Grutronic and Evan Parker – Together in Zero Space


This album, which captures Grutronic with frequent guest saxophonist Evan Parker in full flight, was recorded live at the Bratislava Festival for Advanced Music in 2009. The CD is released on Evan’s PSI label.

Review are below and a downloadable PDF of my essay Imaginary Birds: John Stevens and Molecular Improvisation which was included as sleevenotes from the CD is here:

“If you like high-speed improv loaded to the hilt with whizz bang swoop wallop fizz plunk and wobble, this is for you all right. And to hear Parker’s soprano bobbing and weaving among it all is sheer delight.” Dan Warburton,

“Their music as a result is a constant sense of transition, from liquid to solid, then aerial, then close,” JM Van Schouwburg

“Listening to together in zero space is akin to listening to Wolof, the indigenous language of the Senegalese people – like Grutronic, it may be alien to the ear, but you can nonetheless hear its power and beauty.”
Bobby Hill,

“Forget the laptop austere Electro AcousticI Improvisation trend, here you cross a world buzzing, colorful, polyphonic, full of contrasts and unpredictable twists. Music spacious and airy… its readability and dynamic light up the minute details of sound work. Acceleration, driven, landslides, scalable textures, pulses, their repertoire is vast.”

“i still don’t really know what to make of this release—i just know that, whatever it is, i absolutely love it.” Simon Cummings


from Grutronic and Evan Parker. TOGETHER IN ZERO SPACE psi
Recorded live at Bratislava’s Next Festival of Advanced Music a couple of years ago, here are two glorious slabs of what Richard Scott calls (in an erudite accompanying essay which I’m glad I read after listening to the album and not before) “molecular improvisation”, featuring Scott along with his chums David Ross (drosscillator) and the brothers Grew (keyboards, processing, transduction(?!)), and Evan Parker sitting in on soprano sax. Grutronic’s debut album Essex Foam Party was one of my shortlisted faves of 2009 for The Wire, and if this one had arrived in time to make the final cut, I’d have included it too (though seeing what they’ve ended up choosing this year – see below – I wonder whether the idea of the Festive 50 shouldn’t have been allowed to go to the grave along with John Peel). Scott’s instruments include WiGi, which he invented himself at that wonderful mad scientist lab STEIM in Amsterdam, and a Blippoo Box, a sound generator designed by Rob Hordijk that operates according to the principles of chaos theory (yippee!), and there’s plenty of wigi and blippoo in the music. If you like high-speed improv loaded to the hilt with whizz bang swoop wallop fizz plunk and wobble, this is for you all right. And to hear Parker’s soprano bobbing and weaving among it all is sheer delight.– Dan Warburton

Grutronic And Evan Parker – Together In Zero Space
i still don’t really know what to make of this release—i just know that, whatever it is, i absolutely love it • Grutronic is a new name to me (when time allows, i’ll be checking out this free download), but judging from this recording, made at the 2009 Next Festival of Advanced Music in Bratislava, their mission is to put Parker’s already frantic playing through a myriad electronic processes, while striving to minimise the distance between theirs & Parker’s distinct sounds • Somehow, they succeed, & the two lengthy pieces included here demonstrate superlative skill at melding acoustic & electronic sources • [Psi]

Review for
In Solo (Kadima Collective), a book of conversations with Frank Médioni, double bassist Joëlle Léandre describes “that unique vocabulary that [Evan Parker] built himself, for himself, and which became a quasi-style … that’s him.” It’s a singularly definitive saxophone voice that is neither demure nor docile. It is also a voice that has always worked well with electronics, be it the handmade instruments of Hugh Davies in Music Improvisation Company, or the ever-evolving computer rigs of the ever-growing number of Parker’s ElectroAcoustic Ensemble colleagues and, more recently, Matthew Wright. That’s why it is so refreshing to hear Parker’s unfettered soprano saxophone voice with the electro-acoustic quartet Grutronic, with Stephen and Nicholas Grew, Richard Scott and David Ross.

