Kopros Lithos was elected best of 2011 albums by Audrey Henkin of The New York City Jazz Record
Much like conceptual artist Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista project, trumpeter Peter Evans, pianist Agustí Fernández, and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson present this all-acoustic improvisation session called Kopros Lithos, or “fossilized dung.”
In 1961, Manzoni set about to produce 90 cans of his own feces as a limited edition art piece. In 2007, one can sold at auction for 124,000 Euro.This project refers to dinosaur droppings, a much prized fossil. Indeed, the group’s sound (which is occasionally musical) draws from minimal improvisation, noise, and plenty of surprise. All three players are part of the cutting-edge tradition of improvised music: Gustafsson is regarded as the heir apparent to Peter Brotzmann; Spaniard Fernández has been heard most recently with bothEvan Parker and Barry Guy; and Evans is a jazz trumpet wunderkind who is featured in Mostly Other People Do the Killing, as well as projects by Parker, Okkyung Lee, and Mary Halvorson.As an archeological project, this recording is a rare artifact, documenting the collaboration of three important improvisers whose technique is paraded on each track. Sometimes they choose to walk a minimalist line, Fernández exploring the piano’s insides—much of the time mimicking a percussionist—while Gustafsson and Evans play with breathy sounds. In other spots, Gustafsson delivers his now-patented shout-smack saxophone punch and Evans brings his growling rumbles. Without the persistence of beat or the bounds of meter, the trio is free to exercise some seriouskopros noise-making, Some may think these challenging sounds merde, others an instant archaeological treasure.
Richard Rees Jones, Viennese Waltz, about EFG at Porgy & Bess September 16, 2012:
I’ve never been a huge fan of the trumpet, and (…) I was quite prepared not to like Evans either. But the man was a revelation. Standing shoulder to shoulder, the trumpeter and saxophonist united in a jaw-dropping tour de force of fierce blowing and jumpy, agitated motifs.With no bass or drums to anchor things down, the music flew in all sorts of unexpected directions. Key to this was Fernandez. (…) The pianist’s fingers skipped nimbly across the keyboard, sending bright tone clusters to coalesce with the more gutsy sound of the horns.As for Gustafsson, this was a more cryptic performance than we have come to expect from him. There was little of the zestful soloing that he brings to his work with The Thing, Sonore and Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet. For the most part he set his sights instead on furrowed contortions of sound, save for a powerful baritone solo which followed an extended passage of crystalline beauty from Fernandez. Combined with Evans’ extraordinary mastery of the trumpet, this was music that required – and amply repaid – the deepest of listening.
Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record
Over the past 15 years Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández has become the most celebrated pianist – if not complete improviser – from his part of the world (…)
More atonal is Kopros Lithos, whose experimental textures arrive courtesy of the pianist, American trumpeter Peter Evans and the baritone saxophone and alto fluteophone of Swede Mats Gustafsson. There’s no percussion but that doesn’t stop it from being the most stentorian of the four sets. Between Evans’ flighty squeals and wide-bore grace notes plus Gustafsson’s verbal shouts, tongue slaps and growls from his baritone sax, there’s enough discordance to go around. On a track such as “You displace me by your singing”, Fernández adds to the general din by continuously rubbing and plucking his piano strings as well as clattering various objects placed upon them. At the same time it’s his methodical key-stopping that guides the trumpeter’s flutter-tonguing and the saxophonist’s metal-scrapping honks to a more melodic interface. Perhaps those connective timbres from the keyboard also define the message behind another track title: “My fingers were glue”. Certainly Fernández’ pressure firmly shapes the parallel improvising from the horns. Here Evans buzzes and whinnies as if a metal sheet is pressed against his horn’s bell while Gustafsson contributes high-velocity snorts and brays.
Fernández’ pianistic control while improvising in a non-conventional manner is a tribute to his skill. It’s also another indication why any and all of these discs [also with John Saura, Joe Morris and Arora trio] are satisfying listens.
Yahvé M. de la Cavada, Cuadernos de Jazz
Si hay una ramificación del jazz que se resiste a ser definida, esa es la libre improvisación. (…)
Agustí Fernández y Mats Gustafsson son dos especialistas de esta música, a la que han prestado incontables horas de dedicación total y comprometida. Peter Evans es, con respecto a ellos, un recién llegado, pero un recién llegado con algo especial. (…)
Y es que, a pesar de estar junto a dos gigantes de la libre improvisación, uno no puede evitar desviar su atención hacia el joven trompetista en muchos momentos de esta grabación. La forma en la que se amolda a sus companeros (que, entre ellos, son viejos conocidos) y su capacidad para dirigir la música hacia un lugar u otro con plena autoridad le sitúan al mismo nivel de Fernández y Gustafsson. Y qué nivel! (…)
Kopros Lithos es un álbum visceral, misterioso e incluso, en ocasiones, oscuro. Los tres músicos consiguen conectar en todo momento, unos con otros en un primer nivel, y con el propio oyente, siempre que este se implique. Merece la pena entrar en su universo sonoro.