)

“In Australia, it’s really different. When you’re a musician, you do a lot of different things. You don’t just do improvised music, or jazz. So I played in rock groups, in hip-hop groups, in jazz groups, with a Flamenco dance company, a lot things like that. And then I went to conservatory to study improvisation.”* For American ears, it is hard to comprehend how Australian expat percussionist Will Guthrie’s improvisations manage to make so much sense in so many different contexts. Last year, between one-off collaborations with members of the European electro-acoustic and free jazz community (Jérome Noetinger, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Clayton Thomas, Ferran Fages), he took to the French autoroutes with banjo player Scott Stroud and smashed old bluegrass standards like “Pretty Polly” and “Cripple Creek” into a shower of wooden splinters–while still leaving his listeners longing for the Appalachian mountains.
Whether he sits behind a conventional drum kit or a jumble of microphones and recycled junk, Guthrie’s playing invariably marries the responsiveness and deep listening of jazz with a love for counter-intuitive structures and asymmetrical chops. And if we listen closely enough, we’ll catch a whiff of that signature rhythmic mischievousness–usually accompanied by a smile–that tells us that his punk side is coming through. Like Cable#, the experimental music collective he runs out of the city of Nantes (France), and Antboy Music, his independent micro-label, Guthrie simply refuses to respect the invisible boundaries separating one “scene” or one musical language from the next. Rather, he treats them as pieces of wisdom to live by, summoning them at the flick of a wrist, twirling them around, and plugging them back into a higher virtue–one that is harder to define, and can probably only be called “musical.”
Spike-s, his new 7 inch out on Norwegian label Pica Disk, is less a showcase of the tools he keeps hidden in his gigbag than of his ability to set them in motion. Somewhere between his more “mental” output (read: rapid-fire and twisted) and the ambience of Charlie Charlie (his collaboration with wife Erell Latimier), Side A registers like a mouse cantering gleefully on his wheel, sustaining a feeling of euphoric hyperactivity that we may only recall experiencing the last time we witnessed the Corsano-Flower duo in concert. Like Corsano on record, Guthrie’s rapid pummels and skips are set at a physical remove, alternately muted and obscured by what sounds like a single synth drone passed back and forth over an old walky-talky. On Side B, Guthrie takes this simple elemental equation and switches on a musical equivalent of nightvision; instead of the constant drum pulse, we experience an equally resonant empty space, studded with metallic concrète sounds, static-drenched samples, and some pretty sadistic knob-turning.
The hidden link between these two tracks is one that we are likely to sense, but unlikely to concretely identify: the “synth drone” that we hear on the first track is a sample of a melody Guthrie ripped from an lp of traditional folk music from Brittany, which he proceeds to mash up, reloop, and rewire on the second. And who knows how many other secret constellation points Guthrie is plotting in our head? Whether you’re looking for a good noise record, some extremely on-point free-jazz drumming, or even the kind of “new new age” transcendentalism that has become so popular in the last year or so, you will find something in Spike’s to thoroughly enjoy; just remember to listen with your gut instead of your consumer preferences. (www.visitation-rites.com/)

september 2009 release ; awesome pair of pieces from will guthrie, perfectly hedging his drum-less electro-acoustic percussion work (most recently heard on the cathnor-label “body and limbs still look to light” disc) with a kind of no-holds-barred milford-graves-on-speed flare-out ... all over a bed of almost fennesz-ian textural crackle ... one of the best singles i’ve heard in a while ; highly recommended !!! (mimaroglumusicsales.com)

Når Lasse Marhaug med plateselskapet sitt Pica Disk ikke posisjonerer seg helt i front av noisefeltet med karrieredefinerende bokser av japanske støylegender eller plater av tunge navn som Hild Sofie Tafjord og Birchville Cat Motel gir han også en jevn strøm av merkelige små vinylsingler. Ikke for det, det er ikke akkurat baktropposisjonering dette, men heller en pussig motvekt og komplimentering av 10 CD-boks-inntrykket som er med på å gjøre plateselskapet til hva det er. Vi har hørt på høstens to ferske sjutommere fra Pica Disk.