Grutronic represents something of a synthesis between the two lineages in improvised electro-acoustic music – instrument invention and computer programming – though it leans noticeably towards the former. The musicians created most of the instruments heard on the album, Scott playing those with the more intriguing names. The wigi (Wireless Gestural Instrument) is a theremin-like device controlled by an array of wands that makes the theremin seem quite elementary in comparison. Originally a monophonic linear sampling device and percussion controller, buchla lightning is now used to incorporate percussive playing, generate original lines, harmonic patterns, and orchestral layering. The blippoo box is an analogue synthesizer with sampling and random sound generation capabilities. It’s the source for many of the bubbling and burbling sounds heard on the recording. They make descriptions of Stephen Grew’s keyboards and processors as well as the tabletop setups of Nicholas Grew and Ross seem pedestrian by comparison.

Recorded at 2009’s 10th Next Festival of Advanced music in Bratislava, together in zero space consists of two extended improvisations. While the music often has a cut-and-paste quality, it does ultimately bear out Scott’s observation that “(f)orm emerges not from predetermination but from desire and from collective interaction.” Listening to together in zero space is akin to listening to Wolof, the indigenous language of the Senegalese people – like Grutronic, it may be alien to the ear, but you can nonetheless hear its power and beauty.
-Bobby Hill

Interesting French review that translates very curiously!

On this new album released by PSI, Evan Parker works with a strange quartet that I’ve never heard: Grutronic. Analog keyboards, oscillators, radios, samplers, computers, etc.., We thus find Stephen Grew, Richard Scott, David Ross and Nick Grew, and of course, Evan Parker, the inexhaustible, the soprano saxophone – for a live recording dating of 2009 during a festival in Bratislava.

Sonic projections, creepage saturated deconstructed beats and unstable, are mixed with long continuous streams of Evan Parker and polyphonic. This collaboration is a veritable art of counterpoint, rhythmic counterpoint, melodic and aesthetic. Lines are mixed before being fractured by a wall of white noise, beat a shaky attempts to emerge from a fireworks analog; soon it becomes difficult to recognize the territory in which evolves the five musicians: breakcore, EAI (ElectroAcoustic Improvisation), IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), free improvisation? This is of course a bit of everything, but above it all together and interchangeably. The origins and influences mingle without complex styles and personalities are structured to each other without hierarchy or rigid aesthetic principle. This is actually a free and uninhibited music, aesthetics completely unconventional and particularly hostile to any aesthetic principle. Evan Parker seems completely at ease in this world alien, the timbre of his multiphonic and metal soprano fits perfectly eccentric and hallucinatory phrases Quartet Grutronic still makes an effort to include a few lines and fit jazzistic spaces for an acoustic instrument. Grutronic about how to describe this quartet who like nothing but still seems to inspire many predecessors: a kind of Thomas Lehn eight hands (four personalities …), Venetian Snares uninhibited or Bad Plus would have deconstructed its undigested dose of speed …

In any case, what emerges from this collaboration is rather striking: the staggering inventiveness Grutronic, who manages to constantly surprise with phrases always unexpected and often incongruous, and the intensity and power to own game Evan Parker , including soprano, makes this incredible live performance and intense. Electroacoustic music, in its traditional form (newest technologies separate instrument), still seems in good shape and seems especially to have more things to say. For this course offers something new in its content despite a formal construction heard a thousand times, unbridled content, contrapuntal and hysterical, where anything can arise at any time: a phrase inherited from jazz-rock, a slick harmonica, bass feedback, slaps, beat an inappropriate, white noise, circles analogue lines Synthetic drilled, etc..

Nearly fifty minutes of maximum intensity, deconstructions of irrational and references surprising and unexpected, but especially inexhaustible creativity and attentive listening. Recommended!

