Al Maslakh would like to pay a special tribute to the late Michel Waiswisz, a unique figure in the world of sound, a great musician and human being, one who has left a definite mark in contemporary music through his innovative inventions in the field of electronic music such as the Cracklebox or The Hand (the instrument he plays on this recording). We would like to remember his support for our label and the enthusiasm he put in the release of his duo recording with Christine Sehnaoui "Shortwave". It is only because of a very unfortunate twist of circumstances that he never got to see the CD, it went out of the printing house one day after his disappearance. This was to be his first recording for decades.
He will be deeply missed and regretted, but his legacy will live on.
SEHNAOUI | WAISVISZ
Christine Sehnaoui | alto sax
Michel Waisvisz | the hands
|01 | Wig Wag | 3.50
02 | Preciously Empty | 17.10
03 | Deep Sleep Revelation | 9.13
04 | The bottom of the Pond | 9.38
05 | Finding the Short Wave in the Dark | 9.17
all music improvised by Sehnaoui and Waisvisz
recorded in october and november 2006 at the groupe de recherche musicale (GRM) paris.
recorded, mixed and mastered by michel waisvisz.
mastered by bhob rainey
artwork and design by mazen kerbaj
produced in lebanon by al maslakh
CD LINER NOTES
About the recording
Christine Sehnaoui and Michel Waiswisz, met in Sweden in September 2006 when they performed a trio with percussionist Sven-Åke Johansson (this music can be heard on the Beirut-Ystad / Olof Bright CD16/17). They kept on working together until the present days whenever that was possible.
The highlight of their collaboration could be several full days of recording at the famous GRM studios in Paris at 2 different periods during the year 2007. Selecting the music that you will hear on this CD has surely been the hardest part of the entire process. There was so much interesting and different material available that narrowing them down to an hour seemed an impossible task. There have been as much as 6 different versions of the recording, many of them with no single track in common, and all of them seemed perfect in the moment.
The final decision was made after the artists gave the label this responsibility. We hope to have made the most out of the material at hand.
About the musicians
Christine Sehnaoui has emerged in a short period as an innovative alto sax player, developing a personal language on her instrument. She has been involved in the Lebanese improvisation scene since its very first hours.
Michel Waisvisz is a key figure in the live-electronics scene. He is one of the first live performers on synthesizers and the creator of many instruments, the most famous being the Crackle-Box and The Hands.
Shortwave is his first studio recording to be released since the late seventies.
The Lebanese label Al Maslakh produced this unusual recording by Dutch electronics master Michel Waisvisz and Lebanese saxophonist (by way of Paris) Christine Sehnaoui. That's right a label from Beirut, Al Maslakh (meaning The Slaughterhouse), has released some impressive projects. This is a collaboration recorded in 2007. Unfortunately Waisvisz, just shy of his 60th birthday, has since passed away. He plays his own creation, "the hands," an electronic interface that he places over his hands, allowing him to invoke movement into music making. His wow and flutter can build to thunderous noise or linger at sizzling points. Waisvisz, who has collaborated with the likes of Shelley Hirsch, DJ Spooky, Richard Teitelbaum, and Steve Lacy, creates sounds not unlike those of early Raymond Scott electronic experimentation, rumbling sometimes-cartoonish noises. His human/electric interface via his hands dares you to guess where the man stops and the electronics begin. Paired with Sehnaoui, the sounds gel. The saxophonist is adept at the microtonal aspects of the saxophone. She produces biting, slicing notes or breathy echoey sounds from the bell of her horn. Sometimes her playing reminds you of that of Bhob Rainey or Michel Doneda. There is a equanimity and patience to her playing that is born out of self control.
Mark Corroto | All About Jazz
Altoist Sehnaoui join the late Waisvisz (here playing his own invention, "the hands" (sensors attached to his fingers, movement of which activates sounds) for five improvisations from 2006. My first encounter with Sehnaoui and, going from this, like many saxophonists venturing into this field, her music is better the more restrained it is, as in cut two, "Preciously Empty", which, as in the previous disc, is both lengthy (17 min) and true to its title. Nice dronage on the final cut as well. Elsewhere they (well, more Waisvisz than Sehnaoui) get a bit too gurglingly gabby for my taste but given that's likely their aim, they comport themselves rather ably.
Brian Olewnick | Just outside (olewnick.blogspot.com)
Al Maslakh, the label helmed by Beirut-based trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, may restrict its releases to music made in Lebanon or by Lebanese, but the selection of non-Lebanese artists whose music they release says as much about this scene‚s aesthetic as anything contributed by the locals. They've generally been players who test their instruments‚ limits or challenge notions of what constitutes an instrument at all. And so it is here. Dutchman Michel Waisvisz directed the electronic music research institute STEIM for 27 years before his death from cancer last June; the instruments he invented and the software that he helped to midwife were all about transferring control from manufacturer to creator. This is especially true of The Hands, the sensor-based MIDI system that he plays here. His Lebanese partner in spontaneous sound, alto saxophonist Christine Sehnaoui, may be an acoustic musician, but she's a kindred soul nonetheless; her chosen vocabulary of pops, squelches, and twitters constitutes a flat rejection of the way her horn should be played. A quirk of timing ˜ this is Waisvisz's first studio recording in decades as well as his first posthumous release ˜ confers a sense of import upon Shortwave. But the music isn't terribly concerned with trying to be special: unique, disorienting, confrontational, comic, but not special. Sehnaoui has re-imagined her horn as a compositionally creative fishtank filter, bubbling up shapes from the deep. Sometimes the man with The Hands meets her on her own turf; The Bottom of the Pond sounds so squelchy it'll make you want to tuck a towel under your cd player. But on Wig Wag undulating electricity and metallic scrapes fillet and fry the hypothetical fish in her horn's bell, eliciting a marvelous death rattle from the saxophonist just before the track's end. These musicians may not be able to own the world, but on a few days in the Fall of 2006 they made sound their own.
Bill Meyer | Signal To Noise
Suona davvero malinconico che la prima registrazione in studio di Michel Waisvisz dopo tanti anni sia anche una delle ultime, se non l'ultima: il geniale e visionario musicista è infatti mancato, a nemmeno sessant'anni, nel giugno di quest'anno, lasciando nei tanti appassionati un vuoto incolmabile. Noto per le sue invenzioni, in particolare la cracklebox e il dispositivo the hands, Waisvisz ha diretto a Amsterdam per ben ventisette anni il centro STEIM di ricerca e sviluppo della strumentazione per le arti performative elettroniche.
Shortwave, uscito per la benemerita etichetta libanese Al Maslakh, lo vede impegnato in cinque improvvisazioni con la sassofonista Christine Sehnaoui, registrate al GRM di Parigi, nelle quali "indossa" proprio the hands, dispositivo midi che applicato alle mani dell'esecutore gli consente un controllo del suono attraverso i movimenti delle stesse.
La Sehnaoui e Waisvisz si erano incontrati in Svezia, dove si erano esibiti in trio con l'imprevedibile percussionista Sven-Åke Johansson, e hanno estratto dalle registrazioni parigine cinque momenti nei quali le peculiari tecniche espressive di entrambi si sono fuse in un processo di originale sintesi. La sassofonista, emersa nella ristretta, ma agguerrita, cerchia dell'improvvisazione libera libanese, lavora sullo strumento nelle sue possibilità pneumatiche più estreme, con soffi, pigolii, scarti microtonali, echi spiazzanti e si intuisce subito come, accanto alla sempre inclassificabile varietà di suoni di Waisvisz, si crei un affresco sempre cangiante di suoni/rumori.
Ovviamente fascinoso, anche se di fruizione non troppo agevole per coloro i quali non siano avvezzi a questo tipo di ricerca sonora, il disco è comunque un documento che merita attenzione, anche con un pizzico di malinconia.
