Keith Rowe
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
A Dimension of Perfectly Ordinary Reality (1990), 7/10
MIMEO: MIMEO (1998), 6.5/10
MIMEO: Queue (1999), 6.5/10
Dial: Log-rhythms (1999), 6.5/10
Harsh (2000), 6/10
MIMEO: Electric Chair + Table (2000), 6.5/10
MIMEO: The Hands Of Caravaggio (2002), 6/10
The World Turned Upside Down (2000), 6/10
Maschinelle + Strategeme (2000), 6/10
Afternoon Tea (2000), 5/10
N:Q (2000), 5/10
Dark Rags (2001), 6/10
Grain (2002), 5/10
Weather Sky (2002), 4/10
Rabbit Run (2002), 6.5/10
Thumb (2003), 5/10
Duos for Doris (2003), 6.5/10

British guitarist Keith Rowe, a member of AMM, is one of the improvisors who has most contributed to the definition of a new vocabulary for the guitar. Or, better, for the "tabletop" guitar, a guitar plugged into the cacophony of the "perfectly ordinary reality" (usually, a barrage of radios and electronic devices). He has played the guitar virtually in every possible manner and with every possible tool, to the point that the guitar has become a mere object that can be used to produce unusual sounds. His body of work, that references abstract painting, Dada, Edgar Varese and John Cage, is the quintessence of "noise" guitar music.

The chaotic, cryptic and apparently meaningless "guitar solos" of A Dimension of Perfectly Ordinary Reality (july 1989 - Matchless, 1990) are his aesthetic manifesto. The 18-minute '73 is a poem to fatigue and tension. The sounds have little in common with the traditional guitar sound. They belong to the same kind of "other" sounds as electronic music does. In the age of drones, repetition and atonality, Rowe coins a fourth "dimension" of music: a sort of alternating current of sobbing, hiccupping tones. (The second half of the piece is a more indulgent atonal "recitation" of the guitar). The eleven-minute City Music harks back to radio-signal musique concrete by radio broadcasts, hissing electronics and burping guitar noise. The 24-minute Untitled is similar except that the sources are further refined and more smoothly integrated with guitar noise. The effect is particularly brilliant around 13 minutes, when the braids come together into a ticking, elastic clockwork from which eerie declamations are trying to escape.

It would take ten years for Rowe to follow it up with another solo album: Harsh (november 1999 - Gross, 2000), three improvisations recorded in a garage (again, for tabletop-guitar and electronics).

In between those two solo albums, Rowe engaged in all sorts of collaborations, notably the majestic Dial: Log-rhythms (october 1997 - Matchless, 1999) with saxophonist Jeffrey Morgan.

But the main experience of the period, besides AMM, was the Music In Movement Electronic Orchestra (MIMEO), an ensemble of of electronic improvisers that included violinist Phil Durrant, pianist Cor Fuhler, guitarist Rafael Toral, electronic keyboardist Thomas Lehn, electronic soundsculptor Gert-Jan Prins, computer musicians Marcus Schmickler, Kaffe Matthews, Christian Fennesz and computer musician Peter "Pita" Rehberg, etc. They released several documents of their activity starting with MIMEO (november 1997 - Plastics, 1998) and Queue (november 1997 - Gross, 1999).

The double-disc Electric Chair + Table (december 1999 - Gross, 2000) contains five pieces titled Electric Chair plus the 69-minute Electric Table, There is little "counterpoint" or dynamis in the first Chair, a slow sparse flow of timid noises, each one painstakingly examined and admired in its unique shape and growth. The second movement, instead, displays the full arsenal of "instruments", now engaged in a frenzied and overwhelming form of (wildly dissonant) conterpoint. The third movement further increases the density of the chaos, achieving an almost magniloquent degree of tension. The fourth movement initially wields the sounds from the various sources in a fluid organism but then surges in a grotesque free jam. The fifth movement is the most sophisticated, secreting a bubbling gurgling sludge out of cryptic instrumental gestures.
Electric Table begins in a landscape of quietly boiling mud and expands into a barren territory inhabited by sinister beings that only emit buzzs and rumbles. Halfway into the piece, the music seems to die. Instead it resumes in a more neurotic mood and ends its journey in a turbulent industrial landscape.

