Artist: Mathilde 253

Date of Release: 10/01/2011

Catalogue no: SLAMCD 528

Label: SLAM

Price: £9.99

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Track Listing









Appearances by

Lol Coxhill

“MATHILDE 253” SLAMCD 528 Barcode: 50 28386 052821

Charles Hayward (drums, percussion and melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar), Ian Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn), Lol Coxhill (saxophone) tracks 6 and 7.

Mathilde 253 is the real-time musical meeting between legendary avant-rock drummer Charles Hayward (This Heat, Massacre), “careful and crafty” guitarist Han-earl Park (Paul Dunmall, Kato Hideki), and mainstay of the London improvised music scene Ian Smith (Derek Bailey, London Improvisers’ Orchestra). Mathilde 253 was born out of an opportunity to explore the spontaneous mashup of avant-rock, African-American creative musics, European free improvisation and noise. Joined by the veteran iconoclastic saxophonist Lol Coxhill, this recording documents the weaving of physical virtuosity and humorous sound poetics, a patchwork of restraint, subtlety and recklessness.




01/03/2011 Daniel Spicer

This new improvising group—named after a large asteroid circling our
sun—draws disparate personalities into one eccentric orbit. Han-Earl
Park, a guitarist of Korean descent, residing in Ireland, is as at
home in underground Noise as he is dueting with free jazz heroes like
Paul Dunmall. Trumpeter Ian Smith is a stalwart of the London improv
scene and drummer Charles Hayward is best known for his work with
seminal post-Punk experimenters This Heat. On these live recordings
they generate a surprising amount of heat. Park uses pedals to smudge
and smear chords or rolls out strange robotic grumblings, a technician
playing electricity as much as the guitar. Smith has a high, taut
attach, like a more tuneful version of Donald Ayler’s pure energy. And
Hayward—despite a penchant for tight grooves—makes a good fist of
playing freely, only slightly marred by a somewhat lumpen bass drum.
Veteran saxophonist Coxhill rounds it out to a quartet for two tunes,
making this a very satisfying debut.


01/02/2011 Brian Morton

Mathilde 253 is one of those ‘name’ groups that sprang fully-formed from a single playing moment - in fact the very moment at London’s Café Oto last April that is documented on this debut CD – but seems to have been around for much longer. As far as the individual players are concerned, trumpeter Ian Smith is now a significant figure on the Emanem axis of British improvisers; news that Mathilde 253 are shortly to tour Ireland with Wadada Leo Smith has certain comic potential but also prompts the thought that a second trumpeter, even a distinguished international guest, might be gilding the lily. Ian Smith is a formidable technician and a profoundly intuitive music maker, with the ability to deliver exactly the right sound, or very often the right sonic texture, at the psychological moment. An ideal group or ensemble player, he seems remarkably free of ego in performance, often preferring to wait out passages before delivering a tiny killer stroke. One knows that this was a Miles Davis stratagem, but it’s the other Smith he resembles most completely, though some of his articulations here sound as if they might be influenced by Bill Dixon.Guitarist Han-earl Park is a musical philosopher. He works in a variety of fields, develops low-intensity electronic devices, often for context-specific performances, and like his playing partner never insists on grabbing the spotlight. One of the delights of this live session is that one very frequently can’t distinguish who is making particular sounds. There’s not much idiomatic guitar-playing, though Park is very much in the Derek Bailey rather than the Keith Rowe line; he uses relatively orthodox technique to unorthodox ends.Drummer (and occasional melodica player) Charles Hayward is perhaps the best known of the three, largely due to this role with pioneering, Camberwell-based This Heat, one of the most experimental ‘punk’ groups to emerge on the London scene during the late ‘70s. The group’s sessions for John Peel and the bootleg of their 1980 concert at the Institute of Contemporary Arts are key documents in British creative music of the last thirty years. It’s fascinating to find Hayward in this setting, taking up the mantle – different as they were – of the late Steve Harris. Mathilde 253 has something of the guttural authority and generosity of gesture one associates with Zaum, which Harris led until his untimely death. They also make a specific virtue of building other musicians into the group language. Leo Smith is on the face of it a surprising addition. Lol Coxhill makes more immediate sense. An immensely thoughtful, but eternally self-effacing player, he slots in here for just the two final cuts, ‘Aachen’ and ‘Oaxaca’, and in a curious way acts as a kind of chorus/facilitator, summing up and simplifying aspects of the group language, rather than challenging or antagonising it, as guest players very often do. It’s a long set, but has sufficient underlying momentum to pass with deceptive speed. It takes an alert listener to distinguish occasional quietuses in the process with track endings, and there is a moment between ‘Ishikari’ and ‘Jixi’ when it sounds almost as if one aspect of the previous piece has been filleted out for more sustained attention. Smith favors long mongrelly growls and scales that ascend and descend in illogical ways, like the stairs in an M C Escher print. Hayward has a very distinct sense of time underneath the freedom. It’s not untypical of British free drummers to imply some kind of steady pulse. Eddie Prévost does it, John Stevens did it far more often than anyone supposed, Tonys Oxley and Levin almost always do. I’d have picked Hayward out as a Brit even if there had been no accompanying details. This is an exciting new venture for him and for the others. One can reasonably expect unexpected things from Park, who is a delightful shape-shifter and Smith always repays the closest attention, and claims it with sudden open-horn breakouts if the fabric of the music gets too smooth and uninflected. Great stuff and a disc that reassert’s Slam’s importance as a free music imprint.


