Nuscope Recordings CD 1015 Burnt sienna

2nd Outlet
Luc Houtkamp, Cor Fuhler, Martin Blume

Luc Houtkamp, tenor saxophone and computer-driven live electronics; Cor Fuhler, Hamburg Steinway D concert grand piano and preparations; Martin Blume, drums and percussion.

1. Winsor Blue (09.08)
2. Solferino violet (07.45)
3. French ultramarine (02.54)
4. Arulian yellow (05.38)
5. Cadmium red (05.01)
6. Phthalocyanine green (04.56)
7. Raw umber (06.20)
8. Alizarin crimson (08.21)
9. Burnt sienna (05.38)
10. Van Dyck brown (05.33)

Recorded in Köln, Germany on 26 May 2002 (tracks 2 and 6) and 9 May 2003 at the LOFT.

Artwork, Cruse control #1 (reproduced above) by John Pomara; graphics by Russell Summers.

Liner Notes by Thomas Lehn:

Blue notes in and about 2nd Outlet`s music

Listening to the pre-master of this CD first time, I immediately noticed 2nd Outlet's profound, almost magical sense for timbre and color of sounds, and its role in developing a musical piece with depth-quality. Although this is only one side of the medal, this does not surprise, as each of the three musicians individually has a marked sense for this particular musical element.

In this regard, the first Outlet is drum-alchemist Martin Blume, probably one of the most color-focused percussionists I know. As a pianist, I would say that he plays drums with the sustain pedal. This not only enables the sounds to sustain longer; it also gives them color and surrounds the kernels of sounds with fragrantly expanding clouds of their dispersed particles even when the music becomes energetic, dynamic, and dense. With a very fine sense for balance and degrees of light and shade, he feeds the atmosphere with substantial ether, which is certainly more than a carrier on which other musical seeds can develop into living plants; with ghostly hands, Martin almost imperceptibly drives musical situations forward. I have always admired this subtle musical quality.

The second Outlet is Dutch tenor saxophonist Luc Houtkamp, who enriches the trio not only by his wide variety of traditional and extended reed techniques on his physical instrument, but also by his virtually createdelectronic sound-textures. Luc's musical approach has been profoundly imprinted by the early experiences of the synth-revolution of the 60's and by his own experiments with the EMS Putney in the 70's.Consequently, when home computers started to proliferate in the 80's, he began to work on software-based electronic music-making, learning and using programming languages of the times such as FORTH and LISP. Today, he writes his own programs in Max/MSP and Super Collider, and focuses on extreme FM synthesis and live signal processing. Using it alternatively with the saxophone, Luc's computer-work on this recording provides remarkable contributions to the trio's timbre extensions. Luc links the acoustic piano and percussion signals to the computer's "inlet," sending processed and digitalized color creations to its "outlet".

The third Outlet, Cor Fuhler, is a beyond-all-musical-styles partner with an extreme wide range of musical vocabularies contributed here with care, clarity and a seemably never ending source of imagination, giving him an amazing musical flexibility. But, as much he is an inspired and inspiring musician, he is also an astonishing inventor. When visiting his home-studio, you would immediately notice that handicraft tools have the same value to him as do musical instruments. Cor constantly finds and has the hands for appropriate and often ingenious simple practical solutions to build his own sound-control extensions, perfectly made to measure for his performances on inside piano, EMS Synth, and other instruments. I see a certain relationship between these two qualities: openness paired with a certain non-dogmatic consideration, which enables him to discover the potentials of whatever material is appropriate for his aims as musician or as inventor.

2nd Outlet's music operates with two identities. One identity is already rooted in the ensemble's instrumentation and, in particular, in the trio's obviously intended inclinations not to avoid, but rather to involve the idioms of the traditional sounds of their acoustic instruments. These moments include idiomatic musical developments like those in "Phthalocyanine Green", "Alizarin Crimson", "Van Dyck Brown", and in the last third of "Winsor Blue". These pieces display jazz or free-jazz stereotypes such as pulse-driven drums, melodically phrased saxophone, and intense cascades of piano clusters. But, not to be mistaken, I am not at all inclined to categorize Burnt Sienna into the "jazz-drawer." The trio's other identity, which is represented in the clearly audible intention to counterweight these idioms, integrates a strong focus on a highly developed timbre work, which a German musicologist, such as Professor Dr. Karlheinz Klopweisser (sorry,Glenn), would characterize with the term Klangfarbenmelodik.

The resulting identity of 2nd Outlet is their finely balanced, but not too serious, act of playing with both of their identities. The traditional elements are on one hand, and the timbre work is on the other. The traditional idioms are set into the light of reflection, questioning their idiomatic meanings, by letting them co-existing with very imaginative timbre emanations, which you can hear across the entire disc in multiple shades and shapes. Finally, not to forget to mention the key-factor, which gives 2nd Outlet's music its high quality of coherence, is the convergent way in which the three musicians join to work out the transitions and juxtapositions of these contrary components.

Thomas Lehn, Koln, GERMANY 4/14/04


2nd Outlet's billing as a band is telling, for nothing about this music speaks of overweaning ego. Which isn't to suggest that they're overly reserved; each player proceeds decisively, and the collective musters a vigor that any self-respecting energy music ensemble would be glad to claim for its own."
Bill Meyer, Signal To Noise

"The trio 2nd Outlet is one of those true confluences of collective creativity. Luc Houtkamp on tenor and computer-controlled live electronics, Cor Fuhler on acoustic and prepared piano, and Martin Blume on drums and percussion each have a phenomenal range of sonic colors to work from and a beguiling artistic depth to draw on."
Michael Rosenstein, "onefinalnote"

“nuscope recordings releases its first electro/acoustic set of improvised music with Burnt Sienna by 2nd Outlet, an international alliance of sound visionaries. The trio of Cor Fuhler, piano and preparations, Luc Houtkamp, tenor sax and computer controlled live electronics, and Martin Blume, drums and percussion. When blended with the unpredictable electronics, their expanded instrumental vocabularies create environments, each based on a very specific hue, e.g., not just green, phthalocynine green. Each performance achieves its own flavor from the imaginative interplay. Easing in like ground fog, "Winsor Blue" utilizes space and clear subtle sounds to create uncluttered freedom. Blume contributes a clattering, scampering percussion, Fuhler hits prepared and natural chords, plucks strings, and Houtkamp insinuates warm tenor tones. Shimmering metallic electronics turn bubbly with Blume roaming on "Solferino Violet." Fuhler tapping piano strings like a hammered dulcimer. The electronic chirping mimics cricket song.Houtkamp figures prominently on "French Ultramarine," his staccato horn popping rough edged notes against spare pianistics and a busy Blume. Something imitating a tamboura’s drone opens "Aurlian Yellow," Houtkamp’s light multiphonics creating its own drone. Houtkamp bellows and blares over Blume’s marimba-like sounds on "Phthalocynine Green," Fuhler evokes storms with the left hand. The title track has wavering within it, a thereminesque spectre, also bells and grating metal. The trio yields all impressions of politeness with "Van Dyck Brown," a knockabout opener that dissolves into silence and Fuhler’s lyricism, before resuming the chase. A compendium of aural color and texture, Burnt Sienna showcases the vivid imaginations of three fearless experimenters drawing on a rich and varied palette to paint a new world of sound.”
Rex Butters, allaboutjazz / Los Angeles