The Hands Of Caravaggio (may 2001 - Erstwhile, 2002) was a collaboration between MIMEO and keyboardist John Tilbury.

The new millenium saw Rowe multiply his collaborations: The World Turned Upside Down (october 1999 - Erstwhile, 2000) with Guenter Mueller and Taku Sugimoto; Maschinelle + Strategeme (Ritornell, 2000) with Pimmon, Peter "Pita" Rehberg and Christian Fennesz; N:Q (may 2000 - Fibrr, 2000), a new quartet with Jean Chevalier and Formanex's saxophonist Christophe Havard and percussionist Julien Ottavi; Dark Rags (january 2000 - Potlatch, 2001) with Evan Parker; Grain (november 2000 - Zarek, 2002) with percussionist Burkhard Beins; the mediocre Weather Sky (june 2001 - Erstwhile, 2002) with Toshimaru Nakamura; etc.

Afternoon Tea (february 2000 - Ritornell, 2000 - Weird Forest, 2010) was a collaboration among Keith Rowe, Paul Gough (Pimmon), Oren Ambarchi, Peter Rehberg (Pita), and Christian Fennesz that pioneered live hard-disc editing (via Powerbook software) as a new form of collective improvisation.

One of Rowe's most ambitious projects, Rabbit Run (june 2002 - Erstwhile, 2002), contains the 41-minute namesake improvisation with Thomas Lehn on analogue synthesizer, and Marcus Schmickler on digital synthesizer and computer (both members of MIMEO), and 42 fragments extracted from it that can be played in any order and combination.

It was followed by Thumb (Gross, 2003), a collaboration with Oren Ambarchi, Sachiko M, Otomo Yoshihide, Rob Avenaim, and the two-disc Duos for Doris (january 2003 - Erstwhile, 2003) with Tilbury, one of his most lyrical works. A View From The Window (november 2003 - Erstwhile, 2004) was a collaboration with Dorner and Hautzinger.

The Room (2007) documents a 2005 live improvisation, and ranks among his most impressive achievements.

Between (july 2005 - Erstwhile Records) was a collaboration between Keith Rowe on guitar and electronics and Toshimaru Nakamura on no-input mixing board.

He also recorded a series of variations on Cardew's Treatise on A Response to Treatise (Cathnor, 2007).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carmine DeMatteis)

Il chitarrista inglese Keith Rowe, un membro degli AMM, è uno dei musicisti improvvisatori che ha contribuito maggiormente alla definizione di un nuovo vocabolario per la chitarra. O, meglio, per la chitarra "tabletop", una chitarra immersa nella cacofonia della " realtà perfettamente ordinaria" (solitamente, una raffica di suoni provenienti da radio e strumenti elettronici). Ha suonato la chitarra quasi in ogni possibile maniera e con ogni possibile arnese, fino al punto in cui la chitarra è diventata un mero oggetto che può essere utilizzato come produttore di suoni inusuali. La struttura del suo lavoro, che può essere paragonato alla pittura astratta, Dada, Edgar Varese e John Cage, è la quintessenza della musica "noise" per chitarra.

I caotici, criptici e apparentemente privi di significato "assoli di chitarra" di A Dimension of Perfectly Ordinary Reality (luglio 1989 - Matchless, 1990) sono il suo manifesto estetico.

Sarebbero passati dieci anni per l’uscita di un altro album da solista per Rowe: Harsh (novembre 1999 - Gross, 2000), tre improvvisazioni registrate in un garage (ancora per tabletop-guitar e strumenti elettronici)

Nel lasso di tempo intercorrente questi due album da solista, Rowe è impegnato in una serie di collaborazioni, da sottolineare il maestoso Dial: Log-rhythms (ottobre 1997 - Matchless, 1999) con il sassofonista Jeffrey Morgan.