01/02/2011 Richard Pinnell

Over the last week or so I have listened through a few times to a CD I was sent by a group that can probably be easily described as belonging to the older, busier, perhaps more jazz-infused end of free improvisation. The disc is a new release by a group named Mathilde 253 released on the Slam label, a long established imprint based about five miles up the road from me here. This is probably the first release I have listened to on the label for about fifteen years. Mathilde 253 then are the core group of Charles Hayward, (drums, percussion, melodica) Han-Earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet, flugelhorn). On the last two of the seven tracks here the trio is augmented by the familiar saxophone of Lol Coxhill.
To begin with, I should make clear that I was, and am, really pleased to have been sent this CD. While this far end of the improv scene isn’t an area I usually find myself frequenting, the connections between this music and what I listen to most nights is clear, and my CD shelves do still contain a fair number of similarly sounding CDs that date back to my early experiences with improv. I may have moved my listening away from this busier, itchy, occasionally slightly melodic area of music in recent years but its great to delve back into it from time to time, and the challenge of finding enjoyment in this CD was one I approached with much relish.
Ultimately then, this CD sounds pretty much how I thought it might, a bustling, talkative seventy-four minutes made up of angular, Baileyesque electric guitar, some fantastic drum splashes mixed with occasional bursts of less traditional percussive sounds such as the small metallic chimes heard int he opening seconds of the album, and the chattery, conversational style of the trumpet and horn. For some reason the music conjures images of pet mice running about in a cage, rushing from a play wheel to a source of food, to somewhere else again, occasionally stopping abruptly to take in what is going on around them, often bumping into one another, existing and interacting together at high speed in a combined space, working as a unit and yet giving the impression of all going about their business oblivious to one another. Extended metaphors to one side for a moment though, the playing here is very fine, a tightly woven mass of sounds with no one real dominating voice but each musician expressive and energetic. The music is all about the conversation, but a real heart-on-the-sleeve collision course of a conversation, but nevertheless the result of the musicians listening to one another and responding. The addition of Coxhill’s softer soprano on the last two pieces do slow the music a little, but the jazz credentials remain. If the music’s progression is a little less choppy then melody and hints at standardised rhythm creep in, but the improvised discussion carries on, perhaps the words are less heated but the debate remains of interest.
I’ll be honest, my personal taste in improvisation leans more towards the slower, more textural, less hectic call and response strand of the music, but that doesn’t mean that once in a while I can’t enjoy dipping my toes into the more flared musicianship of albums like Mathilde 253 and enjoying the sensation. The argument against this music of course is that it is unoriginal and makes no attempt to push at new boundaries, but then if I think about it, so few of the CDs I normally enjoy succeed at this either. Mathilde 253 is a well executed example of how pleasing this music can be, and while I may not be in a huge hurry to alter my listening preferences right now I did enjoy following the twists and turns, arguments and accompanying flourishes on this CD and am very glad that the musicians saw fit to send it my way. Richard Pinnell


25/01/2011 Guillaume Belhomme

Guillaume Belhomme “fantastic record, congratulations,”
English translation from French:
Two "strange" formations emerge here - one night in 2008 at Cafe Oto in London - by drummer Charles Hayward ( This Heat ): trio in with guitarist Han-Earl Park and cornetist and trumpeter Ian Smith ; a partnership reinforced in the final two improvisations by the presence of saxophonist Lol Coxhill .
“The tentative opening (Hayward on melodica) gives some indication of
the tenor of the entire improvisation: reflective, in which the
participants compete in subtleties (Park eroding contours of wailing in
varied volumes, Smith with a striking horn). Passing through a section
of ravishing suspension - of near absence for Hayward -, it becomes
necessary to return to turbulence to remain convincing. Then Coxhill
can appear: the soprano elaborates parallel reflections in phrases of
Dublin brass; ordered and entwining, weaves on the crescendo where
Hayward re-establishes his presence, a tapestry of choice: that of
another Mathilde, of a complete beauty.”

