Herbe Zeiten

Some reviews of the Tomas Korber / Philip Julian collaborative recording “Herbe Zeiten” (con-v) have appeared recently at Bagatellen written by by Al Jones and by Richard Pinnell at The Watchful Ear.

“Here’s a duo we should all be interested to hear — two musicians I’d suppose have to be pretty amiable, given the number and variety of collaborations with others, in recent years. Phil Julian’s among the more active musicians in Britain 2.0’s steadily growing pool of thoughtful players — and he’s been active for far longer than I’m leading to here, notably under the moniker, “cheapmachines” — while Korber seems to cross borders at the rate of daylight with all the recording, studying and performing he involves himself with. Both have sizable catalogs of solo ventures, which are about as consistently engaging as one could hope, considering the nature of experimental/improvised music.

Herbe Zeiten (”harsh times”) is the most recent cd-r release to come from the excellent con-v weblabel, and its third or fourth to take advantage of the 3″ format. A single 18-minute piece opens with staticky oscillations, presumably from Julian, lo-fi yet pronounced, where it seems the hidden details are struggling to break free of a curiously audible carrier frequency. There’s immediate connection, with Korber demonstrating that he is in fact using a guitar, though his choice of sounds move quickly from string-generated tones to percussives and manipulation of his axe’s extremities for the remainder of the piece. In the first of a couple of fades, around five minutes in, the duo dials it down and back up again, the gap between laced with high-pitched, soft curlicues. This segue marks the beginning of a transition, where Korber’s sounds become more pronounced, and Julian’s electronic undertones take on a more subtle, drone-like bent. In the continuing development, the duo doesn’t use much beyond a handful of chosen patches/motifs, all quite complimentary to another, and sustaining the general mood.

I’m reminded of some of Oren Ambarchi’s earlier meditative work, and the piece here seems to express how such music has really evolved. Making use of near-silence (or hushed lulls) and a carefully considered stereo field, the two have come up with something here that can hardly be
called “harsh”. Korber and Julian have a certain mastery of nuance, and it’s interesting to hear their approaches blend. No overkill, and nicely understated, through to a slow, dramatic fade.”

~ Alan Jones, Bagatellen, August 13, 2009

Also, some nice words over at Missing Sequences.

A number of reviews of the Mathias Forge (Trombone), Phil Julian (Electronics) & David Papapostolou (Cello) collaborative recording “Meshes” (another timbre) have appeared recently:

Review by Richard Pinnell here

Review by Brian Olewnick here

Review by Michael Rosenstein for Paris Transatlantic here

Review by Ken Waxman for Jazz Word here


“This trio of trombone, electronics and cello perform two tracks; the first, “Long Nylon Oak,” was recorded in the church of St. James the Great, Friern Barnet, without an audience and the second, “Floodlit Iron Tracery,” in concert two days earlier in a different church, St. Mark’s, Clerkenwell. Given the gap and the different contexts, there is a remarkable sense of continuity between the pieces, particularly commendable as the three had not played together before.

Both pieces are restrained and evolve slowly. Most notably, Mathias Forge confines his contributions on trombone to subtle breathy blowing rather than full blown notes, giving them a texture that meshes (a fitting title) well with the electronics and cello… Simon Reynell’s recording perfectly captures every nuance of the music, a vital ingredient of their success.”

John Eyles, “All About Jazz”, October 2009

“…Forge’s burping trombone, Papapostolou’s percussive cello and Julian’s electronics stutter onwards in a procession of knocks and rattles that ricochet against the resonant acoustic.  While, in another context, those same gestures might imply velocity and speed, these acoustic realities divert the music towards a more meandering, leisurely paced structure that is intriguingly at odds with its material.”

Philip Clark, “The Wire”, November 2009


Cheapmachines “Cast” ~ A new cassette release, now available form Beartown Records.

“The audio experiments conducted by London resident and improvised drone specialist Philip Julian have bewildered and intrigued us for a hell of a long time now. Ever since we witnessed an intensive and utterly relentless computer-based performance at Area 10 in Peckham, London, we were absolutely hooked.

Whilst being a regular on the live circuit, Philip also specialises in sonic installations and here, under his rather fantastic CHEAPMACHINES alias, continues his exploration and scrutiny of the organ continues with two decadent, alluring and warm compositions.”

Edition of 30 complete with slightly optimistic, fold-out watercolour artwork.”


Available digitally via Bandcamp

A nice review over at Indieville here

Discogs info here