Improjazz review:
Improjazz review

Another article from Impro-Jazz, with a more extended discussion about the concept of Molecular Improvisation is here:
Molecular music: real time complex electro acoustic sounds in motion
Invented by Richard Scott Grutronic group, the term molecular music and subjectively described simply as a complex and thorough consideration of electronic music, electro-acoustic, live signal processing etc. … through improvisation and composition. Gathered by the texts published by the magazine Improjazz and trying to describe an exciting territory to the contours. These musics are not built in a studio, but entirely improvised and / or performed in real time with no overdubbing or post-processing. They owe more to the imagination and talent of players to recent technological developments that these artists to transcend developed with successive tapping, we forget the technical aspect, carried away by secrets and unpredictable movements that animate them. Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer duo Furt, Lawrence Casserley, Walter Prati, Vecchi Bill, Joel Ryan, Grutronic, or Richard Scott, Stephen Grew, Grew and Nick and David Ross also Ulli Böttcher are representative of a trend found in many forms of Electro-Acoustic Ensemble Evan Parker. He himself was keen to produce all these albums on his label Psi with a nice consistency. The ECM label has released five of transferred EAE. Jean Michel Van Schouwburg

GRUTRONIC Essex Foam Party 2009 Psi/ Evan Parker GRUTRONIC + Together in Space Zero Psi 2011

Grutronic is an electronic improvisation group established in Great – Britain and composed by Stephen Grew, here on keyboards and electronic processing, Richard Scott, credited “Buchla lighting” KAOSS pads, synth, sampler, Nick Grew, transduction and processing , and David Ross drosscillator. The label of Evan Parker’s Psi out in quick succession the two recordings, Essex Foam Party, which sometimes intervene vibraphonist Orphy Robinson and Paul Obermayer electronics, and Together in Zero Space, with Evan Parker invited. Notes Richard Scott claim the legacy of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, John Stevens, Scott legend well known and interviewed 25 years ago. Beyond this line assumed, it evokes the membership of a trend Grutronic electronic “hard” dedicated to radical improvisation and complexity which are attached groups brothers Furt (Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer), Bark! ( Obermayer, Phil Rex Casswell and Marks) and the nebula Electro Acoustic Ensemble Evan Parker. Scott calls this approach “molecular”, in relation to game modes and a new age that extend the syntax of free improvisation with little used parameters and innovation / creative solutions that transcend the new technologies. Personally, I think of Lunge and Super Model Super Model, both groups brought together by trombonist Gail Brand with Pat Thomas and Gino Robair (Emanem label). Once these routes almost familial ties, we see from the first listen as musicians Grutronic built an original that stands out immediately recognizable frankly the other groups mentioned bv the sounds and shapes created in the heart of improvisation. Forget the laptop austere EAI trend, here you cross a world buzzing, colorful, polyphonic, full of contrasts and unpredictable twists. Music spacious and airy, away from the vortex of dense and tense Furt or gusts claudicantes Bark! Joyously entertaining, its readability
and dynamic light up the minute details of sound work. Acceleration, driven, landslides, scalable textures, pulses, their repertoire is vast. Essex Foam Party clings to occasionally beats distended, while Zero Together in Space, as the title suggests examines the flaws in the space-time continuum. No overdubs, everything has been recorded in concert since 2006. Each musician contributes to the collective sound without it being possible to discern the individual contribution and guess the actions of instrumentalists. All four have extensive experience acoustic instrumental. Simon Grew is a pianist who has, having recorded a piano quartet with Howard Riley, Keith Tippett and Pat Thomas. Also asked for a musician and undeniable that Evan Parker, it is to remarkable that Psi spends his label as many transferred to this school “molecular”, while these musicians rarely feature in major events (1). We must face the facts. The saxophonist, is almost (grand) father, a real Santa Claus of free improvisation, remained an incorrigible utopian that does not skimp to support unfailingly brilliant artists, largely unsung. Often, the real innovators do not sink the doors wide open already by others and need to win despite the indifference. Evan Parker could just make circles with leg arch-recognized artists and pipeuliser his label. Looking for Simon and Nick Grew, Richard Scott and David Dross program of festivals that matter, you will be hard. Yet their coherence and perfect agreement produce beautiful moments, especially during the two long improvisations Concert Together in Space Zero. Evan Parker are perfectly in line with its open spaces soprano as the fifth member of the group, rather than as guest soloist. We heard the spray of the musical phrase and this articulation alternating sounds insane, sharp sounds, impossible fingerings, harmonics, pecking and accelerations vertiginieuses breath. The music really evokes Grutronic this approach called molecular viewed our imagination these drawings represent the multidimensional architecture of infinitesimal particles of life. A thrilling music and too rare. These two albums are, despite the lack of awareness of the protagonists of Grutronic, a matter to follow the world of electronic music beyond the modes. JM Van Schouwburg

