The King of Herrings //

Album label: 
Release date: 
07/01/2009
Recording location: 
Recorded at the Holy Redeemer Church, London, United Kingdom (tracks 1, 3); at Cafe Oto, London, United Kingdom (track 2)
Recording date: 
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Artwork design: 
Clare Cooper
Mastering engineer: 
Daniel Karlsson
Recording engineer: 
Enrico Glerean (tracks: 2)
Recording engineer: 
Tim Fletcher (tracks: 1, 3)
  • 1. Encipherer (24:55)
  • 2. Controlled Remote Control (20:31)
  • 3. Parallel-O-Gram (09:15)

Electro-acoustic improvisations, recorded live in London, UK.

DAVID STACKENHÄS / JOE WILLIAMSON / PHIL DURRANT – The King Of Herrings

A triptych of live improvisations for acoustic guitar with preparations, double bass and laptop.
“Encipherer” features the typical shrilling accents of a computer/bowed strings mixture, soon joined by
the big brother’s drawl immediately moving the piece’s gravity into familiar environments of buzz and
gravel. Then it’s off to semi-regulated din, the riotous temperament of each source trying to look for a
way out of constriction but ultimately calming down for more frequency manipulation. This results in
forlorn snapshots and inappetent counterpoint spiked by grimy notes sparsely plucked by Stackenhäs; a
somewhat intelligible hell is raised again until an eBow and assorted abrasions terminate the whole.
This piece was taped in a London church; one guesses that its ordinary occupants weren’t all that
happy. “Controlled Remote Control” instantly juxtaposes extreme sharpness and droning severity;
Williamson’s pulsation sustains large parts of the improvisational structure, in which Durrant and
Stackenhäs are engaged in a “forest fight for sunlight” (check Genesis’ “The Carpet Crawlers” and see
what I mean). The combination of coherent efficiency and psychosomatic infiltration reaches an
outstanding level halfway through the track, veritable trance pulled off just prior to the growing tension
generated by the threesome before the envelope is sealed. “Parallel-o-gram” is shorter, abstract to a
degree although the tangible qualities of the instruments are evident. There’s some space between the
figures, yet imagining a dance around the convulsive agglomerations that start towards the end is pretty
hard. Overall, this is seriously inventive music in search of exposition to a wider audience.
Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes

Jedso Records ser anspråkslösa ut men arbetet är utsökt. Snygg cover art, vacker klassisk lay out
och förstås intressant musik.

Det är spänstigt och muskulöst. Williamsons bas mullrar och rullar med de andra omkring sig.
Stackenäs har något kompromisslöst över sitt spel. En trohet, där han vaktar på de små ljuden, och jag
känner igen hans smattrande ivriga fingrar över strängarna. Hans ljud är skärande skarpa. Sliter och
river, samtidigt som han kan slänga in små ljudklungor. Det känns som att skära i huden med rakblad.
Och Durrant är ofta påpassligt där och strör salt i såren.

Williamson är mest upprättstående och bullrig. Det skapar en spänning mellan honom och de andra.
Framförallt tycker jag han och Stackenäs arbetar från olika utgångspunkter. Det kan ofta vara
stimulerande. Särskilt om de efter ett tag lyckas få grepp om varandra. När de stillar sig och enas om
ett par parametrar, ofta repetitiva småljud, blir jag mindre uppmärksam. Desto roligare när de tre rycker
och sliter som i ett sannskyldigt familjegräl, till exempel i slutet av andra stycket, Controlled remote
control. Kontroll har de men den är på gränsen ibland. Och här är Stackenäs en briljant envis tjurskalle,
som inte ger efter på många minuter för de andras ack så våldsamma försök att övertyga. Resultatet är
skivans kanske mest lysande musikstund.
Thomas Milroth - soundofmusic.nu

Undulating, abrasive, concentrated and distanced textures characterize this live soundscape, conceived
of and recorded in London by free improvisers from three different countries. Over the course of two
20-minute plus, and one shorter, tracks, laptoppist Phil Durrant from the United Kingdom, Canadian
bassist Joe Williamson and Swede David Stackenäs using guitar and preparations, contrast and connect
timbres, which are flanged, deconstructed and granulized in such a way as to present a completely
unique interface. If there is any criticism of this strategy, it’s that only on the third track are the actual
sonic qualities of the instruments’ audible for extended periods.

All the players have impeccable Free Music credentials, Williamson in Trapist and with Dutch pianist
Misha Mengelberg; Durrant with British improvisers such as saxophonist John Butcher and pianist
Chris Burn; and Stackenäs with British saxophonist Evan Parker and Swedish saxophonist Mats
Gustafsson. Both lengthy tracks are centred around a surging ostinato that mixes electronically created
abrasive drones and piercing shrills that stretch chromatically throughout with brief respites for sul
ponticello bass strokes and chiming guitar licks.

On “Encipherer” – someone who converts a message to a cipher – Williamson relies on methodical
plucks and sul ponticello strokes to make his instrument heard among the signal-processed drones and
stretched software reverberations, while Stackenäs’ slurred fingering and e-bow sustain exposes licks
that likewise nearly vanish beneath distortion. When the guitarist’s licks take on echoing qualities that
could arise from either a lute, a dobro or a dulcimer, they breach Durrant’s solipsistic electronics that
clatter like a combination of jack hammer-like drilling and fortissimo fire alarm bells. Further
emboldened, Stackenäs’ hand taps and steel-guitar-like rasgueado passages break through the
sequences of wave-form propelled harsh buzzes. Stackenäs subsequently uses unyielding e-bow
controlled whines to prod the players into conclusive silence.

Much shorter and more focused, the barely nine-minute “Parallel-O-Gram” confirms the string players’
contrapuntal interaction, with Durrant’s low-pitched electronic samples, shimmering underneath.
There’s even a point at which the laptoppist appears to be flicking a switch on-and-off to produce
louder drones. Upfront the bassist slaps, taps and resonates his taut strings as the guitarist adds otherdirected twangs and dobro-like flat picking. As the computer’s blurry loops grind and pulsate,
Stackenäs tightens his strings and hammers on them, while the bassist’s sul ponticello lines respond in
kind.

While nowhere is it made clear who or what is the King of Herrings is, the oceanic series of inventive
licks brought forward by all three players here, make them collectively at least Princes of Improv.
Ken Waxman ‐ Jazzword