news & reviews
December 24, 2018
ADRIAN LIM-KLUMPES NEW PROJECT REVIEW
BY JOHN SHAND
Picture four painters working on the same canvas with no outlines sketched in. Imagine the mutual trust and sympathetic cohesion demanded. This four-way interaction across a 65-minute improvisation was like that with Adrian Lim-Klumpes' new quartet having inbuilt sonic individuality consisting as it does of piano/keyboards (shared by the leader and Matt Harris), drums (Miles Thomas) and percussion/electronics (Nick Meredith).
Initially the musical agitation seemed trifling compared with the apocalyptic hail that nature had just hurled at us. Nonetheless it was dark and portentous; the music of conflict: between textures, rhythms, acoustic instruments and electronic, dynamic extremes and between freneticism and tranquillity.
Each person had a stoppage phase, and at one point Lim-Klumpes and Harris swapped instruments. Beyond that they let those stoppages play out, usually amid curlicues of gorgeous, enigmatic piano melody, regardless of who was playing it. Often these curlicues were beaten into the background by Meredith's more ferocious contributions(which at one point resembled two cats fighting in the night), but they were there if you listened intently enough, and it was these that were fundamental to the music's sense of mystery and layered density.
Thomas was a model of restraint, and when he unexpectedly established a groove in music that had mostly been devoid of a constant pulse, it was like a door opening on another sound world. This, in turn, gave way to Lim-Klumpes' prepared piano: a guttural sound, akin to a harpsichord.
Sometimes to watch the players -especially Meredith- make this music was like seeing through a sleight of hand; seeing the prosaic physical processes that produced the labyrinths of improbable sound. But with eyes closed, it was the sonic equivalent of a Mervyn Peake novel: gothic, unsettling, shadowy, sometimes overwrought, and sometimes gently, poetically beautiful.
February 10, 2018
'YIELD' REVIEW IN SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
BY JOHN SHAND
If the knowledge that a solo pianist is playing a Steinway even infinitesimally narrows your idea of how this album may sound, forget it, because post-production treatments have been used in ways that are both disorienting and enchanting. It is like hearing a piano conversing with its own ghost. Adrian Lim-Klumpes has never been constrained by convention, and this album is exhilarating in its conceptual freedom, his formal intent to create a set of preludes and fugues, but via improvisation rather than composition. Armed with those 10 pieces - charming in their own right - Lim-Klumpes has then revelled in the electronic manipulation of them, so that the formal aspects may variously be distorted or pulled into sharper focus. Often the sounds are layered until they have almost infinite depth. In relation to the truly astonishing Caution he speaks (in his erudite liner notes) of drowning the listener, and the metaphor is perfect. This is much more like under-water music than music made under water. Listen to the slow-motion unfolding of Wait, in which the notes seem suspended in a reality that lies outside time and space.
January 1, 2018
'YIELD' REVIEW IN VITAL WEEKLY
Adrian Lim-Klumpes is a new name for me. He started as a classically trained pianist and continued with studying jazz at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. He kicked of with ‘Be still’, a solo album released in 2006 for the Leaf label. Followed by his participation in the electronic jazz trio Triosk, the 3ofmilions-project, etc. Since 2010 he is member of Tangents, an improvising quintet with Shoeb Ahmad, Evan Dorrian, Peter Hollo and Ollie Bown. Tangents will have a third album out next year.
Mainly however he operates as a solo pianist with an interest in electro-acoustic aspects and preparations. ‘Yield’ is his second solo album. Lim-Klumpes plays on a Steinway piano in one 6-hour session with a multitude of microphones and recording techniques. “I enjoyed using an expanded piano timbre palette, including preparations, overdubs and extended resonances. A week later I spent 3 days mixing and editing through external audio hardware. I like the conflict I can bring to bear in blending the natural acoustics of piano playing and the manipulation of these soundwaves made possibe in studio editing”, Lim-Klumpes explains.
With the sensibilities he learned from playing jazz and improvised music, and his technical studio skills, he returns to his first source of inspiration, J.S.Bach, in the days he was educated as a classical pianist. The album shows Lim-Klumpes developed his very own style and sound over the years. A remarkable voice with a clear musical vision! The music is of a minimalist and lyrical nature. He added relevant treatments to the acoustic recordings, what makes his music a real sonic adventure opening up new dimensions. And meanwhile the music remains
intimate and personal. An impressive release by the Belgian Off label and one of my highlights for this
November 3, 2017
'YIELD' REVIEW IN LOUDMOUTH
BY MANDY STEFANAKIS
I first listened to this album when driving to Leongatha, a rural town about an hour and a half from Melbourne. The disc contains a series of Preludes and Fugues for piano with appropriate homage to J. S. Bach, although Adrian Lim-Klumpes makes clear that he is using the original meaning of ‘fugare’ here, that is, ‘the chase’ where one line pursues another. The textural overlay the composer achieves is phenomenal. He speaks of his desire to ‘lull the listener into a rich texture of harmonious melody where one could surrender to the depth of the polyphony’ and so transported was I by the harmonic revelry on this album that I got lost, in a number of ways.
The album was recorded in one six-hour session. Lim-Klumpes has tampered with the actual piano in order to achieve a broader range of timbres and then edited the work digitally sometimes re-shaping sound waves to achieve the effect he desires. What most would perceive in contemporary music of all genres over the last couple of decades in particular is attention to the detail of each sound, as composers become equally involved in the mixing and engineering processes. This now feeds into compositions whereby the line between the composed work and the recorded work is wondrously blurred and impacts sound choices. This is especially relevant to Yield.
The titles of tracks are a series of verbs, action words, though some are more active, Chase, for example, than others, such as Remain. But the titles are just a tiny reminder to the listener of the kinaesthetic and temporal nature of music and if one could suggest an overall theme here, this is it – the whole body/sound/mind gestalt utterly envelopes one – which is why I got lost.
On Caution, for example, Lim-Klumpes speaks of the two improvised layers drowning the listener. The two voices are at extreme ends of the piano, the growly bass notes entering first. Adrian has digitally manipulated their pitch so that they become ever so slightly raised or lowered even in the one sound. He also adds echo so that sounds connect with each other. He enhances the ring of the upper notes in this way, where harmonics do not naturally provide such resonance as with lower tones, and builds both, so one really does feel utterly immersed in sound. Indeed, sound invades the body completely.
In the Fugue that follows (Chase), the composer emphasises three notes, but he creates incredible chordal and textural effects around them, including a reversing delay, like a backwards sound-piercing of space. Where the Prelude traversed the parameters of the piano, the Fugue is tightly contained in the middle. The chords are repetitive and lush and it is the digital manipulation of sounds that creates hypnotic variation. We feel more chaste than chased. There’s a paradoxical stillness in the piece in its attempts to make time go backwards, or so it seems to this listener.
But Wait behaves precisely as it should, ensuring the tender shaping of every heavenly, jazz-inspired, hammered chord and every string scraping. There is digital manipulation and deletion of some of the harmonics in these chords, like an echo tracing, but each vertically placed unit is largely allowed its ephemeral existence. Wait’s fraternal twin, Rush, also lives up to its reputation and this, this is the track that found me half way to (ha ha) Hastings! Lim-Klumpes describes it in this way: 'A wash of colour is created with 3 repeats of the original, only one second later, creating an intense stretto. Sonorities are pulled from a variety of microphone placements.'
It’s very difficult to describe this piece because every time you listen it impacts differently. The intensive overlay of sounds starts to form tsunami-like harmonic waves and shifts, up, down, in. It gathers in complexity and in forays across the piano and perhaps this is why the composer’s interest in the Romantic mob comes through strongly in this overwhelmingly intensive piece of music, the likes of which I have never heard before. I love it!
