Fred Frith


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Guitar Solos (1974), 5/10
With Friends Like These (1979), 6/10
Gravity (1980), 7/10
Speechless (1981), 7.5/10
Cheap At Half The Price (1983), 6/10
French Gigs (1983), 5/10
Who Needs Enemies (1983), 5/10
Live In Japan (1982) , 6.5/10
Voice Of America (1983), 7/10
Skeleton Crew: Learn To Talk (1984), 6.5/10
Skeleton Crew: The Country Of Blinds (1986), 5.5/10
Nous Autres (1987), 5/10
Technology Of Tears (1988), 6.5/10
The Top Of His Head (1990), 5/10
Step Across The Border (1991), 6/10
Helter Skelter (1993), 5/10
Dropera (1991), 5/10
Allies (RecDec, 1996), 5/10
Middle of the Moment (RecRec, 1995), 4/10
Eye to Ear (Tzadik, 1997), 4/10
Death Ambient (Tzadik, 1995), 6/10
Art of Memory (Incus, 1995), 5/10
Improvisations (Transes Europeennes, 1997), 4/10
Reel (Rectangle, 1997), 4/10
Etymology (Rarefaction, 1997), 6/10
Meridien (Maso, 1998), 5/10
Quartets (1993), 5/10
Sounds Of A Distant Episode (1994), 4/10
The Previous Evening (1997), 6/10
Middle of the Moment (1995), 5/10
Eye to Ear (1997), 5/10
Guitar Quartet: Ayaya Moses (1997), 6/10
Guitar Quartet: Upbeat (1999), 4/10
Maybe Monday: Saturn's Finger (1999), 7/10 (jazz)
Maybe Monday: Digital Wildlife (2002), 6/10 (jazz)
Pacifica (1998), 6.5/10
Stone Brick Glass Wood Wire (1999), 5/10
Traffic Continues (2000), 6.5/10
Two Gentlemen In Verona (2000), 5/10
Later (2000), 6/10
I Dream Of You Jumping (2001), 5/10
Accidental (2001), 4/10
Clearing (2001), 5.5/10
Freedom In Fragments (2002), 6.5/10
Rivers And Tides (2003), 6.5/10
Keep The Dog: That House We Lived In (2003), 6.5/10
The Happy End Problem/ (2006), 6.5/10
Impur (2007), 7/10
Back to Life (2008), 5/10
Maybe Monday: Unsquare (2008), 5/10
Nowhere/ Sideshow/ Thin Air (2009), 6.5/10
Impur Part II (2009), 6/10
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British progressive-rock hero and Keith Rowe's disciple Fred Frith developed a technique of brief vignettes that straddled the border between dissonant and folk music on Gravity (january 1980) and Speechless (1981). In the meantime, starting with Guitar Solos (1974), he had joined the ranks of the improvisers. Through collaborations with guitarist Henry Kaiser, cellist Tom Cora, harpist Zeena Parkins, saxophonist Lol Coxhill, keyboardist Bob Ostertag and percussionist Charles Noyes as well as with fellow Henry Cow member Chris Cutler, Frith perfected a collage-style art that juxtaposed improvised jams and cells of composed music. Notable were the colossal jams with Ostertag of Getting A Head (june 1980) and Voice Of America (august 1981), and the folk-neoclassical-atonal fusion of Skeleton Crew's Learn To Talk (december 1984) with Cora. The compositional aspect also led him to compose chamber music such as Quartets (december 1992) and The Previous Evening (june 1996) that paid tribute to the USA avantgarde of the previous decades (such as John Cage and Morton Feldman). The 56-minute suite Impur (may 1996) was performed and improvised by 100 musicians in a large building for an audience that was encouraged to wonder around. He also founded the trio Maybe Monday with Miya Masaoka on koto and electronics and with saxophonist Larry Ochs of the Rova Saxophone Quartet. Their Saturn's Finger (july 1998) was perhaps his most mature venture into creative jazz, containing three lengthy improvisations that sample ambient, industrial and exotic overtones. Another synthesis of sort was represented by the dance piece The Happy End Problem (2003).
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Fred Frith e' importante sia come faro di riferimento per un'intera generazione di musicisti "progressivi" sia come animatore della scena del jazz d'avanguardia di New York. Nei primi anni della sua carriera contribui` a spingere il progressive-rock verso i suoi vertici creativi. In seguito Frith esploro` stili musicali piu` vicini all'improvvisazione del jazz. In ogni momento ha sempre fatto leva su una tecnica chitarristica d'alta classe.

