Artist: Mark Holub

Date of Release: 12/01/2015

Catalogue no: SLAMCD298

Label: SLAM

Price: £11

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Track Listing









Appearances by

Irene Kepl

Irene Kepl Violin and electronics; Mark Holub drums.

New Jersey born Mark Holub first appeared on SLAM 10 years ago on the best selling CD ‘ARBORETUM’ (SLAMCD 261) by his ground breaking quartet ‘Led Bib’. This new album showcases him in an improvised duo setting with renowned Austrian violinist Irene Kepl.

'Taschendrache' delves deep into all of the sonic possibilities that this unusual duo instrumentation can offer, moving from delicate pastoral sections to heavy grooving to more abstract improvisation and electronics. Before recording, this duo had already carefully honed their sound through concerts at clubs and festivals across Austria and began to develop a distinct musical language. On this recording they showcase this throughout; the drums are sometimes played like a pitched instrument, and the violin is at times noisy and rhythmic, both musicians are stepping out of their traditional roles to just let the music flow. Throughout the album, there are beautiful melodies and chords, but there are also microtonal sections, distorted sounds and feedback, one can also hear the intense interplay that has developed between the two players as if they always know where the other one is headed. With the release of their first album together, there promises to be even further development, with more continental European touring scheduled in 2015 and a UK tour in April 2015.

Of his new recording ‘Taschendrache’ Mark writes:
“Irene was one of the first people I played with after relocating to Vienna from London in 2012. We met after I heard her with her string quartet and immediately hit it off musically, but it wasn't obviously clear what exactly we were going to do together. After a few plays as a duo, it dawned on us that this was a great sound to explore. Playing in duo is always an exciting prospect, a chance to have a proper musical dialogue with just one person, but also it allows you to fully have the space to explore your own sound-world because of the openness in sound that a duo can bring.

Irene adds:
"For me making or composing music is about the people you work with and the inner dynamics of the group. If you meet people that unconsciously have the same questions in music, you needn´t talk much about it - actually that´s what happened in our duo.”




17/04/2015 Ken Waxman

On busman’s holidays from his role as drummer with the highly popular, Jazz Rock-oriented Led Bib quintet, Mark Holub immerses himself in experimental sessions that are much more attention grabbing than his day job. Proofs positive are these CDs. Now a Vienna resident, on Taschendrache Holub immerses himself in a dozen duets with Austrian-violinist/electronics-manipulator Irene Kepl, who adds contemporary notated music tropes to his Jazz-Improv orientation. More conventional, in that saxophone-drum duos have long been part of Jazz, is Viscera, the fourth collaboration between the drummer and British alto, tenor and baritone saxophonist Colin Webster, also a member of the otherwise Dutch Dead Neanderthals trio. Substantiated by the CD title the Webster-Holub meeting probes the coarsest most lymphatic corners of unrefined improvisation.
Unrefined in this duos uncompromising fashion may be characterized as unafraid, but not unresponsive. Completely improvised without pre-planning – except that is for using Roscoe Mitchell’s “Chant” as the launching pad for the final track – the drum-sax narratives embellish the gut ejaculations pioneered by among others Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann and Albert Ayler and make them potentially rawer, with strategies developed in Metal and Noise music. From Webster’s first ejaculated whinny plus pile-driver thwacks from Holub on “Big Paws on A Puppy”, the slurps, clatters, clunks and smears multiply as the two stake out their in-the-moment territory. At points the visceral cacophony is such that the result seems to emanate from a single primeval beast with the bloody inevitability of any fantasy monster’s attack. Consider “Oaxacao” for instance, where penetrating snarls echo through the saxophone’s bow and gooseneck more than its bell, then with ruffs from the drummer grinding the beat to a sluggish pace, Webster’s solo sounds as if he’s scraping his stomach lining and intestines to illuminate near-animalistic rapture.
Never forget that this is Improvised Music (caps intended) not Metal or Noise Music though. Besides the sibilate razzing and quivering wallops, overblowing is sometimes replaced with more measured tones. “Then There Was” is the most languid outing for instance, with a swaying almost dance-like beat reminiscent of a Sonny Rollins’ calypso. Considering that the final “Chant” ends up sounding like a bugler’s call-to-arms followed by measured chanting, the concentrated thesis involving smashing cymbals mixed with bagpipe-like tremolo intensity, that doesn’t relent until the finale. Perfect to provide of a pure shot of adrenaline, Viscera could be improved though if the two players investigated a few more of the body’s humors.
That is done to some extent on Taschendrache since the signal processed drone and bell-like pings from Kepl’s electronic interface increase the number of sonic parameters on its dozen tracks. The oscillations are especially prominent on “Arachnid” and “Holz hackende Flecken”. On the second the narrowed electronic squeals add to taut bow motions, leading to dynamic tension between the two. Meanwhile Holub’s slaps and pops grow equivalently louder. “Arachnid” on the other hand has synthesizer-like hums and twitters reflecting and pumping up the fiddler’s microtones almost replicating a string ensemble. The percussionist’s unremitting beat emphasis prevents the string-set from blasting off into the stratosphere, though. Instead Holub’s multi-fold dynamics create appropriately ruggedly complements to the violinist’s spiccato strategies, especially when it appears that her knife-like sweeps are in danger of shredding the instrument’s catgut. Squeezing her strings to produce expanded partials, his raps and paradiddles are transformed into melody enhancers. This is especially noticeable on the concluding “Speed Date”, where splattering triple stopping from the violinist and jerky pops and patterns from the drummer meld into rapprochement.
Earlier on, during “A Day at the Beach” the excitement torqued due to her slashing spiccato lines and his solid parade-ground pumping reaches such a climax of Free Jazz ecstasy that memories of the connective skills of percussionist Jerome Cooper and violinist Leroy Jenkins in the Revolutionary Ensemble are evoked.
On the rewarding evidence here, one conclusion is that Holub should step out of his comfort zone more often. Maybe next time though, he should set up a trio session with his partners on both these discs.
—Ken Waxman


02/03/2015 Daniel Spicer

Since Mark Holub relocated to Vienna in 2012 he’s been able to put some distance between himself and the peppy jazz-rock he helped create as drummer with Led Bib, and get back to free improvisation. Violinist Irene Kepl was one of the first local musicians he hooked up with after his move and this duo debut revels in finding ways of reconciling two instruments that don’t often play together. On pieces like the title track, Holub’s unable to resist flirting with a loose and subtle groove but, for the most part, he takes a much more abstract approach, ranging from hyperactive fidgeting on rims and cymbals to low, rumbling tom-thunder with a spare, ceremonial feel. Kepl responds with gestures that seem more intent on establishing mood than making clear melodic statements: from knife-edge, minimal harmonics with the bow barely touching the strings, through lurching scratches and tics and rising up to rough stridulations. It’s convincing and compelling, with a genuine sense of dialogue throughout.
Daniel Spicer Jazzwise March 2015


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