Ma la maggiore esperienza del periodo, oltre al progetto AMM, fu il "Music In Movement Electronic Orchestra" (MIMEO), un ensemble di artisti improvvisatori di elettronica che includeva il violinista Phil Durrant, il pianista Cor Fuhler, il chitarrista Rafael Toral, il pianista elettronico Thomas Lehn, Gert-Jan Prins alla modifica del sound elettronico, Marcus Schmickler alla supervisione computerizzata, Kaffe Matthews, Christian Fennesz, e Peter "Pita" Rehberg, etc.

Pubblicarono diversi documenti della loro attività: MIMEO (novembre 1997 - Plastics, 1998), Queue (novembre 1997 - Gross, 1999), il doppio Electric Chair + Table (dicembre 1999 - Gross, 2000), e The Hands Of Caravaggio (maggio 2001 - Erstwhile, 2002) con John Tilbury.

Il nuovo millennio vide Rowe partecipe in numerose collaborazioni: The World Turned Upside Down (ottobre 1999 - Erstwhile, 2000) con Guenter Mueller and Taku Sugimoto; Maschinelle + Strategeme (Ritornell, 2000) con Pimmon, Peter "Pita" Rehberg e Christian Fennesz; Afternoon Tea (febbraio 2000 - Ritornell, 2000), con due improvvisazioni con Paul Gough (Pimmon), Oren Ambarchi, Peter Rehberg (Pita) e Christian Fennesz; N:Q (maggio 2000 - Fibrr, 2000), un nuovo quartetto con Jean Chevalier e Formanex's saxophonist Christophe Havard e il percussionista Julien Ottavi; Dark Rags (gennaio 2000 - Potlatch, 2001) con Evan Parker; Grain (novembre 2000 - Zarek, 2002) con il percussionista Burkhard Beins; il mediocre Weather Sky (giugno 2001 - Erstwhile, 2002) con Toshimaru Nakamura; etc.

Uno dei progetti più ambiziosi di Rowe, Rabbit Run (giugno 2002 - Erstwhile, 2002), contiene l’omonima improvvisazione di 41 minuti con Thomas Lehn su un sintetizzatore analogico, e Marcus Schmickler su un sintetizzatore digitale e computer (entrambi membri del MIMEO), e 42 frammenti estratti che possono essere suonati in un ordine o combinazione qualsiasi.

Seguì Thumb (Gross, 2003), una collaborazione con Oren Ambarchi, Sachiko M, Otomo Yoshihide, Rob Avenaim, e il doppio Duos for Doris (gennaio 2003 - Erstwhile, 2003) con il pianista degli AMM John Tilbury, uno dei suoi lavori più lirici. A View From The Window (novembre 2003 - Erstwhile, 2004) fu una collaborazione con Dorner e Hautzinger.

The Room (2007) documenta un’improvvisazione live del 2005, una delle esibizioni di maggior effetto.

Between (luglio 2005 - Erstwhile Records) fu una collaborazione fra Keith Rowe alla chitarra e electronics and Toshimaru Nakamura al no-input mixing board .

Registrò inoltre una serie di variazioni sul tema di Cardew Treatise su A Response to Treatise (Cathnor, 2007).

4G is the supergroup of Keith Rowe, Oren Ambarchi, Christian Fennesz and Toshimaru Nakamura, i.e. four former guitarists who mutated into digital composers. They debuted with the double-disc Cloud (Erstwhile, 2005) for guitars, electronics and laptop.

ErstLive 8 (september 2008) documents a live performance by the duo of Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura.

The double-disc Contact (september 2008) documents a collaboration between guitarist Keith Rowe (also on electronics) and Sachiko M on sampler, sine waves and contact microphone.