Frith esordi` alla testa di uno dei piu` significativi gruppi di progressive-rock, con gli Henry Cow, e poi continuo` quell'avventura negli Art Bears.

Finita quella stagione, Fred Frith si trasferi` a New York ed entro` in contatto con l'elite culturale americana. I suoi primi lavori solisti furono lavori di ardui esperimenti alla chitarra, raccolti sulle compilation Guitar Solos (Caroline 1508, 1974), that featured his first experiments with the guitar placed on the floor, Guitar Solos 2 (Caroline, 1976), Guitar Solos 3 (Rift 1, 1979). Due erano collaborazioni con Henry Kaiser: With Friends Like These (july 1979 - Metalanguage, 1979) e Who Needs Enemies (october 1983 - Metalanguage, 1983), poi riediti come Friends & Enemies (Cuneiform, 1999) con l'aggiunta di materiale inedito del gennaio 1999 (e un volume di inediti era gia` comparso come With Enemies Like These Who Need Friends nel 1987). Frith riprendeva la maniera surreale di suonare la chitarra che fu del suo compatriota e maestro Keith Rowe e la divulgava al pubblico dell'era punk.

In quel periodo Frith suono` anche nei Massacre e con i Material di Bill Laswell.

Gravity (january 1980 - Ralph, 1980 - Cuneiform, 2001), album registrato in Svezia, Svizzera e Stati Uniti, con gregari persino francesi e portoricani, e il belga Hollander al sax e al clarinetto, invento` invece una nuova arte, fatta di bizzarre miniature post-moderne. Il formato e` quasi l'esatto opposto di quello dei suoi dischi d'improvvisazione: brevi, paradossali sketch strumentali, prodotti con i mezzi piu` umili. La frammentazione e l'epigrammaticita' (e l'indecifrabilita`) degli Art Bears diventano dogma. E' una contraddizione che pare riflettere la sua ormai doppia nazionalita': da un lato l'austera cultura europea, dall'altro i "trivia", il consumismo, l'accumulo disordinato, della societa' americana.
Frith scimmiotta cosi` le bande paesane (The Boy Beats The Ram, con big band alla Zappa, dissonanze e cadenze tribali), le orchestrine caraibiche (Don't Cry For Me, con un clapping esagitato, strimpello di mandolino e un vorticoso flamenco finale), le colonne sonore sinfoniche (Come Across), l'orchestra da ballo (My Enemy Is A Bad Man), le pianole di strada (la filastrocca "umpa-umpa" di Year Of The Monkey), mescolando nello stesso brano elementi di culture diverse. Rivisita la danza araba (il crescendo mozzafiato di The Hands Of The Juggler), la danza medievale (Slap Dance), il ragtime (la superba melodia per clarinetti di Spring Any Day Now). Propone fusion astruse: minimalismo ed Hendrix in What A Dilemma, disco-soul e easy-listening tropicale in Dancing In The Street. Ogni miniatura e' straniata da un arrangiamento paradossale, da una gag ritmica o strumentale. Tutti rigorosamente strumentali, i 14 brani del disco hanno l'aria di essere soltanto appunti, per quanto geniali, di una nuova forma musicale, ibrida e laconica, che sembra voler rinunciare del tutto al senso. Frith si propone come il Brian Eno populista, altrettanto curioso e accanito nello smontare e ricomporre la musica, ma decisamente piu' umile e accessibile.

