free improvisation



“Three excellent, recent-ish releases from Inexhaustible Editions made there way to my abode last week. Annette Krebs / Jean-Luc Guionnet – Point Sèche. A spacious, imaginative duo from 2018 with Krebs at her Konstruktion #4 (an amalgamation of various items) and Guionnet on church organ. The latter used in extreme fashion, but not loudly or garishly, rather with subtle, smoky attenuations weaving among the welter of sounds generated by Krebs, very enveloping – some of my favorite work from either musicians in a while. Gerard Lebik / Noid – Psephite. A wide-ranging 2013 date with Lebik on sound objects and Noid on cello. Either player moving through steady-state forms, traditional playing and rambunctious, sharp-angled work. Disorienting and absorbing; good work, always surprising. Antoine Beuger – Dedekind Duos. Performed by Carl Ludwig Hübsch (on tuba) and Pierre-Yves Martel (on viola da gamba). A fuller-sounding piece than much of Antoine’s work, this pair also takes things more aggressively than typically heard in a Wandelweiser performance, the tuba robust and deep, the viola da gamba forthrightly grainy and richly complex. Interesting to hear this approach and I find the result intriguing and often exciting. All three well worth hearing.” / Brian Olewnick, Facebook, 5 September 2020

“What is a note, if not a sound deprived of its phenomenal freedom? This assumption seems to have guided the entire history of ‘spontaneous music’, originated from the radical improvisation practices introduced in the sixties: an anti-academic approach which, thanks to the enthusiasm of its pioneers, first manifested itself in thunderous forms to then follow, a few decades later, the path of reduction, meaning a renewed attentiveness to the ‘musical’ dignity intrinsic to sound matter in its most elementary forms, revealed in its less evident qualities. So we re-enter the domain of oblique expression and instant composition, made with known instruments played as if they were manual work tools, and vice versa. Gerard Lebik and Arnold Haberl (aka Noid) put one’s sound objects and the other’s cello on the same level, proceeding with Psephite to coin a common (non)musical language from scratch.

The notes executed in the classical sense are, in fact, relatively few: even if among Noid’s extended techniques sometimes arise recognizable tonalities, their rendition is uncertain, flimsy, dissonant (Basalt Pebbles) or just grotesquely decontextualized, like a foreign sound body (Basalt Bloc). A deliberate expressive renouncement that tends to go along with the electroacoustic inputs arranged by Lebik, who with its elaborate microphone systems seemingly gives voice to the latest energies contained in the discarded items of an industrial landfill: pulsations, intermittent clicks and feedbacks, mechanical buttons without response, ultrasonic frequencies that cut the stereo channels horizontally. Lastly there’s a third hidden element: the surrounding space, the almost imperceptible rumble of the walls refracting the inscrutable dialogue of the performers, while also amplifying their silences within an invisible frame, yet clearly discernible from the emptiness that follows the album’s playback.

Without asking questions nor offering answers, with the utmost seriousness the duo takes part in a post-apocalyptic concert for an unknown audience, more likely formed by inert objects rather than sentient beings: but the sense of absolute extraneousness to their hybrid phonetics ends up increasing one’s will to observe their relational practice and understand its elusive logic. Seven years separate the recording and the release of these studio sessions in Wrocław – under the imprint of László Juhász’s increasingly noteworthy Inexhaustible Editions – but the discreet aura of the gestures performed in the unrepeatable ‘here and now’ that they document extends to our present and renews itself in all its hermetic otherness.” / Michele Palozzo, Esoteros, 26 July 2020


“The third duo is Gerard Lebik on sound objects and Noid on cello. I don’t think I had heard of Noid before; Lebik was part of VeNN Circles and worked with David Maranha. The music on this disc, four pieces spanning some fifty minutes was already recorded in 2013, but for whatever reason, it took some time before it was released. If the two releases by Inexhaustible Editions contained difficult music, then this is the next level. Quite a bit in these four pieces deals with silence, silent space and short controlled bursts; in those cases, the cello is played with some seemingly uncontrolled violence. It disappears as suddenly as it arrived. Then we feel fall back onto something very quiet, in which the cello becomes an object, moving across the floor, rubbing it. And then there are the mysterious ‘sound objects’ from Lebik, of which I have no idea what they do; sometimes they seem to be very acoustic and stumble around, fall on the floor, but there is an electronic component to these sounds, making loud beeps, feedback moves and such. This is not very easy to access, partly due to the differences in volume, which can be loud or very quiet. As I said, this is some radical music. It might be uneasy music but that doesn’t mean this is not enjoyable. I enjoyed this very much, but it took me some time to discover what I liked about.” / Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, 1 September 2020


“Psephite brings together Polish sax player and sound artist Gerard Lebik, playing here on sound objects, and cellist and sound artist Noid (one of the developers of the ppooll software), playing here only on the cello. This meeting was recorded at BWA Studio Wrocław, Poland in October 2013.

Both Lebik and Noid share a similar interest in our perception of sound waves in time and in space. The four pieces are titled after sediments. All offer minimalist and almost silent, disorienting, and fragmented interactions between the acoustic cello of Noid, sporadically played in a conventional manner and more often as a sound generator with an extended array of bowing techniques, and the unworldly and mundane electronic sounds and noises of Lebik. Psephite is an uncompromising work of abstract sound art, developed patiently with unpredictable courses, and sketching dissonant, desolate, and alienated sonic landscapes, with rare and brief glimpses of musical comfort. Enigmatic and weird but also quite expressive (in its own unsettling interpretation of the concept of expressiveness).” / Eyal Hareuveni, The Free Jazz Collective, 31 January 2021


“On Psephite, we have another duo – the Austrian cellist Noid, and the Polish guy Gerard Lebik who plays his ‘sound objects’ using amplification and a mixing desk. Noid – real name Arnold Haberl – made a real hit with us on the Foreign Correspondents two-disc from Mikroton in 2015, where he not only bowed his cello but also explored the jinghu, plus turned in interesting field recordings captured in the east. These recordings were made in a Polish studio as far back as 2013, and all the pieces have titles which seem to refer to building materials, like ‘basalt pebbles’ and ‘roof slate’, plus there’s a photo of a modern urban sprawl on the front cover served up in no-nonsense black and white. I say this as I think these are hints to the very ‘physical’ nature of this Psephite record, thinking that it might be an attempt to say something about the world through a steady contemplation of facts, even if that process involves gazing at a brick wall.

As such, this one probably sits more in the ‘sound art’ camp than in the genre of free improvisation, and the music tends to bear this out, both players more concerned with generating and exploring unusual sounds than with creating a musical dialogue. Non-specific abstract drones, crackles, creaks and hums abound, and the overall texture seems very hard-edged to me, full of brittle playing and solid shapes, textures as smooth as well-rendered concrete. Another noticeable feature is the sense that there is no direction or movement to the sounds, and rather we’re situated in a site much like a building site, looking around at materials and trying to understand what the environment is. This is not to say that Psephite is boring, quite the opposite; it’s a very careful and detailed study of… something.” / Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 2 March 2020

…sometimes I wonder just how many gifted improvisers known & unknown are there around the world… hundreds? thousands? even more? There seems like an endless supply as more independent label emerge and release so many interesting discs. Take this disc, for instance… strong, careful, minimal, acoustic avant jazz with tenor sax, trumpet, acoustic bass and drums. This could be a quiet section from an Art Ensemble disc or a Henry Cow album or any other acoustic improvisers showing a good deal of restraint. All four members of the quartet are of even ability and temperament. Is that Don Cherry or Nate Wooley or someone new & as yet unknown? There is something very natural and righteous about this music. On the second unnamed track, the sound is still subdued with moments of joyous dreamy groove-like blends. It is actually that calm center that makes this so magical at times. In a blindfold test, you would certainly come up with numerous more famous musicians but you wouldn’t be too far from this does sound like.

(Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery)


The rich and versatile Polish jazz scene has gone through a big transform in interest over the last decade. Due in large part to the resurgence of the great Tomasz Stanko. Over the last few years a number of artists have leaped into the consciousness of jazz fans all across the globe. From Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Mikrokoletyw to RGG Trio, Polish artists are showing us all that great, creative and forward thinking jazz can come from more than just Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, England, U.S. and a few select countries. One such collective is Foton Quartet and their debut, Zomo Hall (Not Two Records). Zomo Hall might sound like a trip into the avant garde for the uninitiated, its actually upon the deeper listening that you will find the detail. There are qualities here that are reminiscent of the more experimental work of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Art Ensemble. But the journey through these six “untitled” tracks is truly fruitful and a superb listen. Artur Majewski (also a member of the duo Mikrokoletyw) and Gerad Lebik combine to bring forth some incredible phrasing and stellar improvising throughout this recording. Track three has a steady meditative tonality with both horns taking different patterns while Cywinski lays down a dreamlike bassline. Majewski later gains a bit of steam midway through but the track never loses its reflective aural sculpture.

Track five brought back memories of listening to Ornette Coleman’s soundtrack for Naked Lunch. It’s a journey through recess of my own mind that I’d rather not experience. A powerful performance from both Lebik and Cywinski, who turns his bass almost into a cello. This is the longest track on the album but its also the deepest and most creative as it takes the listener through a number of different themes all quiet in nature but adventurous in execution. Track six does stretch out with the band demonstrating that it can take the listener to far reaches of thought while still holding your interest (in only two and a half short minutes). Foton Quartet is yet another piece of the new Polish jazz scene that must be heard by a wider audience. Zomo Hall standups against anything from rest the minimal, avant garde in other countries. And the work of Artur Majewski should really start to be noticed by more people as well. His collaborative work on the scene for me, is some of the best in Europe at the moment. Zomo Hall was a hard record for me to find. I had known about it for some time but couldn’t even stumble across it. Then one day my good friends at Downtown Music Gallery got it in and I immediately put down the money. I suggest if you are interested in something new and creative–do yourself a favour and pick up Zomo Hall. Highly Recommend!

(Stephan Moore, jazzwrap.blogspot)


In the manner of a heart-to heart conversation defined by leisurely pace and thoughtful exchange of views, the Polish Foton Quartet navigates its way through a loosely lyrical though unscripted 59-minute program. None of the participants are well-known outside their home country, but that might not stay the case for long, based on their strength as a unit; full of sensitive listening which puts the group first, there is empathy in abundance here. While placement and color of sound is important, they reside within the jazz vernacular, even slipping into tempo at times, slightly melancholic though with barely a trace of the blues. Oceanic currents come to mind as lines drift to and fro, coming together and apart within the overall tide.

On tenor saxophone, Gerard Lebik adds occasional eastern European harmonies, and expands into squawks when the backing becomes heated. Often in tandem with Artur Majewski’s poised trumpet, the reedman spirals into animated convocation. Both horns lodge predominantly in the conventional registers, making their impact more through what they say than how they say it. For bassist Jakub Cywinski and drummer Wojciech Romanowski, responsiveness appears the prime concern, both proving particularly attuned to Majewski’s riffs and flurries. All convince as technically assured, and though lacking that distinctive edge which separates out the upper echelons, their perfectly judged contributions—knowing when to play and when not to play—make for subtle but purposeful communion.

Each of the six cuts traverses a lot of ground, offering ample space for the foursome to stretch out. By way of example, on “Five,” the longest piece, Cywinski’s sinewy pizzicato intro leads into relaxed dialogue with the horns, before Romanowski’s unhurried and spacey percussion shadows meandering contralto clarinet. Later he sparingly accompanies another darkly voiced bass feature, eventually joined by limpid trumpet and clattering percussion. But it’s not all quite so mazy: the short concluding “Six” provides an emphatic and spirited finale.

