Adam Linson has arrived at a propitious moment; the 20th Century has dropped behind the horizon, but the 21st has yet to be given permanent shape. He has the expanded skill set and the big ears necessary to make music that stands up to the severest scrutiny now and in the coming decades. His work will undoubtedly be closely monitored by discerning listeners around the world for many years to come.
Bill Shoemaker, author, journalist, critic,
and publisher of Point of Departure
on Figures and Grounds, psi, 2011
“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.”
Brian Morton, Point of Departure
“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.”
Philip Clark, The Wire, UK
“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.”
John Eyles, All About Jazz
“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.”
Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere, France
“La musique de ce quartette organisé par Adam Linson, contrebassiste né à Los Angeles résidant à Berlin, s’inscrit dans ces démarches, pas si nombreuses que ça, qui tentent de dépasser le domaine, et le concept, de l’improvisation libre, pour se projeter au-delà de l’instant, de l’échange et de la simple rencontre ponctuelle. Nous sommes donc en présence d’une construction improvisée très spatiale où les instruments acoustiques se meuvent dans un contexte largement électroacoustique (selon le sens que l’on donnait à ces musiques il y a quelques décennies), des sons qui s’entendent en perspective, sur différents plans. Les quatre protagonistes bâtissent avec une maîtrise saisissante une architecture sonore et musicale — insistons là-dessus, il ne s’agit ni d’un habillage ni d’un environnement —, une véritable mise en espace qui conduit l’auditeur à déplacer son écoute en suivant la progression de la pièce musicale. Bien évidemment, la qualité des sons s’avère prépondérante : parfois rugueux, grinçants, métalliques, « industriels », parfois cosmiques, profonds, toujours disposés sur plusieurs plans, des plus proches aux plus lointains. De véritables courants d’air conduits avec maîtrise par ces improvisateurs hors pair que sont les Allemands Axel Dörner et Rudi Mahal, habitués à jouer ensemble, et le grand chercheur vétéran anglais Paul Lytton. Pour auditeurs hardis, aventureux et passionnés. Remarquons la participation, à la production et au graphisme, d’Evan Parker.”
Jean Buzelin, CultureJazz, France
“Det är ovanligt öppet, flytande och inbjudande. Samtidigt som alla musiker hela tiden tar sin konst på djupaste allvar utan allt flams. ”
Thomas Millroth, Soundofmusic, Sweden
on Systems Quartet, live at Evan Parker's “Might I Suggest” Festival, Vortex Jazz Club, London, January 2012
“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.”
Geoff Winston, LondonJazz, UK
“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.”
Mike Hobart, Financial Times, UK
on Integument, psi, 2009
“Fascinating work between bassist Adam Linson and electronician Lawrence Casserley, the latter using only sounds made by Linson. This improvisation loop technique (acoustic playing, digitally manipulated feedback of the former, modified playing due to input from the latter) is not new, but it is not used that often, and Casserley was one of the first computer-based improvisers to develop it (in Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Project). This studio meeting delivers a wide range of surprising (and often gritty) textures. A difficult though rewarding listen.”
“Un travail fascinant entre le contrebassiste Adam Linson et l’électronicien Lawrence Casserley qui utilise uniquement les sons produits par Linson. Cette technique d’improvisation en boucle (jeu acoustique, feedback numérique modifié, jeu modifié en réaction au feedback) n’est pas nouvelle mais encore peu exploitée, et Casserley est l’un des premiers à l’avoir développé à fond (avec l’Electro-Acoustic Project d’Evan Parker). Cette rencontre offre quantité de textures étonnantes, souvent grinçantes. Une écoute difficile mais satisfaisant.”
François Couture, Monsieur Délire
“Very well crafted interplay and organic real-time sound treatments of the double bass vs live signal processing. The extremely intentional and subtle way of double bass arco work of Linson must be mentioned: it is very well adapted to the spirit of Casserley's live signal processing and Linson's own electronics. Very few match this.”
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg
(see his full review in French for Improjazz further below)
“I was hesitant digging into Integument, a meeting between signal processing wizard Casserley and bass phenom Linson … but the buzzing intensity this duo creates is just the ticket, making for a disc of mostly rough edges and very little complacency or dawdling. Indeed, they enjoy opening pieces abruptly and pursuing the consequences of these beginnings: a disorienting whine opens 'Stratum spongiosum,' while 'Squamous epithelium' announces itself with rough sawing, filled with pauses and with a compelling fragmentary quality. The two players have a provocative relationship too. While it's often Linson who creates these introductions, Casserley enters as if dropping some chemical compound into the sound, some kind of acid which sets it ablaze, and Linson almost sounds as if he's trying to escape. On 'Wandering leukocytes,' however, the moaning arco and Casserley's spectral sounds merge compellingly, as close to mirror images as they've gotten to this point. But when Linson's own processing and sampling rig is opened up on this track, things get more unpredictable: there's a passage of stark and mournful bass, freed from processing, some vocal shushing from Casserley, and some sonic deep-diving. It's all over the map in the best way. While that's probably the richest track here, many are nearly equal to its pleasures: 'Cycloids' is gloriously dizzying, like backwards tapes of car engines starting, and 'Chromatophores' sounds like a chorus of singing metallophones, with multiple granulations and details emerging in lengthy explorations.”