Process is also interesting in that it is almost like a piano tuner using rich harmonies to ensure the accuracy of her tuning as it descends and ascends chromatically. The emphasis is vertical with a repeated rhythmic convention that is largely altered only by detailed articulative attention to dynamics and micro-timing.
The first Prelude and Fugue in Eb minor most closely resembles the conventions of the form. The Prelude, Watch, is so beautifully reflective and although the composer dabbles a little with digital manipulation, he mainly lets the piano and its player speak for themselves. As with Rush, the improvised piece becomes beautifully romantic in its intricacies and meanderings around the instrument’s extremities. Ahhh! The Fugue, Follow, though jazz-like in rhythmic structure, is still largely a wonderful exploration of what can be achieved harmonically on a piano with drone notes and a descending theme overlaid and interlaid across the length of the instrument, an increasing number of voices throwing their hat in the ring as the piece gathers in density so that again we become bathed in sound, the last notes all made to run into each other and left to ring out.
The performing throughout is highly dextrous, thoughtful and intensely expressive, but in an intimate way. The music is unique with the same diligence and creativity applied to all aspects of the process. Lim-Klumpes often works from a set structure, whether it be a tone row, or a chord construct, and he has made an obvious assessment of where the structure might lead him in an improvisation. But he does not stop there, later messing with the sounds in the editing process until he has precisely what he wants to present in digital form.
Lim-Klumpes is currently also part of the adventurous improvisatory group, Tangents, playing keys including mallet percussion and also having an obvious role with the digital effects. But the sound is quite, quite different to his own music and it is a credit to him that he can sustain these multiple identities.
So, a word to the wise! Don’t venture too far in a car whilst listening to this incredible album lest you find yourself in a quite different modus operandi from which it is pleasingly difficult to return.
'YIELD' TRACK DESCRIPTION IN HHHHAPPY
'ADRIAN LIM-KLUMPES RUNS US THROUGH HIS TWISTING PIANO SYMPHONY YIELD'
It’s tough enough to make it in the music world, more so if you’re composing instrumental music. Despite perhaps a lack of populist appeal, Adrian Lim-Klumpes has continued to make a name for himself as an incredible rising Australian pianist.
His latest offering, an album called Yield, proves yet again his proclivity as an artist. Further driving the stake home is his own perspective on the record, giving us a sense of each track, which he was kind enough to share with us. Take it away, Adrian.
Watch: Begin an emotional, at times raw, journey into a creative outpouring of improvised piano music. In Watch we find a simple improvisation on a theme coloured with sampling and effects, a gentle melody embedded in a shimmering backdrop. The piano is like a singing voice that wanders from beautiful nostalgia to lament, set against a chorus of harmonic whispers.
Follow: Follow is a fugue, a two-part oblique motion theme that ‘follows’ itself in various registers, rhythms and tonalities. An initially simple motif gains texture and depth as it overlaps and crescendos. Drawn into the sense of urgency created, it is as if we blindly follow a disappearing dream through a maze of harmonies, regardless of the end point.
Caution: With two improvised layers Caution explores the darkness and power of the lower registers of the piano. We hear rumbling and thundering and become aware of the depth of sound created, as treated high notes, like glass bells, echo in a cavernous space.
Chase: Chase is an improvisation with and against a reversing delay effect that is then layered upon itself, as if chasing its tail. This circling becomes a lulling rhythm that sways to and fro. The melody, never quite resolving, floats as though suspended in the viscous hum of electroacoustic buzz and glitch.
Wait: The mood of the album changes with Wait from a need to create, to an examination of the space that surrounds each musical decision. Punctuated by silences and occasional electroacoustic reverberations, the piano slowly breathes its chords, inviting the listener to a meditation on waiting, pausing expectations and discovering stillness as a state of action.
Rush: Offering respite from introspection, Rush offers chords that rain down, drenching the listener in polyphony and rhythm. A wash of colour is created with three repeats of the original theme only one second apart, realising an intense stretto. The enveloping sonorities are pulled from a variety of microphones and placements.
Process: Uncovering yet more harmonic colour, Process uses overlapping fifths moving in a composed pattern to create an ebb and flow, a moving between a rising sense of hope and its opposing uncertainty.
The rhythm slows and on a deserted beach, we collect our thoughts deciding whether to look back or to continue forwards.
Control: In Control we meet the underbelly of contemplation; anticipation. A bass tone row is chased by a meta-melody hindered by pegs muting piano strings. The dark tones of the bass intimate that perhaps a loss of control is imminent.
The exquisite tones of the prepared piano showcase the dissonant harmonies, creating a piece of sublime apprehension.
Move: Cascading chords create a swell of colour that propels the sweeping melodic lines of Move. The listener is invited to dive into the waves of sound and the lush texture of layered harmonies. Like dancers tumbling and weaving across the sand the intertwined strains shift across a backdrop of rhythmic pulses only to have their footprints erased by a smear of effects.
Remain: An initial performance of a simple melody remains still while the theme is repeated in the dominant key. Not only does this tracker solve the tension and movement of the preceding track, it also ends the journey of the album. Put the whole album on repeat and this last track seamlessly guides you on to the first.
'YIELD' REVIEW IN HHHHAPPY
BY JACINTA RETS
Get your instrumental fix in Adrian Lim-Klumpes’ tempo driven, evocative new offering Yield. Adrian Lim-Klumpes is an Australian pianist making a name for himself with intricate, beautifully executed keystrokes and a striking narrative to match.
A force to be reckoned with, Klumpes is the frontman for post-jazz bands Triosk, 3ofmillions, and Tangents as well as being a formidable solo act in his own right. Creating textural harmonies with a burning sense of nostalgia, Adrian Lim-Klumpes shapes moods with emotion-heavy themes. Lyrical and harmonious, this man of many talents has crafted a reality from his improvised ideas, conjuring up a 52 minute, 10 track record named Yield that speaks to listeners on an emotional level.
On nothing but a Steinway piano, Lim-Klumpes incorporates minimalism, jazz harmonies and soft electronics to produce what can only be described as multi-layered preludes of classical piano and spacious melodies, without the confusion of any vocals.
Drawing similarities to modern pianists like John Cage, Bill Evans, Philip Glass, Harold Budd and Chris Abrahams, Yield explores the beauty of Lim-Klumpes’ solo piano composition, the tracks designed to transmit every facet of his sound, down to the very echoes. Watch and Follow are the first pair of tracks on the record, gently inviting listeners in with glistening melodies, soft strokes and electronic accents, eventually building up to a more urgent rhythm. Also driven by their own tempo are other tracks, Caution and Chase, Wait and Rush, Process and Control, Move and Remain, falling under the same banner of warm, slow intros that build into dramatic brushstrokes.
Lim-Klumpes uses the piano as a form of expression, skilfully manipulating the keystrokes to imitate different shades, painting an colourful picture of deep and raw emotion. Yield is to be interpreted as a narrative, beginning with tension and ending with resolution.
Touching on themes such as violence, loneliness, pain as well as peace, warmth, tenderness and fragility, the ten track record is a Yield takes you to a different emotional realm with each track, an astral adventure into a classic yet emotive musical landscape.
'YIELD' BY ADRIAN LIM-KLUMPES NEW SOLO PIANO ALBUM OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
OFF RECORD LABEL is excited to be releasing a new solo album from Australian pianist, Adrian Lim-Klumpes. Yield (Preludes and Fugues for Piano) will have an Australian launch tour in November 2017.
Known as the frontman of critically acclaimed post-jazz bands, Triosk, 3ofmillions, and currently, Tangents, Adrian’s sound has been described as:
“exceedingly lyrical; pianist Adrian Klumpes has found a path to the ‘sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall’ sound Miles Davis so admired in Bill Evans' playing” (Pitchfork)
Yield is a new collection of captivating tracks, showcasing Adrian’s unique ability to develop improvised ideas into fully rounded and complex works. The 52-minute album is a selection of performances captured in one six-hour session on a Steinway piano and is awash with his signature blending of minimalism, lyrical piano, jazz harmony and electronics to create polyphonic textures that shift in mood from track to track.