The revived Bocian Records seems truly revived! Hurrah! And to support this they just released a LP by David Maranha, one of my favourite organ players and Gerard Lebik. The only thing I seem to know about him is that he is one half of the duo VeNN Circles (see Vital Weekly 896). Here he plays ‘Pure Data and Objects’. Pure Data is a software package to create your own musical devices, not unlike max/msp, but then for PC I believe. In January last year they spend two days working on these pieces, which fill up seventeen minutes of each side. I am a massive fan of David Maranha, following his work ever since he started out with Osso Exotico, later on solo and with others, and much of his work has him playing in an excellent psychedelic minimalist way – Steve Reich as a member of the Velvet Underground. This record seems to be a bit different, I think. Here his organ sounds more melted down, buried even, in the confinement of the software. Is the software picking up the signal and transforming it on the spot? Hard to say. It could very well be the case, but maybe this is a duet in the ‘classical’ way: two guys at their instruments hammering away? This is quite a noise based record, perhaps not something you’d easily expect from Maranha… not like this perhaps: it’s an all open/frequency assault of some highly nasty tonal material, with big clusters appearing everywhere, overlapping each other and working overtime. This is one of those records that one needs to play ‘loud’, in order to get all the details. There is quite an amount of sonic richness in here, although perhaps it is not easy to detect. On the loud fringes of drone music, is perhaps the thing to say here. If you like the more powerful drones of someone like Kevin Drumm, then this is surely something to inspect; obviously if you are a keen follower of the releases on this label you can’t go wrong either. Excellent release!

Frans de Waard

Vital, number 974

David Maranha, orgue électrique. Gerard Lebik, ordinateur (pure data) et objets. Une accumulation de résonances, directes ou par sympathie, et réinjectées dans un impressionnant continuum granuleux avec un signal audio toujours aux limites de la saturation. Une musique qui mène à la transe.

Brand new David Maranha album, here with Gerard Lebik in a a sound performance held at Cave 211, Lisbon, January 2014 “An accumulation of resonances reinjected into an impressive granular continuum with a growing audio signal stretched to the limits of saturation. Music that leads to trance!

Jerome Noetinger

MetamkineAujourd’hui que la ligne de démarcation, autrefois si difficile à traverser, entre compositeur et « musicien » tend à s’estomper, et que le musicien qui n’aspire peut-être pas au statut de « compositeur » n’en produit pas moins de la musique, sa musique à lui, façonnée autant par son instrument que par sa fréquentation d’autres musiques (et ce changement d’attitude, de mode de pensée, est sans doute dû à l’émergence des musiques électroniques et des structures mentales que cela a modifiées, y compris chez les musiciens ne pratiquant pas eux-mêmes la musique électronique) , c’est aussi les rencontres entre les musiciens eux-mêmes qui sont devenues plus fréquentes, les collaborations plus ou moins éphémères entre les mondes musicaux que chacun porte en soi. Ainsi de ce projet signé par David Maranha et Gerard Lebik, l’un venu du Portugal l’autre de Pologne, dont je ne sais s’il s’agit d’une rencontre ponctuelle ou d’une collaboration à long terme (et il est probable que les artistes eux-mêmes l’ignorent, et que ce sont les hasards des tournées de l’un et de l’autre qui vont en décider) : ce qui est certain c’est que c’est une version similaire de la musique, de l’objet musical, qui les a réunis, une même façon d’imaginer la sculpture du son. David Maranha utilise ici son orgue – électrique – comme à son accoutumée (même s’il lui arrive également de jouer de l’instrument acoustique) tandis que Gerard Lebik ne se sert pas (et presque plus par ailleurs dans d’autres contextes) de son instrument premier, le saxophone, pour lui préférer l’électronique (et il précise le programme de son choix, Pure Data) ; et le changement est important, il ne s’agit pas uniquement de troquer un instrument pour un autre, il s’agit d’un changement de vision sur la musique, un changement de paradigme – aller vers une autre pensée de la musique.

Celle qui est proposée sur ce disque vinyle (et en vinyle transparent !) ne doit rien à la pensée plus ancienne de ce qui est musique, mais se détache également de l’idée de la « noise électronique » par sa profondeur, son épaisseur dirait-on, plus grande. Il ne s’agit pas d’un déluge de bruit, d’une décharge d’énergie brute (bien qu’énergie il y ait, ici) mais bien d’une construction (deux en fait, une par face du disque), une occupation de l’espace et du temps, une avancée dans la complexité de la vibration.

Kasper T. Toeplitz