Pressestimmen Tenderness of Stones / Zärtlichkeit der Steine
Presse / by Henry Lauer
Heathen Harvest: Music reviews Joachim Gies & Lauren Newton – Tenderness of Stones Monday, June 15 2009 @ 02:00 AM PDT This avante garde jazz release – forged by two long-established names of the genre – is an exercise in multi-layering, refraction, intimacy and distance. The framework of the album is Michael Speier’s poem Wasser Und Licht – which in four different translations (three in English, one in Japanese) furnishes the lyrics for the release – yet without ever being presented in its original form, a shadow once removed, a Platonic Form to the album itself. The Japanese version is performed by its translation, Koho Mori. The music is assembled around three axes – Gies sometimes idiosyncratic horn playing duels, dances, conspires with, caresses and makes love with Newton’s astoundingly vast range of vocal techniques, tonalities, timbres and emotional valencies. The third axis is the textural electronics that provides a sketchy bedrock for most of the tracks, without ever overwhelming the primary performers. Percussive elements (which may have been electronically generated) round out the sound palette. The range of this music presented is incredible. Gies and Newton are able to be gentle and atmospheric (at times both performers create an intimacy that hearing makes one feel almost naked); yet they are also able to entire into incredibly technical flurries of notes, wild chaotic sprees which nevertheless retain an arc spirit of self-control. At other points the music becomes dark and music, the sax treated to become like a low-set reptilian dancer; Newton’s voice ranges from the lofty clouds of jazz scat virtuosity down into luxurious throat-singing, frenetic scatting and inhuman whispering and hissing. She even seems to have invented what could only be called “noise beatboxing”! In general what captivates is the performers’ ability to traverse so many moods and atmospheres. They make themselves more than fit vessels for the creative spark that seeks to burst from this album’s seams. Speier’s poem, a kind of animistic meditation on the fleeting yet eternal beauty of the moment in nature, is combined and recombined throughout the album to create a kind of perennial avatar which emerged, dissolves and recombines again and again, sparking off radically different performances throughout this process. Gies and Newton hold the fragility of the moment with a tender and sure strength. You can hear an instinctive and unspoken connection between them, a shared capacity to submit to the beautiful discipline of expression that they courted with this release. In transmuting Speier’s words both lyrically and musically they succeed in opening the listener into a direct experience of how many seeds and riches there are lurking in every word we speak or thought we entertain. This release is a kind of celebration (and revelation) of the sacred that eternally conceals itself – in plain view – before our all-too-human awareness. Musically sophisticated and philosophically profound.
Presse / by Simon Adams
“Tenderness of Stones” is a phrase that occurs in an eight-line poem in German – “Wasser und Licht” by Michael Speier. That poem is never actually heard here in its original form, but only in four different translations by four different writers: three in English, including one by Lauren Newton herself, and one in Japanese, by Koho Mori. With the source removed, we are left with only translation. Now Robert Frost said that “poetry is what lost in translation”, while for Jeseph Brodsky, “poetry is what is gained in translation”. Language thus becomes fluid and unstable in these terms, an uncertainly reflected in both the part-sung, part vocal, intermittent delivery of Newton herself and the fragmentary sounds that accompany her. The basic solo saxophones of Gies are sometimes prepared or treated, while added electronics and sampling in four tracks, as well as found radio sounds – ethereal hiss rather than vocal or musical – add further elements of sonic contrast. Now this may all sound very rarefied and remote. But the image of tender stones – perhaps washed clean by water or eroded into rounded shapes by wind or tide – is an evocative one suggestive of an empty beach or harsh moorland. In such places, stones and pebbles can provide shelter, perhaps comfort, or be used to guide the way or mark a side. Stones are in themselves inanimate, yet can gain human attributes through interaction with both the elements and the human eye. That linkage of distinct entities is reflected in the partnership between these two musicians, whose sensitive response to each other throughout this set becomes strangely, and unexpectedly, moving.
Presse / by Piercarlo Poggio
ALTRISUONI Lauren Newton è l’oracolo e la profetessa di un lavoro dai tratti spiccatamente intellettualistici, a partire dall’ossimoro del titolo. Gies offre in sacrificio i suoi sassofoni trattati e un linguaggio puntillista, mimetico, privo non solo di frasi fatte ma anche di un benché minima apertura alla comunicazione diretta. Ogni suono necessita di essere analizzato al microscopio prima dell’assimilazione e alla lunga l’operazione diventa faticosa.
