Jeff Kaiser (Trumpet/Laptop) and David Borgo (Woodwinds/Laptop)
KaiBorg explores the intersections of cutting-edge computer music and contemporary improvisation. Employing custom signal processing techniques and hardware mapping strategies, the musicians perform on "hybrid instruments" that extend their acoustic sonic palettes and afford new spatialization opportunities, all without sacrificing the sense of intimacy and speed of interaction required in improvised settings.
David and Jeff record music that seems to draw theoretically from German progressive/experimental artists from the 1970s...but the sound is much more current and relies on bizarre twenty-first century technology. The way the duo manages to incorporate saxophones and trumpets into the mix is particularly strange and appealing. This is a wildly experimental album full of strange sounds and odd surprises. The tracks are more like sound collages than music. Because of the far out nature of these pieces it is difficult to describe this album. If you like real experimental music, there's a good chance this music will elevate you to another level… One of the crazier albums yet to be released by this esoteric label... TOP PICK.
Since both Jeff and David play laptops as well as mutant instruments with extended techniques, there are a number of strange sounds which are not so easy to identify. Weird drones, twisted wind sounds and electronic whatnot swirl around one another in different layers and in unusual combinations. What makes this special is the way the acoustic wind sounds and electronics blend together into one strong, integrated sound. The overall sound is often weird yet everything evokes fascinating and provocative images. Although Mr. Borgo plays soprano & sopranino saxes, usually those saxes are manipulated and altered in all types of strange ways. The same with the trumpet, if we didn't know better it would be hard to tell who is playing what. Most often these sounds are quite cosmic yet never indulgent. Occasionally bizarre, but no less riveting.
—Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
The world of electronic music has altered drastically since the days of Milton Babbitt and the RCA Synthesizer. . . one man in extended real- virtual time with a wall of glowing tubes and tediously compiled punch cards. You can do things on a laptop or two live that used to take months in the studio to accomplish, tape splicing block in hand. New software gives improvisers the ability to incorporate live electronics into their performances without a mass of equipment. Of course making things easier does not always lead to more "masterpieces." You get what the musicians' ideas can accommodate. Happily there is nothing ill-considered, unimaginative or hastily conceived in the music of today's posting.
KaiBorg's new CD Harvesting Metadata (pfMENTUM 058) reflects contemporary technical developments with music that entertains, challenges and stimulates. KaiBorg consists of reedman-composer David Borgo and composer-quarter-tone- trumpeter Jeff Kaiser. Together they explore the electro-acoustic interstices with a varied program of pieces that alternately overwhelms the senses and gives pause for contemplation. There are moments of thick electronic texture and quieter way stations of comparative repose. Free-style improvisations have counter ballast in the electronics that give form to a dialog between two imaginative players and their performance resources.
This music can at times be a bit abrasive but always expressive. It's an impressive outing.
By the sonics that guide my ears, there is little more exciting than music like David and Jeff perform here as "KaiBorg"; of course, my aural appendages are ever-so-slightly jaded, twisted & bent, so some of you reading this will wonder why I'm reviewing it. All you have to do to find out the answer to that question is listen to the marvelous/intriguing "Flow Control"... make sure you do it with 'phones on, and you'll hear the attraction right away
(unless you're such a sonic sludgemudgeon that you can't stand "different"). I've been listening to Jeff's work for many years now, & reviewed one of David's CD's way back in issue # 69; these gents are veterans, & musically well-educated vets, at that. Great music for adventurous listeners... for me, it was the mysterious "Postural Schema" that got the vote for favorite track... bottom line is that if you love aural adventure, you'll have to have this superbly constructed CD in your collection. It certainly merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.
Co-led by saxophonist David Borgo and drummer Paul Pellegrin, Kronomorfic is an ensemble dedicated to the exploration of polymetric time (e.g., 3:4:5, 3:5:7, 6:7:9, 8:12:15, 7:11, 9:13, 11:18). The compositions develop multi-layered rhythmic phrases using interlocking melodies that evolve through rhythmic modulations and individual and collective improvisations. The ensemble’s first album, Micro Temporal Infundibula, was released in 2010 on pfMENTUM Records. The second installment, Entangled, was released in 2014 on OA2 Records.
Invitingly intricate music that manages to make the trickiest time signatures sound warm and appealing. It’s seriously made music that is seriously fun to hear.
