by Golden Retriever

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Ansible 20:17


A few years ago we were invited to do an ensemble piece at the Improvisation Summit of Portland, an annual festival of improvised music and dance. We were interested in playing with a sax quartet and percussion as a kind of expansion of our respective instrumental voices - the sax quartet being a multiplication of Jonathan's vocalistic lyricism, and Matt Hannafin's unusual percussion setup as a foil for my scattered synth bursts.

The compositional inspirations were equal parts modern horror soundtracks, the quiet intensity of Arvo Part, Gagaku's blasting wails and pointillistic percussion, Stockhausen's 70s drone phase, and our favorite aspects of free jazz. The piece took the form of loosely notated, workshopped guided improvisations within the confines of a set structure.

A year or so later we got a chance to perform the piece again, this time adding a fifth sax player, and took the opportunity to have Branic Howard record it. After taking forever working with the recorded material, eventually we had a piece with a strong identity that seemed to stand in its own world but wasn't enough for a full-length. It seemed to need more music to pair it with, but we hadn't continued or revisited its particular aesthetic.

Eventually we asked some friends to make remixes of the material as a solution to this problem. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma took the most delicate part and seemed to slow it down until it became a shimmering modal massage, adding Feldman-esque punctuations on something sounding like tubular bells. And Spencer Doran from Visible Cloaks took a section in just intonation and shattered it into a thousand glass shards, with the arrow of time pointing in every conceivable direction.

Together it almost makes a cohesive album. A series of iterations on a specific sound world. We're happy to finally get it out there as it's an important part of an ongoing development of live electro-acoustic ensemble music, and other collaborations with acoustic instrumentalists.


released October 31, 2020


Ansible - Breath - 0:00
Ansible - Dissonance - 2:00
Ansible - Ascent - 6:18
Ansible - Paroxysm - 9:42
Ansible - Reprieve - 13:19
Ansible - Vibrato - 18:56


Noah Bernstein - soprano sax
Matt Carlson - synthesizers
Joe Cunningham - tenor sax
Matt Hannafin - percussion
Andy Rayborn - baritone sax
John Savage - tenor sax
Jonathan Sielaff - bass clarinet, effects
Reed Wallsmith - alto sax

Remixes by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Spencer Doran

Art by Blair Saxon-Hill
Recorded by Branic Howard
Mixed by Matt Carlson


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Golden Retriever Portland, Oregon

Golden Retriever was formed in Portland, Or. in 2008 by multi-instrumentalists Jonathan Sielaff & Matt Carlson. Focusing on the relationship of two primarily monophonic instruments (modular synth & bass clarinet), and utilizing layering with a deft balance of improvisation & composition, the duo has created an infinitely varied approach to their sound world. ... more

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