Radu Malfatti/ Keith Rowe The triple-disc set documents a collaboration between the guitarist (here also on electronics) and the trombonist, including a 53-minute improvisation and a 26-minute Solo With Accompaniment by Cornelius Cardew.

MIMEO's Wigry (november 2009) featured Keith Rowe on prepared guitar, Phil Durrant on synthesizer and sampler, Cor Fuhler on piano, Gert-Jan Prins on electronics, Thomas Lehn on syntezator analogowy, and Christian Fennesz, Kaffe Matthews, Peter Rehberg, Marcus Schmickler and Rafael Toral on computers.

Cultural Templates (2008) features a solo live performance. Live at the LU (may 2002) documents a collaboration with Christian Fennesz on laptop computer. The triple-disc Rowe M Nakamura Yoshihide (recorded in may 2004) documents a live performance by Keith Rowe, Sachiko M (on sinewaves & contact microphone), Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board), and Otomo Yoshihide (on electric guitar & turntables).

The live E.E. Tension and Circumstance (december 2010) documents an improvisation by Keith Rowe and John Tilbury.

The 47-minute piece of Christian Wolff/ Keith Rowe (september 2011) was a collaboration with the veteran avantgarde composer.

E.E. Tension and Circumstance (Potlatch, 2011) was a collaboration between Rowe and Tilbury.

September (september 2011) documents a 34-minute composition for guitar and electronics to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The double-disc Shifting Currents (2013) documents music with synth player Rick Reed, Keith Rowe and Bill Thompson on live electronics.

Making A (january 2013) was a collaboration with Graham Lambkin.

The NG4 Quartet was formed by Keith Rowe, Emmanuel Leduc, Formanex' Anthony Taillard and Julien Ottavi, four guitarists and electronic musicians who debuted with A Quartet For Guitars (december 2013).

The quartet of Keith Rowe (guitar, electronics), Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion, objects), Ilia Belorukov (alto sax, objects, ipod, mini-subwoofer, mini-speaker) and Kurt Liedwart (objects, electronics) recorded the 36-minute live improvisation Four on Contour (april 2013), that also includes the 24-minute due Two for Rowe and Monteiro only.

The more electronic Tri (april 2013) was recorded by the trio of Rowe, Belorukov and Liedwart and contains only two lengthy improvisations, the 42-minute S and the 31-minute Bez.

The four-disc boxset Enough Still Not To Know (july 2014) documents a collaboration between John Tilbury and Keith Rowe as well as Norwegian visual artist Kjell Bjorgeengen.

The Bakery (october 2013) documents a live improvisation between Keith Rowe (electronics and guitar) and Martin Kuechen (alto & baritone saxes, radio, iPod).

The four-disc boxset A Room Extended (recorded at home between mid-2013 and mid-2016) documents solo home recordings, the follow-up to his The Room.

The double-disc 13 Thirteen (may 2016) documents a collaboration with Michael Pisaro.

The live L'Or (august 2017) featured Kurt Liedwart (modular synthesizer, cracked everyday homemade electronics) and Julien Ottavi (computer).

The 48-minute suite of Sissel (january 2017) was performed by John Tilbury (piano), Keith Rowe (guitar and electronics) and Kjell Bjorgeengen (live video).

Live At I-And-E (march 2006) documents a performance by Keith Rowe (guitar, electronics) with Mark Wastell (amplified textures, electronics).

Absence (november 2015) documents a solo live performance on long lapstick guitar, Boss RC3, Boss PS3, six band EQ, Sony ICF-SW22 and Roberts R984 radios, two contact mics and metal strip.

The double-disc Houston 2012 (october 2012) contains four lengthy improvisations with Damon Smith (bass and field recording) and Sandy Ewen (guitar): Scratch Overture (31:30), Gooseberry Marmalade Plays Scratch Orchestra (43:00), There Guide The Spindle, And Direct The Loom (45:00) and Where The Juncture Knits The Channel Bone (18:30).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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