Presse / „Progressive“ Reviews of expanded Jazz
The strength of this album is that it holds the perfect middle between extremely conscious micro-tonal sound exploration, improvisation and composition, freedom and abstract sound versus structure and composition, words and sounds, with a natural feeling of inspiration with a strong relation between all these mentioned aspects. This is not just free music to explore or to keep balance between breaking apart and synthesis, but is constantly building up, developing as well as concluding, constructive and creative in all its details. It is immense the range used of the instrument, the bodily consciousness over the sax, to produce its sounds, which differ from sounds on the edge of breathing into it, sorts of rhythmic breathings in it, talking with it, breaths as if the sax is a pipe/ pump, tapping breaths sounds and so on, to melodic touches, always used with subtlety and at the right moments. Also the range of Lauren’s voice is huge, from poetry reciting, breathing and throat-singing capacities; I even heard her singing with double voice with perfect overtone harmonies to the sax sounds, communicative to the compositions and words, (three poems of Michael Speier were used by her) as well as being conscious of the sound buildings. To this, the sounds have been enriched with improvisations by Michael Walz on electronics and sampling, with soft dusty noise, ticking and motor-like, or radio-wave like, nice in harmony with the development of the compositions. This mature album is much more than free music, deserves to be heard and could eventually widen people’s scope of tastes.
Presse / The Wire, Jazz & Impro by Brian Morton
Joachim Gies & Lauren Newton “Tenderness of Stones“ is a work that asks searching questions – typical of both vocalist Lauren Newton and saxophonist Joachim Gies – about the relation of text to sound and what happens between the words. An eight line poem by Michael Speier, never heard in its original, is performed in four different translations (three in English, including Lauren Newton’s own, one in Japanese), stretching the improvisatory skills of both players. It’s a work that manages to be both intimate and suggest grand scale. Only two tracks are straight voice/saxophone duos, with all the rest involving sampled radio noise and guest contributions from Michael Walz and Koho Mori, who also supplied the Japanese translation. Newton at her magnificent best; Gies subtle and endlessly pro/evocative.
Presse / by François Couture
Experimental vocalist Lauren Newton is equally at ease with or without lyrics, but sax player Joachim Gies usually prefers to develop projects around words, whenever voice is involved (see his Not Missing Drums Project’s “Urban Voices” and “The Gay Avantgarde”. Therefore, for this (mainly) duo collaboration, the pair worked from a poem by German poet Michael Speier, but the original is never actually heard. Instead, Newton performs three different English translations (by herself, Rosmarie Waldrop and Richard Dove) and Japanese translator Koho Mori delivers the final reading. These performances are interspersed with wordless sax/voice duets and a few trios with mixing engineer Michael Walz on electronics and sampling. Even the duet tracks feature the crackle of radio signals, so the music is rarely purely acoustic. Gies and Newton have worked together before in larger projects and their chemistry is well established, as can be heard in “What Happens Between the Words” and “Fiery”. If Gies’ musical vocabulary appears a little bit limited here – he resorts mostly to sustained quiet notes and long low tremolos – Newton’s is as fascinatingly wide as ever: laments, shouts, psalmody, ululations, and so much more. It would not be fair to say that she carries the whole album, but she is surely responsible for its unique character. However, despite diverse settings (with/without lyrics, with/without Walz), the album sounds a bit too homogeneous to sustain the listener’s interest for a whole hour. Yet, it remains a strong opus, very well thought out and assembled, if somewhat clinical in its design.
Presse / Jazzpodium 06/2007, Volker Doberstein
Eine CD, der zu lauschen ein eröffnendes Erlebnis ist. … Dafür steht seit vielen Jahren auch die Arbeit von Lauren Newton. Auf „Tenderness of Stones“ verbindet das Duo Joachim Gies / Lauren Newton Gesang, Saxofon und Elektronik derart gekonnt, dass auch hier eine Kunstsprache entsteht. Diese führt uns, bisweilen verstörend in ihrer Intensität, durch artistische Überhöhung, woran die kryptischen, häufig auf Chiffren reduzierten Lyrics keinen geringen Anteil haben, zu einem neuen Naturverständnis und –erleben. Exzellent.
Presse / Jazzwise July 2007 by Selwyn Harris
Delicately slow moving atonal improve set from vocalist Lauren Newton and Evan Parker-like saxophonist/electronics experimentalist Joachim Gies with intriguing results.