Jeff Kaiser / Andrew Pask: The Choir Boys (PFMCD024)


The Choir Boys
Jeff Kaiser • Andrew Pask

The Choir Boys (Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask)

Jeff Kaiser: Trumpet, Quarter-Tone Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Live Processing
Andrew Pask: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophones, Bass, Penny Whistle, Live Processing

Visit The Choir Boys home page at:

Album info:

1. Wheeling Rebus 9:24
2. Dim Effigies 9:37
3. Carbon Icon 6:36
4. The Variability of Stammering Arrows 15:09
5. Blue Air Habit 17:31
6. Tumbling Abstention 5:47
7. Reliquaries 9:44
Total Playing Time: 73:48

(c)2005 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP and Kaleidacousticon, ASCAP
All music recorded live in the studio with no overdubs or pre-recorded samples
Recorded by Andrew Pask, October 16 – 17, 2004 in Los Feliz, CA
Mixed and Mastered by Jeff Kaiser, December 4 – 5, 2004 in Ventura, CA
Photography by Michael Kelly • Relics from the collection of Michael, Gisele and Devin Kelly
CD art, design and layout by Jeff Kaiser
For more information:
pfMENTUM • PO Box 1653 • Ventura • CA • 93002



SKU: PFMCD024 Category:

1 review for Jeff Kaiser / Andrew Pask: The Choir Boys (PFMCD024)

  1. 0 out of 5

    THE CHOIR BOYS (pfMENTUM 24) features trumpeter JEFF KAISER with multi-instrumentalist ANDREW PASK, who employs clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bass, and pennywhistle in a collage of electronic and acoustic sounds that reveal an interesting musical adventure. It’s a spiritual journey that runs far and wide. The artists who contribute to the unique character of the pfMENTUM label are searching. They’re looking for new and different ways to demonstrate the full extent of their creative powers. Noise and programmed electronics combine with musical tones on this album by two experimenters in the field. Pask brings a muscular approach to his woodwind instruments, while Kaiser prefers to surround the performance arena with mystic colors and hypnotic drones. The airy tone of Pask’s clarinet flirts with Kaiser’s tightly muted trumpet in a whirlwind of ideas. Later, his fluid bass clarinet runs up and down in cascades that never end. Pask’s saxophones introduce threads of Jazz history to the session, while Kaiser’s open horns reveal virtuosic technique. Snippets of melody dance about with animated motion, as the two artists return again and again to a theme of spirituality. While the album’s cover art depicts scenes from the church, the duo’s music (Wheeling Rebus/ Dim Effigies/ Carbon Icon/ The Variability of Stammering Arrows/ Blue Air Habit/ Tumbling Abstention/ Reliquaries. 73:48. Oct. 16-17, 2004, Los Feliz, CA) moves far beyond the walls of that hallowed institution. Science Fiction and deep philosophic studies carry a large part of its connotation. You can feel the spirit of the session moving you toward some kind of target light at the end of a tunnel. While much of the album’s textural matter appears dark and dramatic, Kaiser and Pask leave plenty of room for uplifting interpretations. Free music begets free interpretation. Kaiser and Pask, both highly creative artists, have succeeded in opening doors for continued study of their musical product.

    Jim Santella, Cadence, May 2005

    This work is a violent yoking together of diverse traditions. With woodwinds and horns, Kaiser and Pask negotiate their way through a chamber of crackles, squeals and raw noise, offsetting rigorous compositional schemata with cogently placed pockets of improvisation.

    At first, the sound is orchestral in its well-turned intonation and clarity, but then Kaiser provokes a telling counterpoint through the craggy confrontation of mutilated trumpet and saxophone that pockmarks “Dim Effigies”. The piece has a dark, clanking momentum, rich in traces of Xenakis and the sourer moments of Morton Feldman’s orchestrations.

    Kaiser and Pask attack their instruments with relish, working up a real head of psychedelic steam and achieving a plateau of whirling dervish ecstasy. After the fog lifts, bass clarinet, trumpet and saxophone pit themselves against the abrasive atmosphere of the piece, plunging deep below the surface of the atonal patterns and emerging with rich, melodic ideas of their own. All of this denotes a wonderfully disciplined and cohesive recording that accumulates considerable architectural impact as it progresses through its seventy-three minutes.

    In addition to their loose-limbed propulsive force, there’s a wealth of textural detail in their unobtrusive use of electronics, while the ever present electro-acoustic burr of scraping, rustling instrumentation lends the whole a deliciously organic appeal. Each musician listens and responds naturally; pieces never feel unfinished and flow into one another, making the effort seamless and concise, but never terse. This duo finds pleasure in the sound and shape of skewed identities, and their rhythmic combinations ooze generously form these pieces. Their focused symbiosis of breath and circuitry strives toward the deep fusion of instrumental resources that collaborators like Supersilent occasionally accomplish.