French original:
Deux « étranges » formations emmenées ici – soit un soir de 2008 au Café Oto de Londres – par le batteur Charles Hayward (This Heat) : trio dans lequel on trouvait le guitariste Han-Earl Park et le trompettiste et cornettiste Ian Smith ; association renforcée, le temps de deux dernières improvisations, par la présence du saxophoniste Lol Coxhill.
La mise en place inquiète (Hayward au mélodica) donnait quelques indices sur la teneur de l’entière improvisation : réfléchie, et dans laquelle les intervenants rivalisent de subtilités (Park érodant les reliefs de plaintes aux volumes variés, Smith au bugle saisissant). Passée la période de flottement ravissant – de vacance, presque, pour Hayward –, il faudra bien revenir aux turbulences afin de s’y montrer autrement convaincant. Alors, Coxhill peut apparaître : le soprano élabore des parallèles aux phrases du cuivre dublinois ; ourdit et trame, enfin tisse, sur le métier remonté crescendo par Hayward, une tapisserie de choix : celle d’une autre Mathilde, à la beauté tout roturière. http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2011/01/25/20217548.html


10/01/2011 Cosimo Parisi

Avant Avant
The genius is not something that is on the street, but apparently in some studio recording something positive you can not reach. Avant rock drummer Charles Hayward (founder of the group This Heat decided to deal with musicians from quite different musical areas, Han-earl Park , he also used the noise geneere and trumpeter Ian Smith , one of the icons of improvisation radical English and the London Improvisers'Orchestra . With them on the last two tracks adds another famous character of the vanguard, the soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill .
The interaction between the three (and later a quartet) proceeds completely throwing in the cauldron a bit of everything, in situations that we hear from Fred Frith , but here everything proceeds in a more logical, perhaps the driving force of the trumpeter who Crop specific spaces, thus avoiding the slides too kind to the noise.
Lol Coxhill in the final tracks (more than twenty minutes of improvisation at full blast) helps to enliven the company, ensuring that the voltage drop. A whole are nearly seventy-five minutes of music that run faster, where ideas come quickly and musicians are having fun putting them into practice.
Albums that are not produced in certain series, so well is the insight of George Haslam to publish them: another remarkable thing in his catalog.

La genialità non è qualcosa che si trova per strada, ma a quanto pare in qualche studio di registrazione qualcosa di positivo si riesce a raggiungere. Il batterista avant rock Charles Hayward (fondatore del gruppo This Heat ha deciso di confrontarsi con musicisti provenienti da tutt´altre aree musicali, Han-earl Park, anche lui abituato al geneere noise e il trombettista Ian Smith, una delle icone dell´improvvisazione radicale inglese e parte dellaLondon Improvisers´Orchestra. Insieme a loro sugli ultimi due brani si aggiunge un´altro famoso personaggio dell´avanguardia, il sassofonista soprano Lol Coxhill.
L´interazione fra i tre (e poi in quartetto) procede perfettamente buttando nel calderone un pò di tutto, in situazioni che avevamo ascoltate da un Fred Frith, ma qui procede tutto in modo più logico, forse per la forza propulsiva del trombettista che si ritaglia degli spazi precisi, evitando che si scivoli troppo verso il genere noise.
Lol Coxhill nei brani finali (più di venti minuti di improvvisazione a tutto spiano) contribuisce ad animare la compagnia, evitando che scenda la tensione. Sono nell´insieme quasi settantacinque minuti di musica che scorrono veloci, in cui le idee arrivano subito ed di musicisti si divertono a metterle in pratica.
Album così non si producono certo in serie, per cui ben venga l´intuizione di George Haslam di pubblicarli: un altra cosa notevole nel suo catalogo.
Cosimo Parisi http://www.musicboom.it/mostra_recensioni.php?Unico=20101220012431


16/12/2010 François Couture

Une session très sympa d’un trio relevé: Charles Hayward, Han-Earl Park et Ian Smith, plus Lol Coxhill comme invité sur deux des sept pièces. De l’improvisation libre soutenue, vive comme c’est souvent le cas avec Hayward à la batterie. Pas aussi prenant que Clear Frame (autre projet de Hayward somme toute similaire) mais aussi moins rock, plus free.
A fun session by a high-calibre trio: Charles Hayward, Han-Earl Park, and Ian Smith, plus Lol Coxhill as a guest on two of the seven tracks. Consistent free improvisation, lively like so often the case with Hayward at the drum kit. Not as consistent as the Clear Frame CD (another rather similar Hayward project), though less rock and more free.
François Couture


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