Oren Ambarchi/Lasse Marhaug - Devil Wolf Men
Dette er den andre singelen fra denne duoen, og som den første, også utgitt på Pica Disk, er dette noe helt annet. Den første var noe helt annet i kraft av seg selv og i forhold til absolutt alt annet i hele verden, en triumferende uhørbar dose antimusikk "spilt" på innmaten av et piano. Dette er noe annet først og fremst i motsetning til denne første singelen, men også i forhold til det meste annet disse to herrene har gjort. (Selv om Marhaug har vært innom noe lignende i platene han har gitt ut sammen med Maja Ratkje.)

Så altså, det vi får er ukontrollert/kontrollert plunderphonics, feltopptakk og studiotrickery spilt inn under en turné de to gjorde sammen i Kina i 2005. Det høres ut som en collage satt sammen av høydepunkter fra turens eksotikaplatefangst, sentimental filmmusikk fra kung fu-filmer + diverse gråtende barn, bjeffende hunder, mjauende katter, eksploderende fyrverkeri og andre tilfeldig- og videverdigheter tatt opp på gata eller fra TV-en på hotellrommet. Halvparten av disse inntrykkene har jeg sikkert bare innbilt meg, slik er effekten denne musikken har på meg.

Selv om det bare er en kort liten vinylsingle skjer det så mye her at det føles som et helt album, om ikke en multi-CD-boks, og dette er jo en gave for alle oss med akkutt manglende evne til å konsentrere oss i mer enn fem minutter av gangen.

Will Guthrie - Spike-s
Guthrie kommer i likhet med Ambarchi fra Australia, men der stopper også likhetene mellom disse to singlene. A-siden består av ellevill tromming lagt oppå en crunchy drone. Det høres kanskje fryktelig simpelt ut når jeg beskriver det slik, men trommingen er virkelig ellevill altså, så ellevill at Pica Disk ser seg nødt å bruke begrepet "war metal drumming" i presentasjonen på nettsiden. Jeg aner ikke hva war metal er (og dessuten vil jeg nok foretrukket å ta med meg sekkepiper i krigen, men det får vi skrive opp i kolonnen for personlige preferanser), men det stemmer sikkert, og på en eller annen måte passer denne perkusjonsbonanzaen perfekt sammen med elektronikken. Dette er heller ikke en kort plate som føles som en lang, men en kort som føles enda kortere.

Og så plutselig er A-sida ferdig, på B-sida blir hele greia kjørt gjennom en kvern slik at bare splinter og fragmenter og stillheten jeg opprinnelig ikke la merke til blir igjen. Hadde det ikke vært for at jeg er en elendig og feig regelrytter skulle jeg hørt denne på feile 33 omdreininger i minuttet, bare for å få den til å vare lengre. Will Guthrie har bosatt seg i Frankrike, det forklarer nok en del. (Thor-Eirik Johnsen, Groove.no)

Will Guthrie - Spike-s
Nantes-based Aussie expat percussionist / electronician Will Guthrie is usually filed away under EAI – put that down to his excellent solo outing on Cathnor, Body & Limbs Still Look To Light, and a forthcoming Erstwhile duo with Jérôme Noetinger, scheduled for next year – but, as anyone familiar with his Antboy distribution network will tell you, his tastes run far and wide (he did a great interview with Roscoe Mitchell for PT a couple of years ago, which for various reasons I still don't quite understand never saw the light of day, alas). The two tracks on this lamentably brief seven-incher – the same applies to the Wolfarth disc reviewed below – find him thrashing all hell out of the kit on one side and mashing all hell out of the same track on the other (there's apparently a sample of Breton folk tune in there somewhere.. must be André Breton). Great stuff, let's have some more. (www.paristransatlantic.com)

Will Guthrie - Spike-s
Over the last decade or so Australian born French resident percussionist Will Guthrie has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to move between jazz, rock and quite musical realms into more experimental directions using contact microphones and junk to create these incredibly articulate musique concrete sound pieces. It’s pretty clear that the guy can play almost anything. Spike-S is a 7-inch on Norwegian label Pica Disk. And it’s mental, The first side is an all out assault of kick-ass pedal to the metal kit drumming. He pummels those bastards under a noisy drony mess of raw searing noise and it feels good. Meanwhile side b becomes much more tinkery and electro acoustic, focussing more on space, a kind’ve cut and paste reworking using elements of side A. It’s inspiring stuff. Check out www.picadisk.com for more details. (bobbakerfish.wordpress.com)



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