Fred Frith (1988) “The Technology of Tears” and Other Music For Dance and Theatre (SST 172)

Fred Frith
“The Technology of Tears” and Other Music For Dance and Theatre
SST 172


Noteworthy ***

Avant-garde rhythms from Frith, three pieces commissioned by various dance and theatre companies, most of the sounds created by Frith, with Jim Staley contributing trombone on one cut; John Zorn (sax), Tenko (voice), and Christian Marclay (turntables) assisting with the title track.

The music was obviously inspired by exotic sounds from around the globe, but Frith mixes these influences until they are barely recognizable.  He mixes electric guitars and other electronic wizardy with drums and voices, uses multitracking and back tracking to create a mostly frantic sound, cramming a lot of noises into most cuts, some space on a few.  It’s a mixed bag, but certainly has highlights for fans of avant garde.

— winch

Lol Coxhill and Fred Frith (1982) French Gigs (LP) A.A.A. (A02)

Lol Coxhill and Fred Frith

French Gigs

A.A.A A02
Recorded 1981 and 1978

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

Avant garde improvisation, Coxhill squeaking out sounds on his soprano sax, Frith scratching and beating on the strings of his electric guitars, the pair occasionally offering some space but mostly claustrophobic madness–like a mouse, a bird and an elephant crammed into a small cage. 

Side One is filled with one noisy live performance titled “Reims,” recorded in 1981.  Three shorter selections from 1978 fill the second side, these slightly more conventional, relatively speaking, some of Coxhill’s contributions clearly coming from the jazz world, and Frith’s contributions sometimes identifiable as he strums his instrument and plays with feedback, sometimes offering hints of rhythm, using the electric guitar as a percussion instrument.

A worthwhile listen for fans of avant garde, the first side mostly for fans of claustrophobic noise, the flipside just as interesting and for most folks likely more enjoyable–the music full of madness and emotion and even possessing moments of beauty. 

— winch