Gravity era in realta` soltanto il preludio del ben piu` caotico e geniale Speechless (april 1980 - Ralph, 1981), che rimescola disordinatamente frammenti di musica popolare, musica d'ambiente, musica di strada, musica concreta. A questo secondo album strumentale collaborano il duo percussivo dei Massacre (Laswell e Maher) e il quartetto francese Etron Fou Le Loublan, piu' un'accolita di session-man fra i quali spicca la donna dei registratori, Tina Curran. Frith suona poco e in quel poco suona molto le tastiere; il suo posto e' ormai in cabina di regia, a girar manopole e premere pulsanti. Negli act newyorkesi che sono alla base del disco si mostra attratto soprattutto dalla folla. La folla e' un insieme confuso di voci, ognuna delle quali, debitamente trattata, puo' diventare un effetto sonoro. Speechless e' l'equivalente musicale di un affresco di Bosch in cui una moltitudine di eventi quotidiani venga trasfigurato per dar vita a un gigantesco girotondo di surreale sarcasmo. In parte si avverte anche l'ascendente del "welfare state" di Coxhill, con i suoi sketch primitivisti all'insegna della bonarieta'; ma il marchio di fabbrica di Frith e' l'arrangiamento, naif e sofisticato al tempo stesso, capace di costruire un brano sull'accostamento suggestivo di timbri, rumori, gag, citazioni. Ogni brano e' minuscolo, rigorosamente strumentale, e costituisce un reperto di musica da camera folk. Attraverso il surrealismo dell'orchestrazione Frith riesce a creare i climi di mistero e d'angoscia tipici delle suite ambientali di Eno (il flauto e lo scacciapensieri di Kick The Can sulle grida di bambini che giocano e carambole di barattoli, il funk con violino tzigano ed effetti psichedelici di Balance). Il suo innato senso dello humour lo spinge a lanciarsi anche in sarabande magniloquenti, come le fanfare vocianti di Carnival At Wall St, all'incrocio fra King Crimson e Frank Zappa, Henry Cow e Material. Piu' spesso Frith si diverte a stravolgere il senso della musica folk contaminandola con effetti e maniere moderne (il reel Ahead In The Sand, a ritmo discotecaro per battimano e guancia con finale di monosillabi intermittenti di un coro di montanari, il tribalismo africano e giapponese di Saving Grace con urla "trovate" e chitarra demenziale), o viceversa (la disco-music androide di A Spit In The Ocean, con rumori concreti e una filastrocca al sax, alla Peter Gordon).
Il capolavoro del disco e' la suite Laughing Matter/ Experanza, sorta di buco nero che divora in rapida sequenza una polka melodica per fisarmonica e harmonium, un vaudeville da Far West per chitarra e organetto, una danza pellerossa con dissonanze assortite, un quartetto d'archi, una passacaglia medievale per violino, una melodia ai sax da incantatore indiano, e un inno finale per cornamusa scozzese, tutto deformato e accelerato fino alla paranoia, con un trio di sassofoni camaleontici e una successione di ritmi rocamboleschi.
Il tutto riporta al progetto totale degli Art Bears, peraltro senza l'enfasi accademica e brechtiana dello straniamento, ma sottomesso invece a un clima "da strada" piu' festoso e comunicativo. Il suono che ne scaturisce e' diametralmente opposto: volge il gelido asettico nitore dei menestrelli dell'apocalisse in calda umana fiera popolana. Il mosaico di registrazioni fa perdere un po' il filo, ma e' chiaro l'intento di raccattare agli angoli delle vie, selezionare e miscelare in studio i detriti piu' fetidi, spruzzare elettronica per deformare e comprimere (esemplare alla fine il minuto rifacimento dell'ouverture). Della nutrita schiera di maestri che presiedono al finto naif di Frith (Charles Ives per la fusione sinfonica di temi popolari, Edgar Varese per l'armonia del rumore, Brian Eno per l'elettronica atmosferica, Frank Zappa per l'orchestrazione a collage) fanno fede il malinconico adagio di Women Speak To Men (il violino sdoppiato, la musica da circo, le voci distorte, le percussioni metalliche, le recitazioni brechtiane, le onde elettroniche) e i borboglii acquatici, i ronzii d'archi, i grilli elettronici, le metronomie impazzite di Conversation With White Arc. L'intero disco si presenta come un puzzle di filastrocche senza senso, ma costituisce in realta' una delle piu' emozionanti opere di musica d'avanguardia.

Meanwhile Frith the avantgarde composer was collaborating with Bob Ostertag (electronics) and Charles Noyes (drums) on the chaotic collages of Getting A Head (june 1980 - Rift, 1980).

Voice Of America (august 1981 - Rift, 1983) was another collaboration with Bob Ostertag (on synth) except that this time the duo was joined by vocalist Phil Minton. This is a somewhat political strand of musique concrete that electronic sounds (sheets of drones, sudden spikes of alien hissing, wild psychedelic distortions), samples of voices (random crowds, a traditional Latin American song, political speeches, commercials, the anthem of the USA and so forth) and atonal guitar sounds (an incredibly vast repertory). If the second side is self-indulgent and mostly redundant, the first side ranks as one of the era's most poignant works of dissonant improvised music.

Cheap At Half The Price (Ralph, 1983) instead reprised the fragmented program of Gravity: recorded in his home studio using a plethora of instruments (some of them self-made), it was also the first one on which he sang.