    Meanwhile, “The Vulnerability of Stammering Arrows” is a creepy froth of industrial grinding, buzzes and rasping flugelhorn that mutate into a soundscape of overlapping drones and looping tones. Simultaneously wound up and precise, the nearly unrecognizable, sustained notes of a trumpet are interspersed with brief interludes of silence. The unfolding feels improvised, but the resultant piece has layered depth and strange sonorities that suggest careful arrangement and calculated effect. Woodwinds are shrouded in booming feedback-like resonance, timbres suggesting electronics and the audible beating of clustered overtones.

    Throughout, Kaiser and Pask engage in the notion of a dialectical unity of opposites: Kaiser crafts open-ended textures and drones while Pask brings firm forms by way of his robust and decisive playing, and the two opposites cue each other in an ever-ongoing project. Such an issue also works to imbue the proceedings with the presence of absence, of a separation that must be maintained in each engagement in order that something might be disclosed. That being said, as perhaps evidenced by the generally melancholy disposition of the textures, there remains a desire to overcome this tension and risk. With their continued choice to not merely sustain, but also surpass, themselves into surprising modulations of sound and structure, this pair seems to side with laceration, and has crafted an enthralling album as a result.

    Max Schaefer, June 2005,

    Horns, woodwinds and real time processing can go a long way if manipulated by inventive and inquisitive musicians. Leaving well behaved transgressions within delineated contours of judgement and irony, Pask and Kaiser draw an alternative way to multi-dimensional explorations of airy territories that – even considering the scarcity of instruments – maintain an oblique orchestral flavour which is the record’s very strength. Both artists wear their remarkable technique without a whiff of megalomania, questioning their directions every minute, leaving precious thinking room to each other and emanating contrapuntal intelligence over the course of the whole work. And if hints of irreverence appear, they are promptly wrestled by a unanimous connection to bittersweet melancholies and independency statements that a sapient effect treatment transforms into architectures of extravagant lucid dreams.

    Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, May 2005

    Alien electronics of the most dense, textural and sometimes frightening kind — that’s what LA improv scenesters Kaiser and Pask offer on these seven mysterious excursions in the wonders of pure sound. Interestingly enough, these icy, veiled sound sculptures, created with the aid of a varied array of wind instruments including quarter-tone trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, assorted saxophones and bass penny whistle, were recorded live in the studio with no overdubbing or pre-recorded samples involved. There’s some serious processing action applied on the fly, though — not as post-production retouching gloss but as an integral part of the execution itself, using filters, FX pedals, echo and reverb units and whatnot in order to enhance the alienating nature of the timbres they can elicit from their traditional instrumentation. What the duo accomplishes through these means is so rich, multilayered and versatile that it’s no wonder their compositions take so long (the shortest track clocks in at 5:47) to unfold and develop into monstrous astro-polyhedral jams. The fact that Pask is also a distinguished computer expert who collaborates with software companies probably explains the luxury of having such a complex and futuristic digital rig at their disposal. Opener “Wheeling Rebus” illustrates the gradual transformation of their subtle reeds and horns’ long, pulseless tones into a thick wall of processed noise, machine droneology and rambling sonic debris that brings forth fascination and menace all at once. Similar procedures constitute the highlights of the jazzier “Carbon Icon”, where frantic mutantrupet soloing explodes joyfully into robotic scales and a solemn hymn-like sci-fi panoramic, propelling the listener from mid-sixties free jazz anti-stylings into an improbable future of post-apocalyptic datanoise, where human breath (ultimately the recording’s undisputed unsung hero) conquers acoustic space with metallic patterns. The fierce, demonic blowing on “Dim Effigie” recalls such shamanistic icons of destructive, scary new jazz virtuosity as Peter Brötzmann: screaming lava, desperate coils of squalling, Escher-esque horns lock and send rippling, labyrinthine frequencies with almost Heavy Metal brutality. Free jazz’s cerebral mathematic excesses, the microtonal intricacies liberated by British Improv (the futuristic sounds of legendary pioneering outfits like AMM and Musica Elettronica Viva certainly come to mind, at least in spirit), and the glossy digital feel of ’80s and ’90s King Crimson’s adventures are among the album’s main reference points found. “The Variability Of Stammering Arrows” and “Blue Air Habit”, with a combined timing of 32 minutes, establish the album’s central statement: finding a way through the exuberant counterpoints and deft sound manipulations will be an excruciating task but all the more rewarding. Just to think that these unsettling timbral dramas were executed/exorcized/conjured in only two days is disconcerting enough: you’d feel as if you’d been transported outside time, space and linearity. We may not know whether androids dream of electric sheep, but they will surely groove to The Choir Boys.

