first edition (38 copies, example above):
hand-stamped CDrs
laser printed sleeves with hand-made gum bichromate print covers
- sold out

second edition (112 copies, example above):
hand-stamped CDrs
derivative cover prints utilizing laser xerography, etching ink, and hand carved rubber stamps

each print is a one of a kind.

edition closed, copies unavailable.

Dave Barnes, Richard Kamerman, Graham Stephenson

1. Dave and Graham, February 5, 2008, Chicago (18:20)
2. Dave and Richard, October 12, 2008, New York (6:01)
3. Dave and Richard, October 12, 2008, New York (13:56)
4. Graham and Richard, March 7, 2009, New York (20:13)

Dave Barnes - electronics
Richard Kamerman - laptop (track 4), motors, objects
Graham Stephenson - trumpet, microphone

Recorded by Graham in Chicago and Richard in New York
Mixed and Mastered by Richard

Cover photograph and gum printing by Dave

front cover art from this photograph

click here for photos of the print-making process

I managed to get some listening done this evening, spending a fair amount of time with a CDr I began listening to yesterday when just too tired and unable to take anything from it at all. Tonight I enjoyed the experience much more, so I am very glad to have bailed out of trying to write when completely exhausted. The disc in question is named Three Duos, and is by the young American trio of improvisors Dave Barnes, (electronics) Richard Kamerman (laptop on one track, motors and objects on two others) and Graham Stephenson (trumpet and microphone). the release is on Kamerman's Copy For Your records label, and contains four tracks, with each of the possible duos covered, with one of them (Barnes/Kamerman) contributing two tracks.

I have written recently about Kamerman's work, and he remains one of a handful of interesting young American musicians working in improvised music right now. Barnes and Stephenson released a very strong set of debut duets a year or two back on a self released CDr. This new release is the first thing I am aware of on disc from either of the duo since then. The first track here is from the Barnes / Stephenson duo, an eighteen minute piece recorded back in early 2008. After a subdued opening it becomes really quite busy, a feisty to and 'fro of muscular, meaty electronics and gurgling splatters of trumpet played into a very close mic, thus transforming acoustic sounds into something often hard to distinguish from the electronics. Like many of his contemporaries in the US, Barnes' choice of electronics is raw and brittle, the sound of electronics probably originally intended for purposes other than direct sound production being throttled and re-routed into a wild, seemingly only semi-controlled riot of sound. Stephenson seems to mimic this same soundworld, flowing abrasive hisses and fuzzes through the gaps. Good stuff, easy to follow and become involved in.

The second and third tracks come from the Barnes / Kamerman duo and were recorded nine months later in New York. Here a more contemplative approach seems to be taken by Barnes as the second track opens with restrained whistles and fizzes, with Kamerman joining in slowly with the odd little clatter of sound until about half of the way through the six minute piece when a brooding undercurrent of dirty, abrasive electronics cut loose from one, the other or both of the musicians. The nice element here for me is the way that as sounds build into a potentially oppressive wall of noise they are repeatedly cut dead, leaving whatever was there in the first place to remain suspended in mid air until the grunge builds up again.

The third piece is probably the most interesting to me here. It begins with not much happening at all, just little squirts of electronics and the odd little clink of Kamerman's Unami-esque objects, all very patiently done with a sense of anticipation building following the substantial fuzz and bluster of the previous piece. Gradually Kamerman's little metallic systems are set rattling and clattering all over the place in a kind of loosely rhythmic pattern, while Barnes adds restrained bursts of mostly continuous sounds over and underneath. Then as the fourteen minute long piece comes within a couple of minutes of its ending a pulsing electronic signal starts to throb for a few seconds, rapidly building in volume and presence until it breaks Kamerman's lines of jittery metals up and the track slowly falls apart into silence as easily as it began. The overall structure of this piece is quite novel, and the variety and juxtaposition of sounds used within it hold the interest of this listener with ease. Impressive.

The final track, from Stephenson and Kamerman sees the latter add laptop to the jangle of the vibrating objects, but I don't think running any music production software, rather the machine being used as a source of sounds, kinetic and electromagnetic that are probably picked up using microphones of one kind or another. This track is the longest on the disc, weighing in at twenty minutes plus, and it wanders about a bit, sometimes falling into pits of near silence, elsewhere seeking out the exact opposite. Generally speaking, at least until Kamerman allows steady clockwork-like sounds to appear (are these live or played back on the computer? -hard to tell) later in the piece, there is a sense of control and restraint throughout, more a case of little sections of wilder interaction spread apart than any long stream of aggressive interplay. I am reminded of two alleycats circling each other, mewing intensely, hairs bristling, tensions building, and every so often falling into little balls of flying fur, breaking way as suddenly as they began. This final piece is maybe the most unusual and curious of the four here, perhaps not as viscerally engaging as the third track, but and intriguing listen all the same.

Overall this is a nice collection of music that veers around quite a bit, sometimes suggesting good old fashioned call and response improv, albeit on less traditional instruments, but then elsewhere utilising some refreshingly unusual ways of structuring a piece of music. Three fine musicians just beginning to fulfill their considerable potential.

Nice handmade sleeve including a nice looking gum print (whatever one of those is) as well.

- Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear

Pour une de ses premières publications sur son propre label, Richard Kamerman (à l'ordinateur, aux objets et aux "moteurs") publie trois formes de duo sur quatre pièces: Dave Barnes à l'électronique avec Graham Stephenson à la trompette et au micro sur la première piste, Dave Barnes toujours accompagné de Kamerman sur les pistes 2 et 3, et enfin, Graham Stephenson aux côtés de Kamerman sur la dernière piste.

Durant ces quatres pièces, le dialogue est largement concentré sur des textures aux reliefs escarpés et abstraits, faits d'imperfections, de techniques étendues, de micro-contacts effleurés et éraflés, de bruits silencieux et de souffles, ou de sons stridents et de larsens agressifs. Quatre improvisations qui explorent des territoires hors-normes et aventureux, entre des silences suffoquants et des dialogues surchargés. Entre les instruments (enfin la trompette), l'électronique, les objets acoustiques et les ordinateurs, la palette sonore est très riche et variée et la dynamique d'exploration est constamment maintenue dans les extrêmes: exploration uniquement timbrale des propriétés physiques du son, et de l'interaction entre les sons. Un voyage radical dans un univers très singulier composé de fragments industriels, de déchets numériques, et d'imperfections électro-acoustiques, qui navique en plein dans la physicalité du son et fait pleinement abstraction de toutes les caractéritiques traditionnellement musicales pour ne s'intéresser qu' à la matière sonore en tant que telle.

Une musique tour à tour contemplative, agressive, attentive, individuelle, mais toujours extrême. Quatre pièces tellement abstraites qu'il devient difficile d'en parler: y'a-t-il une structure pré-établie? elle paraît plutôt spontanée et improvisée; des thèmes, des rythmes, des variations? vous voulez rire? Ces trois duos travaillent des textures sonores abstraites comme un peintre pourrait composer une oeuvre concentrée avant tout sur la matière du support. Ces quatre pièces ne composent pas de la musique à proprement parler peut-être, mais sculpte du son à travers différents matériaux, et peu importent lesquels - instrument, ordinateur, marteau-piqueur - du moment qu'ils produisent du son.

Mais ces sculptures abstraites sont toujours fabriquées à deux, et l'entente entre les deux "producteurs de sons", entre les deux artisans-artistes, est toujours profonde et fortement empreinte d'une attention et d'une concentration extrêmes, car le mariage entre les différentes sources sonores est constamment agencé avec un équilibre sensible, malgré l'hétérogénéité des sources. De plus, en dépit de l'aspect froid, abstrait et rebutant des matériaux de base, leur sculpture n'en est pas moins sensible, délicate et attentionnée, et ces quatre pièces ne laissent pas de marbre pour ainsi dire: à condition d'accepter les fondements sonores rebutants, l'intelligence de leur agencement et la sensible délicatesse de leur sculpture nous plongent dans quatre univers intriguant et envoutant, sensible et même parfois intense.

- Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere

This one ... finds three players in three duos, recorded between February of 2008 and March of 2009. Presented in chronological order, the four track also just happen (?) to build in effectiveness very nicely. The first (Barnes/Stephenson) is some rough going, feedback electronics squeaking up against errant trumpetry like two cars scraping sides at 10 mph. Later, a few minutes from its close, it begins to gel quite beautifully, all wind-through-holes-sounding, portending good things to come. The first of two Barnes/Kamerman cuts, at a concise six minutes, is a tight storm of open circuitry and...motors (?), a chunky knot of sound with above average nutritional value (and zero calories from fat). Their second piece, though, really takes off, a very strong, dense mix of Kamerman's objects, a seeming horde of them, and strident electronics, whirling into a fine spiral, a wonderful piece. The final work, a 20-minute duo of Stephenson and Kamerman, rather sums up the disc, beginning raggedly and probing--breath and crackle--before the vibrating objects creep in, arraying themselves amidst the gusts and sputter. There's a stasis, several harsh shards. It builds and is upon you almost before you know it's coming, then abruptly collapses, gorgeously, the final couple of minutes spent in a daze, gasping for air.

Fine recording.

- Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

I have no idea why this is called 'Three Duos', since in each of the four pieces, only two people play? Oh, I see, Dave/Graham, Graham/Richard and twice Dave/Richard. Ok, gottit. The music is all improvised, low on the threshold of hearing with the rattling of small objects, air into the trumpet and the crackle of contact microphones. Silent improvisation, with a great emphasis on space. Only in the four piece things are a bit louder with the sound of a bell spinning on a table, evolving slowly into feedback. Nice one, even without many surprises in this particular musical genre.

- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

The Three Duos release partners up Kamerman with Dave Barnes and Graham Stephenson in assorted combinations, where they give each other the time and space to extemporise in highly abstracted ways with their electronics, laptops, trumpet and microphone - and the amplified objects and motors once again. This particular release nudges me one step closer to getting a handle on the defining aesthetic of this label. One prominent feature is the determination to make musical instruments (and all objects, by extension) sound completely unfamiliar. Yet nothing alienating about the strange sounds that rattle and slide buzzingly forth from the surface of this record; on the contrary, it feels more like we're being re-introduced to the way things naturally sound in real life. Not since The Shadow Ring opted to use mic-ed up ashtrays as percussion instruments have I met with such unaffected simplicity and directness.

- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector