MALCOLM GOLDSTEIN
& MASASHI HARADA

SOIL

EMANEM 4124

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MALCOLM GOLDSTEIN violin
MASASHI HARADA piano, voice
 

1 - PREMONITION - 5:12
2 - SOIL UNDER TREE - 8:23
3 - DROPPING OUT OF SKY OR ROCK - 4:42
4 - BITTER PRIDE - IN THE MIDST OF GREEN PLAIN - 2:48
5 - PORTENTOUS REVELATION - 6:08
6 - COME RIDE AND RIDE TO THE GARDEN - 4:44
7 - RELENTLESSLY CURIOUS - 2:50
8 - CLIFF, RAVINE, ROCK - 3:13
9 - A GARDEN - 1:09
10 - ROMANTICISM IN RELATION TO LIFE - 9:07
11 - MICRO LYRICISM - 5:23
12 - WIND AND MIRROR - 4:06
13 - WIND AND MIRROR 2 - 1:54
14 - SECRET SHARER - 0:46

Digital studio recording made in Boston
by Nate Dube - 2002 March 17
Total time 61:18

All previously unissued

 

Excerpts from sleeve notes:

Piano and violin; there cannot be two more unrelated instruments as these. One of black and white articulations, dots and dashes hammered out, and chords; the other of textures, rubbing bow upon string, with all the nuances in between. Points and lines. Stretch the two far enough and they meet in some distant sound space that becomes the here and now.

East meets West - but strangely the pianist, playing the most European of instruments, is from Japan and the violinist, playing the instrument with roots in the ancient east, is from the United States. Paradox in which the meeting ground creates a new music.

Within all of this interplay emerges the voice as the source for both - the source within the body of both musicians and that which transcends their individualities and links their shared human gesture. All this as glimpses of the unknown, revealed, sounding.

MALCOLM GOLDSTEIN (2005)

Malcolm's music often reminds me of forms found in nature; the structures he makes remind me of a tree branching out or a crystalline pattern. His gestures contain subgestures within them, like a fractal.

But his music doesn't imitate nature. Rather, it is itself an example of nature's processes in action. Though I haven't asked him, it's my assumption that beneath his acute technique there's a plane where he abandons control and picks up on another level, leaving the music to develop organically by itself.

In this approach to music making I feel great kinship. Making music, my perception is often focused on how the simple feedback of the process - from my body to the instrument, and through air pressure back to my body - triggers my next movement. At times a state comes where my will is abandoned and my body left to the velocity and decay of sound and its resonance. It becomes hard to say whether sound is controlling me or vice versa. And in an ensemble situation, such as the one documented here, the controlling force is even more ambiguous.

Because of that fact, my preferred term for this activity is 'generative music' or 'generative process'. In a sense, the music generates itself. It means immersing one's body in the flow of sound, asserting a physical impetus, then withdrawing to ride and navigate; or at times, purposefully disconnecting from the flow so two or more currents can coexist. Usually, the sounds behave in a most unexpected manner.

Most of my adult life was spent in Boston, Massachusetts, where my approach to music evolved. In Boston, especially from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, there were a number of small venue events that were revelations to me. Malcolm used to appear at the smallest of these and the audience was always small. But the music was inspirational to say the least. He made sounds my ears had never heard from a string instrument.

At the time, he was living in the mountains of Vermont without running water or electricity. He didn't seem to care too much about the size of the audience or documenting his music. In the late 1990s a friend introduced us, and I expressed my interest in his music. The soft-spoken man with quirky laughter reminded me of my old mentor John Cage (Cage in fact wrote a piece for him, as did Ornette Coleman).

Finally in 2002 came the chance to make music with him, at my last faculty recital at New England Conservatory, where he had also been a faculty member in the early 1970s. This recording was made the following day in Brookline, Massachusetts. Each time I hear it I discover different music.

Currently Malcolm lives in Montreal and I live in Hiroshima.

MASASHI HARADA (2005)

 

Excerpts from reviews:

"The sounds that Goldstein extracts from his violin would induce a coronary in many a music teacher. By breaking every rule in the book—or, rather, by not acknowledging that there is a rule book—he has radically extended the technical possibilities, to produce as broad an array of sounds as you’ll hear from a violin. Sure, it is virtuosity, but not the type taught in conservatories. Harada is a worthy partner for Goldstein, an improviser who can seemingly produce an appropriate response instantly.