Adrian describes Yield’s exploration of solo piano composition is, in part, a homage to Bach’s piano work ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’. Certainly, with its arrangement into paired preludes and fugues, and its multi-layered harmonies, the album speaks to a classical piano tradition, yet equally we hear the influence of modern pianists such as John Cage, Bill Evans, Philip Glass, Harold Budd and Chris Abrahams.
The tracks on Yield were created in pairs, designed for the listener to hear corresponding echoes between pieces. The first pair of tracks, Watch and Follow, begin with a gentle, spacious melody, highlighted by glistening electronic accents. Then what are controlled washes of colour in Watch become urgent brushstrokes in Follow, as the motif is taken over by pulsing rhythms and a driving tempo. Similarly the various pairs on the album; Caution and Chase, Wait and Rush, Process and Control, Move and Remain, reveal both the delicacy and expressiveness of Adrian's playing alongside his skilful manipulation of the different shades that come from dramatic shifts in dynamic expression and tonal colour.
To listen to the album in full is to be led through a narrative of tension and resolution. Across the ten tracks of Yield, Adrian explores a range of emotion, from feelings of violence, loneliness, and pain, to those of peace, warmth, tenderness and fragility. Yield is an album which, like a kaleidoscope, reveals new colours and dimensions with each listen. Fans of his previous solo work Be Still (Leaf Label, 2006) will be satisfied by his continued push at the boundaries of post-classical, post-jazz aesthetics, and new listeners will be enchanted by their transportation into Adrian’s evocative aural world.
Yield (Preludes and Fugues for Piano) sees release on OFF on 10th November 2017.
December 9, 2016
TANGENTS PLAY AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA REVIEW IN MUSIC.COM
BY C.P. KHOO
"We are going to play for about an hour or so... We have just as much of an idea of how we'll go as you all do." With this intriguing introduction, Sydney based quintet Tangents take us on an auditory mystery ride. Weaving amorphously between experimental and improvisational jazz, rock, blues, classical and electronic production, the band remain true to their word and their namesake.
Tangents come with impressive and diverse credentials: comprising of current and former members of Icarus, Fourplay String Quartet, Triosk and Spartak, the group's vision is as ambitious as it is courageous in their unique ensemble. They perform a continuous stream of tracks over the entire hour in silence and pure physical absorption.
There are flits between mere semblances of the genres, but as soon as it appears to settle comfortably into a groove and tempo, a pull through a rapid current comes to feast on new, unexpected soundscapes. Atmospheric electronica wind-rushes, tinny raps on top hats, and solid plonks of a prepared piano are borne by the grave baritone of a single cello and highlighted by percussion instruments used in the manner of clapsticks reminiscent of traditional Australian Indigenous music. The group particularly relish in testing the effects of marathon-sustained beats, feverishly driving them up to exponential climaxes and abruptly cooling them down to faint impulse blips, often repeatedly within a single track.
Their latest album, Stateless, has barely been officially launched in their home base and yet it has already garnered international acclaim - among them, as one of 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2016 by San Diego based Treble magazine. The audience are gifted with a preview tonight: from the oriental tinted Along The Forest Floor with its swaying, mellifluous grooves to the striking, spine-tinglingly unnerving Jindabyne, and the evolving urgency of Oberon and N-Mission, the tracks testify to the album's arresting impression. It is clear the band aim to challenge themselves and the arbitrary limits of experimentation.
The band express delight to be partnering, in a manner of speaking, with the institutional British artist David Hockney, whose Current exhibition adorns the main gallery. Replicas of his vivid, lush landscape paintings form the backdrop of the stage and on a projection screen above it in the Great Hall. A greater number of fashionistas are also in attendance, having glided in from the adjacent Viktor&Rolf exhibition to sample the rich musical tapestry. Like both Hockney and V&R Tangents produce a provocative view of their chosen art form, and a bold soundtrack to our contemplations.
July 20, 2016
TANGENTS 'STATELESS' REVIEW FOR 4ZZZFM
BY CHRIS COBCROFT
"...whatever personal mileage you get from cerebral but propulsive, jazzy beats, this is one of the strongest releases of the year so far."
Stateless is the second full-length for what is a supergroup of sorts: comprising Ollie Bown (Icarus, Not Applicable), Adrian Lim-Klumpes (Triosk, 3ofMillions), Peter Hollo (FourPlay String Quartet) and the duo Spartak (which is also Evan Dorrian and singer/producer Shoeb Ahmad). That’s a lot of scope already: from avant-garde jazz to neo-classical, downtempo, idm and experimental electronica.
It’s also quite old-school and you certainly won’t hear much here that even the arty electronic kids are getting down to. There’s not even anything that FlyLo and his Brainfeeder compadres might do; and when it comes to jazzy beats, they’ve been like afro-futurist space pharaohs of the sound for the last decade.
You’ve got to go back just a little bit further, to the hey-day of folks like Icarus and also Prefuse 73, Bonobo, even Four Tet before he went all dance. Tangents would’ve fit very nicely into the mid-’90s roster of a label like Ninja Tune, although -to be honest- they’re substantially more interesting than many of the artists there. They really deliver on the promise of what complex, jazzy rhythms, electronics and production nuttiness can do.
It wasn’t always like that: Tangents originally came together as a bunch of friends who just wanted to jam and, accordingly, their first album, er, I, had quite an improv feel: spacious and ambient as the different players worked out how to mesh together. I mean it was great and intense too, like if The Necks had three times as many members and didn’t feel like they had to pace themselves to last through a thirty-minute hypno-jam: a jazzy mind-storm of a record.
That’s not gone on Stateless, so much as it’s been grid-patterned by a rhythm section of even greater intensity, one that spends most of the record barreling through jazzy chicanes at breakneck pace. It’s genuinely, breathlessly exciting and although it’s sometimes hard to tell where the live work stops and the studio fiddling begins, it comes across something like a live rendition of the best of what IDM nutters like Squarepusher spewed out.
If you are even the slightest bit attracted to the urban jazz of BADBADNOTGOOD, the lush nu-jazz of Jaga Jazzist or the afro-futurism of Thundercat -Tangents isn’t exactly like any of them, but- you really must listen to thia. It’s nice to see this being given a release on US label Temporary Residence who can hopefully give the record the exposure it needs to break out of the orbit of Australia’s indifference to something so wilfully different. Whatever becomes of it, this is one of the records of the year, so don’t you miss it.
July 14, 2016
TANGENTS 'STATELESS' RADIO INTERVIEW WITH ADRIAN LIM-KLUMPES ON TRIPLER FM
Stateless, the second album from five-piece Sydney “post-everything” experimental collective Tangents, has just been released. Breaking And Entering’s Simon and Lauren from have a chat with pianist and vibraphonist Adrian Lim-Klumpes about their rich instrumentalism, “music for driving”, the marriage of acoustic and electronic, and other subjects.
July 14, 2016
TANGENTS 'STATELESS' REVIEW IN SYDNEY SCOOP
BY SCOTT WALLACE
The first track on Stateless, the third album from Sydney instrumental group Tangents, is called "Jindabyne," which may not be that significant, but given the contents of the piece it's a striking and suggestive name. Jindabyne is an interesting place. It's more-or-less a ghost town for a majority of the year, and the former location of the town lies nearby at the bottom of Lake Jindabyne where it was abandoned to make way for the Snowy Hydro. "Jindabyne," if you allow it to, could take you there.
