This is UnFolkUs’ first and only release. This Seattle improvisors super group featured Paul Hoskin, Bill Horist, Eveline Muller-Graf and Rob Bageant. The band discovered and explored depths of quietude as deep as their walls of noise were tall (which is not to say that they don’t retain a penchant for well-placed sonic assaults).
"UnFolkUs pushes its music through a kaleidoscope of effects, extensions, and extremeties and onto a fresh sonic terrain build out of free jazz and post-classical, contemporary concert music." - The Stranger. This disc is a joint release between Unit Circle Rekkids and the band.
This is from a joint review of UnFolkUs and Outhouse
Further evidence of a local contemporary improv scene on these two CDs, emanating from Seattle-based bands... UnFolkUs is quite a different affair, inward-looking and mysterious. The four players work well with a clear serious intent to performing with commitment. The internal mechanics that make improvisation work like a series of meshing gears are all here, and not just a series of empty forms learned from old records. In performance, you can still discern the odd ghost of rock music in the guitar sounds and the percussion stylings (played by Eveline Muller-Graf, on 'sharp metal objects') now and again. Some of the players are a little afraid of getting too unhinged; they occasionally yearn to retreat into areas of patterned rhythms or modal scales. But Paul Hoskin more than makes up for this, as the 'purest'improvisor of the players here, he blows a contrabass clarinet that virtually paints your speakers black. When he lets rip on the alto sax, and Bill Horist deploys his pedals, the combination can be like a low-rent Hendrix meeting an undiscovered BYG label free-jazz obscurity. This mixture extends to the recording itself, which combines a documentation technique so upfront and accurate that Hoskin is breathing right in your face - with more rockish elements like use of effects pedals at source, and permitting overdubs (which few uptight UK improvisers would go for). My advice to the team would be to let the ideas hang out even more - these tracks could have been spun into something twice their length, and might appear less inconsequential.
Hoskin is some kind of veteran and reckoned to be a founder of the improv scene in Seattle; after his world travels and sojurns in the East (NYC), he returned to Seattle to play with local combos Tactile and Bolt. UnFolkUs have performed in downtown art galleries; good to hear, with the dark and strange emotions this music generates, that Seattle has a grimy and gritty side too (something not reflected in Frasier!).
Remember that quirky, experimental Bill Horist disc i reviewed a while back? (It was SOYLENT RADIO, for those of ye who've already forgotten, and it's still well worth investigating. Incidentally, Horist is on tour now and it probably wouldn't hurt for you to go see him, either.) Well, it turns out Horist is also a member of this avant ensemble, which also includes Eveline Muller-Graf (credited with "sharp metal objects and batterie," whatever the hell that is), stick-player Rob Bageant, and Paul Hoskin (sax, clarinet). Horist remains a purveyor of six-stringed weirdness and everybody else here is just as musically eccentric as he is, which makes for some mighty unclassifiable music. What they collectively play comes awfully close to being a noisier, more textured answer to what Sun Ra used to do with his Arkestra, only with even less of a rhythmic handle to hang onto.
I'm not even going to attempt to describe the songs (there's ten of them, by the way, with names like "Cows in the Belly," "Clap for Jesus," "Toothless in Nickelsdorf," and "The Swinging Toes") track by track -- that would practically require a dissertation in demi-jazz and deconstructionist noise, not to mention an endless glossary indexing all the various mutant sounds -- but i'll say this: they aren't fooling around. Regardless of their disdain for steady beats (when they bother with beats at all), tempos, and readily discernable structures, there is a cohesion and unity in even the most chaotic of these pieces that clearly indicates the band's collective mastery of improvisation. And improvisation is indeed at the heart of this band; their approach to textures, structures, and dynamics is very much comparable to the work of AMM and similar ensembles.
Personally, i think i preferred Horist's solo disc -- there's often a bit too much going on at once for my taste, and i think his guitar trickery was harnessed in bit more direct fashion on SOYLENT RADIO -- but this does serve as an interesting counterpoint to that disc. For those who've already heard and appreciated that disc, or who remain interested in the stylings of AMM and like-minded bands, this definitely bears listening.
Formed in '96 as an untamed noise-based improvisation ensemble who received extreme reactions good or bad.
Features members who've had many musical adventures, along with experiences ranging from learning Chinese to building percussion from aircraft.
With this sort of pedigree the music is certainly off kilter and out on it's own. The cacophony of sub-jazz influenced improvisations are in constant flux never staying in one place enough for you to get too comfortable.