Downtown Music Gallery
Review: Andy Haas/Ken Aldcroft “Notes on the Miasms” (resonantmusic 010)
BY: Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Featuring Andy Haas on sax & electronics and Ken Aldcroft on guitar. Both of these musicians are longtime members of different scenes but have interacted on occasion throughout their long musical journeys. Andy Haas lived and was musically active in Toronto some thirty years ago as an original member of Martha & the Muffins and has been living in NY since the eighties. Andy has worked with a number of Downtown's finest: John Zorn, Ikue Mori & Zeena Parkins and was/is a member of Radio I-Ching. Guitarist Ken Aldcroft has been an integral part of the Toronto scene for many years, working with William Parker and releasing a number of solo, duo and trio discs. Andy and Ken played here at DMG with William Parker earlier this year (2012) and this is their first duo disc.

All of the music here was improvised in the studio with no overdubs. This is tight, intense and extremely focused improv. Wow! Andy plays sax and electronics simultaneously, occasionally altering his sax, so this often sounds like a trio. The overall vibe moves between mesmerizing and disorienting with two or three layers one lines moving around one another, often connecting at different points. At times Ken's playing reminds me of Derek Bailey's but less abstract and/or not overly obtuse. I like when the density or pace calms down a bit so we can appreciate the free spirit in a more relaxed way. I know that Andy plays soprano and alto sax and hear his soprano here. He has a playful tone not too far from the late Lol Coxhill which makes his playing easier to deal with that those overwhelm the listener with their circular-breathing epics. I like that Mr. Haas use his electronics sparingly, giving the music a more organic or human quality. What makes this disc is special is the often dream-like quality that pervades throughout. Mr. Aldcroft seems to use little or no devices to alter the tone of his acoustic or semi-electric guitar, also giving the proceedings a warmer vibe. Magic music once again feels so good to me.