The music on Stateless is exploratory in the purest sense of the word, evoking landscapes and shapes and even a sense of light, the colour of the sky. The prickly pine needle rhythm and watery melody of "Jindabyne" gives way to the lengthy, vibrant and restless "Oberon," on which Evan Dorrian's splashing drums swagger through potholes and puddles created by Peter Hollo's percolating cello part.
The five-piece band synthesise contemporary classical forms - most often recalling Steve Reich or Philip Glass - and marry them to the looseness and improvisational nature of jazz and the dynamics of head-nodding electronic music. Stateless is at once both carefully composed and freely flowing. The compositions included here are more about rhythm, texture and contrast than definable melodies and harmonic structures.
Tangents upend the traditional band arrangement, allowing for such intriguing additions as the rumbling guitar that takes on the role of percussion on the jagged "Masist Cau," or the sturdy bass that takes the lead on the appropriately creeping "Along the Forest Floor," leaving shards of chimes and half-head voices in its wake, a spectral melody rising off it like steam.
Following the relatively short diversion into glitchy jazz, "Directrix," the album switches gears somewhat, into more dynamic and forceful compositions. Where the first half of the record feels observational and passive, the second is characterised by driving rhythms and hypnotic repetition, recalling classic Krautrock groups of the '7os like Neu! and Can. Despite the added momentum, though, the band still conjure a wonderfully airy and spacious sound that joins the two halves together.
Stateless feels like a full and generous album cycle. It's pensive and evocative without being overly conceptual, and it shows a courageous sense of movement and exploration. It concludes with three extra tracks that are enjoyable, including a killer electro-acoustic house-influenced remix of "Jindabyne" by Four Tet, but exist discreetly from the main album. As the serene, glimmering "Maze Cresent, Pt. II," fades away like the last strings of sunlight, there is a feeling of having been somewhere and witnessed something, even if you haven't moved an inch while listening to this remarkable, transportive music.
May 1, 2011
3OFMILLIONS 'ABSTRUCTION' REVIEW IN AUSTRALIANJAZZ.NET
BY DES COWLEY
The title of 3ofmillions second full-length release variously suggests abstraction, construction, destruction and obstruction. While the first term is the more immediately obvious, borne out by the striking hard-edge cover design, and the ambient and abstract music contained within, the latter terms are nonetheless provocatively suggestive, as if to infer there’s more here than meets the eye or the ear.
3ofmillions comprises Adrian Lim-Klumpes on piano; Abel Cross on bass, and Finn Ryan on drums and percussion. With a combined resume that includes bands such as Triosk, Pivot, Trio Apoplectic, Pure Evil Trio, and the Splinter Orchestra, it’s a given that 3ofmillions is not going to be your average piano trio.
The band uses technology to manipulate the sounds of their instruments, further adding layers of electronics and voice to the mix. And While Klumpes, Cross and Finn draw freely on the language of jazz, post-rock, noise, ambient and minimalist music, 3ofmillions is above all a self-proclaimed band of unrepentant improvisers, intent on creating acoustic and electronic music in a live context. Their closest local counterparts are perhaps the Necks, and Phil Slater’s various electro-acoustic ensembles.
Pianist Adrian Lim-Klumpes is probably the best known musician of the trio, due to his previous role in Triosk, a piano trio he formed in 2001 with Ben Waples and Laurence Pike. I remember catching one of the band’s final performances at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival in 2007, and being stunned by the sheer visceral energy on display. While the performance bore comparison with the electro-energy of Swedish piano trio E.S.T., it also possessed something of the madcap mayhem of a fluxus happening. More than anything, the hour-long improvisation brought to mind early live recordings by the Ganelin Trio. It was roiling music full of abrupt jump cuts and wild unpredictability, unleashed with a sonic force that made the heart race. It remains baffling to me that a band as innovative and exciting as Triosk was not more acclaimed in this country when they were around.
While the music of 3ofmillions bears similarities with that of Triosk, there are notable differences. Certainly, the musical palette heard on Abstruction is more contained; there is a greater focus on the spatial quality of the music. Rather than abrupt surges of sound, there is instead a concentrated attention given to ambient sounds and textures.
For the recording of Abstruction, the trio appears to have been directly inspired by their surroundings. The album was recorded in late 2009 during the band’s week-long artists-in-residency at Bundanon, the previous home of Arthur and Yvonne Boyd, situated on the Shoalhaven River. Working in a space designed by architect Glenn Murcutt, the musicians have acknowledged there is something architectural about the music they created there. At the same time, there is equally something sculptural about the way they move around blocks of sound to create abstract colours and shapes.
While Abstruction is divided into eight tracks, it has something of the feel of a suite, or continuous loop, about it. The soft, repetitive bell of a piano introduces the opening track, ‘Abstruction’. The music grows in volume, gently cascading and flowing, before being drowned out by a flurry of percussion, the drone of an engine. ‘Versus Nature’ plays out over a sonic hum that fades in and out, gradually swelling in intensity. ‘Conversation’ is like a minimalist drama, all stops and starts, gentle and strident. ‘Furniture’ is two minutes and forty-six seconds of near-silence interrupted by electronic blips and scratching sounds.
The album’s longest track, ‘Nebuchadnezzar’, presumably titled after Arthur Boyd’s great cycle of paintings, clocks in at eleven minutes. It has a film-score feel to it, trading off lush piano motifs against a backdrop of rumbling and threatening bass lines. The piece builds slowly, with percussion, electronics and voices gradually being added to the mix, generating vast sheets of sound. The effect is both trance-inducing and otherworldly. ‘What are You Gunna Do?’ could be bell-chimes ringing in a forest, a distant motor revving, before falling into silence. The album’s final track, ‘Bacquiescence’, is ten minutes of electronic pulse and radio waves, easing in and out, like the rhythm of waves, or the beat of a heart.
Abstruction is an uncompromising album, demanding from the listener a certain willingness to engage with its architectural design. Working from scratch, its improvisations explore the tonalities of light and shade. That the final results have about them the character of composed works speaks volumes about the heightened intuitive interplay these musicians attained during the recording sessions. At times, it feels as if this music comes out of silence, and in the end returns there.
The album provides ample evidence, should it be needed, that 3ofmillions rank amongst Australia’s finest improvising musicians, committed to developing their own complex language and vocabulary. Their music is created out of a genre-hopping three-way conversation that freely plunders electro and ambient music, minimalism, musique concrete, and industrial rock, without necessarily sounding like any one of them. If Abstruction inevitably ends up being filed under ‘jazz’, it’s not because this music has no other refuge. Instead it’s because the future of jazz is being written in the here and now by bands such as 3ofmillions.
* March 2009
3OFMILLIONS 'ABSTRUCTION' REVIEW IN MUSIC FORUM
BY TONY MITCHELL
When 3ofmillions launched their second album in March this year at Venue 505, Cameron Undy’s cosy new jazz club in Sydney, they invited Chris Abrahams to play support. It was as if they were acknowledging the frequent comparisons that have been made between the Necks, pianist Adrian Klumpes’ previous group Triosk (formed in 2001 with Ben Waples and Laurence Pike), and this current incarnation. The event served to demonstrate how different they are, with Abrahams playing solo acoustic piano, and 30fmillions employing much more in the way of voice and electronic effects. Both groups employ extended minimalist keyboard techniques, layered textures, and are genre bending, although 30fmillions is arguably more influenced by post-rock and electronica, whereas the Necks remains within the boundaries of acoustic instruments. The breakup of Triosk, who were signed to the prestigious British ambient label Leaf, was a disappointment to me, and their successor’s self-released first album, Immediate (2008), struck me as dissonant and unfocused. Abstruction, however, is a satisfying combination of the ambient-electronic elements of Triosk, augmented by teenage drummer Finn Ryan’s often fierce percussion and bassist (formerly of Apoplectic Trio [sic]). All three musicians are credited with voice and electronics, and Klumpes plays Rhodes as well as piano.
