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JERMAN / BARNES - Versatile Ambience

Format: LP
Label & Cat.Number: IDEA Intermedia IDEA19
Release Year: 2016
Note: collaboration by JEPH JERMAN and TIM BARNES, creating a special form of improvised ambience, intimate, near and concrete... (using atmospheric field recordings, instrumental sounds (wind and stringed) from guests, occasionally shortwave and electronics); very nice edition on 180gr. vinyl with insert, on the re-activated IDEA label.. edition of 500 copies
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €26.00

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Without referencing typical genre or style, the collaboration of sound artists Tim Barnes and Jeph Jerman moves a step forward with this 45 RPM LP release of texture and atmosphere, with assistance from Ken Vandermark, Jacob Duncan, Aaron Michael Bulter, Sara Saltau & Bret Berry.

"The fact that two words sit next to each other does not automatically mean that they are related. The ambience given off by this LP full of coarse textures and lancing sounds isn't exactly versatile; it'd be easier to devise a list of places where it can't be played and people you know who would not sit still for it than to string together the places where its ambience would be appropriate. And just because two men with documented histories of hitting things get together and make records doesn't mean they'll turn in an album of percussion music.

In fact, Tim Barnes and Jeph Jerman only occasionally resort to directly striking anything on Versatile Ambience; they're too busy engaging in all manner of other interventions that confound perception and makes you think hard about just what constitutes music. If you consult Barnes' and Jerman's discography, you can find CDRs a decade old to which the Discogs website has assigned the designation free improvisation. Whatever you call the music on Versatile Ambience, you can't call it that. It is carefully constructed from collected outdoors sounds, wind and stringed instruments played by musicians such as Ken Vandermark and electronics of uncertain provenance; there's definitely a shortwave radio in the mix, but beyond that, take a guess.

It's probably more relevant to note that it's not immediately clear if the twittering high frequencies that lift away from a distant jet's quiet roar are played electronics or a field recording of bugs. Jerman has gone on record saying that he is not concerned with representing anything, he just uses sounds he likes to hear. Still, in a time when human activity is submerging islands and killing off species at a record rate, it's hard not to assign significance to music that challenges the listener to figure out where nature ends and man begins. No discussion of this album would be complete without acknowledging its particular physical qualities. The sleeve is hefty and substantial.

The vinyl is heavy and spins at 45 RPM; Rashad Becker's mastering conveys the high frequencies with amazing clarity and the rougher textures with such tactility that you'll swear you can feel the sounds coming through your fingertips."
[Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine]