Ana Balka : violin,
Jeff Bradley : double
Scott Burland : guitars,
Robert Cheatham : reeds,
Robert J. Hulihan,
Jr. : electronics, guitar
Milton Jones : percussion
"They sound like
an orchestra tuning up."
"Here comes a
charging, wild rhino.
If you want to listen, fine. Either way. This rhino stops for
R. Walter Riley
Last Friday night,
I tore myself away from A&E's two-hour biography of the Bee
Gees long enough to visit Eyedrum's Improv Festival, a gathering
of improvisational musicians and their music. Recommended by a
friend, the group I came to see is a local ensemble called GFE.
GFE stands for Gruppe Freie Elektronische.
Incidentally (or perhaps intentionally), GFE also is a term used
by the escort industry that means "Girlfriend Experience."
Needless to say, Googling the phrase "GFE Atlanta" to
try to gather info about the band was an interesting way to kill
GFE plays anti-melodic, anti-rhythmic, highly abrasive music using
traditional instruments (bass, drums, sax, keys) augmented by
electronics (sampled dialogue, a theremin). Eyedrum's website
quotes one person describing the band's music as the sound of
an "orchestra tuning up."
That's a funny description, but not quite right because it implies
formlessness and aimlessness. GFE's piece, titled "The Black
Abyss Around Your Heart, I Hate You" was free-form, but it
wasn't formless. It wasn't pretty, but it was pure sound that,
like meditation, is supposed to erase all thoughts and worries
from my mind - resulting in a blissful state that I quickly ruined
by rushing home to watch more A&E.
- Andisheh Nouraee, Creative Loafing
Practice makes perfect, or so the adage says. For local electro-acoustic
improvisational act Gruppe Freie Elektronisch, perfection is a
matter of silent communication. "We never practice,"
laughs percussionist Milton Jones, and upon witnessing the group's
stirring live performances, it becomes obvious that practice is
beside the point.
Jones -- along with Jeff Bradley (double bass), Scott Burland
(pedal steel, keyboards, electronics, guitar), Robert Cheatham
(saxophones, keyboards) and Bob Hulihan (electronics, guitar)
-- has only played three shows since forming the group in 2003.
A mutual appreciation for experimental music and long-standing
friendships -- some lasting more than 15 years -- give GFE an
insight not achieved by many acts. Recent inductee Ana Balka (violin)
brings an outsider edge, adding dexterity to the sonic deluge.
The slow and surging sound is a slanted journey into intangible
tones. "The group is less about rhythms and jamming as it
is about creating textures, colors and shapes," adds Jones.
"I'd like to see it move toward more structure, but that
would require some practicing."
Over the course of the group's tenure, GFE has stood for everything
from Girlfriend Experience to Granola Free Explosion, but Gruppe
Freie Elektronisch is the tag that sticks. An appropriate title
considering the group's surroundings: Jones and Bradley double
as the core of local avant-garde jazz and experimental music promoters
Euphonic Productions. As a result, GFE has become Euphonic's de
facto house band. But that hasn't added any undue pressure. "We're
like old friends communicating when we play," adds Jones.
"It's not practiced. It's not rehearsed. It just has a life
of its own." Chad Radford, Creative Loafing
See past gigs...