The opening and title track establishes a shimmering groove which sets the tone for the album, perhaps suggesting both abstruction and construction. Versus Nature is slower, meandering and more melodic, the acoustic piano leaving space for Ryan’s bass drums and cymbals to adventure, and Cross’s bass to climb into improvising lead guitar-like regions. Rhodes and electronically distorted piano drive the brief and drifting Furniture, with Ryan sounding like he’s playing pots and pans in the background. Growling, demonic electric bass introduces the dramatic Nebuchadnezzar. Named after the king of Babylon to whom Saddam Hussein considered himself the successor, grinding arco bass and vamping piano paint a fitting portrait, with military-style drumming and vocal effects establishing a powerful choral crescendo. A bell-like electronic, motoric rumble is the main dynamic of What Are You Gunna Do?, and Glaciation features a slow-moving development which mirrors the title. The final track, Acquiescence, is a Brian Eno-like soundscape, with two notes recurring on piano, a lingering bass drone, skittering cymbals and drums, and organ-like chimes, all held together in a gorgeous, gently transforming sonority.
The album was the result of the ‘intensity’ of a week long residency at Arthur Boyd’s residence at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River, and the influence of these surroundings is evident in its tranquillity, though Nebuchadnezzar alludes to a cycle of arresting and violent paintings by Boyd. Aaron Leeman-Smith’s minimalist mauve digipak artwork, with criss-crossed line designs and a felt bed for the CD, is also outstanding. Definitely one of the albums of the year.
3OFMILLIONS 'ABSTRUCTION' REVIEW IN TEXTURA
BY KATE SIMCO
Abstruction is not the sound of some polite dinner lounge trio but rather fifty-plus minutes of free-wheeling electro-acoustic improvisations by the three-headed outfit that is bassist Abel Cross, drummer Finn Ryan, and one-time Triosk pianist Adrian Klumpes. Having played together since 2008 and issued 2009's Immediate album and The Golden Calf EP, the Sydney, Australia-based 3ofmillions now operates at a level of telepathy to which all such units aspire. If the three don't quite rewrite the guidebook of trio playing, they at the very least expand upon it by allowing a healthy degree of experimentalism and electronic textures into the picture.
All three musicians contribute electronics to the project, and never is that perhaps more audible than during the release's longest piece, “Nebuchadnezzar,” a suitably ominous and ponderous moodscape that sometimes sounds like a swarm of zombified hornets advancing across the horizon. That dark mood is deepened further by the primal wails that appear as the tempo slows to a dying crawl. “What Are You Gonna Do?” also disassociates the group from the conventional piano trio by ending with a creepy stalker-like voice episode, and “Glaciation” does much the same in an electronics-heavy setting where ambient hiss and high-pitched warble occupy much of the sonic space. In the title cut, the bass burns so fiercely the trio even sounds for a few bars like the King Crimson model featuring John Wetton and Bill Bruford (Fripp sitting out, of course). In part, “Conversation” spotlights the trio's more delicate side, with Klumpes' light touch offset by Ryan's rambunction and wild fuzz guitar-styled contributions from Cross, presumably. Eschewing the standard lead voice role, Klumpes sometimes generates tone clusters as a pedal-point for Ryan's rolls and cymbals splashes, and the drummer is as much if not more multi-limbed percussive colourist as he is time-keeper. Even a single listen to Abstruction makes clear that anyone looking for by-the-numbers takes on “Days of Wine and Roses” or “Autumn Leaves” is visiting the wrong neighbourhood.
* February 11
3OFMILLIONS SIGNS TO RUFUS RECORDS
Rufus Records welcomes another innovative Sydney piano trio into the fold with the release of 3ofmillions’ second full-length album, Abstruction.
Recorded while artists-in-residence at Yvonne and Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon, this disc captures many of the unique electroacoustic textures, and oblique rhythmic interplay for which 3ofmillions are now renowned; it unites and synthesises the elements of their individual expressions (Adrian Lim-Klumpes – Triosk, Pivot; Abel Cross – Trio Apoplectic, Pure Evil Trio; Finn Ryan – The Splinter Orchestra, Prophets) into new sounds, structures and textures for adventurous ears.
3ofmillions’ music is readily comparable with the likes of successful Sydney trios The Necks, Alister Spence Trio, and Klumpes’ previous trio project, Triosk, but distinguishes itself by the nature of their sonic palette and the unique interactive language Klumpes, Cross and Ryan have developed. As Australia’s only true electroacoustic piano trio, their spectrum of colour and texture is unsurpassed.
With mix and mastering credits to Richard Belkner (Free Energy Device) and Oscar Gaona (301) respectively, this album is a lush document of one of Australia’s foremost improvising piano trios.
February 12, 2009
3OFMILLIONS 'IMMEDIATE' REVIEW IN POLAROIDS FOR ANDROIDS
ental jazz collective 3ofmillions are an improv band. There is no writing and no slaving away on a single piece of music until it's perfect. Their songs exist in a single moment, with the trio injecting their own individual direction into each piece. This no-rules artistic freedom creates a strange balance of power throughout their compositions, with each member focusing on their own style yet at the same time attempting to work as part of a cohesive unit.
Immediate, the group's debut full length release, starts up with a fragile and somewhat subtle track entitled Her Subtlety In My Subconscious. As is the case with the opening third of the record, the piano work of Adrian Klumpes (formerly of Triosk) dominates, playfully dancing over the foundation of sounds which vary from freeform drum patterns to minimal electronic additions.
The unexpectedly noisy nature of The Hand Of God - complete with chaotic backwards samples and furious keyboard smashing - interrupts the 'background music at a dinner party' feel of the record's start, kicking the LP into life with fight scene-like urgency. This song also highlights the most interesting aspect of the group's approach to music, with all three musicians heading down three very seperate paths yet somehow meeting at a fixed point towards the end to bring a small piece of cohesiveness to the musical arrangement. This is the real heart and soul of 3ofmillions' style, with the listener becoming completely engaged in the journey the band are traveling.
The Hand Of God kicks off the much more direct yet unhinged second half of the LP. The record highlight, Conscription, led by a head-pounding rhythm finds the trio smashing their way through several hypnotic movements before rising up to a brilliant climatic implosion. There is so much going on throughout this track that it's impossible to not hit replay upon it's completion
The triumphant finale, the 21-minute Accepting What Is, showcases some of Klumpes' finest piano work on the record, with the mammoth composition moving through several moods. More than anything on the other eight songs (most likely because of it's longer duration) this track highlights the group's fantastic ability to create genuine emotion without using any words - surely the true goal for any instrumental group.
While some will find the wandering nature of 3ofmillions' style a little off putting, those that enjoy music with a genuine sense of creative discovery will happily find themselves completely lost within the confines of this record.
April 4, 2009
KLUMPES AHMAD 'IN BED WE TRUST' REVIEW IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD & THE AGE
BY JOHN SHAND
Just as the presence of an acoustic instrument can heighten the otherworldliness of electronic sounds, so electronics may lend acoustic instruments a super-reality, as the blasting Australian light can do to trees and flowers.
This is the effect on the marvellously titled In Bed We Trust, when Adrian Klumpes's piano cleaves a path through thickets of electronics generated by Shoeb Ahmad's guitar and by Klumpes himself.
It is not solely a matter of sonic contrast, however.
The piano melodies often unfurl with the stark beauty of time-lapse photography of a flower opening and they add a layer of solid narrative to the mists and heat hazes of ephemeral electronic improvisations. Sometimes the piano is, itself, treated and becomes part of the Milky Way of sounds that seem to decorate silence rather than negate it.
A Canberran, Ahmad proves an imaginative and empathetic collaborator for Klumpes, known for his work with Triosk and 3ofmillions.
