Ghikas & Walshe - Good Teeth (LP)

Panos Ghikas and Jennifer Walshe originally met at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt (Germany) more than ten years ago. They stayed in touch and, back in London, in 2010 began to produce what they call “unreal-time surround improv“. Good Teeth, is the duo’s first album-length audio document of their employing this conceptually stringent, yet liberating approach to improvising.

As they put it, “Voice, viola, drums and trumpet improvisations are recorded, broken down into gestural material and then projected through the use of software onto an e-drum kit. The meta-instrument incites a different type of physical triggering of sounds from the original bodily gestures that produced them. The resulting performance is the outcome of real-time and non-real-time processes that blur temporal perception and offer a new gestural syntax to both the performer and the audience.“

Basically, one of them is throwing recordings of the other back at said other in a confusingly rearranged way to see how the other will react while in turn reacting to that reaction in real time. This can have a variety of outcomes; Good Teeth’s opening piece The Pig Sleep, for example, starts by focussing on Jennifer’s voice. She emits a large variety of shrieks, wails and gagging sounds at breakneck speed, underlined by Panos triggering samples of her voice on his e-drum kit. By the end of the album, on the clattering 13-minute epic Toy Adonis, some might say that Jennifer sounds like a frenzied human beatboxer attempting a mic check in Arabic next to a group of large men, small children (Panos’ then-four-year-old son, to be precise) and something sounding like a wild boar rummaging through the contents of several very cluttered wardrobes.

In between, there are drum workouts using sampled gestures of drum workouts, viola-trumpet drones, beautifully distorted voices and a whole lot of crashing about in multiple layers of space and time. In short, this is an improv that sounds like no other improv, while maintaining the characteristics of all good improv – it’s complex, spontaneous, fun and interesting.

Panos Ghikas, born in Athens in 1972, is a composer, improviser, producer and lecturer. His output encompasses concert music, free improvisation, interdisciplinary collaborations, film music and pop production. For more than ten years, he has been writing, recording and performing worldwide with avant-pop group The Chap, playing the London improvisation circuit. Panos lectures at Goldsmiths, Kent and Anglia Ruskin Universities. He also runs Migro Records.

Jennifer Walshe, born in Dublin in 1974 is a composer, vocalist and improviser. Since first bumping into Panos, she has received numerous scholarships and prizes, enabling her to live and work in Stuttgart, Berlin, Chicago and New York, where she started a series of collaborations with Tony Conrad. Her compositions have been performed all over the world. She is currently living in London, where she is a Reader in Music at Brunel University.