Dylan van der Schyff
Pieces of Time
François Houle, clarinet
Dylan van der Schyff, drums
As the long, appreciative applause at the end suggests, you should have been there. Still, Pieces of Time captures a glimpse of what was a momentous meeting on an auspicious night. Five brilliant improvisations recorded live at the Western Front in Vancouver. Kang, Houle and van der Schyff forge a radical statement here. In no known camp, but an ear (6 of them) for all things subtle, and fine attention to nuance, shade and grain make audible a microcosmic, subterranean world. A new kind of tree perhaps, but one with deep roots.
What the critics are saying;
… In abandoning orthodox notions of virtuosity, these three virtuosos seem to have discovered a kind of post-apocalyptic sound world in which only fragments of the great traditions remain; atomized snippets of European and Asian classical music rub up against air raid-siren imitations, spastic Andean dance tunes, and the dismembered corpse of jazz. (There's also a wild passage of Hendrix-style "feed-back" played on unamplified clarinet and violin.)
Clarinettist Houle and drummer van der Schyff continue to astound me with their pursuit of limitless exploration. Violinist Kang is a string-plucking gift. Their new album, Pieces of Time, showcases them at their improvisational finest.
On Pieces of Time's five improvisations, Chinese folk themes collide with pointillistic splatter and pensive melodies snake through textural soundscrapes; everything is glued together by the attention that the trio's members pay to keeping their energy focused and their extrapolations coherent. If you're looking for a record to explain the appeal of free improvised music to a set of virgin ears, you could do far worse than to start them off with this. Grizzled old-timers will like it too.
The most exciting part of free improv is its unpredictable character. [It] can become a quasi-mystic experience or a disaster. It depends on the musicians' talent, of course, but also of their particular frame of mind that night, their physical shape, their compatibilities, the crowd's reactions, etc. On Pieces of Time, the listener is treated to an exemplary and magical performance ... The thunderous applause at the end of the CD clearly expresses what happened on stage.
Three of Canada's finest improvisers met not quite two years ago for one night at Vancouver's Western Front. Violinist Eyvind Kang took the early initiative that evening, drawing clarinetist Francois Houle and drummer Dylan van der Schyffaway from the usual abstraction of free improvisation toward something recognizably World Beat-ish in its references to folk cultures East and West. The effect over four pieces is enticing, bringing form and melody to what can often be an amorphous and amelodic activity.
Produced by Dylan van der Schyff.
Recorded by Shawn Pierce for Maximum Music Ltd. at the Western Front, Vancouver BC, on November 28th, 1997.