Fans of the Robert Fripp-Brian Eno duets may find much to enjoy.
February 1, 2009
KLUMPES AHMAD 'IN BED WE TRUST' REVIEW IN MESS+NOISE
BY ADAM D. MILLS
Despite its title, In Bed We Trust is not a lazy album. While far from hyperactive, it’s a very delicate collection of precise improvisations recorded by Canberra’s Shoeb Ahmad (who besides being one half of Spartak has released solo records on labels such as Low Point, Cook an Egg and sound&fury) and Sydney’s Adrian Klumpes (formerly of Pivot, currently of 3ofmillions and creator of 2006's beautiful Be Still album).
Ahmad’s processed instrumentation is all over opening track 'Prologue', before the focus shifts to Klumpes’s piano on 'Her Lovers and My Letter Hand'. The first track in an unofficial triology, it builds like the crest of an uneven wave, Klumpes throwing more and more notes against Ahmad’s slowly-shifting wall of sound. It’s followed by the shimmering radiance of 'Her Birds and Her Pin Cushion' and the minimal, spacious 'My Bedside and Her Paper Flowers.'
The eight-and-a-half minute 'The Turn' sees Klumpes skilfully disrupting swirling clusters of static with brief, controlled bursts of piano notes. The fragile melody of 'You Can Have What I Take' takes on a haunting quality when combined with the track’s subtle, grainy background noise. 'Credit and Refinance' is the album’s darkest moment, and threatens to drag the mood right down before 'Other’s Dream' allows tiny shards of scattered light to shine through the gloom.
Klumpes and Ahmad have found an entirely sympathetic space within which to improvise, and have developed their own intuitive language through which to communicate their ideas. Evenly paced and expertly crafted, In Bed We Trust is the perfect album for quiet afternoons spent under (or at least on top of) the covers.
March 5, 2007
ADRIAN KLUMPES INTERVIEW IN CYCLIC DEFROST
BY RENEE MASON
The piano begins to weave its gentle melodies, repetitions of chord progressions that are caught and transformed in a lull of mechanical slices. The atmosphere rises, heavy and thick in the distance. I’ve lost my own internal sense of time and place, but found this moment – this series of moments composed to create a multifaceted whole that is Adrian Klumpes’ first solo effort titled 'Be Still'.
The pulse of the album extends onwards, weaving through foreign landscapes. There’s so much space and intimacy here, but then I’m sharply transported back to the sounds of the inner-city streets as Adrian himself looms in front of me. I say 'looms’ because I’m super short and he seems rather tall in my presence. I quickly do away with the headphones, introductions are made and we settle down with a beer in hand. It’s a hot summer’s day in Sydney, so beer seems more appropriate than coffee but Adrian jokingly teases about this being his last for the post-Christmas silly season hangover. It’s time to get back to work, not that he ever really left it. For every ten minutes that we are here, there’s probably another email flowing in regarding promotions and touring, not only for Be Still, but also for his main band Triosk. They’re an improvisational jazz trio that Adrian plays keys and electronics for, his day job so to speak, and they’re planning a European tour with Leaf labelmate Colleen, so there is much preparation to be done.
Still, at this point, there is no sense of rush or flurry from Adrian. It’s clear time is a precious essence that he utilises to the fullest as he explains the meaning behind the album’ title. Being “still’ itself can often mean if things are really hectic, then you actually need to give yourself time to be still. So rather than thinking, “I am still’, it’s more like, “I want to be still.’ So this explains why the first track 'Cornered' begins the album on quite a frantic note, capturing the tension of this ambiguous desire. Adrian continues, "You can be still and still be moving really fast, do you know what I mean?", answering his own question with a snippet of anecdotal memory, "I listened to a lot of music in the past, with the windows in the car shut up and ambient music on inside. Driving really fast or driving in traffic, or whatever, it becomes a montage of things going fast on the outside yet trying to be still on the inside at the same time.
Given this emotional context, anyone expecting a “chillout’s experience would be bitterly disappointed and for good reason. Even though there are many points of calm and a natural sense of stillness that comes from the piano, Adrian doesn’ write music to encourage a disengagement from it and he certainly wouldn’ want it to be “background muzak’. Rather, he’ been playing the piano since the age of five and it’s a love that’s fuelled his desire for performance and creation, writing original music and taking chances even while he was learning to play ‘Fly Me to the Moon’.
Many of his early dreams came true through working with local Sydney bands like Triosk and post-rockers Pivot. He recounts how "in those first four years of Triosk everything felt so new all the time, it was really beautiful."
Yet, fulfilling his vision of one day doing a solo piano album has evoked the same kind of joy all over again. With Be Still, he truly embraces minimalism, balancing the energy of spontaneity and improvisation by composing the piano pieces within a space of three weeks and recording it all in merely half a day. The idea was to "create really simply" and extend the piano parts in post production, transforming them through manipulation and sampling. In this sense the process is very different to what Adrian is accustomed to doing with Triosk. He explains how when Triosk go into the recording studio they are armed with ideas for songs that they have been improvising in front of live audiences for years, whereas Be Still is very much about the present.
On this note, I’m very curious as to how this material will translate as a live show but Adrian is, just now, very convinced that it will work. He recalls an ironic instance where a friend of his asked, â€œAre you going to play it live or keep recording?’ To which he adamantly replied that Be Still was just his recording project, maintaining that “as fun as it is" he’d “rather concentrate on doing live stuff for Triosk". That very night he received an email from a festival organiser in Belgium requesting him to play his new solo material in support to Triosk. "Is that possible?" "Of course it is!"
So now Adrian, and Triosk have committed to a six-week tour squeezing in at least 30 shows in that short space of time. I’m floored by the grueling schedule when I ask, "How do you do it?" He answers "Well you can do that in Europe", but then realises I’m not referring to a matter of geography, but rather a point of physical possibility. "I don’t know if I will survive personally or emotionally or physically, but to make things financially viable you have to work that hard", he responds. "Perhaps the greatest thing about touring is the balance it provides. While it doesn’t necessarily translate into creative experience, [it] deepens the drive and motivation to come home and write."
Despite the international accolade, Adrian’ future plans revolve around home. He reveals that he’ started work on the next solo album and plans for its release in early 2008 on Leaf. He’ also involved in a collaboration with Canberra-based label guy/guitarist Shoeb Ahmad in a project they call HAPOEL, with an album due later this year. It’ll be something a little different, droney yet melodic and gentle. Adrian concludes with a serious air, "Melody and human involvement is more important than beats or anything" then cheekily proclaims, "At least that’s how I feel about things today!" Which I think is fair enough. After all, if your goal is experimentation then you would never lock yourself into constraining beliefs that, at some point, may no longer suit your purposes. This is what’s so exciting about Adrian Klumpes’ Be Still – he’ not defeated by limitations, but more interested in how to work within them, finding meaning and beauty in this transcendental approach.
ADRIAN KLUMPES 'BE STILL' REVIEW IN THE WIRE
BY MARTIN LONGLEY
Adrian plays exquisitely beautiful, yet thoughtful and haunting music. Known for his performances with Triosk, as a solo artist Adrian is able to explore sounds and space in a moving and memorable way. Truly a unique talent for our time.
"The piano is surrounded by sweeping and swooping rushes of metallic scything, needling stutters and trebly sustains. The title track plays with reverberant space, exaggerating the piano's interior presence as Klumpes sets out his cyclic patterns. The suspended clusters of the extended "Unrest" make a harmonious ascendance; the brief "Why" comes as an immediate shock, with its ratcheting spurts, all internal resonance, with little left of the actual notes. The cumulative swells of "Give In" recall Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's collaborations; and the concluding "Passing Pain" once again returns to those familiar arpeggio accumulations, nurturing an enjoyable sense of flotation.
