int029 | Jon Heilbron | Pieces for Chord Organs

Jon Heilbron
Pieces for Chord Organs

Piece One (18:10)
Piece Two (15:30)

CD, digisleeve, insert / Edition of 200
23 January 2019 

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Второй релиз на Intonema, посвящённый работе с органом! Первый, альбом Артураса Бумштейнаса, представлял из себя пост-композицию из импровизаций на церковных органах. Совсем по-другому работает австралийский музыкант Джон Хеилброн, использующий портативные органы фирмы Bontempi в реальном времени. В августе 2018-го года он провёл три недели в St. Petersburg Artist Residency, сочиняя и оттачивая композиции. Обе пьесы альбома Pieces for Chord Organs завораживают и уводят от повседневной суеты: наслоения органов, распространяющиеся в комнате со слышимым откликом, создают биения и созвучия едва ли возможные в других условиях.

This is the second Intonema release dedicated to organ works. The first, by Arturas Bumsteinas, was a post-composition of church organ improvisations. The Australian musician Jon Heilbron, who uses Bontempi portable chord organs in real time, works in a completely different way. In August 2018, he spent three weeks at the St. Petersburg Artist Residency, writing and honing his compositions. Both pieces on the album Pieces for Chord Organs fascinate and lead away from the everyday hustle and bustle: the layered sound of organs diffused throughout the room create beatings and harmonies hardly possible in other conditions.

Jon Heilbron: bontempi chord organs, composition

Рецензии / Reviews:
"Jon Heilbron is an accomplished Australian musician mainly known for his double bass work, which he’s done in both a rock music and contemporary music setting; plus he’s a composer in his own right, a member of the Quiver New Music Ensemble who have recorded for Tone List, and also collaborates with others in Drum, Ellipsis, Doublefrau, and Arches. He’s here today with Pieces For Chord Organs (INTONEMA INT029), on the Russian Intonema label, who intend this to be the second in a series of “organ” records – the last one one was Organ Safari Lituanica, a highly unusual item realised by Lithuanian genius Arturas Bumsteinas and Gaile Griciute, and a conceptual piece based on their tour of Lithuanian churches. However, Heilbron is not playing church organs – instead he’s got a couple of Bontempi chord organs, which aren’t much more than children’s toys, but are great fun to work with (they used to play chords with buttons like an accordion and made a roary noise with their internal fans). He did it over the course of a few weeks during an artist residency at St Petersburg, refining the compositions over time, and eventually recording them in 2018 at the 2.04 Gallery. Two long-form drones are the fruits of his labour, not exactly pure or simple enough to be called “minimalist”, but there is an inscrutable and placid calm to the surface here which is hard to divine. The music almost seems to come equipped with its own carapace, its own hard and shiny shell. The variations and changes are not especially dramatic, but the logic is hard to follow, and I feel we’re being given a musical riddle to solve. From 8th February 2019."
(Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector)
"Due composizioni per solo organo Bontempi trattato in tempo reale (strapazzato a mano in pratica).
L'australiano Jon Heilbron nel 2018 trascorre tre settimane a San Pietroburgo nella residenza artistica di casa Intonema, il risultato è questo “Pieces For Chord Organs”. 

Che di primo acchitto, tremare un poco i polsi fa, poi, ascolto dopo ascolto, ci si calma e apprezza la presenza fisica del suono prodotto (minimale inutile dirlo), che si pianta nel mezzo della stanza o del vostro spazio cuffiesco per prendervi a sberle, fra mugghianti stratificazioni che tengono lontano il chiacchiericcio quotidiano e lascian corpo e coppino a vibrar all'unisono di questi pastorali filamenti fluttuanti.
Un gioco di relazione fisica tra spazio e suono, dove al cambio dell'uno muta l'altro.
Riprodurre ad alto volume favorisce la comparsa di frequenze inaspettate (in media da taglio) e singolari fenomeni di rifrazione acustica.
Un diverso urto frontale."

(Marco Carcasi, Kathodik)

"A set of lovely cover images surrounds a set of wonderful music. Heilbron, a bassist by trade, plays two Bontempi chord organs. What's a chord organ? This is.. Basically a small electric organ not terribly dissimilar to an accordion. Heilbron plays two at once, as can be seen in this promotional video from Intonema.

Amusingly, the first sounds one hears on each of the two pieces is the organs being switched on with a sharp click and the onset of, I take it, the noise from the interior fan. He'll often play the same single note on the two instruments, the inherent small differences setting up beats and fluctuations. The notes are held at length, added to to create thick chords, subtracted from to get back to single lines. A kind of drone, but with a grating aspect, a certain welcome harshness imposed by the sound of the machines. In overall tonality, it reminded me a bit of parts of Terry Riley's 'Shri Camel' (1975), though far more concerned with pitch relationships for their own sake. These chords, from two slightly conflicting sources, create absolutely rich and complex sound pools in which to bathe. A very unique sound and a very rewarding one--highly recommended."

(Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

"Although Australian double bassist Jon Heilbron had already accumulated an impressive CV for a player still in his twenties, the release of Pieces for Chord Organs marked the first album issued under his own name. His past releases consisted of one track on the Norwegian cassette compilation Nonfigurativ Musikk 11 (Nonfigurativ Musikk, 2016), the album Small Worlds (Tone List, 2017) as a member of the sextet Quiver, playing music by Austria's Werner Dafeldecker, and The Station and the Underclass (INSUB, 2016), by Melbourne's nine-member Phonetic Orchestra, of which Heilbron was a founder member, for which he and other members composed the music.