Nel frattempo Frith (l'altro Frith, quello d'avanguardia) aveva collaborato con Bob Ostertag (electronics) e Charles Noyes (drums) su Getting A Head (june 1980 - Rift, 1980), che contiene le due lunghe jam Getting A Head e In Tundra, e Voice Of America (august 1981 - Rift, 1983), che contiene una sola lunga composizione/ improvvisazione con Bob Ostertag al sintetizzatore e Phil Minton al canto.

Cheap At Half The Price (Ralph, 1983) continuo` invece il programma dell'opera-collage alla Gravity: registrato in tutta umilta' nel suo studio di New York con una moltitudine di strumenti (alcuni fatti in casa), e` anche il primo su cui canta,

Live In Japan (Recommended, 1982 - ReR, 2010) represented the zenith of Frith's dissonant chamber music for guitar and electronics. Frith had already placed and played the guitar on the floor on Guitar Solos (especially the second volume), but these live performances pushed that idea to the physical limit. The first piece, Osaka I is de facto a concerto for plucked guitar strings, distorted voices and scratching noise in which the legacies of John Cage, Pierre Henry and Keith Rowe meet and interact. At times one feels like hiking through a jungle inhabited by extraterrestrial species that emit incomprehensible animal calls. Towards the end of the piece Frith indulges in a few drones, but the extremely fractured and cerebral approach always prevails. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Frith's early solo recordings had explored a "fragmented" style that merely tested the possibilities of a music straddling the border between folk, rock and jazz. The same kind of "fragment" is at the center of the two albums recorded under the moniker Skeleton Crew: Learn To Talk (Rift, 1984 - ReR, 2005), a duo with cellist Tom Cora, and The Country Of Blinds (Rec Rec, 1986 - ReR, 2005), a trio with Cora and harpist Zeena Parkins.

The seven-minute Que Viva is emblematic of the duo's ability to wed folk and neoclassical music, in a manner similar to the Penguin Cafè Orchestra, except that the second part adds musique concrete and swing music to the mix. We're Still Free is another intriguing combination, juxtaposing the same neoclassical/folk structure with Art Bears-esque estranged singing and even hinting at the dance-pop in vogue at the time. Echoes of Art Bears also surface in the pseudo-surf dance of It's Fine. Frank Zappa's influence is still visible in the frantic, atonal, ever changing The Way Things Fall and in the pop-parodistic Learn to Talk (the most straightforward melodic song on the album). Frith's most charming moment comes at the very end, when his atonal guitar pens the instrumental Zach's Flag, a sort of popst-industrial square dance. The most experimental side of Frith's art is represented here by the brief abstract vignette Victoryville is pure soundsculpting. And The Washington Post pastes together maimed samples of a marching band and chaotic drumming. The only drawback to these sophisticated and affectionate skits is a permanent sense of fragility.

The Country Of Blinds (Rec Rec, 1986 - ReR, 2005) begins the way the previous one ended: with Frith delighting the audience in The Country of Blinds, four minutes of atmospheric dissonances. But the rest is much more "musical". Keyboards and drums add more of a large-band feeling to The Border, while male-female harmonies in a punkish tone hark back to the new wave, despite a folkish counterpoint of cello: the reference is no longer Frank Zappa, but the Talking Heads. The emphasis shifts towards the sophisticated accumulation of details, for example the tribal rhythm coupled with the distorted soul organ in The Hand that Bites (imagine the organ solo of Doors' Light My Fire played on a defective turntable), minimalist and jazzy piano patterns and the mantra-like vocals of The Birds of Japan, or the chaotic orgy of vocal and instrumental timbres of Man or Monkey Parkins on accordion pens the romantic instrumental Foot in Hole. The ensemble playing is more compact, but the price paid for the cohesiveness is a loss of creativity by Frith and especially Cora.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Nel frattempo erano usciti altri dischi dal vivo: Live In Prague (Re, 1983), con Chris Cutler, French Gigs (AAA, 1983), con Lol Coxhill, 20000V (Nux, 1990), con Null dei Zeni Gev, Live in Moscow, Prague and Washington (Rec Rec, 1991), Live Improvisations (Woof, 1992), con Tim Hodgkinson.

Fra le collaborazioni del periodo si contano: Live Love Larf And Loaf (Rhino, 1987) e Invisible Means (Demon, 1990) con Richard Thompson, John French e Henry Kaiser; Nous Autres (Victo, 1987), con Rene` Lussier.