December 3, 2006
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN POP MATTERS
BY DAN RAPER
Adrian Klumpes sounds entirely European on his debut solo release, Be Still, but he’s from Sydney, and plays piano for the jazz/electronica trio Triosk. It’s hard to imagine this restive, complex minimalism emerging from under Sydney’s harsh sun, harder still to believe it was recorded in a single five-hour session. Influenced both by avant-electronica, minimal artists like Marc Leclair and Thomas Stronen and contemporary jazz, Klumpes’s music is deceptive: beneath its serene exterior is a churning alarm at the chaos of the world, reflected in perpetually repeating piano lines and occasionally clattering effects. The best tracks are beautiful (“Weave In and Out” layers unhurried sparkles of sound into a subtly changing/repeating texture that’s timeless but compelling at the same time), or really scary (“Alone” could be the soundtrack to one of those movies that scares because it’s unnervingly close to home, with splashes of effect shrouding a disjointed triangle melody). But it takes patience to concentrate through nine minutes of seemingly directionless piano jitter, which is what Klumpes subjects us to on “Unrest”. If the payoff is mood, we got it already. Still, there’s real complexity in these understated compositions, and in general, they’re worth the investment required.
November 26, 2006
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN ALL ABOUT JAZZ
BY JOHN EYLES
Adrian Klumpes is the keyboard player of the Sydney-based trio Triosk, which recently released The Headlight Serenade, but on this debut solo album he presents a very different face to the one he displayed in the trio. Recorded in one five-hour session in Klumpes' native Sydney, Be Still is perfectly—but ambiguously—titled.
At times the music is completely minimalist in its sense of unchanging stillness; this is never truer than on the title track, in which carefully placed notes convey an air of calm reflection, and the spaces are as important as the notes themselves. In similar vein is "Unrest, the album's longest track (at nearly ten minutes) and centerpiece; its multiple layers of keyboards combine to produce a shimmering kaleidoscopic quality reminiscent of early Terry Riley.
At other times the mood is far less tranquil or meditative. There can be a chilling unease to the music, making one think that Klumpes has potential as a composer of soundtracks, maybe for chillers or thrillers. Witness "Alone (another fitting title), with its brooding sustained bass notes allied to a chilly, disembodied melody line: it would not be out of place on the soundtrack of Halloween. Just as unnerving is the two minute-long "Why —devoid of melody but consisting of atmospheric drones overlaid by occasional noises—that steadily builds to a crescendo.
Taken as a whole, Be Still is a highly inventive and varied album without a weak track—and a fine debut that is sure to stand the test of time.
October 31, 2006
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN ALLMUSIC
BY K. ROSS HOFFMAN
A deliberately plotted and executed project involving a combination of intentionality and improvisation, this solo debut recording by the pianist of avant-garde jazz outfit Triosk is the result of a brief three-week compositional period, a single five-hour recording session (it was all the studio time he could afford) conducted with a single piano and microphone setup, and a few months of post-production processing. Comparable in tone and texture to Adrian Klumpes' work with Triosk (particularly their third and final recording, The Headlight Serenade, whose release predated Be Still by only a few months) -- which is to say organic and electronic in equal measure, and vividly emotionally evocative despite being unflinchingly abstract -- Klumpes' work here suggests how much that group's distinctive sonic qualities are derived from his manipulation of his own instrument. Formally, his approach here is even more rarefied, with little if anything connecting it to jazz in any coherent sense, and not much more relating it to the classical tradition (though both musics inform the delicacy and expressiveness of Klumpes' playing). Instead, it's largely indebted to the processes and precepts of minimalism. Each piece tends to linger and explore a small number of sonic effects or a single compositional idea; there's very little sense of progression from one end of a track to another (and certainly never in harmonic or melodic terms), which may explain the stillness of the title. "Weave in and Out" features a persistently ringing high-pitched overtone around which isolated notes and backwards-threaded clusters perform the titular weaving. The brief, eerie "Why" centers around menacing drones and grating, gristly whines with occasional spurts of percussive static -- very little of it recognizable as sourced from a piano. On the other end of the electro-acoustic spectrum, the title cut leaves its meandering piano musings largely untampered with, merely heavily reverbed and with a undercurrent of resonant white noise, while "Unrest" superimposes multiple otherwise unadorned tracks to create a dense mass of flitting, fluttering chords that shift gradually over ten minutes without approaching anything like a tonal center. Ultimately, despite its variety of moods and production approaches, Be Still doesn't offer as much range or inventiveness as a Triosk recording, but it does make for a fluid, evocative, potentially haunting, and certainly cohesive listening experience, one that reveals considerable richness beyond its surface simplicity.
October 27, 2006
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN THE IRISH TIMES
BY JOCELYN CLARKE
Adrian Klumpes was a founding member of superb jazz/ electronica trio Triosk, and his solo debut is a doozy. Recorded in a small room over five hours, Be Still recalls the aleatory and atonal experimentalism of John Cage and Morton Feldman while charting new territory in electronic music composition, particularly in his dynamic integration of jazz improvisation and minimalist composition. Foregrounding his solo acoustic piano, Klumpes layers electronic and found sounds over its repetitive melodic lines and warm colours to create a collection of compositions that sound at once improvised and formalised. Pulsing through his deft juxtapositions of fragmentary and discordant sonorities are bright melodies and warm harmonies, notable in the driving 10-minute ebb and flow of Unrest. Be Still is too challenging to be chill-out, but its very angular expressiveness is nevertheless rewarding - like avant garde jazz or postminimalism.
September 7, 2006
'BE STILL' REVIEW BY THE MILK FACTORY
Adrian Klumpes usually officiates as part of Australian formation Triosk, with whom he has released two albums, including the recent The Headlight Serenade, and collaborated with experimental sound artist Jan Jelinek. Be Still is his first foray into solo work.
Built from recordings made during a single five-hour long improvisation session, Be Still originally intended to capture part of the creative process behind his music, yet the subsequent processing revealed a much more complex and somewhat abstract tone. While the recording context certainly influences the nature of this record, the nine tracks collated here appear especially suspended in both time and space. Although the scope of these tracks varies greatly, from the dreamy introspection of the piano-lead Cornered, Be Still or Passing Pain and the gleaming cinematic Unrest to the darker and more minimal Weave In And Out or Alone and the oppressive Why, Klumpes creates here a surprisingly captivating work. Melodies are delivered either in voluptuous swathes or rarified dry splinters and indifferently placed in various places throughout these compositions, sometimes forming the main body of a piece, at others hopelessly left drowning in clouds of sounds.
Moody and dense, Be Still appears at times unsettling, especially when Klumpes manipulates the original piano source sounds into thick structures, as on the stern Why, or to a lesser extend on the compulsive monotone Exhale. At its most experimental and treated, this album becomes almost entirely textural and atmospheric, yet, when he returns to more clearly charted territories, Klumpes crafts highly contrasted emotional landscapes on which this album ultimately relies on to express its narrative in full.
There is a similar scintillating aspect to this as to Triosk’s recent The Headlight Serenade. The way Klumpes approaches music through cascading sheets of pianos, and processes his sound sources into tiny particles that often hang in the air long after he has finished with them, give his work a pleasing gloss and contributes to his music being somewhat more accessible than one would initially expect from such a dry creative process. While he sometimes deals with darker concepts, and he certainly does here on a few occasions, he still relies on lighter elements to lift up his experimentations and bring them to life.
February 2, 2007
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN INCENDIARY MAGAZINE
BY RICHARD FOSTER
Very much in the school of Terry Riley, Be Still is an incredibly rewarding listen.
Opener Cornered sets the tone for the rest of the LP. Seemingly on the cusp of leading us somewhere, the piano coda is at first waylaid and then overwhelmed by a ghostly array of electronic tricks. It is a piece full of foreboding. Weave in and Out is a nervous piece which in many (differing) ways repeats itself constantly; the whole thing is rather like watching a video which is paused; momentary flickers promise movement only to leave you the viewer with the same picture. In some ways it's mesmerising, tense stuff.
