“This is radical music in the best sense, taken back to basics but to basics that are relational in essence. [...] Figures and Grounds is a beautiful and sensuous record.”
“What I admire most about Figures and Grounds [is that] electronics heighten the visceral sting of their acoustic found sounds, but without the musicians relying on electronics to do the work for them, or worse, allowing electronics to paint a homogenised gloss over the music.”
“The four players deliver a vibrant, free-flowing session. [...] As an exemplar of the use of electronics and processing with a small improvising group, Figures and Grounds is a great success.”
“La réactivité, l'attention, la spontanéité et la richesse des propos et des interventions surprennent et envoutent par leur force émotionnelle, leur richesse structurelle et texturale, ainsi que par leur caractère aventureux. [...] Spontanée, chaleureuse, intense et profonde, une musique très énergique qui accèdent à des territoires riches et nouveaux.”
“Det är ovanligt öppet, flytande och inbjudande. Samtidigt som alla musiker hela tiden tar sin konst på djupaste allvar utan allt flams.”
live at the Vortex, London
Evan Parker's "Might I Suggest" Festival
“For the first of six Anglo-German collaborative concerts at the Vortex, devised by Evan Parker and generously supported by the Goethe-Institut, Systems Quartet offered a reassuringly uncomfortable collision between live instrumentation and electronic intervention in what Parker reckoned would probably be the most confrontational event of the series.
Axel Dörner with his specially adapted Firebird slide trumpet and laptop, and Rudi Mahall on a substantial bass clarinet, took up the leftstage, complemented to the right by the black-clad rhythm section of Adam Linson on string bass and electronics and Parker's long-time collaborator, percussionist Paul Lytton.
They served up a complex sonic brew, rarely straightforward, often juddering in and out of bleak, mechanically-hinted environments, with the spectre of electrical malfunction hovering overhead. The insinuation of unlikely processed sounds and a perpetual unravelling of morphed transformations suggested the shifting scenes of a film's soundtrack. Frenzied and frenetic, rising to the density of sound associated with the ICP Orchestra, they could equally drop to ethereal, delicate pulses and waves.
Paul Lytton used his fingers so lightly on his snare that a ladybird might have been scuttling across the skins. Dörner blew on a mike which picked up the edges of his breath; he sampled and reprocessed sounds so that for moments there would, disconcertingly, be no active players, even though virtual duets were being enacted.
Sparks and crackles, thunderous semaphore and various strands of interference were introduced to build up a spacious yet condensed landscape. [...] Linson's intense application to fretboard and bridge confirmed an anchoring presence, linking in to Lytton's exceptional, low-key percussive invention with great assurance.
The nervous anguish of the siren sounds, the waves of weather and insect swarms were complemented by the odd touch of humour. [...] The musicians' instincts and experience made it all hang together with finely-wrought coherence.”
“The London jazz club's second annual Evan Parker-curated "Might I Suggest" Festival presented a six-night programme celebrating Anglo-German musical collaboration. [...] The festival opened on Tuesday, with the Berlin-based Systems Quartet's blistering free-jazz aesthetic souped up by ad-libbed electronica. [...] Their acoustic material followed the standard contours of through-improvised performance – sparse beginnings, full-blooded climaxes and spiky duets punctuated by moments of calm. It was lifted out of the ordinary, though, by the periodic injection of mightily distorted samples of what the musicians had just played.”
Casserley and Linson “open up impressive vistas.”
“This studio meeting delivers a wide range of surprising (and often gritty) textures. A difficult though rewarding listen.”
“The buzzing intensity this duo creates is just the ticket.”
“An entrancing effort that stands out in radiant colors among similar undertakings of this ilk.”
“Ecco un esempio da non perdere di quintaessenza della musica elettro-acustica!”
“Casserley et Linson transforment le temps et l'espace et plusieurs écoutes successives n'en altèrent le rayonnement multidimensionnel. Fascinant.”
Adam Linson (born 1975 in Los Angeles) is active internationally as a double bassist, improvisor, composer, and scholar, who performs acoustically and with live electronics, solo and in a wide variety of ensembles, and can be heard on several critically acclaimed albums. He also designs, develops, and performs with real-time interactive computer music systems. He has published on a range of topics including the ecological psychology of improvisation, the philosophy of art and artificial intelligence, and the historiography of music technology.
Linson recently took up a CMPCP Visiting Fellowship at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Music to conduct research on perception, cognition, and action in improvisation. He completed a PhD using artificial intelligence and robotics to investigate cognition in collaborative improvisation, funded by the Open University Centre for Research in Computing (UK). He has a Master of Fine Arts in Music/Sound from Bard College, and a BA in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego, where he also studied composed and improvised music under George Lewis and classical double bass under Bertram Turetzky. His extensive experience as a software engineer and GNU/Linux specialist ranges from large-scale distributed architectures to embedded systems.
Linson's sustained involvement with interactive computer music is documented on albums with the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble in 2004 (ECM); solo double bass and electronics in 2006 (psi); a 2007 duet with Lawrence Casserley, released in 2009 (psi); the John Butcher Group in 2008 (WoW); and a January 2008 recording, released in 2011 (psi), with Axel Dörner, Paul Lytton, and Rudi Mahall, collectively known as Systems Quartet. In February 2012, the premier performance of his piece Looms (for improvisors and 16-channel spherical diffusion) was given with Evan Parker on soprano saxophone and Linson on double bass, at the Electric Spring festival in Huddersfield (UK).
Notable acoustic guest performances include concerts in Paris and Brussels as part of the Evan Parker Trio with Paul Lytton, and in Berlin with the Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio featuring Parker and Paul Lovens. In addition to collaborations with numerous improvisors in groups of various sizes, he has performed in duets with Richard Barrett, Tom Blancarte, Lawrence Casserley, Peter Evans, Aleks Kolkowski, Okkyung Lee, Rudi Mahall, Jon Rose, John Russell, Joel Ryan, and Nate Wooley.
From 1999-2009 he was based in Berlin, Germany, where he began many continuing musical collaborations with distinguished improvisors. In 2004 and 2008, he was an artist-in-residence at the Studio voor Elektro-Instrumentale Muziek (STEIM), Amsterdam. His compositions for chamber ensembles and contemporary dance productions have been performed in Europe and North America, and his performances and recordings have been broadcast on US and international radio, including BBC Radio 3 in the UK and SWR in Germany.
Selected past festival performances include GIOfest VII, Glasgow (2014), with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, the London Jazz Festival (2013) with John Russell's Quaqua Ensemble; Banlieues Bleues, Paris (2012) in a sextet with Evan Parker, Ikue Mori, Mark Nauseef, Matt Wright, and Toma Gouband; Freedom of the City, London (2011) in a duet with Lawrence Casserley, an octet with Evan Parker, and with the London Improvisors Orchestra; the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK) with the LFO Orchestra (2010), the John Butcher Group (2008), and solo double bass and electronics (2006); the Guelph Jazz Festival (Canada, 2010) on solo double bass and electronics; the London Jazz Festival (2009) with Lawrence Casserley; the Total Music Meeting in Berlin (2008) in a quartet with Evan Parker, Peter Evans, and Richard Barrett, and a quintet with Fred van Hove, John Edwards, Louis Moholo-Moholo, and Tomek Choloniewski; and the MusikTriennale in Cologne (2007), as a guest performer with the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.
Linson is currently based in the UK.