    — Marco Rivera,

    Baignant individuellement dans des sphères musicales aux frontières insaisissables, le trompettiste Jeff Kaiser et le clarinettiste Andrew Pask décidèrent récemment d’affronter ensemble leurs hésitations stylistiques touchant au jazz, à la musique expérimentale bruitiste, et aux postures improvisées.
    Débarrassés des complexes, on oppose aux évolutions des instruments à vent l’intervention de programmations électroniques, sobres ou à saturations. Moins de musique que de laboratoire, les instruments testent la résistance de leurs propres matériaux, jugeant de l’épaisseur des souffles (Wheeling Rebus) ou de la réaction des tubes (Dim Effigies).
    Plus loin, Kaiser va chercher à connaître les intentions d’un Pask jonglant avec des saxophones ténor et soprano, une clarinette et une clarinette basse. Les phrases se croisent, se heurtent ou s’entendent, toujours portées par les flux. De fines expériences de traitements sonores (Blue Air Habit) laissent leur place à des duels efficaces à devenir instants de grâce (Tumbling Abstention). Là, on élabore des discours pseudo mélodiques, en n’oubliant pas de s’éloigner encore, s’il est possible, du commun ressassé.
    Si les décision électroniques – loin d’être inédites et parfois même ronflantes (The Variability Of Stammering Arrows) – peuvent altérer les propos de Jeff Kaiser et Andrew Pask, ils s’en sortent sans véritable peine grâce à un savoir-faire indéniable gonflé de fougue dévastatrice. Au final, The Choir Boys est un alliage précieux et un album envoûtant.


    Sound sojourners Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask create unique sonic landscape on The Choir Boys, utilizing both the instrumental expertise for which each is known, as well as tapping their broader ambitions with live processing. The music ranges from ambient electronic, to industrial Stockhausen, with plenty of hard blowing along the way.

    Pask begins with his bass penny whistle, processed while he plays. The swirling and smearing goes from a panpipes sound to impending storm. With the whistle put aside, low rumbling machines dominate. Clarinet rises from the electric shower, and participates as one sound among many. “Dim Effigies” begins with a sound like dental work gone terribly wrong. An elaboration on Japanese noise music, a startling metallic drone creates the backdrop for Pask’s blistering alto improv. After a solo muse, rich oily electronic sound wavers slightly, with Pask’s calming bleep which becomes looped and distorted.

    Vocal clarinet opens “Carbon Icon,” with Kaiser’s muted trumpet giving rapid chase. Small electronic flashes mar the monolithic drone. Pask again weaves clarinet through the burbling background. Kaiser, processed almost beyond recognition, sets “The Variability of Stammering Arrows” in motion. His muted tones circulate through the speakers with distorted echoes. Pask’s clarinet then feeds the altering software more tones. Kaiser puts his horn through its paces with loops and distortions coming back at him. Kaiser, with Pask on soprano, play out.

    On “Blue Air Habit” Pask’s tenor plays off instant reworkings of his own phrases, triggering otherworldly responses. Interdimensional drones with altered sax ruminations end it. A slightly modified duo, “Tumbling Abstention” takes Kaiser on some lip shredding passages that bounce back. “Reliquaries” features an uncluttered improvised duet with clarinet and trumpet.

    After releasing the large and complex Alchemical Mass, Kaiser demonstrates in his collaboration with Pask his ability to swing from stars in a duet setting as well.

    Rex Butters,

    The Choir Boys (pfMentum 024) Featuring Jeff Kaiser on quarter-tone trumpet, flugel & live processing, Andrew Pask on clarinets, soprano, alto & tenor saxes and more processing. Jeff has a fine double quartet disc out on Nine Winds and now runs his own pfMentum Label. This spacious duo offering was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, although both horn players do quite a bit of processing. Wind sounds are mutated and echoed beyond normal recognition. Mysterious, alien, floating, sonic manipulations slowly weave through the fog and are panned and moving through the stereo spectrum in waves. Sounding like distant whales or birds, slowly turning into electronic shadows and breath-filled spirits. On “Dim Effegies” both horns erupt into a thick layer of angry tones, noise triggered trumpet and squealing sax and even more noise surrounding. Cautious muted trumpet and somber bass clarinet inhabit “Carbon Icon”, until the quietly bizarre electronics sounds come in and the cosmic drones take over, reminding me of that early space/rock/psych FM staple “Space Hymn” by Lothar & The Hand People. It is often difficult to tell who is playing what, since there is often more processed than regular horn sounds, yet it remains fascinating throughout. This is closer to space/rock/prog electronics than to anything else, so for those who can still appreciate the better moments of space music, this is definitely for you.

