MU reviews

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Stef Gijssels :: Free Jazz [BE] rate  ****½

A new band, announced by the label as "Can't be ignored", which is quite a negative way of putting it, but true enough, this is highly clever, highly creative and highly emotional music, a rare combination, but what is more: their take on music is something else: powerful and visionary.
The band consists of Nicola Negrini on bass, metallophone and live electronics, Achille Succi on bass clarinet, altosax and shakuhachi, Philippe Garcia on drums, voice and live electronics, and Antonio Della Marina on sinewaves, live electronics. Despite my dislike of electronics, it works to perfection on this album, because they are used in a very functional way, often barely noticeable yet omnipresent.
The thirteen short pieces clock between two and seven minutes, and all refer to slices of the human body: "Brainslice", "Bellyslice", "Liverslice", etc. The music itself is described as "instantaneous composition, improvisation and live electronics, and the use of purposely programmed computer melt together in scenic writing". The computer records "not accidental but unforeseeable", in the sense that the repetitive elements conjured up by the system do not always follow the same rhythmic cycle. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.
OK, whatever the technology behind it, the result is quite strong. All pieces have their own story, often compact, centered around a few core ideas, yet very focused and intense. Despite all the electronics, you need visionary artists and great instrumental skills to bring this to a good end, and with success. Bizarrely enough, because of the repetitions of the electronics, it all sounds carefully composed. Some pieces are fully colored by the electronics, other start from a solid jazz base, as on "Lungslice", others mix in Asian elements, as on "Nerveslice", with shakuhachi and arco bass. The highlight is without a doubt the haunting "Lostslice", wich includes high-toned worldless singing in combination with bass clarinet. I thought those were female voices, but it's the musicians themselves:  weird and brilliant. Not everything works though, or would fall within my broad level of appreciation, but that's because they take risks, and without risks, no new musical vistas, which you get here in spades.

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Johan Redin :: SoundOfMusic [SE]
[google swedish>english translation]

"No prearrangement. No Tricks. No. Treatments ". It is easy to maintain, difficult to live up to. But this band got it splendidly. Scoolptures is a quartet with new ideas of 2010s jazz. Only instrument setting takes them to the final spot. The band consists of Nicola Negrini on bass, Metallophone and live electronics, Achille Succi on bass clarinet, alto saxophone and shakuhachi, Philippe Garcia on drums, voice and live electronics, and Antonio Della Marina on sine waves and live electronics. All names are new to me.
Scoolptures represents a wayward jazz: sometimes dominant electronics but with an all-acoustic ambience, free and improvised but composed and synchronized. You can also pleased to note that it is completely insane. Materiale Umano consists of thirteen tracks in which the title seems to have its somewhat morbid declaration by all the song titles represent some kind of vivisection of the human body: "Brain Slice", "Liverslice" " Lung Slice "," Skin Slice "and so on. But I do not think there is so much meaning in this than the very playful, a dissection of jazz organic body by means of electronic hard wear. I'm looking in vain for information about the electronics that is involved because it is not about the usual crackle or kretsbändning. It sounds more like something Florian Hecker and Thomas Lehn would go in at once, somewhere between the analog synth and sheer hard programming. The chirps, patters and father around as a random number generator. Sometimes it is a struggle between the electronic world and a warm acoustic alto saxophone, a dormant bass drum and meticulously whipping.
Sure, the disc playful, but it is not something Zappa Spex. Scoolptures looking for a new language, a new vocabulary for an integrated jazz. They set the door ajar. Several of the tracks is the ballad-like meditations of classical trio style with sax, bass and drums. But something creeps in and, without taking over small start rearranging and interfere with the safe form, such as eg in the remarkable "Hipslice" or sacred "Lost Slice". It need not necessarily be an electronic cat amongst ermines. It could simply be a mewing, very strange man singing. The song "Lung Slice", the traditional Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi is incredibly beautiful, and the subsequent "Nerve Slice 'offers include on some fragments of old school hip hop beats - albeit on the verge of collapse.
This is music that I just have to say yes. While it is difficult to find a few favorites among body parts and who apparently is as difficult to describe the music as such. And at least the latter tend to be a sign of quality for me. Materiale Umano is a great start for Scoolptures, but I also think it may be even more focused and possibly even more confusing. "Can not be ignored" Leo Records is a small laconic comment on the tape. That it is about a bunch of musicians who are relatively unknown outside of Italy ought not play any role when the music is good, but music journalism often work on their own opportunistic way. But the disc emerging framework of attention here and there. If the band continues its påtande in jazz body, they will definitely create an audience and who knows maybe also define a new genre.


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Bill Meyer :: Downbeat [US] **** excellent

If Superimpose gets deep into their chosen tongue, the Italian quartet Scoolptures is all about adding new words to its language. While bassist/leader Nicola Negrini, bass clarinet/alto saxophone player Achille Succi and drummer Philippe Garcia are evidently steeped in jazz, for every walking groove or pungent wail there’s an electronic counterpoint—a degraded sample, a burst of triggered beats, or a filtered instrumental signal courtesy of each player’s outboard effects, along with further glassy swells that issue from Antonio Della Marina’s sine wave generator.