Italian Review from MESCALINA.ITA translation is here:

Grutronic is a collective consisting of Brothers Stephen (keyboards) and Nicholas (processing) Grew, Richard Scott (synth) and David Ross (droscillator), with three other albums (one of which is always on Psi and the last label currently available in digital download from their myspace) and many unusual projects, soloists. If you live at the Vortex Jazz Club in London, the five have sometimes evoked the atmosphere of collaboration between Richard Teitelmbaum and Anthony Braxton, while keeping on paths less concrete and more spectral disk confirms the goodness of their own, personal continuity with the built in impro since the EMS of Parker and John Stevens, until our ECM records with the transatlantic ‘ collective ‘how trackable on methacrylic acid is an important development and synthesis of a path that seems still to relaunch.

It is no coincidence that in the liner notes, written by Richard Scott, the memory of the late, visionary Stevens mix with built-in theoretical molecolarità on sound for anything peregrini. Meanwhile, because the drummer, who disappeared seventeen years ago, Scott was important reference point (can be found on line a great interview done by ‘ pupil ‘ to ‘ master ‘), secondly because what you hear here is music composed by particles whose sum creates a constantly changing landscape, where spacetime coordinates, and the same dynamics of interaction between stasis and dynamism direct emanation seem as reported in another essay by Scott, presented at the University of Belfast last year and entitled ‘Interactivity vs infinite memory ‘ .

If the gestural technologies within the musical improvisation are pushing towards an increase in awareness, rather than hypothetical new frontiers, be cynical because of usual high levels of market and the growing number of artists who are involved in new projects could be a brake to discover all that creative level, continues to show us that creative alternatives to stasis and fixity (and not only) are still possible and Indeed, already in place.

Spanish Review here

Swedish review from soundofmusic translation:

Together in Zero Space is two long improvisations from the British quartet Grutronic and saxophonist Evan Parker. A successful meeting in which the electro-acoustic approach meets the acoustic sound of the soprano saxophone. The music is also sung in a way that directly derived from theories of the British percussionist, composer, improviser, etc. John Stevens. It’s about listening to each other, even going so far as to each of the participants let opponents take center stage. So to say force himself to humility.

One would think that the music thus becomes very restrained and quiet. But no, the pressure is at times heavy and high density. It’s mostly about listening to each other, creating a shared music. Grutronics Richard Scott calls it molecular improvisation in an essay included with the cover: “Functioning as Molecules we are free to create aggregates with Other Molecules. The movements of These aggregates, while directed by no one in Particular, come to form the waves, vectors, and trajectories, Which describes exactly the convergences, densities and dissipations Tickets are Organic Constituents of musical form. ”

Questioning of the musical form remind me of the the Swedish quartet The Schematics are doing. Nor there is no linear development or form in the traditional sense. That said, The Schematics or Grutronic is formless. On the contrary, the form is quite clear, but changing and created in the moment without melodies, harmonies, rhythms, or people in the center.

I like a lot of listening to Grutronic. They craps down the electro-acoustic harmonies and creates a strong tension in the music. Among the electronic bubble and language, snorting and shear stick Parker’s soprano sax out his sound with everything from bird song to ugly chafing. Everything is audible even if the density changes. What makes it especially interesting is how Stephen Grew adds keyboards that inevitably position themselves next to Miles Davis funk jazz years around 1970. But there is also a hint of progressive rock music, particularly late in the second improvisation “Mesomerism in Rhythm”. Meanwhile, other electro-acoustic instrumentation with fantasy full names wigi, Buchla lightning, blippoo case of Richard Scott, transduction of Nicholas Grew and drosscillator by David Ross.

But in all his musical “Doodle” (from “scribbling”, a technique John Stevens developed) is a strong adherence between groups. Should not be treated as evasive. Although no one stands in the way of someone else, it does not mean that they save on the intensity. Herein lies a challenge Grutronic and Evan Parker manages to meet. By: Magnus Nygren

All About Jazz review here:
In 2009, Essex Foam Party, the first Psi release by Grutronic, was part of a wave of albums which emphasised the extent to which electronics and manipulation had entered the label’s catalogue. Later that year, the foursome was joined by Evan Parker in concert at Zero Space in Bratislava as part of the tenth Next Festival of Advanced Music—hence the somewhat odd title of this album.

