int024 | Dominic Lash & Seth Cooke | Egregore

Dominic Lash & Seth Cooke


digisleeve, insert | edition of 200
22 December 2017

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Intonema представляет третью работу английского дуэта под названием Egregore, в которой Доминик Лэш сменил контрабас на редко им используемую электронику, а Сэт Кук продолжил работу с барабанными тарелками и микрофонами. Музыканты развивают идеи протяжных фактур, растекающихся и собирающихся естественным образом в некую общую систему звука, которая при этом начинает задавать рамки для следующих действий, но и она же является открытой к новым действиям. Эгрегор? Решайте сами после прослушивания!

Intonema presents Egregore, the third album by this English duo, in which Dominic Lash replaces the contrabass with rarely played electronics, and Seth Cooke continues to work with cymbals and microphones. Moving from process-based improvisation to process-based composition, they develop long-drawn textures, spreading and assembling in a natural way into a common sound system. Egregore? Solve it yourself!

Dominic Lash: electronics
Seth Cooke: cymbals, microphones

Рецензии / Reviews:
"Here’s a monotonous grind, for sure, but a good one…Dominic Lash and Seth Cooke vibrate their appendages for over 59 mins on egregore (INTONEMA int024), producing an intense and inescapable drone in a highly remorseless manner. It’s realised with electronics, cymbals, and microphones, and inside this monolithic eructation you may find a world of teeming low tones and high tones which swarm within its implacable mass like poisonous mosquitoes. Especially poignant is the cover art image, showing details of something called a “network chart”. The circular shape, letters, numbers, percentages and lines printed in several colours must all mean something; I would regard it as a basic index of pain, a dial by which these fiends can gauge how much agony they can inflict on the human ear, mind, body and spirit. In fact it seems to have been derived from, among other things, data pulled from the Discogs interactive website.

Ilia Belorukov, whose label this is, is himself not averse to a good helping of brutal process art in his daily pudding, and sometimes it seems the more pointless it is, the more of it he shovels into his gullet and then asks for second helphings. These two English monsters have been growling many an electronic purr in my direction via the agencies of labels such as Hideous Replica and Wasted Capital Since 2013, and of course LF Records and Every Contact Leaves A Trace. Sometimes they are minimal utterances, but this is far from that; egregore is one of those five-by-five concreto droners that pretty much crowd you out of your own house (matter of fact, I’m booked to meet the estate agent tomorrow). Sometimes they have released their extended grunters on cassette and CDR, but in this instance only the full-length 60-minute capacity of a proper CD can satisfy their needs and desires.

In all, a highly successful meld of throbbing electronics with the sort of metallic cymbal-vibrating that artists like Mark Wastell and Eddie Prevost have tried to turn into a fine-art improvising craft, now rethought as some sort of brutal anti-personnel weapon…buy now and prepare to meet your maker, who will reveal to you that your were a cyborg all along. From 9th February 2018."

(Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector)
"Electronics and their offshoots are becoming so much a part of the music of many improvisers that their presence hardly seems worth commenting on. Well that is, unless the musicians are involved in unique and imaginative creativity. Both this British duo and this Italian trio have done this, although it’s the Bristol-based pair who is fully committed to the voltaic.

This may appear somewhat aberrant since Dominic Lash, who deals with electronics on Egregore and Seth Cooke, who plays cymbals and microphones, are established as acoustic musicians elsewhere. Cooke was a drummer with the Defibrillators, while Lash’s skill as a bassist has included work with the likes of Alex Ward, Tony Bevan and Steve Noble. Reflecting the definition of Egregore as “collective group mind”, not only can no acoustic instrumental textures be detected, but the two also function as a single drone-like entity during the CD’s nearly 60-minute length.

There are subtle and implied deviations throughout the program however. The virtually opaque tone advances from hiss to buzz to vibration with the interface remaining murky, but the volume becoming either gradually louder or softer. There are also the occasional counter drones suggested with the tones alluding to striations and infrequent movement within and among the central wave form. Following the course, the ears become so used to the solid buzz that slight timbral differences can be sensed if not really heard. Finally before the single track turns from mesmerizing to stagnation, the textures gradually fade and then disappear.

