Free Improv for Robots
Jim Black, guitar, electronics Ben Wilson, drum machine, electronics Jess Conn-Potegal, turntables, keys, electronics Three individuals from different musical backgrounds, each with his own unique vision, meet at an Otomo Yoshihide/Ruins concert and the resultant collision becomes Broken Record Chamber. BRC ploughs a new sound field, through which meanders various sonic life forms, not excluding the patrons of the Epic hole-in-the-wall, The Sugar Refinery, where much of this was recorded. Imagine, if you can, a garage band version of Otomo chucking a used record store down the stairs. Broken Record Chamber was inaugurated in September 1998, barely moments after the smoke and debris were cleared in the wake of a momentous double bill featuring Otomo Yoshihide, Martin Tetrault and Ruins. Since that time Broken Record Chamber have participated in the Taking Wing Improvised Music Series, and have performed live over the air waves from the studios of Vancouver's cooperative radio station (CFRO). They have also been prominently featured on CBC Radio's 'Brave New Waves.' Like true grandchildren of McLuhan, BRC are at home in the global village, where instant access to all things electric is the norm. Drawing from acid jazz funk to pop rock, from punk to ambient electronic to improvisation, and from large ensemble jazz to 20th century classical, the diverse and combined talents of Jim Black, Jess Conn-Potegal and Ben Wilson have coalesced into a categorical no-man's land: an urban/environmental, signal-to-noise, DIY improv-ambient adventure kit. What the critics are saying; ... these animated improvisations have a vitality that is often excluded by the term 'sound art.' Four live tracks, including the 19 minute 'French Reggae Strangulation', reveal how the trio's fractious constructions and prickly textures thrive in concert performance. Julian Cowley, The Wire This is the sound of the world coming undone, it's frayed fabrics sizzling on a griddle of electrical noise; the sound of a postneutron future in which the streets are empty but the machines play on. Eerily dark and compelling, Free Improv for Robots conjures up the kind of drugged lassitude in which the scrape of the needle scratching over and over in the runoff groove is too perfect to shut off. Alex Varty, The Georgia Straight ... they are harbingers of the new future of improvised music, one in which the boundaries between different genres and schools of music crumble and become meaningless. Steve MacIssac, Offbeat Are you looking for something really weird? The BROKEN RECORD CHAMBER blends turntables, guitar and electronics and shapes it into something unclassifiable. Somewhere between the discharges of Ground Zero and the soundtracks of Atari 2600 video games, Jess Conn-Potegal, Jim Black and Ben Wilson create sound sculptures that can be both striking at times and pitiful at others. The last few tracks are live recordings and the sound quality suffers, especially on 'French Reggae Strangulation', where the crowd become very noisy. Still a nice record and something to discover. François Couture, Réalisateur de Délire Musical et Délire Actuel. Tracks 1- 6 recorded at Q-Space. Tracks 7-11 recorded live at The Sugar Refinery, Vancouver BC, 1998. Jim Black Aside from Broken Record Chamber, the eclectic, electric Jim Black has been involved in various solo guitar projects, an acid jazz funk band called Gospel Space Juice, a pop rock group, Satsuma, and a free(-improv) country band! (The final frontier?) Previously, he was in the Feebs, a punk / ska band playing originals and covers, and in Joy Buzzer (punk, progressive with horns). Jim is now living in the U.K. Ben Wilson Ben Wilson has been playing clarinet for more than half his life. You can hear his clarinet playing with the Meathook Ensemble (compositions with free improvisation), and Ensemble Symposium, a small ensemble performing 20th century classical and original compositions. He also employs drum machines and electronics with the harsh noise/ ambient electronic onslaught called Hospital, and Agenbite, a large and wild new jazz/contemporary ensemble. For good measure, he has played with 'Bloody Offal', 60's rock with progressive elements. Jess Conn-Potegal Aside from Broken Record Chamber, Jess Conn-Potegal's drumming talents spill over into 'Q', a live house/ drum n' bass/ improv outfit, and Immaculate Misconception, which delves into spoken word, soundscapes, improvisation and composition. He also lends his turntables to the ambient sounds of Kinetic Step.