The relationship between piano and violin here is complex and ever-changing. At times, Harada almost adopts the role of accompanist, adding complementary phrases that enhance Goldstein’s playing. But for long periods—for instance, on Bitter Pride — in the Midst of Green Plain — the two instruments operate as equals, their lines intertwining completely, often at thrilling tempos. Occasionally, Harada takes the lead, to great effect, as on the latter stages of Cliff, Ravine, Rock where he fires off percussive volleys of rumbling chords and fractured runs. And (unlike some pianists, where they are an unwelcome intrusion), his occasional vocal sounds are not overused, and are a positive addition to the soundscape.

Crucially, both players have the improviser’s sixth sense of knowing when to hold back and give the other space to play and when to step forward. The result is that they avoid playing in the same space and getting in each other’s way. This album is a fine example of chamber improv—polite, urbane, and skilful, without many shocks."

JOHN EYLES - ONE FINAL NOTE 2006

"Here, two master Improvisers veer off into some sort of transcendental improvising exposition. Encompassing fractured themes and lucidly conjured imagery the artists' toss caution to the wind during these multifaceted performances. Goldstein is an amazing improviser, as his violin often sounds like it is an extension of his body and soul. Ideally, attributes or notions of this nature would signify a pinnacle of artistic success, to varying degrees. He extracts an abundance of multihued sounds via innumerable techniques during these interlacing call/response type deconstructions and realignments. Harada is a strong foil with his pumping block chords and vocal chants. And as the title might infer, this is an improvisational foray that shines forth with organic overtones and an oscillating sense of the dynamic."

GLENN ASTARITA - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2006

"Most of the extraordinary sounds Goldstein wrenches forth from the highly strung wooden box are the kinds of noises that would make any conservatory violin teacher's toes curl up: variable bow pressure producing all kinds of irregular partials, sometimes fluty, sometimes scratchy; playing at rakish angles across the fingerboard instead of keeping the bow righteously parallel to the bridge; a whole range of unconventional pizzicato sounds; and a fondness for - or rather unwillingness to avoid - twangy open strings. In pianist Masashi Harada, Goldstein has found the perfect partner: like Goldstein, he's all over his instrument - and especially fond of extreme registers (a shrewd move, freeing up the mid-register frequency zone for the violinist to operate in) - and able to change direction within milliseconds. The interplay between the two men is dazzling, and Harada's ear for pitch is even more impressive than it was on his magnificent Leo release of a few years ago, OBLITERATION AT THE END OF MULTIPLICATION. In the midst of what sounds like total pandemonium, he pulls notes out of Goldstein's seemingly chaotic scrabbling like rabbits out of a conjuror's hat. In the hands of lesser musicians, such enthusiastic scratching and clonking might be mildly exciting first time round, but would not stand up to repeated listening. This, however, will be around as long as the trees, gardens, cliffs, ravines and rocks its track titles immortalise. Not an album that will grow on you as much as one that you will grow in. Soil."

DAN WARBURTON - PARISTRANSATLANTIC 2006

"For a musician who's actively been plying his craft since the late 1960s, Malcolm Goldstein's discography remains pitiably small. The paucity of documentation is certainly not due to an absence of talent or influence. His work with violin can easily be considered amongst the most adventurous and indefatigable on the instrument. It's more a reflection of an indifferent attitude toward the recorded form and an emphasis instead on live performance as a primary outlet of expression. Recognising a kindred musical spirit, pianist Masashi Harada orchestrated a minor coup in coaxing Goldstein into a Boston studio on a spring day back in 2002.

Goldstein is more commonly associated with modern classical circles, but the freely improvised settings favoured by Harada prove no problem. Fourteen tracks occupying just over an hour follow the pair through an investigation of a textbook's worth of extended techniques. The pieces range from mere fragments like the closing Secret Sharer to more labyrinthine forays like Romanticism in Relation to Life. Goldstein is a master at conjuring and controlling protracted pitch-fluctuating drones, so much so you can almost hear the sizzle of rosin on horsehair like a hot steak knife shearing through room temperature butter. Listening to his high pressure legato strokes, I'm left wondering what aural portions of his constructions remain beyond the access of human hearing as he alternates between dolorously dry scrapes and scuttling pizzicato chatter. Harada's academic training with Joe Maneri comes through in his attention to microscopic detail and his ability to abandon strict Western tonality on an instrument known for its allegiance to it. His background as drummer also comes into play via a highly percussive, often staccato, approach, but only rarely does he venture under the hood.