By the late 1980s Fred Frith had already started composing scores for dance, theater and cinema. Some of them were collected on two double albums, Technology Of Tears (Rec Rec, 1988 - ReR, 2008) and Step Across The Border (Rec Rec, 1991). Further commissions appeared later on The Top Of His Head (Crammed, 1990) and Helter Skelter (RecRec, 1993).

The three-movement Technology Of Tears (february 1987), originally conceived for a ballet, contains the 13-minute Sadness Its Bones Bleached Behind Us, the 19-minute You Are What You Eat and the ten-minute The Palace of Laughter The Technology of Tears. Sadness begins in a Frank Zappa-esque mode with Frith extracting simple melodies from a synclavier and a violin before losing its rationale in a percussive mayhem and in a senseless vocal duet with Tenko. A propulsive Slavic rhythm wrapped in orchestral overtones restores order in the coda. You Are What You Eat uses repetitive techniques to achieve a spasmodic polka march. After a couple of comic intermezzi, it concludes in a gamelan-like fervor. The Palace of Laughter is a relentless fantasia of folk-inspired themes that owes a lot to Christian Marclay's samples, propelled by Frith's frantic The 18-minute Jigsaw (october 1986) opens in a grand mode with a construct of minimalist repetition over an imitation of chamber music, but then returns to the post-modernist folk dances in its wildest form. The CD version doesn't contain the the 14-movement suite Propaganda.

His most austere compositions included Long On Logic (1988) for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Disinformation Polka for Guy Klucevsek, and the rock opera Dropera (august 1989 - Rec Rec, 1991) with Ferdinand Richard of Etron Fou Leloublan.

Le sue composizioni per il teatro e il cinema verranno raccolte in due album doppi, Technology Of Tears (Rec Rec, 1988 - ReR, 2008) e Step Across The Border (Rec Rec, 1991), e poi su The Top Of His Head (Crammed, 1990) e Helter Skelter (RecRec, 1993). La tumultuosa attivita' della maturita' non esibisce purtroppo lo stesso livello di qualita' del decennio precedente.

Piu` importante semmai la conversione alla "composizione" (in senso classico), avvenuta nel 1988 con Long On Logic per il Rova Saxophone Quartet e con Disinformation Polka per Guy Klucsevek.

Allies (RecDec, 1996) collects music for ballets (featuring Joey Baron, George Cartwright and Tom Cora), while Middle of the Moment (RecRec, 1995) and Eye to Ear (Tzadik, 1997) and Eye to Ear II (Tzadik, 2004) collect more music for film.

The list of collaborations is endless: Death Ambient (Tzadik, 1995), with Kato Hideki (bass) and Ikue Mori (drums), a project continued on Synaesthesia (Tzadik, 1999) and Drunken Forest (Tzadik, 2007); Art of Memory (Incus, 1995), with John Zorn, Art of Memory II (ReR, 2008) that collects unreleased sessions with John Zorn from 1983 and 1985 (the usual cacophonous and childish folly of pseudio-musical events, from anarchic/humorous dadaistic noise to harrowing expressionistic noise, culminating with a shameless drunken march). Improvisations (Transes Europeennes, 1997), with percussionist Jean-Pierre Drouet, Reel (Rectangle, 1997), with guitarist Noel Akchote, Etymology (Rarefaction, 1997), with cellist Tom Cora (95 very short pieces), Meridien (Maso, 1998), with Percy Howard, Charles Hayward and Bill Laswell, Dearness (august 1998) with Anne Bourne and John Oswald, etc.

Quartets (december 1992 - RecRec, 1994) contains the String Quartet #, which is, naturally, performed by a string quartet, and The As Usual Dance Towards The Other Flight To What Is Not, which is performed by a guitar quartet.

Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Sub Rosa, 1994), an album split with guitarist Marc Ribot, contains two Frith compositions: Solo Acoustic Guitar and Second Nature,

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

Allies (RecDec, 1996) raccoglie musica per balletti (con Joey Baron, George Cartwright e Tom Cora), mentre Middle of the Moment (RecRec, 1995) e Eye to Ear (Tzadik, 1997) raccoglie altra musica per film.

la lista delle collaborazioni è infinita: Death Ambient (Tzadik, 1995), con Kato Hideki (basso) e Ikue Mori (batteria). Art of Memory (Incus, 1995), con John Zorn, Improvisations (Transes Europeennes, 1997), con il percussionista Jean-Pierre Drouet, Reel (Rectangle, 1997), con il chitarrista Noel Akchote, Etymology (Rarefaction, 1997), con il violoncellista Tom Cora (95 pezzi cortissimi), Meridien (Maso, 1998), con Percy Howard, Charles Hayward e Bill Laswell, etc.

