Jon Lipscomb and Teis Semey … free hybridizations from the North on #neuguitars #blog
I would like to reflect with you on two aspects: first, how free jazz continues to be one of the genres most susceptible to continuous innovations and changes, second, how much of the most interesting music continues to come to us from Northern Europe. Let’s start with Free Jazz. If improvisation is a game in which the mind plays with itself, in which an idea can come into play to be used for short pleasant moments before being replaced by another idea and in which an involuntary reflex, an error , a wrong note, the momentary emergence of an unconscious impulse, normally kept hidden, everything, all this can become a source of inspiration, then I think it becomes impossible to define the aesthetic limits of this kind.
In the 1960s, in the radical circles of the “free jazz” movement, freedom was an ethical and political concept, as well as an aesthetic one. “Free” music was not simply a fad of the times, and not just a form of entertainment. It also felt connected with many political movements that at that time set out to change the world, in this case, to free the world from the tyranny of traditional forms, considered as outdated. Free improvisation was seen as the possible basis for a new form of universal communication, through non-verbal communication, capable of connecting improvisational musicians of different traditions. In this, “free” music has had an indisputable success, going beyond African-American borders and becoming a model for musicians from other cultures and traditions, hybridizing with these and, like a benign virus, pollinating and creating new lateral forms, changing continuously, avoiding a lethal aesthetic crystallization. Do you want some examples? Let’s talk about Jon Lipscomb and Teis Semey. Jon Lipscomb is a guitarist, improviser and sound engineer based in Malmö, Sweden. He works mainly in the fields of free improvisation, rock and noise. He has performed in the United States and Europe and has collaborated and improvised with Brandon Lopez, Jarrett Gilgore, Anders Lindsjö, Wendel Patrick, Ole Mofjell, Jaimie Branch, Ian McColm, Amirtha Kidambi, Dave Treut, Anais Blondet, Jason Nazary, Sam Weinberg , Andrew Smiley, Luke Stewart, Zach Rowden, Lea Kurt Kotheimer, Sam Ospovat, Chris Pistiokios, Nick Jozwiak, Ola Rubin and Anders Uddeskog. Projects include Loplop, The Invisible Party, Pantagruelian Quintet, Swedish Fix, Lipscomb Quartet, Whoarfrost, Reina Terror, Windhorse, Start Again Ensemble.
Let’s talk about “Shuman Kind” (2017), the debut album of The Invisible Party, a trio of high-impact improvisers, composed with Kurt Kotheimer (Bass) and Dave Treut (Drums). It is a trio that plays only in attack, a three-pronged attack based on sketches of spontaneity, out of place phrases, free energy and decomposed joy. The Invisible Party are good, they have a splendid interplay and place themselves on that fleeting border between rock, improvisation and a musicality that knows how to forget, at the right moment, the technique, in favor of a great energy and desire.
Lipscomb maintains these characteristics even when playing solo, as you can listen to in “Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1” (2016), where energy merges into an amalgam made of distortion, tension and logic schizophrenia.
Elements that we also find in “Soup For My Family” (2020), with a perfect balance between intensity, power and pure sound. Between the Gothic and the Baroque.
Teis Semey grew up in the Danish countryside and in the industrial city of Malm̈o. After overcoming a difficult youth thanks to music, he wisely decided to dedicate his life to it, with more than honorable results. After studying in Malm̈o, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Los Angeles, he now lives in Amsterdam and in 2021 released his third album, “Mean Mean Machine”, as the lead band of the Teis Semey Quintet.
If Lipscomb is more experimental and radical, Semey explores everything from punk to free to indie rock. Difficult music to file under, but no less exciting. The quintet shows great interplay and harmony, expressing their potential to the full and unleashing on unorthodox melodies and rhythms.
I believe that both Lipscomb and Semey are the current expression of a new audio culture, which emerged at the end of the 20th century, a culture of musicians, composers, improvisers, sound artists, scholars and listeners attentive to the substance of sound, listening and creative possibilities of sound recording, reproduction and transmission. Their music is the result of a constellation of distinct but interconnected phenomena, of a new type of post-modern sound literacy, history and memory management. At the same time they represent the drama of utopias: how can the world be changed if it changes constantly? What if every change rule fails to pass a severe overhaul? The combinations, as Lipscomb and Semey demonstrate, are myriad and cross fertilization is still ongoing. Let’s keep an eye on them.