Tim Perkis


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Free improvisation is such a randomly created style that the process of further fiddling with live performances hardly seems like taking horrendous liberties. Players get together and create ensemble pieces in a stream-of-consciousness mode, reacting or not reacting to each other, choosing to follow or not to follow, each potentially having a completely different outlook on what is going on. Enter someone such as Tim Perkis and his electronics workshop, and you have a concept that has been repeated with a fair amount of regularity in the world of avant-garde and improvised music -- take some recordings of improvisers making weird sounds and monkey around with them. Perkolater is a short shot of Perkis' attempts to "compose" pieces from the results of various small group improvising sessions. It is something like a small cup of espresso but, despite Perkis' talents, is not the best tasting drink to be served up out of this approach at brewing music. There are a dozen pieces here, the longest under four and a half minutes. While titles have never been such an important detail in this type of music, often an afterthought better expressed with numbers and letters, the presence of provocative title summations such as "Hindenburg" or "Die Broke" inevitably points out the actually flat dimension of the music. The postperformance processing on the whole adds some repetitive elements that may or may not be attractive, depending on the philosophy of the listener. The personalities of the individual players involved have never seemed more distant, perhaps something Perkis was hoping for but an essentially unpleasant result nonetheless. Tenor saxophonist Henry Kuntz is an exception; as usual he comes through loud and clear, but just as usual a comment by the late Frank Lowe on Kuntz's playing is relevant: "He ought to change his colors up some."