The four members of Grutronic employ a range of instruments, predominantly electronic, to generate a constantly shifting array of sounds. At its fastest, the focus shifts between the different members very rapidly, requiring lightning fast reflexes of the players—and the listener. There is rarely a moment’s rest or tranquility as short notes and phrases flash around. As an aural spectacle, it is hugely impressive but—even in concert—it can often be difficult to divine who is responsible for a particular sound. Just as entertainingly, such hyperactivity is offset by more sedate passages, sometimes characterised by electronic farting sounds and twittering. In his sleeve notes, Richard Scott draws parallels between Grutronic’s music and that of John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble, coining the phrase “molecular improvisation” to describe it.

On Essex Foam Party, the quartet was joined by guests including Orphy Robinson on vibes; these served to add acoustic sounds—and, hence, a touch of humanity—to the otherwise electronic soundscape. The addition of Evan Parker serves a similar purpose here. With his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, Parker has become adept at blending acoustic instruments with electronics, to the benefit of both. Here, although his soprano saxophone is not processed or treated, his playing becomes an integral part of the totality, its tone clearly distinguishing it from the surrounding electronics; in this respect, it acts as a welcome human voice. To play this album back to back with the Mengelberg duo, above, is to hear how versatile and flexible a player Parker is, always recognisably himself but always fitting into his surroundings.

After ten years, it is onward and upward for Psi—and for Parker.

A launch concert for the CD was held at the Vortex in London on 22nd September 2012 reviewed by the JazzMann here here

and from London Resonance

grutronic _ evan parker @ the vortex 09/22/2011:
“Music dispatches a molecular flow”. I’m reading the liner notes written by Richard Scott for “Together in Zero Space”, the last Psi output featuring Evan Parker playing with his new close collaborators the Grutronic, while I ran into this quotation from Deleuze and Guattari’s Milleplateaux. Wether we are aware or not of the importance of this text written in 1987, it’a fact that it is heavily referenced in today’s electronic and experimental music.

You can think about Milleplateaux the label, and you’re certainly right, but yet another point is how much David Toop, in his Ocean Of Sound, was referring to the concept of ‘rhizome’ in order to talk about Sun Ra’s music. Not to put aside Dj Spooky work as That Subliminal Kid — sampling sound is a rhizomatic practice? for sure. You can even take as a – still not recognized? – turning point on the subject, Terre Thaemlitz (aka Dj Sprinkles) series of lectures held in Amsterdam in November 2009.

Far from the Academic studies, referring to Grutronic (or Evan Parker)’s music as ‘rhizomatic’ – at this point in time, even if only for this particular project – or ‘molecular’ means simply that their music is averse to the idea of a starting point taken as a ‘root’ – ‘rhizome’ is a root without a primal branch – and of music as a narration coming from an unavoidable beginning going to an unavoidable end. Call it ‘improvisation’, and you got it.

Grutronic equipment is both analog and digital. Stephen Grew plays keyboards, Richard Scott synths, sequencers and a buchla midi controller, Nicholas Grew is in charge of processing sound, and David Ross plays droscillator. Their music as a result is a constant sense of transition, from liquid to solid, then aerial, then close, but the flux of sound is conceived in a way that involves the relationship between static and dynamic itself.

Here and there the music is reminiscent of such a distinguished collaboration as the Anthony Braxton / Richard Teitelbaum duo on “Time Zones” (Arista/Freedom, 1977), even if concrete elements are brought together in order to give shape to a different sense of time and space dynamics.

The performance is coherently in line with what more than 30 years ago Evan Parker and John Stevens had in mind when putting together the SME collective, and this project, along with the Parker/Matthew Wright duo and contemporary improvisers like Bark! and Furt are, more than a variation on a theme, an important focus and evolution of a specific idea of music, starting also with “Karyiobin” and “Topography of the Lungs”, and going through the ElectroAcoustic and the Transatlantic Ensemble up to today’s experiences. gian paolo galasi

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