Enrico Bettinello | All About Jazz Italia
This splendid music originates from a series of recordings captured at the notorious GRM studios in Paris in two different periods of 2007. Christine Sehnaoui (alto sax) and the late Michel Waisvisz (playing The Hands, one of his weird self-made instruments designed to pilot synth modules) amassed such a quantity of material during these sessions that, reportedly, six versions of the program were considered for release. Judging from the fascinatingly transfixing animation of the sounds concocted, this writer could probably have accepted a sextuple - but let’s be thankful anyway for a single disc’s worth of improvised radiance.
The determinant factor in attributing a magna cum laude mark to Shortwave is the tightness of the conversation between the musicians, who appear at the apex of their edifice of receptiveness throughout. Although digressions and contrasts are firmly at the basis of a shrewd analysis of timbral multiplicity there’s a definite inner apparatus at work, fuelled by lucid organization and instant configuration. Sehnaoui is a proficient saxophone surveyor who manages to find pictographic sides even in the harsher facets of her playing; the ability of eliciting sweet-sounding venom in disparate contexts and a swift sensitivity to conditions of extreme variability are but two of the numerous resources that she brings to the table. Waisvisz is a demanding partner in that sense, a gatherer of impulsive spills and unsentimental twists that rarely allow the listener to individuate familiar eventualities. Yet he’s also the holder of an uncharacteristic sort of sympathy, every discharge organically projected in the surrounding environment, spontaneously delineating a deeper conception of the acoustic phenomenon.
The mixture is unmistakably successful, gravity and irony easily living together over the course of the record; there are occasions in which distinguishing gurgling sublingual flutters from obstreperous synthetic patchworks is not exactly unproblematic. Recognizable features in the originality of an artistic pairing to which, unfortunately, we will only be able to listen again by preserving this gorgeous CD among the best specimens of enthrallingly munificent free improvisation.
Massimo Ricci | Touching Extreme
Waisvisz nie pozostawił po sobie zbyt wielu płyt, zresztą większość z nich nigdy nie została wznowiona w formacie CD, więc "Shotwave" jest obecnie jedną z niewielu okazji na poznanie (choćby w małym tylko fragmencie) muzyki tworzonej przez jedną z najważniejszych postaci w historii sceny "live electronics". Na całe szczęście jest to krążek ze wszech miar udany, co jest zasługą nie tylko Waisvisza oraz partnerującej mu Christine Sehnaoui, ale również i wydawcy, który dokonał wyboru nagrań, więc nie rzuci cienia na dorobek muzyka, który w przeszłości współpracował z wielkimi (m.in. z Brötzmannem, Mengelbergiem, Lacym oraz Teitelbaumem) i samodzielnie lub we współpracy z nimi tworzył znakomitą muzykę.
Płyta zawiera pięć utworów zarejestrowanych w 2007 w paryskich studiach GRM przez duet Christine Sehnaoui (saksofon altowy) - Michel Waisvisz (grający tutaj na instrumencie zwanym "The Hands", czyli systemie MIDI opartym na układzie sensorów przymocowanych do dłoni). Dla znających historię muzyki elektroakustycznej - czy też, jak ją nazywają "grm-owcy", akuzmatycznej - jest to dodatkowy powód by sięgnąć po to wydawnictwo. Najmniejszy ruch rękami, a nawet samymi tylko palcami, aktywuje i moduluje dźwięk, mamy więc w tym przypadku do czynienia z prawdziwą muzyką drobnych gestów.
Sehnaoui, trzydziestoletnia libańska saksofonistka mieszkająca obecnie w Paryżu, na ogół tworzy muzykę elektroniczną za pomocą instrumentu akustycznego, dzięki wykorzystywaniu rozszerzonych technik artykulacji, stara się dotrzeć do krańców spektrum dźwiękowego, jednak nieobce są jej również techniki tradycyjne, co zresztą można usłyszeć i na "Shortwave". Z przedstawienia sylwetek muzyków można wywnioskować, że muzyka zawarta na omawianej płycie mieści się w szerokim nurcie postjazzowej improwizacji okołoelektronicznej i adresowana jest przede wszystkim do miłośników współczesnej improwizacji elektroakustycznej oraz zwolenników łagodniejszych odmian stylistyki noise. Jednak powinna też dotrzeć do słuchaczy mających słabość do prób stworzenia syntezy brzmień akustycznych i elektronicznych podejmowanych przez jazzmanów lat temu trzydzieści parę (mowa np. o nagraniach duetów Braxton/Teitelbaum czy Cherry/Appleton).
