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Toma Gouband playing solo

Toma Gouband’s instrument is seemingly simple: a horizontal bass drum, whose surface is scattered with tiny bells, blocks of wood, branches and twigs, and a collection of stones from around the world… Pebbles are rolled on the ground, and in place of cymbals – more twigs and stones. Gouband does not add to this assortment of things – neither a computer nor any other electronics; and yet, he creates music which sounds like the most tender, complicated and delicately nuanced electroacoustic pieces, which at the same time retains a deep connection to the most profound and arcane insights about the relationship between music and the natural world. The way Gouband succeeds in this is through pulse. This entire apparatus is animated by an interior pulsation, born from years of research into the possibility of acting and playing with several superimposed simultaneous internal clocks, several mysterious cycles, from which he creates polyrhythmic patterns, weaving sound tissues which are threaded into beautiful temporal fabrics, intertwined with colorful radiant motifs, governed by rules that seems to have been transmitted only to the most devoted of initiates.

(Musrara Festival Jerusalem)

2013 Radio France recording  

> A l'Improviste, Anne Montaron

« An intense, meditative journey through the sound of stone. One continuous piece of more than three quarters of an hour during which the normal rules of time and flow are suspended by this master of lithophones. » (Psi – Evan Parker)

« One doesn’t even need to ‘enter’ into the music of Toma Gouband: our ears (and eyes, if we have the pleasure of seeing him at work) are invited, by the spectacular and extraordinary organisation of colors and timbres that make up his dreaming inventive universe. Pieces of flint, natural skins covering a horizontal bass drum, which has scattered upon it tiny bells or blocks of wood, branches and twigs… pebbles rolled on the ground, inverted cymbals collcting thus all sorts of natural resonators… The high-hat cymbals have been replaced by…they’ve also been replaced by stones! Animated by an interior pulsation made from the superimposition of mysterious cycles, like so many clocks telling life’s time in polyrythms that collide and cross over each other, the music of Toma Gouband transcends the idea of an imaginary territory, for it invites us to approach it as we would a social rite or even a ceremony of love. A weaving of the tissues of sound, with wisdom, sio that we feel them as universal, as though they come or to become, for which the visual metaphor could be those traditionel Kuba cloths from Upper Zaire that made of fabrics sewn one on top of the other, to which are added motifs according to an organisation that is rigorous but seems to be governed by rules that have been transmitted only to the initiates who create them. Thus, this is a music initited by the history of the world, unique, free of the constrains imposed by convention and which responds only to its own interior strenght: a summit of the musical art. »

Benoît Delbecq, november 2011 (notes of the CD « courants des vents » march 2012 @ PSI records) // produced by Evan Parker / cover Caroline Forbe

(…)As music, it can either be given full attention or it can « just be there. » In the former case, the more attention it is afforded, the more it reveals greater details and complexities; in the latter, it provides a relaxing, meditative atmosphere. Either way, it is hugely successful. (all about jazz – may 2012 – JOHN EYLES) . (…)Courants des Vents is a single improvisation, 45 minutes in length. It begins in isolated sounds, struck rocks resonating in the room. Gradually rhythmic figures appear, repeat, and mutate. Bass drum sounds occur, their echoes another measure of the space, and the work becomes increasingly complex, a dance of distances, pitches and durations. What may have initially seemed a simple set of materials assumes new dimension, perhaps in relation to the degree to which such resources might have been underestimated. Gouband emerges as cryptogeologist, an explorer of the mysteries and consciousness of the material world, opening himself and his listeners to a universe of reverberant matter that whispers secrets of acoustics. Listening closely to Gouband’s work, one shares in a fresh relationship (imaginative and imaginary) to the natural world. The stones are alright. Stuart Broomer . (…)Gouband never allows his Neolithic clacks to coalesce into tasteful Steve Reich style rhythmical minimalism, but works instead the patterns the resonant replies of the sacred space suggest, tracing air shapes with the clunk of stone on stone, finally dissolving into a protracted rumble, as ancestral ghosts hover at the firelit fringe of our first music.

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