Elsewhere, the title track reveals itself to be a beautiful meditation, replete with a rippling piano part. Alone is beautifully icy and Unrest is an exhilarating piece that seemingly changes mood at the drop of the hand. Splendid stuff.
As I said earlier, the LP is very reminiscent of Terry Riley at times, or maybe even Harold Budd; and it's fair to say that you need to be in the mood for a dose of abstraction. And, in case you need the seal of approval, I like it very much.
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN THE SILENT BALLET
TOP 50 INSTRUMENTAL RELEASES OF 2006
BY MARCUS WHALE
What could possibly be better than piano music? Answer: unconventional piano music. Adrian Klumpes, of Triosk and Pivot fame, cuts loose in Be Still, his debut album, but by no means juvenile. In fact, it might just be that something new that you've been waiting for. Klumpes recorded the album in one five-hour sitting using one piano and thirteen microphones. The focus of the album is almost solely on emotions -- every key Klumpes pushes corresponds to a neuron firing in the brain and triggering an emotional response. The minimalist component of the album aids in this journey, successfully anticipating the rising and falling emotions of the listener and using this system of correspondence to determine the next note. As such a short experiment, this is not nearly a perfect rendition of Klumpes' talent at the piano, but the open presentation of the album instills it with a humanistic quality that is all too real. On Be Still, Klumpes shows that his mind is and endless well of creative ideas, there's no telling where he'll go next.
Be Still is undoubtedly something new and something special, hardly comparable to much that has gone before it. Bassless, drumless, and timeless, the medium of solo piano is yet to be explored so far in this direction, using electronics and minimalist principles to create a collection of pieces that challenge the listener to think, while encouraging them to gauge with the highly emotional musical content... Be Still is the start of something revolutionary at the cusp of new music, popular music and jazz. As the world of music progresses into the future, this is a vein that must be and will be explored.
'BE STILL' REVIEW IN DROWNED IN SOUND
BY MIKE DRIVER
Stirring compositions, vibrant and affecting a multitude of different listener emotions... Be Still balances the deepest depths of darkened corners and all the horrors that may or may not lie within them with the most stunning sunlight-through-clouds flashes of uplifting mood music heard in a long while. Its true beauty lies in the fact that such unique instrumental music is sure to be interpreted wholly differently from individual to individual... Although only one instrument, albeit a flexible one, is used to create Be Still, it’s an album of amazing depth and possesses a lot of longevity.
'BE STILL" REVIEW IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
BY JOHN SHAND
From Rachmaninov to Matching Mole, one of the moods music does best is eerie and music does not come more eerie than this.
Sydneysider Adrian Klumpes, having already made his mark in the acclaimed nu-jazz outfit Triosk, has excelled on his solo debut. The sounds, all sourced from a piano, are twisted by mechanical preparation or tortured by electronic treatment. Even the "straight" piano of the bewitching title track has some subtle treatment, so the notes seem to drift in a disquieting limbo.
Klumpes's concept is not purely about texture and effect, having at its core a very pure beauty, charged with gothic expressionism. Radical sounds are controlled with the same finesse as the keyboard, the notes shattering like fine crystal over ominous rumbling. The nursery-rhyme sparseness of the melodies and the use of repetition compound the pervading unease. Be brave. Turn out the lights. Feel your skin crawl.
TRIOSK 'MOMENT RETURNS' REVIEW
BY PIERO SCARUFFI
Triosk are an Australian improvising trio featuring Adrian Klumpes (piano/keyboards), Laurence Pike (drums) and Ben Waples (double bass). They surfaced with 1 + 3 + 1 (Scape, 2003), a collaboration with Berlin's digital deconstructionist Jan "Farben" Jelinek. Their first major recording was Moment Returns (Leaf, 2004), an album that diluted jazz music into a maze of postprocessing techniques. The very first track, The Streets Are Empty, set the stage for the radical experiments of the album: a volley of colliding sharp tones over a bed of distorted drones. The loose discrete jamming Chronosynclastic Infundibula is actually unusual. Triosk's music is all but random improvisation. Strict and geometric structure emerges in Love Chariot, with its repetition of pounding rhythm and wavering organ phrases and sprinkled piano notes. Another cyclical composition is the warped organ sonata Tomorrow Today, perhaps the most paranoid of the batch. The longes track, I Am A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake, ebbs and flows like a metronom, ultimately a sequence of percussive patterns. Triosk's post-jazz music is music of great sophistication and power, although hardly grounded in the tradition of jazz at all.
October 13, 2004
TRIOSK 'MOMENT RETURNS' REVIEW IN PITCHFORK
BY MARK RICHARDSON
Last year, Australian trio Triosk met German laptop technician Jan Jelinek for an album of nu-skool electro-jazz ambience. It was an interesting record that ultimately showed Jelinek as something of a jazz-dub vintner: Ideally, clouds of cymbal splashes and piano overtones should have at least a decade to mellow inside dusty vinyl grooves before he works his magic on them-- preferably stored improperly in a horizontal stack in a neglected corner of an old record shop.
But the real problem may have been that, as listeners unfamiliar with Triosk, we tended to approach their 1+3+1 collaboration as a Jelinek record, which wasn't quite right. Jelinek was but \xBC of a cross-continental quartet and his contributions suffered from high expectations. Now with Moment Returns-- a Triosk album with a couple of actual Jelinek elements and a number of band-created treatments inspired by his methods-- it's possible to hear what Triosk and Jelinek were going for in a new light.
The important thing to note about Triosk is that they are truly a post-modern jazz group inspired by recorded documents of performance and driven by "feel" rather than tradition. Triosk is best understood as "jazz" with quotes, as they use the instrumentation and approach of a classic jazz trio (mostly piano/bass/drums, with some Fender Rhodes and vibes) to explore moods rather than the implications of chord changes. The approach is exceedingly lyrical; pianist Adrian Klumpes has found a path to the "sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall" sound Miles Davis so admired in Bill Evans' playing, and their electronic treatments add a balanced undercurrent of noise to keep the music from being too sweet.
The music on Moment Returns was composed around the same time as the material generated for 1+3+1, and two tracks here feature Jelinek contributions. The nine-minute "I Am a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake" could be considered the record's centerpiece, and it encapsulates everything interesting about Triosk. Moving between a spacious Satie-like minimalism, where a halting four-note tune nervously takes shape above meandering bass and drums and a fountain of Jelinek's vinyl crackle, "I Am a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake" gushes forth in a loud payoff of heavy block chords and huge splashes of ride cymbal. "Chrono" begins with a classic Jelinek loop of slinky acoustic bass with a protective coating of digital noise before Klumpes' descending piano lines pull the tune into the clear melodic light.
Triosk is not shy about identifying Jelinek as a major inspiration, so it's no surprise that the electronic flavoring the band adds on its own (all three members are credited with "loops") occasionally bears his stamp. The needle fuzz that accompanies the opening theme of "Re-Ignite" certainly sounds familiar, giving the noir ballad-- which makes interesting use of what sounds like a synthesized harp-- an extra dose of mystery. "Awake in the Deep" opens with two-note bass pattern and an eerie drone of distant feedback, but there's also the minutely detailed sound of a manual turntable that's been left unattended to fill the considerable space.
The synthesized drones the band plays along to on "Love Chariot" and "Tomorrowtoday Part 1" relate more to the older ambient tradition of Eno, but in every case, Triosk's electro-acoustic blend remains coherent and inspired. All told, Moment Returns is a surprisingly effective record that tops their Jelinek collaboration, with the surface prettiness to fill background space, and enough detail and depth to survive close scrutiny.