The Spectrum Does


On The Spectrum Does, New York avant-rock musicians Che Chen and Robbie Lee create three earthy and slow-moving pieces, informed as much by various global folk traditions as they are by 20th century composition and improvisation. Their "anything goes" approach to improvising leads to a sonic document that sounds raw, intense, and freshly exciting. A wild and shambolic brew that sounds like nothing else. Che Chen is musician and visual artist currently best known for his work with percussionist Rick Brown as 75 Dollar Bill. In the mid-2000s, he formed this duo with composer and producer Robbie Lee, who at the time played with people like Baby Dee and Neil Hagerty. Their most concentrated period of activity is bookended by a first LP they self-released in 2008 called Begin, And Continue! and this record, The Spectrum Does, which contains music recorded several years later. On The Spectrum Does, both tackle a range of unconventional instruments like bass recorders, Renaissance clarinet, glissando flute, tarogato, electrified violin, ultraslow recorders, and custom modified tape machines. While their first LP documented their earliest, mostly acoustic improvisations, The Spectrum Does captures Che and Robbie after five or so years of meeting two or three times a week and multiple tours around the country (a couple of times as a part of Jozef van Wissem's band Heresy Of The Free Spirit). By now what was pulsing out of their little overdriven tube amps was even more electrified and warped. Sounds of unknown origin seem to bubble up to the surface, met by completely unique approaches to wind and string instruments. Much boundary pushing improvised music gets described as "outer limits" but on The Spectrum Does, it seems much more right to say they explore the "inner limits". It is deep listening music, but not minimalist; complex but not virtuosic. Dissonances intermingle with folk harmonies and rhythms. As with all of the music this duo made together, there's a sort of shambolic-shamanic sensibility to it, but without a motive or explicit purpose. To be filed close to Tony Conrad, Henry Flynt, Pelt, and The Dead C. Personnel: Robbie Lee - flute, tarogato, melodica, great bass recorder, electronics, percussion; Che Chen - violin, harmonium, bass recorder, tape machine, electronics, percussion. Cover painting by Che Chen; Typography by Jeroen Wille. Recorded and mixed by Robbie Lee; Mastered by Jack Allett. Edition of 300.