— San Diego Union Tribune
The rhythms on this album are just crazy... But it’s not just a forest of time signatures. What’s really brain-warping are the polyrhythms... The opening ‘deprong mori’ is almost enough to give you motion sickness—catchy and yet impenetrable, a spinny ride that keeps swerving at the wrong time... And there are solos—passionate, swinging solos that cut across the time lines, like jazzy braille darting through an other-dimensional sighted world.
— Memory Select: Avant Jazz Radio
Kronomorfic synthesizes the ancient to the future—utilizing very complex rhythmic strategies as the unifier... Borgo seems to have absorbed the history of modern saxophone into his c.V.... [pellegrin’s] fluid command of the trap-set is similar to jack dejohnette’s maddeningly casual sleight-of-hand... Barrett is a gifted soloist who answers the question of what toots thielemans might have sounded like if he has apprenticed in the art ensemble of chicago... [hubbard’s] marimba work is intricate and spell-binding, and his occasional solos are creative gems... [weller’s] got a huge, woody sound... Performing the often staggered, loping vamps that lash the interlocking poly-meters together... Garrison conjures up electronic clouds of voodoo that hover in the background... Special guest jeff kaiser contributes a searing trumpet solo that hones ‘jeannot’s knife’ to an even sharper edge... Despite the inherent complexity of the music on this release, all of the layered polymetric claves and interlocking melodies are performed so seamlessly that the listener is left only to ponder the incredible beauty on micro temporal infundibula. Highly recommended.
— All About Jazz
Some music sneaks up on you... This is a kind of jazz that grooves as it also provides some quite sophisticated musical fare. There are african influences and much else besides. Kronomorfic is a total pleasure for those with ears hungry for something beyond the ordinary. There are metrical grooves, highly interesting voicings for the ensemble, interestingly atypical melodies, contrapuntal ensemble densities that keep interest levels high, and some very worthy improvisations, especially from David Borgo.
— Gapplegate Review
Forward thinking, cutting edge yet wildly accessible ... an impressionistic journey that cuts through tradition ... a journey to a new land of rhythm and groove ... an organic deconstruction of lyrical time and space ... at times stunning!
Music that engages both brain and viscera -- even though locating the "one" can be a harder mission than finding a parking space on Black Friday ... A dizzying vortex fed by the currents of 9 vs. 13 beats coalesce in "Cellar Door," which boasts liquid solos from Sprague and Borgo ... Pellegrin's drums straddle the divide between ethnic and orchestral percussion with a level of excitement that is hard to describe ... In all, it’s challenging but rewarding music.
— NBC San Diego
You get five songs with times changing faster than a transcontinental flight... Even if you don’t know the difference between a 5/4 rhythm and a Louisiana two step, you’ll find this collection of sophisticated ideas pleasing to the senses of time and space”
— Jazz Weekly
These compositions are complex, unorthodox, and unpredictable. And yet, they manage to retain strong melodies and a pure sense of direction ... The playing is precise and impeccable while sounding spontaneous and inspired.
— Baby Sue
Strangely alluring music, where melodic fragments flourish in the soil of odd meters and cross-currents of rhythms. This is music that seems like it should keep people out of reach, but it’s so terrifically compelling that it makes friends with great ease... This is like a late-sixties Inside/Out construction, but where the traditional “Inside” is replaced by more Out, but which is massively tuneful and, ironically, presents an “In” structure, albeit an unconventional one, for the improvisations to flourish. Fans of Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill and (later-period) Bobby Hutcherson will enjoy this as much as fans of modern acts like Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms. Highly Recommended.
— Wondering Sound
Complex but gripping constructions. At the same the music is accessible and moving. The playing is excellent and engaging. They truly master the complexity of the compositions and turn it into captivating and vivid music.
— Vital Weekly
A sonic adventure... “wide-open” in their exploration, with lots of nice build and regress going on throughout...I give David, Paul & the rest of their crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for listeners who want some “different” in the mix.
— Improvijazzation Nation
The band experiments in polymetric time signatures, which is multiple time signatures played at the same time. Despite that heady description, this isn't too difficult to listen to. Sure, it takes a few listens to really get what's going on, but the band is aware of the ability to enjoy a piece as well as to understand it on a theoretical level. Pellegrin's work on the drums seems to tie it all together, at times seeming to do really odd things, only to turn it around to become an integral part of the rhythm being constructed... Worth checking out for someone who likes to think while listening to jazz.
