777 – Ryu Hankil and Bryan Eubanks are the confessional outsider. (Music review)


I have had a wonderful time working my way through the Cathnor recordings.  Richard Pinell has just about as fine an ear as anyone interested in this sort of music, and what he’s put together in his catalogue are starting to hold many of my favourite recordings – recordings I return to time and time again.

One of these is the disc titled 777.  One of my earliest introductions to this music was Ryu Hankil and so I always have a soft spot for his beautiful, careful, controlled sounds. His partner in this improve session is Bryan Eubanks, an artist I’m not as familiar with, but entranced me with his “buzz-saw” introduction on this disc.


It’s a little piece of magic, this one. Even though the recording is an improvised performance, it has a deeply personal sort of sound. It feels like it was made inside of “me”. In this way the attempts at empiricism work for me along the lines of an erotic poetry of conversation. Perhaps the intimacy is as simple as the gentle quietness of the sound, but the intensity of response in listening is too strong for this to be about volume. Eubanks slides the sounds into a kind of echoing Conrad Schnitzler synth-y  noise, but it is Hankil’s electronics that maintain the intimacy and therefore the erotic discovery for me. The almost melodies never interfere with Hankil’s patient restrained self-regulated language such that Eubanks and Hankil almost end up in a contrary speculation of each artists personal freedom. This is the kind of disc I’d love to chat to the artists to see how it was working together. Something is striking within the listener – these two musicians are speaking to each other with an ambivalent attitude toward the musical language that is both an irrepressible fringe of individualism and a link to the other by means of the musical social contract.

For me, this is where the profound intimacy in this disc lies. When these musicians are in this exchange, this philosophical speculation in keeping with the modern subject of conditions and understandings of language, they press each other within the musical conversation.  Eubanks provides the limits in a way, but in a kind of enhancement of the self-regulative enterprise. Where Eubanks directs his sounds as if appearing from a linguistic outside, Hankil adopts a confessional stance and opts for a full and complete disclosure that can’t be solved within my listening – its left like a lingering, tormented delicious question. In my inexperience, I have problems separating the sounds of artists when performing in improv together. I didn’t have that problem here. Their separateness is part of the sound dialogue. The mood here is temperamental and tonal, and yet co-existing. Disappearing into it is a deep and disquiet pleasure.