By comparison, Pieces for Chord Organs represents a considerable change from his past releases. Instead of bass, Heilbron played two Bontempi portable chord organs in real time, performing two composed pieces, with a total duration of just under thirty-four minutes. He wrote and honed the pieces during a three-week stay at the St. Petersburg Artist Residency, in August 2018. The album was recorded at the 2.04 Gallery in St. Petersburg on August 23rd.

The YouTube clip below shows Heilbron in action at the organs. It illustrates that his organ playing is far removed from church organ recitals or improvisations by an organ virtuoso. Instead, referring to the sheet music of his compositions, Heilbron slowly and deliberately sounds prolonged single notes or chords on the two organs. As he only makes occasional subtle changes, the soundscape evolves gradually without any shocks or surprises along the way.

The end results bear witness to the care and attention that Heilbron invested in his compositions; in particular, the interactions between the notes from the two organs add interest to the soundscape, with the resultant harmonies and pulsating beats being endlessly fascinating and enthralling. Despite both being created using the same instruments and methods, the two pieces are distinctly different but unquestionably from the same source. Together, they combine to make this a promising start to Heilbron's solo recording career."

(John Eyles, All About Jazz)

"If you have never seen (or heard) a Bontempi organ in real life then should definitely hit thrift stores or go online and find one. They look cheap and sound cheap too because the sound is produced by air being forced over reeds by an electric fan, so you have the sound of the fan also. They were popular with children. Look up the company of the same name that still exists and see what they have; lots of children’s toys. I believe they are not too difficult to find and for any aspiring lo-fi drone maker, a must have. Jon Heilbron, of whom I had not heard before is apparently also a big fan (pun intended) of the sound these organs produce and recorded on August 23 of last year two pieces with various types of Bontempi organs as the 2.04 Gallery in Saint-Petersburg, which now found their way to this CD. I assume the sound is picked up with various microphones as the original ones do not have a line-out option for recording and I would think it is also not really a concert recording despite the clear 'on' and 'off' he produces at the beginning and the end, it is a set of multiple recordings being mixed together to make two coherent compositions, of clustering tones intertwining with each other and while it sounds pure and direct, it also has very little additional sound, i.e. the fan. Some hence I think there have been multiple takes and ditto layers, cleverly mixed together, but I can easily say I might very well be wrong and this is a pure, live recording of various (hard to say how many) types of Bontempi chord organs played together in a concert situation. I am a sucker for the Bontempi sound (I have a few myself) and while this is not something that is unheard of, I must admit I enjoyed this very much. Very direct and yet very refined; no bullshit drone music the way I like it best."
(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly)

"Любопытное совпадение: альбом австралийского музыканта Джона Хейльброна Pieces for Chord Organs – всего лишь второй в истории лейбла Intonema Records альбом органных сольных импровизаций. А первое знакомство нашего сайта с релизами этого лейбла из Санкт-Петербурга, руководимого известным авангардным музыкантом Ильей Белоруковым, произошло в 2016 году и началось именно с того, первого альбома органных импровизаций: работы литовского музыканта Артураса Бумштейнаса Organ Safari Lituanica. Они очень разные, эти два органных альбома в каталоге Intonema: в основе импровизаций Бумштейнаса лежали записи звучания органов из костелов разных городов Литвы, а Хейльброн работает в режиме реального времени, импровизируя на портативных органах итальянской фирмы Bontempi.

Впрочем, сначала немного о самом Джоне Хейльброне. По своей основной музыкальной специальности он басист, играет как современную академическую музыку, так и экспериментальный авангард. В последнем качестве Джон играет, как на контрабасе, так и на органах Bontempi. Хейльброн выступал в разных странах мира на четырех континентах. Среди его импровизационных проектов - Arches, DRUM, doubleFRAU и Quiver New Music Ensemble. В Мельбурне он организовал из самых креативных местных импровизаторов ансамбль Phonetic Orchestra. Летом 2018 года Хейльброн провел три недели в Санкт-Петербурге, где и был записан альбом Pieces for Chord Organs.

В альбоме объемом чуть более получаса звучания – две композиции, обозначенные просто номерами. Впечатление от них весьма своеобразно. Это весьма непривычная музыка. По-видимому, бОльшая часть первой композиции ушла у меня на привыкание, на то, чтобы «распробовать» музыку Джона, а вот получать от нее удовольствие у меня лучше получалось во втором треке. Орган, пусть даже портативный, дает густой объемный звук. В музыке Хейльброна звучания органов накладываются друг на друга, к этому добавляются особенности акустики конкретной студии, и Джон медленно и дотошно исследует параметры возникающего звучания. «Трехмерная» импровизация с плавным изменением высоты звука, его окраски и темпа создает четвертую, эмоциональную составляющую, на мой вкус, несколько минорного характера. Не могу сказать, что музыка Хейльброна оказывает некое медитационное воздействие, но полная тишина, возникающая после того, как затухает след последней взятой музыкантом ноты, в первые пару секунд даже шокирует: настолько всеобъемлющим оказывается погружение в создаваемый Джоном мир звуков.

И еще один заинтриговавший меня момент. Ничего специфично-этнического в музыке австралийского музыканта я не услышал. Но вот обложка альбома запечатлела фрагмент некоего народного костюма с характерным поясом и орнаментом. Этнограф из меня слабый, но мне почудилось тут нечто прибалтийское или западно-славянское. Так ли это и почему это изображение попало на обложку альбома Хейльброна – мне расшифровать не удалось. Что же до «расшифровки» музыки – тут каждый слушатель должен найти свой собственный ключ."

(Леонид Аускерн, Джаз-Квадрат)