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På skive


«The Invention of the Saxophone»

Patrick Shiroishi and Cassiopeia Sturm are two pillars of Los Angeles’ exploratory underground scene. Their duo album The Invention of the Saxophone pairs the prolific, multi-instrumentalist Shiroishi’s tenor saxophone with Sturm’s self-built bionic saxafone – alto sax with no mouthpiece that responds to an array of electronics, as Sturm is a sound artist who specializes in building absurd, speculative instruments. The album was released in an already sold-out disc version, with a 26-page booklet, written and designed by Sturm, that outlines the technical and conceptual components that undergird her Saxafone in fine detail while sacrificing none of the mystery, poetics, or humor of the instrument, and a download option.

Sturm and Shiroishi’s sources of inspiration recall George Lewis’s improvising software, Voyager, and the electroacoustic experimentation of Andrea Parkins and Pauline Oliveros. The saxafone can capture and contort the reedy sound and vocabulary of the woodwind family or the pipe organ, multiplying, dividing and deconstructing it into impossible shapes and sounds. Sturm often uses algorithmic processes, chaotic acoustics, and cybernetic circuitry to imbue her inventions with a sort of autonomy that blurs the line between creator, performer, and instrument, and her energetic playing intensifies the possibilities of this augmented alto ssx. Shiroishi opts for great restraint and sensitivity and answers Sturm’s challenging sounds with sustained tones, extended techniques, and his own kind of intensity.

The album features four improvisations, each one focuses on a different part of the saxafone and the saxophone. The opening piece «The Neck» employs the rigged saxafone and the tenor sax to suggest a rich spectrum of electroacoustic multiphonics that slowly disintegrate into abstract, ethereal and otherworldly soundscapes. «The Body» suggests an unsettling, darker atmosphere, expecting the coming of an intense, fiery blowout. «The Mouth» is a mysterious, meditative drone that uses delay and feedback techniques that blur both instruments and settle this piece in an untimely dimension. The last piece «The Bell» is a lyrical, hymn-like piece, where Sturm’s breathing saxafone reference Oliveros and Parkins’ accordions while Shiroishi dances gently around its tonal center, and both musicians stress their deep listening approach.

These two saxes are being invented – literally – again and again in the most inspiring ways.

Eyal Hareuveni

Cassiopeia Sturm (saxafone), Patrick Shiroishi (ts)

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