In sharp contrast the Rome-based trio mix and match acoustic and electronic instruments. Ginomaria Boschi, who has worked in the past with Franco Ferguson and in New Music ensembles, plays guitar and prepared guitar; Marco Bonini, who has worked with jazzers like Roberto Gatto and Ettore Fioravanti, plays laptop and live electronics; while Ermanno Baron, who plays drums and objects here, has played with everyone from David Binney to Alipio C. Neto. Considering the instrumentation and insistence on reflective group work, Baron, Boschi and Bonini could be thought of as AMM’s Roman cousins, BBB perhaps. Evolving in real time in a concert setting, the performance’s apex is reached with “Acre Part III” and “Acre Part IV”, although the tracks are so deliberately attached that a flow is established throughout. Before the climax, an underlying drone have mixed with guitar chiming, fragmented drum whaps and elevated keyboard-source glissandi to set up the creation’s parameters. And as the modulations move from near-watery, vibrated percussion clatters, slurred guitar fingering, hollow tube-like echoes and supple oscillations gradually toughen the playing motion to reach Acre Part III” and “Acre Part IV”. With a crescendo of hair-raising cries, guttural drags and buzzing laptop-sourced glissandi, the result is spacey and grounded simultaneously with string slurs and rumbling drums finally creating a climax. This climax is highlighted by cymbal reverb which diffuses into the next track, staining the tripartite affiliation with electric voltage shakes, knife-style guitar runs and drum side scrapes. “Acre Part V” is merely a coda with instrumental balance reasserted among polyphonic and miasmatic impulses, eventually distilling the tension engendered by the crescendo with a series of keyboard splashes and percussion scrapes.

Lash & Cooke must be accepted on their own terns and Egregore is best appreciated if one likes to map electronic geography. With their mix of acoustic and electronic impulses though Baron, Boschi and Bonini’s Acre can easily be appreciated by those who don’t know a kilowatt from a kilogram – as well as those more electro-acoustically informed."
(Ken Waxman, Jazz Word)

"Powracamy do duetu, tym razem w postaci dwóch Brytyjczyków. Muzyka zarejestrowana w dwóch miejscach, w dwóch momentach czasowych (2016 i 2017 rok). Nie wiemy dokładnie, czy muzycy przebywali w trakcie procesu produkcji dźwięków razem, czy też jeden dogrywał do drugiego. Dominic Lash – elektronika, Seth Cooke – talerze, mikrofony. Godzina zegarowa bez 25 sekund. Jeden trak.

Kompozycja zbudowana głównie elektronicznie lub w drodze amplifikowania działań akustycznych na talerzach. Rodzaj dźwiękowej instalacji, projektu, bez znamion improwizacji. Jednostajny, gigantyczny dron wyrasta bardzo powoli z ciszy. Jego struktura jest dość prosta, dźwiękowo jednorodna. Staje na środku wyimaginowanej sceny i intensywnie trwa.

Recenzentowi pozostaje foniczna łamigłówka do rozwiązania – znajdź choćby jeden szczegół, który stanowi o tym, że kolejne minuty tej muzycznej formy czymkolwiek różnią się od siebie. Po 10-12 minutach można zaryzykować tezę, iż poziom intensywności stojącego dronu mikrotonalnie narasta. Ale to tylko teza. Wibracja dźwięku, jakiej doświadczają nasze receptory słuchu po kolejnym kwadransie jest być może jedynie efektem mechanizmu obronnego naszego organizmu, nie zaś skutkiem działań muzyków. W dalszej części płyty odbiorcy pozostaje już tylko własna wyobraźnia. Może coś wydarzy się w monotonii dźwięków, może coś wejdzie z czymś w interakcję… Dron bowiem trwa, czuwa, nie odpuszcza choćby na ułamek sekundy.

Kolejna nadzieja na jakiekolwiek wydarzenie pojawia się w okolicach 35 minuty. Coś dzieje się na dalszym planie. A może to tylko złudzenie foniczne. W 50 minucie narracja wchodzi w stadium wygaszania. Opuszczanie kotary trwa blisko 10 minut. Płyta, która stanowi jedno z większych wyzwań recenzenckich. Niżej podpisany wytrwał do końca."

(Andrzej Nowak, Spontaneous Music Tribune)

"Making their Intonema debut here, the occasional duo of Dominic Lash and Seth Cooke dates back to 2013. Egregore is their third album release, following PACT (1000 füssler, 2014) and Canary (Hideous Replica, 2015). However, anyone familiar with those releases and/or Lash's other work may be surprised by this new album as he does not play double bass at all here, opting instead for electronics throughout while Cooke is heard on cymbals and microphones. Their new label may be the key to the changed instrumentation, as Intonema seems to have a penchant for electronics/percussion duos, as exemplified by Alluvium (Intonema, 2017) by Jamie Drouin and Hannes Lingens.