Muzyka, którą grają Sehnaoui/Waisvisz nie jest rewolucyjna, czy awangardowa. To raczej mainstream muzyki aktualnej. Rozmyte chmury szumów, huragany elektroszmerów i wizgów, mikro- i makro-eksplozje wykoślawionych nut powstałe dzięki ruchom dłoni Waisvisza znajdują dopełnienie w dobiegających z wnętrza i zewnętrza saksofonu dźwiękach, przechodzących od cichych odgłosów delikatnego podmuchu zefiru westchnień po ryczący cyklon mikrotonowego dronu i wspólnie budują bezkształtne struktury nagrań. Poszczególne utwory są wyraźnie zróżnicowane zarówno pod względem formy jak i dynamiki, a że pojawia się w nich sporo interesujących brzmień, więc całości słucha się z niesłabnącym ani przez chwilę zainteresowaniem. Wszystko to razem sprawia, że po płytę warto sięgnąć.
Tadeusz Kosiek | Diapazon
As an aside, appreciation for Short Wave is tinged with melancholy. For despite being the first studio recording since the 1970s by live-electronic visionary Waisvisz – best-known as inventor of the crackle box and The Hands – it’s also one of his last. He died of cancer in June 2008.
Waisvisz, whose involvement with STEIM went back to 1969, uses an ultra-flexible version of “The Hands” attached to various sensors which, when used with specially designed sound manipulation software LiSa, translates the performer’s hand gestures into sound. Someone whose playing partners have included saxophonists such as Willem Breuker and Steve Lacy, he easily adapts to the non-idiomatic focus of Sehnaoui, who has recorded with musicians such as Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj and Norwegian percussionist Ingar Zach. Her most distinct approach involves lip bubbling, throat retches, split tones, tongue slaps and sudden expelling of breath. These strategies are doubled, amplified or deconstructed by oscillated signal processing runs and ramping, ever-moving processed wiggles.
Vocalized gurgles subsumed in circular motions are most pervasive on “Preciously Empty”. Initially built on low-key whistles, single puffs and mouth-expanding growls from the reedist, the piece alters its shape as Waisvisz’ pond-algae-like wave forms spin from broken octave concordance with reed tones to new definitions. Processing solid pipe-organ-like pumps and calliope-like shrills, the crackling, blurry oscillations eventually become forced drones and amplified twitters. These sound waves break infrequently to reveal Sehnaoui’s circular breathing and growled counter tones.
Ken Waxman | Jazz Word
Maybe this is not so recent as it seems, but the liner notes are written in the present tense: "Micheal Waisvisz is a key figure in the live electronics scene', which is true, but Waisvisz died in June of this year. However what is correct is that Waisvisz never released much of his music. On top of my head I only know a LP from the mid to late seventies. Here he plays 'the hands', one of his better known inventions of live sampling and by stretching his arms and hands he could alter the sound. He teams up for 'Shortwave' with Christine Sehnaoui who plays alto saxophone. There are six pieces of lively and wild improvisation. Sehnaoui's saxophone bends in all sorts of directions, while Waisvisz bends things a bit further all the time. Totally free play among these two, and most of the times its hard to hear who is doing what, or one hears sounds that aren't easy to understand (is that voice? I noted down). Quite energetic and wild, but there are also moments of introspection, relaxing and a gentle flow. These moments are rare, but provide a fine counterpoint in all the mayhem going on here. Quite fascinating, and quite an attack on the senses.
Frans de Waard | Vital Weekly