Goldstein's bow approximates the spasms of an epileptic teeter-totter, serrated glissandi regularly sliding off his strings as he places his instrument in harm's way through a punishing set of paces. Harada is just as active and unpredictable at his stool, his fingers scampering in complex terpsichorean sorties across his keys, sometimes shaping consonant chords, at other junctures activating torrential avalanches of notes. Both men make canny use of dynamics. Goldstein hugs his violin close, gripping the strings like a vice and plucking out brittle muffled patterns that sound like the disconcerting patter of tarantula legs. Harada responds with similarly muted clusters that mimic slivers of glass striking and shattering on concrete.

Elsewhere on Come Ride and Ride to the Garden Harada sets up delicate and silvery counterpoint to Goldstein's abrasive arco oscillations, which in turn brilliantly exploit the natural acoustics of the violin's hollow body. On Micro Lyricism Harada's haunted ululating voice floats in proximity to a keening string drone. With Wind and Mirror dark pedal-tempered chamber chords coexist with distant filament-thin string harmonics. There's a daunting density and astringency to much of the interplay, the pair responding with telegraphic reflexes to each other's split-second transitions, but also a fair share of ear-opening lyricism in the exchanges. Listening to how well it all works, the urge to witness a reunion between the two becomes involuntary and irresistible."

DEREK TAYLOR - BAGATELLEN 2006

"Violinist Malcolm Goldstein has described improvisation as 'the whole musician sounding'. It's an ideal which improvisers, whether short circuited by self-consciousness or stylistic inflexibility, or locked into habit and mannerism, rarely attain. Goldstein's own performances, solo or in group contexts, speak more than most of such wholeness. His 'soundings' begin with the physical substance and structure of the instrument and his own sense of necessity. Despite the violin's extensive and familiar presence in classical repertoire and Western folk traditions, his playing seems to beckon more to environmental, animal or elemental correspondences than to strictly musical precedents and parallels. The 14 tracks of SOIL offer further confirmation of his technical fluency and expressive directness; singular musicianship that sets the terms of its own virtuosity and success. It's all the more remarkable because Goldstein's duo partner is a pianist and, as the violinist suggests in his notes, 'there cannot be two more unrelated instruments'. Masashi Harada proves responsive to Goldstein's microtonal and textural articulations, matching their intensity with jagged clusters, dense chording, rapid hammering runs and occasional vocal interjections."

JULIAN COWLEY - THE WIRE 2006

"Against the pestilential self-contradictions of many and one duets that I often happen to watch on the classical music channel, where the search for a standing ovation is in direct proportion with amplitude of gestural pomp and musical vacuity, here come Malcolm Goldstein's visceral playing of a violin that often crackles and vibrates under his intensity, in conjunction with the piano of Masashi Harada, who frequently can't contain the energies which animate his system during these fervent conversations, therefore he releases them through guttural utterances and far-from-formal chanting. Diabolically contorted but - in many cases - desperately lyrical in their melting of any preconceived significance, these fourteen improvisations reconcile with our barely disguised indiscipline, which is now free to champion these artists as an example of seriousness of intents and indiscrimination between what sounds 'good' and what instead would be instantly eliminated from the above mentioned contexts, which sure enough sounds even better to yours truly's callous ears."

MASSIMO RICCI - TOUCHING EXTREMES 2006

"Malcolm Goldstein's duo with pianist Masashi Harada is an all-improvised affair, but shows the classical training of both musicians. The 14 tracks show a shared sense of in-the-moment composing; they quickly turn to support one another and intuitively move together into different dynamics and tempi, smartly showing a shared sense of filling the space and recognising resolutions."

KURT GOTTSCHALK - ALL ABOUT JAZZ NEW YORK 2006

"A central piece in this beautifully sustained solo performance is dedicated to [Ornette Coleman]. It doesn't flag, even in the later stages, and the whole performance has a rich consistency and presence. The duets with Harada are sui generis - there isn't much precedent for this kind of thing - but richly fascinating. 14 improvisations of absolute concentration."

RICHARD COOK & BRIAN MORTON - The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS, 9th edition 2008

 

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