    – BLG, Downtown Music Gallery

    On this project Kaiser uses trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet, and flugelhorn along with live processing as his tools. Collaborating with Mr. Pask who plays clarinet, bass clarinet, and soprano, alto, and tenor saxes with bass penny whistle, they turn out a strange experimental brew of music that has a mystic feel. The ‘choir boys” don’t sing vocally but they do let their instruments have free reign to make a [sometimes] joyful noise.

    This album has some of the longest tracks I’ve heard in recent memory. There’s three tunes that run almost for ten minutes each–one is over 15 minutes, and the longest runs for 17:31! That cut, “Blue Air Habit” offers some creative sounds, tones, and musical notes. Sometimes the sounds are pulled…maybe stretched out, from the instruments–drawing every last drop from each note. The mix of natural sounds and the [electronic] processing (at times) compliments the overall feel but sometimes I found it to be a bit too ‘clashing.’ It’s a marathon of a work and you have to make the time to listen to this one.

    The music on the album ranges from sublime to explosive, as in cut 2 “Dim Effigies.” Is it a scene from PEANUTS-Charlie Brown or is it a musical sword-fight? The musical wails, riffs, bursts, and tones along with some electronic beds and such display some amazing ‘horn’ work. This is one of those 9 minute numbers and it is something to hear. “Carbon Icon” is a short six-and-half minutes and the sense is much less frenzied and more subtle. Almost a break as compared to the previous track.

    One magical effort is “The Variability of Stammering Arrows.” It starts off slow but builds to what is a vast vista for the ears and of the mind. Clearly it has many ‘sounds’ mostly nuanced and clever. The thing is that it takes time to really get into the gist of the song. Some may like the ‘electronics,’ others might prefer to do without them. In my opinion, the sense is of a DR. WHO episode–at least that was what came to mind. Possibly even bits of some Star Wars-sounding clips.

    ” Tumbling Abstention” (5:47) was clear experimentalism yet it featured some fine playing. At times the sounds tend towards the abstract but still they are clever and creative–even mischievous. This project closes with “Reliquaries” which captures the theme of choirs, old ‘saints’ and statues, and the sense of mystery. Early on, one sound feels like a Tibetan chant; other sounds continue some serious as well as playful tones. Maybe in places the structure is disjointed but that is part of the avant garde nature of these approaches.

    An interesting CD for fans of creative instrumental sounds.

    Copyright 2005 – The Critical Review

    Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask play a range of wind instruments on The Choir Boys (CD024) including trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinets, saxophones and whistle, recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. What makes this different to other improv-winds, however, is that both also participate in live processing. Reminiscent a little of Frippertronics, this allows them to echo, loop, stretch, process through various filters on the go to create a much more varied and dynamic effect. There are times when long low rumbling drones accompany them, or backwards sounds, computer burbling and slippery vinyl-like scratching, or loud industrial noise walls of sounds. The effects are used variably across the album – less in the final elegiac Reliquaries with lovely long tones, or as an assault of noise in Dim effigies. Looped percussives in Blue air habit over an ambient/industrial base of tones, or the mysterious ambiences of Wheeling rebus. Anyway, throughout the processing adds a fascinating dimension, taking this into an exciting electronic improv area. Perhaps over-processed at times – you can sometimes lose the skilful and intricate playing that forms the basis of their works, but that’s a different album. The analogue sounds haven’t disappeared, merely been augmented. A very nice one.

