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John Encarnacao - Giraffe Quartet and Duets LP

John Encarnacao - Giraffe Quartet and Duets LP


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"Can’t for the life of me decide if John Encarnacao’s ‘Giraffe Quartet and Duets’ LP should go under Jazz or Experimental? John & collaborators approach improvised composition is adventurous but not bludgeoning. Reeds, electronic and acoustic percussion, and Fred Frith-like guitar flourishes in an alternative fusion tradition a la Brian Brown and The Necks. (Not so much in sound, but approach, know what I’m saying?)" - Nic


In 2014, John Encarnacao released the album Giraffe Solos – a set of free improvisations on acoustic guitar in a never-to-be-repeated tuning, featuring the use of chopsticks. After playing some shows in this vein, he decided to expand the project through collaborating with some trusted colleagues. A one-off concert at the People’s Republic resulted in Giraffe Quartet and Duets, the album’s format inspired by Anthony Braxton’s Trio and Duet.

Giraffe Quartet and Duets, like many releases on the Psychopyjama label, is freely improvised music that draws as much from the outer limits of rock and electronica as jazz or other improvised music. To put this into perspective, something on each of the players:

Saxophonist Brendan Smyly made a living in the 1990s with kitsch-bizarro showband The Andy 500 and guested on recordings by The Gadflys, Front End Loader and Jimmy Little, among others. Since the mid-2000s he has featured in improvising groups The Monstrous Now and Espadrille, the latter with John Encarnacao. In those groups he has worked with electronics as well as saxophones.

Holly Harrison is an internationally commissioned composer from Western Sydney. Her trumpet concerto Hellbent was premiered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in April, adding to an extensive list of performances throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA. She is also a unique and formidable drummer, as demonstrated on this recording and her duo album with Joseph Tabua (as Tabua-Harrison) for Psychopyjama, Scout (2018).

Jon Drummond is a composer with a particular interest in “how sonification can tell the story of science”. To this end he builds his own electronic environments and also harnesses computers and experimental technologies for improvisation, such as the Arduino-based, light-controlled synthesizers heard on this record. Jon Drummond and John Encarnacao collaborated in the electronic duo  (Pi), which released the album Irrational through Psychopyjama in 1999.

John Encarnacao has long made both improvised and song-based musics. As guitarist/singer-songwriter, he has recorded with The Nature Strip, Warmer and Smelly Tongues, with releases by the labels China Pig Records, Half a Cow, W.Minc and Waterfront. As an improvisor, releases date back to the mid-90s with the solo plunderphonic project St Crustacean,  (Pi, with Jon Drummond) and trio Espadrille (with Brendan Smyly). He has over 30 releases in his discography, and currently plays with bassist Lloyd Swanton and pianist Felicity Wilcox in the trio W.E.S.T.