These recordings were mostly made during the daytime at the residency place and concert venue Petersburg Art Space in Moabit, Berlin. While we were recording, people would sometimes show up in the kitchen area on the other side of the room for a coffee break, probably not aware that we were recording music for a potential album. Even though this could have led to frustration and many retakes, it ended up quite unproblematic, and it was nice how it made us aware of both the fragility of our musical activity and the fact that our playing was just one of many activities happening in the building and our surroundings.
Taku Sugimoto's pieces are wonderful, with melodies intertwining into "endless" streams of harmonic combinations, and the musical sensibilities of both Denis and Taku are very inspiring to me. I am very happy with this trio and looking forward to more musical and social meetings with Denis and Taku in the future.
Some notes on my compositions:
"ripples" is a piece for any number of guitars tuned in a 13-limit just tuning, only played with the natural harmonics of the open strings. In our trio version the slight out-of-tune-ness of the strings creates interferences that remind me of water ripples. These "sound ripples" are produced by the harmonic relations and their slight deviations from the intended ratios. The thin line between periodic, just intonation sounds and slightly beating/interfering sounds is an area where the human aspect of playing meets the sound phenomena produced by the physical materials themselves, and where the details of sound can unfold in unpredictable, ephemeral ways.
"dyadic canon" consists of three lines with eight dyads each, played slowly in the form of a canon. This is one of my few pieces or musical endeavors that does not have any specific tuning aspect.
"duality" is a piece based on two justly tuned tuning forks. Some years ago I bought a bunch of tuning forks and randomly cut the prongs to have a multitude of different "acoustic sine waves" available. When I later started exploring intonation and harmonic space more in depth, I found that two of the tuning forks were very close to forming an 11/10 ratio. I did some filing on one of the forks to get the relation more in tune with 11/10, used a wooden wine box as a resonator, and by activating the forks with a bow, I had a very basic instrument. This instrument led me to "duality," a piece that alternates between interfering pitch relations with occasional cluster chords, and textural sounds.
"3 / 5" is essentially a solo guitar piece consisting of three chordal melodies, with different possible "surroundings." In this realization I play the melodies while Denis (playing pitch pipes and radio noise) and Taku (on bowed and plucked guitar) improvise along with them. The written guitar part is based on a tuning where some relations are 3-limit (Pythagorean) and some are 5-limit, together producing resonant chords with a slight microtonal flavor. (Fredrik Rasten)
It is really a pleasure for me to play with Denis and Fredrik as a guitar trio. When we met for the first time in Berlin, we became friends immediately and I found that we all had the same great interest: just intonation and things related to it. The guitar is a fretted instrument, so some special techniques, e.g., bending, slide bar, harmonics, anomalous tuning, must be required to play those microtones. Denis and Fredrik are skilled musicians who can handle those techniques very well, which you may notice when listening to the tracks of the CD.
To say something regarding my compositions, every single piece of the two series "nexus" and "solo for strings" is a solo piece and also can be played with any other pieces of the two series. While all the pitches are fixed, the lengths of the tones depend somewhat on the performers. The latter characteristic will work well especially when the pieces are played together. I am interested in this kind of relationship between performers.
Unfortunately, in Japan there are almost no guitarists who are interested in my guitar compositions and no composers whose guitar music might interest me at present. I need to work with Denis and Fredrik. I love the trio. If the coronavirus had not happened, we could have met and played together somewhere, perhaps in Berlin, this spring or summer. I am really looking forward to seeing and playing with them. (Taku Sugimoto)
The first time I got to know the name Taku Sugimoto was in David Toop's book "Haunted Weather." Later I listened to his guitar quartet and some solo sets on the internet, and from that point in time Sugimoto became a very important musician and composer for me. Many years later, when I had already played experimental music (mostly Wandelweiser related music), I wrote an e-mail to Sugimoto (after getting his address from guitarist colleague Cristián Alvear). I asked Taku if he could send me some of his scores. Some days later Taku answered me. I was really a fan of Taku, so I was very happy to get a response from him. I started to play his "solo 1," which later was recorded for another Ftarri release, "Guitars." Taku said that he wanted to play with me and that I should come to Tokyo. I was astonished. Taku, the composer who was like a god to me, wanted to play with me! I contacted the Japanese embassy and they told me what Taku and I should do to get me a visa to Japan. I am Russian, and it's not so easy to travel, so it turned out to be quite complicated to get a visa. We concluded that it would be easier to meet in Europe. My friend Sasha worked as an art director for the concert venue Petersburg Art Space in Berlin, and he offered to arrange a concert for us. Finally we met in Berlin, where Taku and I played two sets with Johnny Chang and Sasha Markvart.
The second time we played together was five months later, with Fredrik Rasten, again in Berlin. This record was made exactly at that time. I knew Fredrik from before; he was a friend of my friends. He had visited Saint Petersburg two or three times and I had been to his concerts. I liked his sound and his music, and Fredrik is a very nice man and I was very glad that we now got to play together in this trio.
Our friend Joey Gavin took some live concert photos and sent them to me, saying that maybe they would be nice as cover artwork for our future album, and Taku offered to use my drawings for the inside cover artwork. My good friend Sergei mixed and mastered our sound and Suzuki-san released our work, and now you can listen to our music from those spring days in Berlin.
The third time we met to play in Berlin, Fredrik, Taku, Stefan Thut and I went to an Indian restaurant, and Fredrik and I ordered the same food, since I trusted his taste in food because we are both vegetarians. Fredrik asked for spicy and I asked for not too spicy, since I had already had some experiences with Indian food. Our plates got mixed up and we both realized that we were eating from the wrong plates - Fredrik's was not spicy, but the plate I got was like fire. We changed the plates, so I am still alive. (Denis Sorokin)
Taku Sugimoto from Tokyo, Denis Sorokin from Saint Petersburg and Fredrik Rasten from Oslo. The three met in Berlin in early March, 2019, and immediately hit it off--not only because they're all guitarists, but also because they have similar musical leanings. Over the three-day period of March 7-9, they met for recording sessions at Petersburg Art Space Berlin. The ten tracks on this 2-CD set are trio performances recorded at that time.
For the recording, Taku Sugimoto provided six compositions and Fredrik Rasten prepared four. Some of Sugimoto's tracks include performances of more than one composition, and performances of six pieces are contained in five tracks. The remaining track is an improvised performance. All three musicians used acoustic guitars in every performance. Denis Sorokin also used pitch pipes and tuning forks on some tracks, and Fredrik Rasten's voice can be heard from time to time in the improvisation. Throughout, the pieces and performances are exquisitely matched and the beauty of the acoustic guitar ensembles is remarkable. The album is sure to give the listener a feeling of serene contentment.
Composer/guitarist Taku Sugimoto has earned critical praise and popularity inside and outside Japan, and has numerous CD releases on the Ftarri and Meenna labels. Guitarist Denis Sorokin, who is especially well known for his performances of Wandelweiser compositions, participated in Sugimoto's CD "Guitars," released on Meenna in 2019. Fredrik Rasten is also a guitarist/composer active in the experimental music field. He has releases on labels such as Edition Wandelweiser (Germany) and Sofa (Norway).