Studio-recorded in 2016, in Nailsworth, and 2017, in Bristol, Egregore consists of one unbroken track that runs for just under an hour. If that sounds like a daunting prospect, do not be deterred from investigating further. The piece's soundscape is deep and complex but it evolves slowly so that there are no nasty shocks along the way. The key to its creation may lie in those two recording dates and locations; rather than being created at one sitting, it sounds as if different recorded tracks were overlaid to create that soundscape.

Most of the sounds are electronically produced, with Cooke's cymbals not being used to create rhythms but bowed (or excited as in the You Tube clip below?) to produce sustained tones of their own which are entirely compatible with the electronic ones. A particular sound may build up slowly over a period of minutes then fade away just as slowly, creating the illusion that nothing is changing. However, hopping around to different points within the piece soon reveals sounds that differ markedly in every way---pitch, timbre, volume, depth...

With prolonged listening, the piece can easily become part of the wallpaper but it can also be addictively mesmeric and fascinating. The more one listens to it, the more one hears each time. It is certain to improve with age and handsomely repay the time invested in listening. Definitely a promising new path for Lash and Cooke to pursue further."

(John Eyles, All About Jazz)

"Clocking in at just under an hour, this third outing for Dominic Lash and Seth Cooke is a compelling example of collaborative, durational sound making. Its sinuous, morphing vibrations place it somewhere between Eliane Radigue’s ‘Adnos’ and Alvin Lucier’s ‘In Memoriam Jon Higgins’, nailing the introspective focus of the former and the pared back rigour of the latter, without descending into mushy consolation or arid emptiness.

While the curvilinear, unyielding lines of its unfolding horizon might tempted some to call this a drone record, there’s too much going on for that. That said, most of the activity takes place below the surface – well below, in fact. So much so that listening to ‘Egregore’ has to encompass both the micro and macro scales at the same time, zooming your brain and ears in on the eerie, particulate shifts that move things forward while also drawing back to acknowledge the peculiar wholeness of its sonic landscape.

Lash and Cooke have been an item since 2013, although, of course, they’re both permitted to see other people (the enticing cover art takes a visualisation of the pair’s various collaborations, as listed on Discogs, as its starting point). Their debut as a duo was the rather marvellous ‘PACT’, released on Gregory Büttner’s now-dormant 100füssler label in 2014. Key to the dirty, detailed joy of ‘PACT’ was Cooke’s baffling assemblage consisting of a domestic waste disposal unit and electronic gubbins, which produced a munching cacophony that Lash’s double-bass see-sawed across with giddy abandon. The resulting mutoid pugilism evoked images of a Plumbco Christmas bash that had degenerated into lairy shenanigans after someone spiked the punch.

‘PACT’ was fun, but it was with 2015’s ‘Canary’ that things took off. Lash was still on double bass, but Cooke had dumped the sink and replaced it with a really fucking weird setup involving a solitary cymbal resonated by handheld microphones. I saw the duo perform with this, and I’ve watched the video several times, and I still can’t figure it out. The cymbal lays on a table, then Cooke points his controller thingy at it and it makes a rather lovely whiny, sibilant hiss. I mean, it’s magic, basically. Or science.

Nevertheless, the results are fabulous, as if Cooke’s boiled down a cosmic Elvin Jones shimmer jam to its component molecules and is conducting them via some top-secret Zildjian Theremin hybrid. Deployed on ‘Canary’, Cooke’s conjurations summon a perpetual cresting wave, against which Lash throbs and thumps, sometimes crashing against the onward rush like a cruise liner caught in a mid-ocean storm, at others surfing the breakers with nonchalant ease.

While Cooke retains his enigmatic setup for ‘Egregore’, Lash switches to electronics, a decision which enables him to mirror his partner’s tinny pulsations with clean, protracted notes. Or is he producing a guttural, engine-like throb that growls away underneath Cooke’s UFO hum? It’s difficult to tell who’s doing what, to be honest. Better to just immerse yourself in its serpentine beams that snake out into space like twin lasers, occasionally seeming to entwine, at other times running in parallel.

