Nilan Perera - altered electric guitar and effects
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CD I Smash and Teeny CD II Smash and Teeny with John Butcher, “Kaladar Kodex” video
Gathering brings together the most exceptional music and video art of Toronto duo Smash and Teeny, created live in performance, studio and site-specific outdoor locations in Canada, the U.S. and England between 2001-2003. In this double-CD debut of Smash and Teeny, featuring special guest John Butcher, prepared electric guitar, manipulated natural and urban sounds, de-tuned shô and soprano and tenor saxophones conspire and collide, weaving impossibly beautiful improvised sonic landscapes. A stunning blend of saxophone science meets a universe of crafted sampled environments and ancient reed cries, all blended with guitar that has been lovingly altered to resemble massed percussion and string ensembles. Kaladar Kodex (video) features the sonic inspired calligraphy of Chung Gong Ha set to an improvised musical score by the Toronto-based mixed media trio, Cinnamon Sphere (Peebles, Perera and Gong). Juxtaposing real-time with the non-linear, "Kaladar Kodex" provides a layered psychological perspective of the act of spontaneous creation: two musicians and a calligrapher come together in a rural field where they explore their musical, artistic, physical and spiritual connection to the elements and to the historical far m surrounding them. Peebles reconstructs their performance and the myriad of views recorded by herself and Perera, with an eye towards the textures of plants, creatures and ink, musical gesture, and non-linear, experimental form. This is a tableau of improvisation in the moment ‹ an autumn afternoon as the storm approaches beyond the barn.
What the critics are saying:
"Smash and Teeny are Nilan Perera and Sarah Peebles, a duo of Toronto-based sound artists who achieve their impressive and intriguing results through spontaneous performances, Perera on his prepared electric guitar, which he runs through various effects, and Peebles through her laptop and de-tuned sho, or Japanese mouth organ. Gathering is a mesmerising double-disc retrospective that encompasses various performances and studio recordings from throughout the past six years they’ve worked together. Like a lot of time-based sound art, Smash and Teeny place heavy emphasis on letting their spatial arrangements slowly and naturally unfold and intertwine, but there’s a throbbing inner tension within the pieces presented here that holds the listener’s interest. “Ox Tendon Enigma” is especially intense with its layers of tightly wound guitar loops and the opening pair of “Looking Glass” and “Stridulation Nation” recall the busily close-knit buzzing of the bees portrayed on this collection’s cover. The real standout here, though, is the 26-minute “Hummingbird Midnight,” which features the UK’s renowned experimental saxophonist John Butcher and pushes the performers tense interplay from well beyond the brink of comfort into strangely soothing corridors where double-locked doors unexpectedly open and lure the listener over foreboding thresholds."
—Kevin Hainey, Exclaim
"The music is startling, always absorbing. The mixing of environmental and electronic sound is really potent."
—Brent Clough, ABC Radio National
"UK sax explorer John Butcher seems to be everywhere, playing with a wide variety of fine improvisers from different scenes, from Derek Bailey to Chris Burn to Georg Grawe to Phil Durrant to Phil Minton, as well as his great solo sax performances. We know of electronics composer and musician Sarah Peebles from the few releases she has ('Suspended in Amber' & 'Insect Groove'), but can't say that I am familiar with guitarist Nilan Perera before this. Nilan and Sarah set the scene with intricate, eerie and subtle textures, insect-like electronics and suspenseful electric guitar drones shimmer and slowly mutate. It sounds as if Sarah has sampled some metallic percussion as well as other more mysterious sounds. Sarah's mesmerizing/unnerving insect sounds have a way of getting under one's skin, perhaps she should be doing soundtrack work for some science fiction films. On CD-II, John Butcher's chattering sax fits perfectly weaving notes around the duo's darkly enchanting pulsations. The DVD [ed. enhanced CD] captures the duo playing live outside with Nilan bowing his guitar-on-lap as Sarah also creates her own electronic soundscapes on her computer. Chung Gong works on a few larges canvases doing calligraphy, painting with a large brush made from (human?) hair. It is odd to see these folks creating these somber, yet strange, alien sonic sounds outdoors, barefoot with insects and frogs around them, yet it works quite well. The video portion is about 10 minutes, just long enough to entice us with these unique images. The trio seems to stretch out time as the sounds often drift through space and the pace feels like it has been slowed down. The final piece has some fine noisy guitar, Evan Parker-like tenor sax waves and eerie electronics surrounding. A perfect place to bring our journey to an appropriate close."
—BLG (Downtown Music Gallery newsletter, NYC)