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Torn Light Records
1855 N Milwaukee
Chicago, IL 60647
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Ted Byrnes & Michael Foster – Solfege CD

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It’s always very special for me as a ‘harsh noise’ artist to be able to discuss the improvisational works of colleagues such as Ted Byrnes and Michael Foster as I have the opportunity to use abrasive sound language to break down and interpret the percussion and saxophone material. Ted and Micheal’s first duo studio recording SOLFEGE is highlighted by the professional recording procedure as their sound is sonically punctuated even more than its masterful usual.
I have cited Ted Byrnes’ work as my favorite ‘textural harsh noise’ as its rapid and abstract percussive strikes are not unlike the greatest lines of cracking harsh noise recordings, but made even more pronounced and made perfect by its physical percussive quality. In SOLFEGE, Michael’s incredible timing and sustained sounds bridge the gaps between Ted’s various strikes manifesting a rough forest soil under the various cracking twigs and sticks; everything amplified and crisp accentuating the silent gaps between the actions. Throughout the various tracks, even the most aggressive and rapid fire material can be paralleled to the more subdued ‘atmospheric’ tracks as Michael’s sound can be seen up very close as gravelly and working alongside Ted’s more ‘bass’ heavy percussion which can also be looked at as less gunshot-like, but rough, extended and textured.
My favourite quality of a duo work this powerful is the way everything works off of each other like bridges over rivers during WWII. The bridges are used briefly, the bridges are blown up into pieces, the bridges are hastily reconstructed with specialized gear and technique, the bridges are shot at and blown up again. Perfect lines of percussive strikes and saxophone semi-extended sounds, bridging and breaking.

– Sam McKinlay (THE RITA), 2024

The music of Michael Foster and Ted Byrnes is a study in the evolution of language and form. A saxophonist, Foster’s approach buckles preparations, non-tonal gurgles and expectorant breath to a startling, proficient command of his horns. Byrnes’ kit is augmented by an array of bells, bowls, and objects, at times arranged on the floor or otherwise assembled more conventionally, and his practice is entirely physical and grounded. Given a wide array of tools with which to work, these nine variations on a well-worn tune, oblique, convoluted, stretched threadbare, or teasingly obvious, expand and underscore jazz’ root assumptions. Taut and reactive as though dancing on the head of a pin or drawing syllables into areas of sparse, concentrated attention, Foster and Byrnes emphatically reshape the canvas and palette while the painting is being (re-)made.

-Clifford Allen

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