    jeremy, ampersand

    Auf den ersten Blick könnte man The Choir Boys (pfMENTUM 024) für ein Bläserduo halten, eine Begegnung des Trompeten- & Vierteltontrompetenklangs von JEFF KAISER mit den Sounds der Klarinette & Bassklarinette, der Soprano-, Alto- & Tenorsaxophons von ANDREW PASK. Der Clue verbirgt sich jedoch im Stichwort Live Processing. Statt Improinteraktionen in akribisch angenuckelten akustischen Klangfarben, rauscht ein Pfingststurm überirdischer und begeisterter Elektronenwolken aus den Boxen. Die beiden Chorknaben stoßen erst nur mit der Coverikonographie die Imagination in christliche Gefilde. Die einzelnen Titel abstrahieren dann schon von solchen Assoziationen: ‚Wheeling Rebus‘, ‚Dim Effigies‘, ‚The Variability of Stammering Arrows‘, ‚Tumbling Abstention‘. Aber dann auch wieder ‚Reliquaries‘ und sind das nicht doch alles mystische Termini? Abgesehen davon, dass ich mit The Choir Boys einen, von Robert Aldrich verfilmten, hard-boiled Polizeikrimi von Joseph Wambaugh verbinde, scheint mir hier der Versuch eines Detournements vorzuliegen. Der mystischen Union des von Pfeilen durchbohrten, entflammten Herzens mit den Spirits from above wird ein musikinduziertes Äquivalent unterschoben. Kaiser hat nicht umsonst mit seinem Ockodektet bei der Uraufführung der Alchemical Mass ministriert. Andrew Pask, der aus Neuseeland stammt, hat neben seinem Klarinettenstudium tatsächlich in einem Chor für Frühe Musik gesungen, bevor er gut sechs Jahre in Hong Kong als Jazzsaxophonist verbrachte und anschließend nach L.A. übersiedelte. Ohne den suggestiven Überbau taucht man in die etwa von Evan Parker mit Lawrence Casserly und Joel Ryan inszenierte musikalische Alchemie, in die rauschenden Klanglandschaften dröhnender und brodelnder Anderwelten. Wenn eine oder beide der abenteuersuchenden Instrumentalstimmen unverfremdet, ohne elektronischen Raumanzug in diese Zonen eintauchen, dann gelingt das nur, weil sie sich diesen Zonen anverwandeln und sich durchlässig machen für Klänge, die andere Quellen haben als Zungen, Holz und Metall. Vielleicht ist es dann dieses anthropofugale Moment, das den puren Trompeten- & Klarinettenclash von ‚Reliquaries‘ so erhaben wirken lässt. Ein Meisterwerk elektro-akustischer Osmose.

    [At first sight one could regard The Choir Boys (pfMENTUM 024) as a Blaeserduo, a meeting of the trumpet & quarterly clay/tone trumpet sound of JEFF EMPEROR with the sounds of the clarinet & bass clarinet, the Soprano -, Alto & tenor saxophone of ANDREW PASK. The Clue hides itself however in the keyword Live processing. Instead of Improinteraktionen in with the utmost care angenuckelten acoustic tone qualities, a Pfingststurm of celestial and inspired electron clouds from the boxes rushes. The two choir boys push only only with the Coverikonographie the imagination into Christian Gefilde. The individual titles abstract then already from such associations: ‘ Wheeling Rebus ‘, ‘ Dim Effigies ‘, ‘ The Variability OF master ring Arrows ‘, ‘ Tumbling renunciation ‘. But then also again ‘ Reliquaries ‘ and are that not nevertheless all mystische terms? Refrained of it that I with The Choir Boys, from Robert Aldrich filmed one, hard boiled police crime film from Joseph Wambaugh connects, seems for me the attempt of a Detournements to be present here. The mystischen union, of the inflamed heart with the Spirits, perforated by arrows, from above becomes an music-induced equivalent put underneath. Emperor did not ministriert in vain with his Ockodektet during the premiere of the Alchemical measure. Andrew Pask, which originates from New Zealand, sang actual apart from his clarinet study in a choir for early music, before he spent well six years in Hong Kong as jazz saxophonist and afterwards to L.A. moved. Without the suggestiven cover dips one into for instance from Evan the Parker with Lawrence Casserly and Joel Ryan produced musical Alchemie, into the rushing sound landscapes of roaring and bubbling other worlds. If or both of the adventure-looking for instrument valley voices unverfremdet, without electronic space suit into these zones dive, then succeeds only, because they make themselves permeable these zones anverwandeln and for sounds, which have other sources than tongues, wood and metal. Perhaps it is then this anthropofugale moment, which lets the pure trumpet & Klarinettenclash of ‘ Reliquaries ‘ work so raised. A masterpiece of electroacoustic osmose.]

    Rigo Ditmann, Bad Alchemy 46

    Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask perform in this album a series of compositions between Jazz, New Music and experimentation, with some electronic textures that give way to some imaginative samples of Dark Ambient. There are some passages entirely devoted to experimentation with sounds. In this work, the wind instruments have a remarkable role, and it is perhaps here where Kaiser & Pask’s skills are most outstanding.


    Kaiser takes to trumpet and flugelhorn, and Pask plays winds (clarinets, saxophones and a whistle). They combine in that world where I most often find Kaiser: The one he creates in my mind. These breathy improvisations would be great for a Halloween party (well, except for the ones processed to the hilt), and they’re stellar for wandering off in search of your next great idea.

    Jon Worley,

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