What’s also hard to figure out is whether the subtle changes and modulations across ‘Egregore’ are microtonal shifts instituted by the players, or just effects generated by my brain. Certainly, tones seem to swim in and out of focus in almost trippy manifestations. At one point, the cymbal hiss seems to increase then decrease in volume, in classic rock drummer mystery-drama style. Elsewhere a fitful sine phases like some dismal alarm clock.

But Lash and Cooke’s steadfast refusal to build any kind of narrative arc means that ‘Egregore’ cannot be about anything but itself. The relentless exclusion of anything outside those metallic streams of sound prompts a kind of meditative engagement, yet the whining, irritating quality of the tones produced makes any kind of mindful contemplation impossible. And that’s fine by me. If I’d wanted a healing balm, I’d fire up my Headspace app. ‘Egregore’ annihilates aural complacency, its insistent force reducing all distractions to their component molecules like the heat-ray from a B-movie flying saucer. It is what it is. Ignore it at your peril."

(Paul Margree, We Need No Swords)

"Esplorare il suono, immergersi nell’acustica, avventurarsi nelle possibilità musicali dell’elettronica sono sicuramente cose buone e giuste. Lo si può fare in diversi modi, ma direi che due sono, in generale, le possibilità tipiche. Da un lato si può fare ricerca, provare nuove esperienze, cimentarsi con nuove tecnologie, tentare nuove strade, come metodo per creare e generare potenzialità poi esplorabili artisticamente. Senza pretese di fare musica, ma lavorando con i suoni. Si prova, si sbaglia, si ritenta e spesso si fallisce ancora. Non è detto che la qualità dei risultati sia sempre buona, anzi; ed è per questo che è meglio pensarci due volte (o sei) prima di presentarli al pubblico. In fondo, ciò che conta è sperimentare; il risultato musicale non è subito il fine della ricerca. Dall’altro lato si crea musica attraverso la sperimentazione. L’idea è anzitutto quella di fare buona musica; la sperimentazione è uno strumento, non il fine. Ed è per questo che si può pensare di affrontare presto il pubblico. Quindi se si fa sperimentazione per il gusto di farla, a che scopo presentare i risultati (se così si possono chiamare) al pubblico? L’unica spiegazione che mi posso dare è che ciò possa servire a qualche altro artista per ricavare qualcosa di sensato da una sperimentazione che non ha molto senso presentare come prodotto finito. È il caso di questo disco: circa 50 minuti di ininterrotto fastidiosissimo sibilo ‘texturale’ continuo, effetto ottenuto dal feedbacks di microfoni e cimbali. Neanche avessimo ancora bisogno di sapere che nella musica c’è spazio per il rumore, per suoni sgradevoli e per cose diverse dalle solite 7 ( o 12) note suonate con i soliti strumenti. Neanche ci fosse ancora bisogno sapere che si può comporre improvvisando. Neanche ci fosse ancora bisogno di irritare l’ascoltatore. Sono irritato. Pollice verso."
(A. G. Bertinetto, Kathodik)

"I’ve learned that the word “egregore” is an occult term, used to describe the autonomous nature of the “group mind”. It’s the idea that collective thought – i.e. the coming together of several people around a common objective – produces a distinct, immaterial entity in itself, transcending the mere accumulation of behaviours exhibited by the individuals within the group, seemingly residing outside this locus of collaborative exchange. The analogy to collective musical experiences is obvious, and feels particularly apt for a slow, collisional conjuring like this. While the physical composition of Egregore is simple – Dominic Lash on sparse, sedentary electronics, Seth Cooke on cymbals and microphones – the resultant sound has no edges. It’s a constant unravelling of microphone feedback, harmonic distress, overtonal gleaming, listener hallucinations…textures that both epitomise the materials from which they derive and completely abandon them, dragging me into the drones until I, too, feel as though I’ve been inducted into this infinite plume.

Perhaps one of the most potent aspects of Egregore is its relationship with duration and acquaintance. During one listen I pause for a toilet break, and upon my return the sound has drastically shifted. The tones that my mind opted to phase out of conscious experience are now present again, generating harmonic dialogues that weren’t there before (or at least, they weren’t apparent to me). We can pretend that this piece is really 59:35 in length, but such an assumption fails to account for this brittle sense of continuity that underpins this experience. Egregore is constantly obliterated and reborn – pathways of possibility are both paved and extinguished as drones fade in and out of my frame of hearing, recalibrating the dimensions of this collective entity as it fluctuates and self-corrects before the lens of perceptual uncertainty. There are no endings and beginnings – simply moments of recognition and moments of ignorance."