There are times when the cycling of motives sounds vaguely Braxtonian, or even a bit related to Tim Berne in his latest Snakeoil phase, but otherwise this is intricate, original avant jazz that thrives on complex forms of swinging polymetric composed freedom... In short Entangled is in every way a winner.
— Gapplegate Music Review
Great sounds for contemplating either your navel or the universe, these are sounds that put the tea in the tea pad
— Midwest Record
Liner Notes for Microtemporal Infundibula
Any detailed description of this phenomenon would baffle the layman, but any comprehensible explanation would insult an expert. – Kurt Vonnegut
We live our lives in time, but we experience our life across time, as a dynamic and complex overlay of temporal narratives that shape meaning. Folklore, history and culture all saturate space with time, and our personal evolving time-place nexus helps us to make sense of the multiple contexts we embody and experience.
One of music’s most laudable qualities may be its ability to bring us fully into the present, but it does this via its own complex layering of sound, space and time. Infundibula comes from the Latin word for funnel, and it is used to describe, among other things, a variety of funnel-like structures in the lungs, heart, kidneys, ovaries and brain. Kurt Vonnegut adopted the term in his novel The Sirens of Titan to describe a kind of wormhole through time and space "where all the different kinds of truths fit together."
Kronomorfic is a collaborative effort to explore layers of musical time that coexist and interweave in ever more complex interrelationships. The compositions are mostly structured using hybrid rhythmic phrases in polymetric time (e.g., 5/3/4, 7/5/3, 6/7/9, 8/12/15). These hybrid phrases provide the clavé (or “key”) from which the melodic counterpoint, rhythmic modulation and improvisations emerge. For us, Micro Temporal Infundibula are intermediary time strata within these clavés that allow disparate and seemingly conflicting rhythms to communicate with one another.
Deprong Mori was named for a species of bat in Venezuela (the “piercing devil”) believed to be able to penetrate solid objects. Technically the song alternates sections with meters of 10, 9 and 13 beats, but these shifts can be heard as different perceptual facets of a sonic prism that is formed by a single interlocking ostinato. Tehuantepec, the Isthmus that represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, may evoke the marimba melodies from that region, but here they take on an entirely new character in a 10-beat meter. The loping drum and bass patterns of Perambulate create a 3-against-4 feel that underlies the tune’s polychordal harmony and outward-bound solos. Dendochrone Currents, an elliptical reference to the science of tree ring dating, starts with a meditative guitar intro and then establishes a polymeter of 12/15/8 (with the marimba, horns, and bass respectively) before launching into solos over a 6-against-9 feel (with an implied stratum of 4). Gnomon, named for the part of the sundial that casts a shadow, starts with a collective free improvisation that leads into alternating sections of 12 and 9 beats. The soloing is over a heated Balkan-inspired feel that alternates 2-3-2-2-2-3-2-3-2-3 with 2-3-2-2-3-3-3.
Repolarization combines a vibes part in 7, a horn melody in 6, and a bass line in 9. The “polarity” of the title refers to the way in which the horns and vibes synchronize only at the beginning of their phrases in the A sections and only at the end of their phrases in the B sections. Jeannot’s Knife, a French parable about a knife whose blade and handle has been replaced 15 times, raises the question of whether an object which has had all its component parts replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The reference here is both to the way in which the composition unfolded—with an initial rhythmic structure generating a melody that, in turn, implied a different rhythmic structure—and to how the horns and vibes create their melodic phrases anew each time by selecting pitches from a pre-given hexachord. Rhythmically, the vibes and horns phrase in 7-against-5 (heard in the hi-hat), while the bowed bass plays a repeating 7-beat phrase across the meter of 5. The hand drumming cycles with two iterations of the bass line and can be counted 3-3-3-5. The trumpet-with-live-electronics solo by special guest Jeff Kaiser seems to push the paradox of the title even further, as the notion of “component parts” gives way to a feeling of hybridity and distributed agency.
Autopoiesis, or “self-creation,” refers to any system that regenerates itself, acting as both producer and product. It offers a compelling metaphor for the way in which the rhythms of these complex clavés often seem to generate one another. Two clavés are used in this tune: 3/4/5/ and 3/5/7. The bass plays in 5 throughout, while the horn melody modulates between 3 and 7, and the vibes between 4 and 3. Ossuary was inspired (even haunted) by a visit to the ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic, a chapel with chandeliers, candelabra, chalices and a coat of arms all made from human bones. The tune starts with a clavé of 6/8/5 (in the drums, vibes and bowed bass respectively), which then alternates with a 9/8/6/ clave (in the pizzicado bass, horns, and vibes). The improvised solos happen over the “big 9” in the bass, after which the melody returns and slowly recedes as the drums, bowed bass, vibes and electric guitar all come to rest.
Liner Notes for Entangled
To be entangled is not simply to be intertwined with another, as in the joining of separate entities, but to lack an independent, self-contained existence. Existence is not an individual affair. Individuals do not preexist their interactions; rather, individuals emerge through and as part of their entangled intra-relating.*
Lumpen Momentum opens the album with a heady and headlong rush towards a type of energy perhaps most often found amongst the “miscreants and outcasts” that, for Marx, made up the submerged elements of society. The tune itself is written around a “prismatic” clave heard in the interlocking contrabass and vibraphone parts. The melody modulates around it, first in a meter of 11, and later in a meter of 7.
Cellar Door hinges on the angular asymmetry that exists between the contrabass and vibraphone parts, which together articulate a hybrid polymeter of 9-against-13, but on their own are not easily perceived as being in one meter or the other. The rhythmic interplay and juxtaposition becomes even more complex as the horn and guitar lines combine to produce a type of “hocketing" effect.
An improvised guitar solo plants the musical roots that grow into Rhizome. On a technical level, the modulations in this tune also involve subdivisions of 9 and 13, but, like all of Kronomorfic’s music, the whole is meant to be apprehended as a non-hierarchical multiplicity that resists dualistic modes of thought.
Three separate compositions commingle and intra-relate with solo and group improvisations to form the Entangled suite. Collectively, the themes of Phantom Limb, Transmigration, and Thought Insertion push past our conventional understandings of the boundaries and relationships between body, mind, and spirit. Musically, Phantom Limb features drums and horns modulating from 7 to 9 around the ostinato heard in the contrabass and vibraphone. The closing section features a floating guitar line in an expanded “9” count over the equivalent of 3 bars of the original phrase. Transmigration is probably the most complex—or at least the longest—rhythm on the album. It starts with a very slow 11-beat phrase broken into a 3-5-3 pattern that is heard on the floor tom and cymbal. The pulse then gets subdivided to arrive at the 9-15-9 groove over which the melody and the first set of solos takes place. The flute solo happens over a 9-beat montuno section that leads into an extended solo bass feature. The marimba-and-drum duo is in a 15-beat feel that gives way to some collectively improvised entanglement. Thought Insertion is in a “straight” 6/8 meter, but the fifth bar of each 5-bar phrase inserts a brief “tag” by superimposing a “4” feel. The groove might be somewhere between an Afro-Peruvian beat and a samba, but, in the end, it all sounds rather otherworldly. Some additional “paranormal” group improvising leads to a spirited drum-and-bass duet and a cascading finale.
Creeping Normalcy refers to how significant changes that occur gradually often go unnoticed (sometimes explained metaphorically through the boiling frog story). The first part of the tune is in a meter of 19 beats. During the second part an 18-beat meter becomes the new normal. At the very end a 21-beat marimba phrase is superimposed on it, reminding us that significant changes are always occurring around us, whether we notice them or not.
Time and space, like matter and meaning, come into existence, are iteratively reconfigured through each intra-action, thereby making it impossible to differentiate in any absolute sense between creation and renewal, beginning and returning, continuity and discontinuity, here and there, past and future.*
* Karan Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning
In addition to Borgo and Pellegrin, the group has featured a host of extraordinary musicians, including: Bill Barrett on chromatic harmonica, Michael Dessen on trombone, John Fumo on trumpet and flugelhorn, Emily Hay on flute, Ben Schachter on tenor saxophone, Peter Sprague on guitar, Brad Dutz and Anthony Smith on mallet instruments, Mark Dresser, Andy Zacharias, and Danny Weller on contrabass, and Paul “Junior” Garrison on electric guitar and effects.