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Iluso Records is an independent record label founded in 2013.

Our catalogue includes creative new music from some of the world’s best music makers.

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Bruce Gallanter from the Downtown Music Gallery reviews Iluso’s releases!

Downtown Music Gallery

The boss at DMG just released his December newsletter, in which he has included four fantastic reviews of some of our recent releases. Here they are:

STRAY [JOHN BUTCHER / JOHN RUSSELL / DOMINIC LASH / STALE LIAVIK SOLBERG] – Into Darkness (Iluso 09; Australia/USA) Stray features John Butcher on tenor & soprano saxes, John Russell on electric guitar, Dominic Lash on contrabass and Stale Liavik Solberg on drums & percussion. This internationally mixed quartet was recorded live at Iklektik in London in December of 2015. Both John Butcher and John Russell are leading lights of the London Underground Free Music scene, stretching back to the 1970’s. Both played together in the Chris Burn Ensemble, a trio with Phil Durrant which turned into a quintet called News from the Shed. A generation younger is London bassist Dominic Lash who is on some two dozen recordings although still in his thirties and is a member of Convergence Quartet, working with Alex Ward and the Wandelweiser composers. Scandinavian percussionist, Stale Liavik Solberg has turned up on discs with Joe McPhee, Steve Beresford and Paal Nilssen-Love (Pan-Scan Ensemble).

This disc is especially well recorded so that each member of the quartet is integral to the overall sound. John Russell, a contemporary of Derek Bailey, is playing electric guitar, something he rarely plays as he prefers an acoustic guitar on many of his recordings. Russell sounds like he is using some pedals like a wah-wah and distortion at times. Is he rubbing the strings? Is the distortion going into overdrive?? Mr. Butcher is at his most Evan Parker-like, spewing out those intense fractured notes on tenor sax. Whoa! This disc bristles with intensity, showing a common ground between all four musicians” focused and forthright. Bowed strings? Rubbed cymbals or drums? Guitar or sax or something else? Keep guessing.This is edge-of-your-chair improv at its best! Quite extraordinary!– Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

DOMINIC LASH QUARTET With ALEX WARD / RICARDO TEJERO / JAVIER CARMONA – Extremophile (Iluso 06; Australia/USA) Featuring Ricardo Tejero on alto sax & clarinet, Alex Ward on electric guitar & clarinet, Dominic Lash on contrabass and Javier Carmona on drums. British bassist Dominic Lash seems to straddle several strands of the UK improv scene, playing with the Convergence Quartet (half British/half NY), from the intense improv (Tony Bevan) to the more subtle (Axel Dorner & Wandelweiser Collective). It makes perfect sense that Lash would choose fellow London extremist Alex Ward, who plays amazing clarinet (with Derek Bailey) and often brutal guitar. The other two members of this quartet are very familiar although Mr. Carmona has worked with Alexander Hawkins and Ingrid Laubrock.

Instead of the usual group improv date, Dominic Lash wrote four of the seven pieces, with a couple of select covers, like “Mixed, Mixed” by Cecil Taylor (from 1962) and “Fumeux Fume” by Solage (14th century French composer). Mr. Lash’s “Mr. S.B.” has some intricate arranging with strong interplay between the alto sax & guitar over an ever-expanding rhythm team which seems to speed up and slow down in a most organic fashion. What’s interesting is getting to hear Alex Ward stretching out on jazz/rock guitar, not drawing from his more noisy guitar side. Oddly enough, the song by Solage (mysterious composer of whom little is known) is done quaintly and probably not very different from the original. It was considered to be unusual for its time. “Palpito” erupts with some waves of furious strummed guitar and sax tightly interwoven and soaring over the rhythmic currents underneath. Each piece shows another side to this quartet which is consistently unpredictable. Alex Ward unleashes some powerful fractured note guitar on “Unbeknownst”, with equally splintered sax tightly interacting. Mr. Tejero performs a Zorn-like alto sax blast/solo on “Slailing” which has number sections showing off Mr. Lash’s diverse writing. Cecil Taylor’s “Mixed” first appeared on an Gil Evans’ ‘Into the Hot’ album and was performed by the Cecil Taylor Sextet, arranged by Mr. Evans. Cecil taylor was still composing in a somewhat more traditional way at this time before launching off into more freer terrain afterwards.The balance between free and occasionally charted or directed sections in blurred but still filled with surprising twists and turns. Another winner for the ever-evolving Iluso label. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

ÁLVARO DOMENE & BRIGGAN KRAUSS – Live at the Firehouse Space (Iluso 05; Australia/USA) Featuring Álvaro Domene on electric guitar and Briggan Krauss on alto sax. Mr. Domene is a Madrid born guitarist, currently living in New York, co-runs the Iluso label and has played here at DMG in the not too distant past. Saxist Briggan Krauss is a longtime member of the Downtown Scene, having worked with Wayne Horvitz at different times as well as being a member of Sex Mob, Babkas and several projects with Andrew Drury. Like most of the original members of the early Downtown Scene, Mr. Krauss had worked long at creating his own distinctive sound on his alto sax. His unique, ultra-careful bent note sound is what we first here when this disc begins. Both he and Mr. Domene play quietly at first, taking their time and weaving their notes around one another masterfully. Over time both players start stretching their notes in similar ways, weaving their bent notes into a dense, complex tapestry. Eventually things erupt into a mind-blowing crescendo. Things calms down after that with sublime, slower paced, dream-like duo improv or dialogue. Mr. Domene used several pedals to coax long, dark, sustained tones (rather like bowed strings) which work well with mutated tongue or lip-twisting notes that Mr. Krauss has long specialized in.Both of these musicians are well-seasoned and sound like they are coming from a common place of mature and thoughtfully crafted improv. Extraordinary!– Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

MICHAEL CARATTI / RACHEL MUSSON / STEVE BERESFORD – Hesitantly Pleasant (Iluso 07; Australia/USA) Featuring Steve Beresford on piano & electronics, Rachel Musson on saxes and Michael Caratti on drums. British keyboardist Steve Beresford is often the wild card in many situations/sessions since he is at home in so many different projects. Who else has worked with a cast like this: Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Zorn & Masada, the Melody Four, the Slits and Alerations. This set was recorded at the Vortex in Lonon in January of 2017 and features tow collaborators: Mike Caratti on drums (from Australia & co-runs this label) and Rachel Musson on saxes (CD with Federico Ughi, as well as with Olie Brice, John Edwards & Mark Sanders).

There is something special going on here, tight yet free-flowing, focused and inspired. Several spinning lines are coalescing. Beresford appears to be is working inside the piano, manipulating the strings with assorted objects. Things actually calm down to a spacious, sparse section on “Complex Footwork and Violent Movement” and then slowly build pup to another more frenzied part. Overall, much of this is more restrained with playful yet spirited interplay. A most organic and often hypnotic vibe pervades. Hard to believe that this was a first time meeting of this trio as they sound like old friends creating a stimulating dialogue. Mr. Beresford’s subtle electronics are not heard until around halfway through and are utilized most carefully, adding mysterious shades to the trio. The three musicians consistently shift between duo and trio improvs, weaving several lines around one another gracefully at times and rambunctiously at other times, listening closely and flowing together.There are a number of magical moments here when the complex tapestry transcends the combined sounds of all three players. Superb.– Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Iluso Records is an independent
record label founded in 2013.
Our catalogue includes creative new music
from some of the world’s best music makers.