(Jack Chuter, ATTN:Magazine)

"Под самый конец 2017 года петербургский лейбл Intonema Records выпустил альбом британского авангардного дуэта из Бристоля. Доминик Лэш по своей основной музыкальной профессии – басист, в основном играет на контрабасе и бас-гитаре. Работал он с такими признанными мастерами британского авангарда, как Эван Паркер, Стив Рид, Джо Моррис. Он не только играет и сочиняет музыку в рамках собственного квартета и других проектов, но и пишет о ней. В данном проекте Лэш использует только электронику.Его партнер по данной работе Сет Кук работает звукорежиссером и играет на ударных. Он участвовал в группах Hunting Lodge и Defibrillators, является лидером некоторых собственных проектов и организует сольные перформансы, где использует в качестве перкуссии самые неожиданные предметы.

Свой совместный проект Доминик и Сет назвали Egregore. Этот термин требует хотя бы небольшого объяснения. Если верить определению Википедии, то «эгрегор» - это «ментальный конденсат», порождаемый мыслями и эмоциями группы (общности) людей и обретающий самостоятельное бытие; душа вещи (реликвии)». В этом смысле эгрегорами являются такие оказавшие сильнейшее влияние на историю человечества движения, как российский большевизм, итальянский фашизм, немецкий национал-социализм, а в наши дни – исламский радикализм. Понятие «эгрегор» используется в различных эзотерических учениях, особенно в теософии. Далее идти по этой зыбкой и ненадежной почве я не стану, а только, вслед за авторами пресс-релиза на сайте лейбла, повторю: «Эгрегор? Решайте сами после прослушивания!»

Давайте перейдем лучше непосредственно к музыке. Музыкой в привычном понимании работу Лэша и Кука назвать сложно. Это очень радикальный и очень минималистичный эксперимент, предназначенный, конечно же, не для широкой публики. Моя жена, «застукавшая» автора сих строк за прослушиванием альбома без наушников, эту музыку, мягко говоря, не поняла. Внешне звучашая почти час композиция воспринимается, как ровный и неизменный электронный шум. Крайне медленно, я бы сказал, чудовищно медленно, в этой «ровности» начинаешь чувствовать некие «изгибы», девиации, изменения. Говорят, растения, деревья в том числе, способны воспринимать человеческую музыку. В таком случае, живущие по паре тысяч лет секвойи и баобабы восприняли бы такое звучание, как энергичный и даже стремительный бит. Но для человеческого уха это задача неподъемная. Понять, войти в музыку Лэша и Кука, в этот, я бы сказал, апофеоз минимализма, можно только при помощи предельной сосредоточенности и внимания. Думаю, постоянные слушатели экспериментального авангарда, составляющего основу каталога Intonema Records, способны принять этот вызов."

(Леонид Аускерн, Джаз-Квадрат)

"Two discs of radical improvised music by a bunch of players, some of whom have been reviewed quite a bit before in these pages. Perhaps not so much in the case of Lash and Cooke, but interestingly enough twice before with music they did together (see Vital Weekly 961 and 996). Before Lash played the double bass on these releases, but now switched to electronics, whereas Cooke is still on cymbals and electronics. Although it is one piece on the CD, and seeing this is improvised music, it is perhaps curious to notice that the music is recorded on two different locations and a year apart. It makes you wonder what happened there. Maybe this disc contains two recordings that are overlaid, as it seems not easy to detect a point in here where recordings are cross-faded. This is a very minimal work, maybe not as overlaid then as I thought, of very slow moving tones. Do I hear a cymbal in here? Not really. Maybe there is some sort of electrical device in play here that sets the cymbal in some kind of motion, providing some kind of overtone back drop that goes along with the very minimally played rest of the sounds. It is almost impossible to say what is going on here. Some kind of lo-fi drone of a very static nature maybe times two or three, and which are mixed with great care. A fade from one sound to the next might take easily ten or so minutes, but by then you could believe things have in fact changed. I call this radical music for exactly that reason of minimalist changes. There are some nasty piercing frequencies in here, which one should handle with some care. For me this music worked best when I played it all at a relatively modest volume; not because I thought it was too radical but it simply seemed to work best for me at a lower volume." 
(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly)