Tag Archives: Music

KEITH ROWE: THE ROOM EXTENDED – Brian Olewnick (2018)

Keith Rowe The Room Extended

I’ve started this review three times, and always deleted what I had. This is version number 4. Not that this will be much better, but the only approach left to me is to start with stating how difficult this review is to write.

There’s two reasons for that. The first is that most regular readers of this blog are totally unfamiliar with Keith Rowe and his kind of experimental music, and I don’t really feel like writing a few paragraphs explaining it. Including links to YouTube videos might be an option – but Rowe’s is generally delicate music that doesn’t translate well via laptop or smartphone speakers, so I’m not sure that would convince anyone who’s not already into the fold. I will post a list of my 5 favorite Rowe albums after the review, should you be interested. While for some this might seem extreme music – both in its harshness and its silent, subdued nature – for me these albums resonate emotionally in the most profound way possible.

The second reason is a gratitude towards both Keith Rowe and Brian Olewnick I simply don’t feel for any other subject or writer I’ve reviewed on this blog. Rowe is one of the very few musicians that changed the way I think about music, and the one that changed it in the most fundamental way possible. Dark Rags, his duo recording with saxophonist Evan Parker, truly was a gateway album that took me from jazz and free improvisation to another world entirely, a world I am still exploring more than 15 years later. Most of my other musical fads have faded long since – it’s only very occasionally I put on an album by Anthony Braxton, let alone one by Frank Zappa.

Olewnick has been a guide into that world as well, as he pointed me in the direction of a myriad of other musical gems, via reviews on his Just Outside blog, and in the online community that once existed on the I Hate Music forum – in the days before Facebook and smartphones destroyed message boards.

The importance of music in my life can hardly be overstated, and both Rowe and Olewnick have been key figures – so there’s the reason for a certain kind of diffidence, a trepidation that led me to delete 3 earlier versions of this text.

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Below are year-end lists I posted on the great I Hate Music forum. As is the case for a lot of message boards, it isn’t very active anymore, as most of the discussion has moved to Facebook and elsewhere, but its archives are still a treasure-trove for the adventurous music lover…

I’ve edited a bit here and there, but mostly these lists are like I posted them initially, and they serve as snapshots of an evolving taste. As you’ll see there’s lots of Erstwhile Records releases in the lists. The consistency of that label’s output is truly amazing, and probably unique in the world of progressive, experimental music.

The lists focus on experimental – improvisational, “post-Cageian”, abstract, taomud, what have you – music on the one hand, and metal on the other, plus the occasional alternative, jazz or pop album.


albums of the year
Michael Pisaro – Continuum Unbound (Gravity Wave)
Manfred Weder & Toshiya Tsunoda – Detour (Erstwhile Records)
Sammath – Godless Arrogance (Hammerheart)

top 2
Nicked Drake (Gareth Dickson) – Wraiths (Scissor Tail)
Utah Kawasaki & Ju Sei – U As In Utah (Meena)
Laurence Crane – Chamber Works 1992-2009 (Another Timbre)
disc 2 of Jürg Frey & Radu Malfatti – II (Erstwhile)
Intergalactic Lovers – Little Heavy Burdens (Warner Music)

top 3
Ryoko Akama – Code of Silence (Melance Edition)
Jürg Frey – Pianist, Alone (performed by R. Andrew Lee) (Irritable Hedgehog)
Lucio Capece – Factors Of Space Constancy (Drone Sweet Drone)
Jason Lescalleet – This is what I do vol. 2 (Glistening Examples)
Jason Lescalleet – This is what I do vol. 3 (Glistening Examples)
Morton Feldman – Two Pianos and other works 1953-1969 (played by John Tilbury & Philip Thomas) (Another Timbre)
Domains – Sinister Ceremonies (The Sinister Flame)


record of the year
Lucio Capece – Less is Less: Music for Flying and Pendulating Speakers (Intonema)

Michael Pisaro – Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds (Gravity Wave)
Michael Pisaro – The Punishment of the Tribe by its Elders (Gravity Wave)
Toshiya Tsunoda – ο κόκκος της άνοιξης (Grains of Spring) (edition.t)
Toshiya Tsunoda – The Temple Recording (edition.t)
Toshiya Tsunoda & Haco – TramVibration (Skiti)

metal album of 2013
White Medal – Guthmers Hahl (Legion Blothan / Aphelion Productions)

other metal
Profanatica – Thy Kingdom Cum (Hells Headbangers)
Imprecation – Satanae Tenebris Infinita (Dark Descent)
Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam (Nuclear Blast)
Fanisk – Insularum (Darker Than Black)
Vastum – Patricidal Lust (20 Buck Spin)
Prosanctus Inferi – Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Zealotry – The Charnel Expanse (Memento Mori)


top album (without a shadow of a doubt, desert island stuff)
Tsunoda & Michael Pisaro – Crosshatches (Erstwhile)