Quartets (1993) contiene String Quartet #, che è, naturalmente, suonato da un quartetto d'archi, e The As Usual Dance Towards The Other Flight To What Is Not, che è suonato da una quadriglia di chitarre.

Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Sub Rosa, 1994), un album a metà col chitarrista Marc Ribot, contiene due composizioni di Frith: Solo Acoustic Guitar e Second Nature,

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Con The Previous Evening (june 1996 - ReR, 1998) Frith si concede un concerto per piccolo ensemble, strutturato in tre movimenti corrispondenti ad altrettanti tributi ad altrettanti guru dell'avanguardia americana (Cage, Feldman e Brown). I movimenti sono stati composti e registrati fra il 1993 e il 1996. La prima parte e` colma di eventi sonori miscelati con aculato ingegno e fa pensare a un balletto piu` che a un concerto. Il sottofondo e` popolato di rumori spiccioli, di onde elettroniche e di urla da muezzin, mentre in primo piano si alternano assoli abulici di clarinetto e baccanali di percussioni. Per lunghe fasi non esiste altro che lo sfondo. Il secondo movimento e` dominato dagli accordi sparuti e deprimenti del pianoforte, che sembrano ispirati piu` a Webern che a Feldman o Cage. Il clarinetto si limita a fungere da flebile eco del pianoforte. Il terzo movimento continua su quella falsariga, con appena un po' di brio in piu`, e ruba qualche nota a una sonata di Schumann e alla Gran Partita di Mozart. Frith non ha pero` la statura del compositore classico e talvolta lo spartito pecca semplicemente di infantilismo.
By the mid 1990s, Frith had perfected his musical art, a collage-style juxtaposition of improvised jams and cells of composed music, and he was merely re-enacting the same idea in different contexts.

The Fred Frith Guitar Quartet is Frith, Rene Lussier, Mark Stewart and Dr Nerve's Nick Didkovsky. Ayaya Moses (november 1996 - Ambiances Magnetiques, 1997) is a cauldron of guitar sounds that rarely coalesce in organic structures, but at least Lussier's title-track manages to create some dynamic drama.
Assorted unreleased tracks of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet surfaced on Upbeat (november 1997 - Ambiances Magnetiques, 1999).

Pacifica (Tzadik, 1998) is a 46-minute symphony performed by a large orchestra.

Stone Brick Glass Wood Wire (Dischi di Angelica, 1999) collects music created for art and music events between 1986 and 1996.

A new trio, this time with contrabassist Marc Dresser and percussionist Ikue Mori, recorded Later (Victo, 2000), and another trio (with Louis Sclavis and Jean-Pierre Drouet) recorded I Dream Of You Jumping (may 2000 - Victo, 2001), which mainly contains the 48-minute There Are Great Stories.

Traffic Continues (december 1998 - Winter & Winter, 2000) contains two pieces. The title-track is a neoclassical-sounding composition that features the Ensemble Modern. The second composition, Gusto, is a revision of Tom Cora music performed by Frith, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins and the Ensemble Modern.

Maybe Monday is a trio formed with Miya Masaoka on koto and electronics and with saxophonist Larry Ochs of the Rova Saxophone Quartet. Saturn's Finger (july 1998 - Buzz, 1999) contains three lengthy improvisations, that are mostly ambient and exotic, although one can sense the "industrial" tension underneath: the 33-minute title-track, the 18-minute Helix and the 13-minute Beyond The Hard Darkned.

Maybe Monday has become a quartet on Digital Wildlife (may 2001 - Winter & Winter, 2002), as Frith, Ochs and Masaoka are joined by cellist Joan Jeanrenaud.

Two Gentlemen In Verona (Re, 2000) is a live album with Cutler (unusually melodic and well structured music).

Fred Frith returned to solo guitar improvisations with Clearing (july 2000 - Tzadik, 2001).

Accidental (Rer, 2001) contains brief solos recorded in 1995, entirely composed and played by Frith.

Freedom In Fragments (january 2000 - Tzadik, 2002), an unusually frantic and neurotic suite (15 brief pieces and the 10-minute T Square Park Lark), was written for and performed by the Rosa Saxophone Quartet.

Prints (ReR, 2003) collects compilation tracks.