But what makes Materiale Umano a keeper is not the modernity of its sounds, but the succinctly expressive ends to which they are applied.

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Kent Manthie :: Heathen Harvest [US]

One of the more original neo-Euro-jazz CDs I've come across in some time. The latest from Italy's own Scoolptures, a CD entitled Materiale Umano. Each cut comes across as if it were coming straight from Birdland or the Village Vanguard. These guys have a rich sense of the jazz ethic and can really measure up to anyone.

Besides just the straight up jazz there is, interwoven, interpolated, weird synth sounds that complement the frenetic syncopation of this beautiful music. It must mean something or else be an in-joke, because all the tracks are something-slice: “Brainslice”, “Bellyslice”, “Lipslice”, “Hipslice” and more. But one thing they all have in common are rich, velvety tones with a souffle of avant-garde, Coltrane-style madness to them.

The song “Liverslice” is a very interesting tune: it utilizes some studio manipulation, a la reversing tapes and creating loops, etc., along with a very-Coltrane-like strangeness to add to it all. Even the drums sound as if they were originally recorded backwards and then straightened out to give it that strange reverse reverb sound.

One thing I've noticed is that none of the songs are very long. They each have a relatively equal share of about 4 minutes per song, which adds up to 13 songs of great style and grace, not to mention passion and charm. Hope to hear from you guys in the near future. Keep up the good work!

Kudos also to Leo Records, who are patient or smart or just fans, whatever it is, this indie outfit out of Britain is putting out some of the most unique stuff around today; genres from neoclassical, “future jazz”, many are Eastern European combos who would not otherwise get any kind of music distribution that it needed to get an audience outside their borders or even their hometowns. But it's also not just totally a “jazz” label or a “classical” label, it's a groovy, hip bunch of guys who really know how to pick 'em.

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Art Lange :: Point Of Departure [US]

Although its best known member may be alto saxophonist/bass clarinetist Achille Succi, this quartet’s instigator seems to have been bassist Nicole Negrini, who originally created several pieces of abstract video art titled “Scoolptures” (they can be seen at www.nicneg.it). His musical/visual art inspiration is shared by Antonio Della Marina, who uses custom-built sound generators and mathematically-based computer programs to produce “sonorous structures” for gallery installations and ambient performances. Add Philippe Garcia, who has contributed percussion and electronics to scenes ranging from dancefloor hybrids to electroacoustic experiments, and you have a band that seems ripe for conceptual collisions.

Nevertheless, improvisation is their common denominator—the “human material,” as they ironically put it – with Succi’s edgy, elastic alto sax assertions providing the familiar jazz voice. Negrini’s and Garcia’s beats often intersect but avoid anything resembling a comfortable groove, while Marina’s real-time electronics elaborate on their efforts with alternately industrial clatter (“Chunkslice”), churning drones (“Bellyslice”), and textural shading (“Liverslice”). But, in order to thicken the plot, as John Cage would say, they’ve factored into the mix an extra layer of indeterminacy – a computer program which spontaneously interacts with and affects the group sound in ways beyond their control. So in “Brainslice” Succi’s alto sax lines are doubled and tripled, delayed and distorted, and sparks fly; likewise the treatment to his bass clarinet on “Skinslice.” For the most part it’s difficult to identify the source of particular sounds, amid the twisting, pulsating, ricocheting details. But in spite of their compact, protean, sculptural alignment of incidents, even the musicians can’t prevent the music, every once in a while, from bursting into son – angular and irregular, perhaps, but undeniably, song.

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Massimo Ricci :: Touching Extremes [IT]

Scoolptures: a triad of Italians (bassist-cum-metallophone Nicola Negrini, reedist Achille Succi and sinewave wizard Antonio Della Marina) augmented by French drummer Philippe Garcia. Three of them utilize live electronics, doing it with intelligence to spare.
In actuality, the whole of Materiale Umano sounds like a shrewdly conceived project, testifying about how often brilliant recordings lie dormant under the blankets of indifference and scarce media hype, while absolute nonentities – more able to market a self-attributed genius – receive privileges and exposure.
The nonconformist attitude of this quartet is expressed through sonorities that owe something – not everything – to artists such as Ned Rothenberg (an evident influence on the way in which bass clarinet, alto sax and shakuhachi are employed by Succi) and, in spite of the lack of keyboards, to early Wayne Horvitz. Dave Petts and Adrian Northover’s Remote Viewers also came to mind, if just during brief flashes.
But there’s a lot of distinctive personality in what we heard. Initial ideas are gently but relentlessly manumitted, retaining melodic incisiveness and non-compliant hooks even when the commingling of diverse components appears to represent a sure path towards utter dissolution.
A proper groove and a touch of well-regulated abstractness can work magnificently when the musicians know the right time to stop; indeed these guys do not prolong anything more than the strict necessary, investigating a wide gamut of milieus with a blend of cunning nosiness and expert control on the sonic structure’s mechanisms.
The admirable balance between acoustic and electronic hues is the eventual decisive factor for the endorsement of this secreted little gem.


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