Mike Ladd: voice, words & visions / sound constructor | Alexandre Pierrepont: voice, words & visions / sound designer | Gymkhana: sound manipulator | Stéphane Gombert: voice | William Parker: guimbri | Hamid Drake: frame drum | Joshua Abrams: mpc, harmonium, guimbri, percussion | Alex Dézé: erratic piano | Hamid Drake: drums | Warren Ellis: violin, loops | Marguerite Ladd: sampled composition | Rob Mazurek: cornet, effects | Roscoe Mitchell: alto saxophone | John Moloney: electronics, percussion | Gene Moore: electric guitar | Thurston Moore: electric guitar | Joe Morris: electric guitar | David Murray: tenor saxophone | Bill Nace: electric guitar | Evan Parker: soprano saxophone | Jeff Parker: electric guitar | William Parker: bass | Oscar Pierrepont: vocals | Matana Roberts: clarinet | Craig Taborn: mini-moog, Wurlitzer, bent circuit devices
Recorded between June 2007 and July 2008 in New York, Chicago and Paris. Mixed in Paris by Gymkhana, Alexandre Pierrepont and Mike Ladd. Mastering: Jean-Pierre Bouquet. Liner Notes: Greg Tate and Henri Threadgill. Deawings: Emmanuel Fenet
Tracklist: 1. Hall 2. Chamber 12 3. Chamber 3 4. Chamber 8
5. Chamber 73 6. Chamber 22 7. Antechamber 8. Chamber 20 9. Chamber 72 10. Chamber 8 11. Chamber 2 12. Chamber 21 13. Corridor
On one level, both music and poetry
are very much the same, that being sound – at least the spoken word would be.
Here in “Haunted House” is a sound design or shape being put forth with multiple meanings psychoacoustically, linguistically, musically that I can only say very little about in terms of meaning, since ultimately it’s meaning will be with each individual who experiences this work.
This rhythmic engagement between these two art forms create a third reality of sound gestures and events that collide and integrate. Yet knowing these facts it still does not allow me to analyze or describe exactly what “Haunted House” is.
Hopefully this experience will be a catalyst at some level for good. — Henri Threadgill, excerpts from the liner notes
Alexandre Pierrepont | Photo by Peter Gannushkin
There’s a recurring argument about whether the marriage of jazz and poetrycan ever be properly consummated
with strong opinions on either side, but the majority of adherents in the naysayers camp. Partly it’s to do with the inflexibility of the words, which can’t respond in the moment to the musician’s whim, forcing the music to take a subservient position, and partly it’s that words struggle to withstand repeated listening with the same robustness as such an abstract art form as jazz.
Both of these problems are overcome to a degree on Maison Hantee (Haunted House)—a collaboration between French poet Alexandre Pierrepont and hip-hop MC and producer Mike Ladd, perhaps best known to AAJ readers for his associations with pianist Vijay Iyer. Firstly, some of the musical accompaniment was recorded separately from the recitation, and avoids any desire to enter lock-step with the strut of the poetry. Secondly, much of the recitation is in French which, for those less than fluent, means that there are fewer obstacles to the appreciation of the words as sounds, and can more comfortably sit alongside the abstract qualities of the music.
Lavishly packaged, with a booklet containing both the original French and English translations bookended by short essays from Henry Threadgill and Greg Tate, this project is clearly a labor of love for the RogueArt label. Much thought has also gone into the content, whereby three distinct layers interact on each piece. First are the “Inhabitants & Outhabitants,” comprising the words and visions of Pierrepont and Ladd, the voice of Stephane Gombert, who declaims Pierrepont’s words, and the sound manipulations of French producer Gymkhana. Next is “Currents & Undercurrents,” an ebbing and flowing world music rhythm track improvised in a single session by William Parker’s guimbri and Hamid Drake’s frame drum, which underpins virtually the whole 72 minutes. Finally there are the extemporized contributions, including the staggering range of “Guests & Ghosts,” recorded at a different time and places and integrated into the finished construct, in line with Pierrepont and Ladd’s conception.
There’s also a formal arrangement of rooms in the Haunted House, with the Chambers increasing in sonic density until they reach the Antechamber, followed by a mirror-image decrease. With the exception of Parker and Drake’s funky drum and bass backing for Ladd’s rapping on the second “Chamber 8,” the musical backdrops don’t explicitly relate to the style or content of the recitations, other than adding yet another layer to their opaqueness of meaning. While Roscoe Mitchell’s swirling alto saxophone sermon on “Chamber 12” and Evan Parker’s serpentine soprano saxophone outpouring on “Chamber 21” particularly grab the ear, elsewhere words and music transmute into a singular hypnotic dreamlike experience, helped by some subtle electronic sampling and manipulation on occasion.
While Pierrepont and Ladd don’t clinch the argument, they have come up with a compelling statement which withstands repeated listening and should appeal to more than just those who savor the intersection of free jazz and poetry. — John Sharpe
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)