Rivers And Tides (july 2002 - Winter & Winter, 2003) is the soundtrack to a documentary on artist Andy Goldsworthy, and one of Frith's most accessible, melodic, quiet and soothing works.

The double-disc anthology That House We Lived In (ReR, 2003) documents Keep The Dog, a supergroup assembled by Frith during the 1990s and featuring Jean Derome (saxes, flute), This Heat's Charles Hayward (drums), Rene` Lussier (guitar, bass), Bob Ostertag (sampling) and Zeena Parkins (accordion, harp, keyboards).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

A partire dalla seconda metà degli anni '90, Frith ha perfezionato la sua arte musicale, una giustapposizione collagistica di jam improvvisate e schegge di musica composta; peccato che Frith si limiti a ripetere le stesse idee in contesti differenti.

Il Fred Frith Guitar Quartet è composto da Frith, Rene Lussier, Mark Stewart e Nick Didkovsky dei Dr Nerve. Ayaya Moses (Ambiances Magnetiques, 1997) è un claderone di suoni chitarristici che raramente si coagulano in una struttura organica, ma almeno la title-track, firmata a Lussier, riesce a creare qualche dramma dinamico.
Altri pezzi inediti del Fred Frith Guitar Quartet si trovano su Upbeat (Ambiances Magnetiques, 1999).

Pacifica (Tzadik, 1998) è una sinfonia di 46 minuti suonata da un'ampia orchestra.

Stone Brick Glass Wood Wire (Dischi di Angelica, 1999) raccoglie musica creata per eventi artistic tra il 1986 e il 1996.

Un nuovo trio, questa volta col contrabassista Marc Dresser e il percussionista Ikue Mori, registra Later (Victo, 2000), e un altro ancora (con Louis Sclavis e Jean-Pierre Drouet) registra I Dream Of You Jumping (Victo, 2001), che contiene il brano di 48 minuti There Are Great Stories.

Traffic Continues (Winter & Winter, 2000) contiene due pezzi. La title-track è una composizione quasi classica con l'aiuto dell'Ensemble Modern. La seconda è una rivisitazione della musica di Tom Cora, suonata da Frith, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins l'Ensemble Modern.

Maybe Monday è un trio formato con Miya Masaoka al koto e electronics e col sassofonista Larry Ochs del Rova Saxophone Quartet. Saturn's Finger (Buzz, 1999) contiene tre lunghe improvvisazioni, che sono per lo più ambient e esotiche, sebbene si possa avvertire la sottostante tensione "industriale": nei 33 minuti della title-track, i 18 minuti di Helix e nei 13 minuti di Beyond The Hard Darkned.

I Maybe Monday diventano un quartetto su Digital Wildlife (Winter & Winter, 2002), dato che a Frith, Ochs e Masaoka si unisce Joan Jeanrenaud al violoncello.

Two Gentlemen In Verona (Re, 2000) è un album live con Cutler (stranamente di musica melodica e ben strutturata).

Fred Frith ritorna all'improvvisazione chitarristica con Clearing (Tzadik, 2001).

Accidental (Rer, 2001) contiene brevi assolo registrati nel 1995, tutti composti e suonati da Frith.

Freedom In Fragments (Tzadik, 2002), una inusuale suite frenetica e nevrotica (15 brevi pezi più i 10 minuti di T Square Park Lark), è stata scritta per e suonata dal Rosa Saxophone Quartet.

Prints (ReR, 2003) è una raccolta.

Rivers And Tides (Winter & Winter, 2003) è una colonna sonora per un documentario sull'artista Andy Goldsworthy, anche uno dei lavori di Frith più accessibili, melodici, quieti e diretti.

La doppia antologia That House We Lived In (ReR, 2003) documenta i Keep The Dog, un supergruppo asse,blato da Frith durante gli anni '90 con Jean Derome (sassofoni e flauto), Charles Hayward dei This Heat (batteria), René Lussier (chitarra e basso), Bob Ostertag (sampling) e Zeena Parkins (accordion, arpa, tastiere).

The double CD Eleventh Hour (Winter & Winter, 2005) compiles various composition for strings: the thirty-minute nine-movement String Quartet #1 Lelekovice (1991), which is also the most traditional in structure, Tense Serenity (1997) for string trio and trombone, a highly dynamic piece, Allegory and Fell for electric guitar and string quartet, and the minimalist Stick Figures for multi-tracked electric guitars.