Propagandhi – Failed States (Epitaph)
Keith Rowe – September (Erstwhile)
Michael Pisaro – Fields Have Ears (6) (Gravity Wave)
Christian Wolfe & Keith Rowe – ErstLive 010 (Erstwhile)

discovery of the year would be the choral work of Schubert, the 7 disc set of his sacred works by Wolfgang Sawallisch is a gem of utter delight (EMI)

best live performances
Anthony Braxton, alto saxophone solo – AMUZ, Antwerp, 10/2
Agustí Fernández, piano solo – Follow The Sound, De Singel, Antwerp, 10/25
John Zorn, Milford Graves & Bill Laswell – Jazz Middelheim, Antwerp, 8/16
Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio – De Singer, Rijkevorsel, 12/12

favorite metal records, in no order
Krallice – Years Past Matter (self released)
Demoncy – Enthroned Is The Night (Forever Plagued)
Profanatica – Sickened By The Holy Ghosts / Grand Masters Session (Hell’s Headbangers)
Lycus – MMXI (lp issue of 2011 demo) (Flenser)
Blut Aus Nord – What Once Was… Liber II (Debemur Morti Productions)
Tukaaria – Raw To the Rapine (reissue of 2011 cassette) (Profound Lore)
Drawn & Quartered – Feeding Hell’s Furnace (Nuclear Winter)


Cruciamentum – Engulfed In Desolation (Nuclear Winter)
Krallice – Diotima (Profound Lore)
Botanist – I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead (tUMULt)
Liturgy – Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey)
Absu – Abzu (Candlelight)

greatest pop single
Jay-Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris (Roc-A-Fella)


top 3
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (Drag City)
Annette Krebs & Taku Unami – Motubachii (Erstwhile)
The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)

Michael Pisaro & Barry Chabala – Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles) (Winds Measure)
Michael Pisaro & Greg Stuart – ricefall (2) (Gravity Wave)
Michael Pisaro & Greg Stuart – A wave and waves (Cathnor)
Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet – Air Supply (Erstwhile)
Michael Pisaro & Greg Stuart – July Mountain (Engraved Glass)
Taku Sugimoto – Musical Composition Series 1 (Kid Ailack Enterprise)
Taku Sugimoto – Musical Composition Series 2 (Kid Ailack Enterprise)
John Cage & Terry Jennings (perfomed by John Tilbury & Sebastien Lexer) – Lost Daylight (Another Timbre)
Deathspell Omega – Paracletus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)


in no order
Propaghandi – Supporting Caste (Smallman Records / G7 Welcoming Committee)
Night Control – Death Control (Kill Shaman)
Drudkh – Microcosmos (Seasons Of Mist)
Radu Malfati & Klaus Filip – Imaoto (Erstwhile)
Christof Kurzmann & Burkhard Stangl – Neuschnee (Erstwhile)
The Jesus Lizard reissues (Touch And Go)

most listened to in 2009
English (Joe Foster/Bonnie Jones) & Toshimaru Nakamura – One Day (Erstwhile)

best live show
Oneida – Ekko, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 8/15


number one
Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord)

right behind that
Chris Watson – Cima Verde (Fondazione Edmund Mach & LoL Productions)
Keith Rowe – ErstLive 007 (Erstwhile)
Keith Rowe & Taku Unami – ErstLive 006 (Erstwhile)
Jason Lescalleet & Graham Lambkin – The Breadwinner (Erstwhile)
English (Joe Foster/Bonnie Jones) & Toshimaru Nakamura – One Day (Erstwhile)
The Magic I.D. – Till my breath gives out (Erstwhile)
Sebastian Lexer & Seymour Wright – Blasen (Another Timbre)
Skepticism – Alloy (Red Stream)

Faraquet – The View From This Tower (Dischord)

live show
Propagandhi – Joc de Nartist, Temse, 8/5


Keith Rowe – The Room (Erstwhile)
Mimeo – Sight (Cathnor)
Shellac – Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch & Go)
Profanatica – Profanatitas de Domonatia (Hell’s Headbangers)

That would be about it. Not really thrilled (anymore) about anything else.


Joanna Newsom – Ys (Drag City)
[N:Q] – November Quebec (Esquilo)
Keith Rowe & Toshimaru Nakamura – Between (Erstwhile)
Jason Lescalleet – The Pilgrim (Glistening Examples)
Chris Corsano – The Young Cricketer (Hot Cars Warp/Family Vineyard)
Christof Kurzmann & Ami Yoshida – a s o (Erstwhile)
David Tudor & Gordon Mumma – David Tudor & Gordon Mumma (New World)


Anthony Braxton – Quintet (London) 2004 (Live At The Royal Festival Hall) (Leo)
Fantômas – Suspended Animation (Ipecac)
Joëlle Léandre – Concerto Grosso (Live at Gasthof Heidelberg) (Jazz’Halo)
Nile – Annilation Of The Wicked (Relapse)
John Coltrane – One Down, One Up (Life At The Half Note) (Impulse!)