Tom Arthurs/Alberto Novello

Cahier de Petite Coquillages Vol. IV/V
Setola di Maiale SM3660

Peter Evans and Sam Pluta

Two Live Sets

Carrier Records 036

Applying a 21st Century interpretation of what bare bones sonority can sound like are these discs of improvisatory encounters between a single trumpet and programmed electronics. Instructively despite instrumental affinity each duo creates a provocatively original program. British trumpeter Tom Arthurs and Italian analog circuitry controller Alberto Novello appear to have divided their Petite Coquillages into two programs, one with a faint attachment to arena Rock and the other brushing against chamber music. Meanwhile, with one long live set – the other is available digitally – American trumpeter Peter Evans and Sam Pluta on electronics appear most interested in unalloyed improvisation, tweaking their instruments with extended procedures to discover how many unexpected noises can be unearthed.

Now teaching in Bern, Arthurs has additionally worked with musicians like Ingrid Laubrock and Eddie Prévost, while Novello, a professor of electronic music at the Padua Conservatory also improvised with Evan Parker and Karl Berger. Known for his association with Parker, Craig Taborn and others, Evans has also played in a duo with Pluta for the past decade.

Simpler, “Molluscs”, the second and shorter Cahier de Petite Coquillages track is also the more fine-spun of the two, at least until its climax. At that point Arthur uses half-valve effects to move into the highest register of the trumpet ending with a striking display of seesaw breaths, peeps and cries. Before that his exposition is a combination of plunger digs and pennywhistle-like textures challenge by machine-like friction from Novello’s instrument which with its clanks and clicks also takes on idiophone coloration. With reverse aims, “Escargots” speeds from the beginning with electrified sounds that resemble tape running backwards and a busy hamster on its running wheel. As the oscillations beep and shimmy as well as replicate a percussion ostinato, Arthurs startlingly produces higher-pitched but sympathetic grace notes and whines. One-third of the way through however, the interaction hardens as the tempo accelerates and trumpet tones become more abstract. Eventually the brass soars even higher becoming a bizarre tattoo. Novello exposes his Metal affiliations at this point and for the remainder of the track produces processed percussive timbres that indirectly approximate dance floor beats. The ending is a challenge between Metal-oriented thumps and rubs and mewling brass inserts that come in-and-out of aural focus.

From the commencement of “De Singer” Evans and Pluta stay away from harmony and melody. Trumpet lines are nearly always outer-directed, filled with pinched rubato trills, blasts, half-valve effects and frequently playing above what is considered the instrument’s normal range. Meanwhile the sound discordance produced by Pluta’s electronics replicate video-game soundtrack noises, buzzing, pistol shots and rocket-launching explosions. Probably live processed as well, Evans is able to output mid-range and high-pitched notes simultaneously. As the program heads to the half-way mark, muted grace notes and pedal-point tones also come from the trumpeter with the skewed electronic rhythms becoming more bellicose. Extending his instrumental tessitura so that near-vocalizing is added to the echoes, slurs and vibrations already heard, Evans then seems to use each part of his horn separately. Ring modulator gongs and sound envelop stretching from Pluta start moving in parallel to hollow echoes from the trumpet. Finally valve-percussion and repetitive smears from Evans meet percussive grinds from the electronics, only to climax with descending mechanized grinds and cooling grace notes from the trumpet.

Experimentation not elegance is the result and modus operandi of these sessions. They will be especially welcomed by those who want to chart the path of new sounds.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Two: 1. De Singer, part 1 & part 2

Personnel: Two: Peter Evans (trumpet) and Sam Pluta, (electronics)

Track Listing: Cahier: 1. Escargots 2. Molluscs

Personnel: Cahier: Tom Arthurs (trumpet) and Alberto Novello (electronics)