The Happy End Problem (ReR, 2006) consists of two 2003 dance pieces for bass, guitar, cello, clarinet, gu zheng, percussion, violin (Carla Kihlstedt), electronics (Patrice Scanlon) and laptop (Frith himself): Imitations and The Happy End Problem . The concept of Imitations is of a series of nine variations (or, better, "imitations) of the shakuhachi. notably the second one, an agonizing elegy driven by the violin. The Happy End Problem is a 21-minute suite that reportedly incorporates snippets of Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. It starts out somewhat pastoral but then plunges into a nightmare of low drones and sounds of the forest and dissonant piano. This pensive mood is underlined by church bells and squealing violin. A stubborn orchestral pattern takes off, interrupted by cacophonous interplay. The ending is another menacing set of drectionless drones.

The 56-minute suite Impur (may 1996 - ReR, 2006) for "100 musicians, large building and mobile audience" (literally performed and improvised by 100 musicians in a large building for an audience that was encouraged to wonder around) opens with all the instruments engaged in producing an anguished drone, almost a cosmic "om", but then plunges into a chaotic Afro-tribal jam scoured by dissonant instruments. As the landscape empties, their agonizing "notes" engage in animal-like dialogues. Melodic fragments emerge and compete for attention. A sequence of orchestral staccatos resurrects the African percussion with renewed emphasis and the elongated melody of a saxophone. Absolute chaos reigns for the last 15 minutes, despite attempts to create an orchestral harmony. Impur Part II (may 1996 - ReR, 2009) documented the second part of the composition, that was performed under different circumstances. The music runs the gamut from confused fanfares to hysterical collective repetitions to suspenseful exotic passages to theatrical interactions between voices and instruments.

Back to Life (Tzadik, 2008) collects more chamber music by Frith performed by other musicians.

Maybe Monday's Unsquare (Intakt, 2008) is an experiment in which the three musicians (Frith, Masaoka, Ochs) improvised in separate rooms.

Frith collaborated with Evelyn Glennie on the soundtrack Touch the Sound (2003) and its leftovers The Sugar Factory (2008).

What Leave Behind (S.K., 2005) was a concerto for electric guitar and toy orchestra.

Frith collaborated with a saxophone quartet for Still Urban (2009) and The Big Picture (2009), both recorded in january 2008.

Nowhere/ Sideshow/ Thin Air (ReR, 2009) collects three theater pieces: the eight-movement Nowhere (premiered in november 2000) for Carla Kihlstedt on violin and Frith on guitar, keyboards, bass, percussion, computer and voice, a work of intense iteration and dramatic tension; the eight-movement Sideshow (premiered in february 2002) for Kihlstedt on violin, Fred Giuliani on samples, and Frith on computer and various instruments, whose strength lies with the jagged and disjointed violin solos; and the six-movement Thin Air (premiered in october 2007) for violin, cello and Frith on computer and instruments, that opens with an eerie counterpoint of piano, guitar and violin (first movement) and contains a surreal syncopated guitar dance (fourth movement).

Fred Frith formed Cosa Brava with Carla Kihlstedt (violin, nyckelharpa, bass harmonica and vocals), Zeena Parkins (accordion, keyboards, foley objects and vocals) and Matthias Bossi (drums, percussion, sruti box and vocals). Casa Brava debuted with Ragged Atlas (december 2008).

Eye To Ear III (2010) collects soundtracks dating back to 2003 and 2004.

Clearing Customs (Intakt, 2011), recorded in november and december 2007, documents improvised music for septet: Anantha Krishnan Mridangam (tablas), Wu Fei on guzheng, Marque Gilmore (drums and electronics), Tilman Müller (trumpet), and duo Patrice Scanlon/Daniela Cattivelli on electronics.

Long As In Short, Walk As In Run (Ninth World, 2011 - november 2010) was a collaboration between electric guitarist Fred Frith and pianist Annie Lewandowski.

Cosa Brava's The Letter (recorded between june 2010 and august 2011) features Carla Kihlstedt (violin, bass harmonica, voice), Zeena Parkins (accordion, keyboards, foley objects, voice), Shahzad Ismaily (bass, voice), Matthias Bossi (drums, percussion, mayhem, voice) and William Winant (concert bass drum).

The MMM Quartet, featuring Joëlle Leandre (double bass), Fred Frith (guitar), Alvin Curran (electronics and piano) and Urs Leimgruber (soprano and tenor saxes) is documented on Live At The Metz' Arsenal (november 2009).

Live at Cafe OTO (july 2012) documents a live jam between Fred Frith (guitar and piano) and Christian Marclay (records and turntables).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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