Jason Bivins, Signal to Noise, Fall 2009
“The word that resonates most clearly from Integument is interconnectivity. Throughout the two instantaneously react to each other's sonic impulses, often even before the other has completed his own movements. On "Chromatophores" for instance, Linson's ear-wrenching sul ponticello rumbles meet resonating loops of clanging, pitch-sliding reverses that turn out to be pumped and abrasive runs from the bassist. Soon Casserley's sleek and sibilant electronics wiggles not only reflect Linson's pulled and vibrated timbres, but also the overtones created by signal processing. With the harshness of the electronic instrument's attack producing almost visible granulation, the bassist's strings begin resonating coarsely as well. Reaching a climax of spiccato wood rubs, bell-like peals and voltage-swollen buzzes, the bonded multiphonics dissolves into near-inaudible gurgles and scrapes from both acoustic and electronic instruments. Similarly "Stratum Spongiosum" and "Squamous Epithelium" seep into one another without a perceptible break. Here buzzing loops pulse to react with Linson's tough, sul tasto variations. As blurry undercurrents ruffle, rebound and swell, cumulative wave forms scatter and eventually reduce. More dynamic, "Wandering Leukocytes" introduces delays in the form of processed overtones which further widen the bassist's string sweeps. As broken-octave flanges clash, Linson turns to near legato phrasing, allowing Casserley's machines to splutter, splash and whistle. Later on, however, the bassist interrupts this granular synthesis with staccato circular bowing. ... Satisfying in its communication ... the Linson-Cassserley CD prove[s] that in the right hands mixing any sort of sound sources can create memorable performances.”
Ken Waxman, Jazzword
Lawrence Casserley and Adam Linson “conjure up resonating effects-based passages that are unique, especially when we consider the hordes of electronics-touched albums by jazz, rock and avant-garde performers. ... It's an entrancing effort that stands out in radiant colors among similar undertakings of this ilk.”
Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz
Casserley and Linson “open up impressive vistas.”
Julian Cowley, The Wire, UK, June 2009
“Integument risulta composto da sette tracce possenti e vigorose dal punto di vista sonoro. Con il suo "signal processing instrument" Lawrence Casserley torce e distorce il suono del contrabbasso di Linson dilatando e gonfiando, più spesso di quanto non renda leggero il suono del suo interlocutore. Nello stratificare suoni ai suoni, Casserley procede modellando la materia su differenti piani (spaziali e temporali si potrebbe dire) con un risultato che, al di là di ogni aspettativa, mantiene un forte lirismo. Il dialogo, con i suoi tempi e punti di vista, le sue sovrapposizioni e le sue pause, e anche con i suoi cambi di strumentazione, regge benissimo. ... Ecco un esempio da non perdere di quintaessenza della musica elettro-acustica!”
Francesca Odilia Bellino, All About Jazz Italia
“Dans cette époque où beaucoup se veulent post moderne et d’autres branchés, la scène des musiques alternatives est envahie par une quantité de propositions esthétiques / démarches électroniques parmi lesquelles certaines laissent perplexes. Un ordinateur portable, une carte son, une mixette, un ampli (de guitare ?) et le tour est joué. Lawrence Casserley a consacré toute son existence au développement de la musique électronique et plus précisément au Real Time Live Signal Processing. Il a mis au point son propre système de traitement du son des instruments en direct qui tire profit d’une expérience considérable. A l’écoute des différents projets auxquels il participe, il faut bien avouer qu’il est difficile de se faire une idée exacte de son champ d’action et de son potentiel sans suivre notre homme à la trace. Live aux Instants Chavirés chez Leo /1997 avec Noël Akchoté, Evan Parker et Joël Ryan était une excellente carte de visite. Mais depuis cette époque, Casserley a multiplié les collaborations et chacune d’entre elles révèle une nouvelle dimension interactive (avec Barry Guy & Evan Parker, Charlotte Hug, Jeffrey Morgan, etc…). Adam Linson est un excellent contrebassiste qui a développé un travail avec l’électronique et l’échantillonnage. Il a joué avec l’Electro-Acoustic Ensemble d’Evan Parker dont Casserley est un membre actif depuis des années. Son coup d’archet est phénoménal. Il concentre ici son jeu sur les variations très subtiles de pression sur les cordes et le crin.

Integument nous entraîne dans une singulière mise en commun de l’instant, des possibilités expressives de la contrebasse et des multiples métamorphoses via l’électro-acoustique. Lawrence Casserley utilise la source sonore de la contrebasse de son collaborateur en direct, en échantillonnant et avec un savant dosage des retards (lire delay) qu’il manipule via la surface de tambours électroniques. Ses mains impriment des mouvements secrets sur la surface des caoutchoucs noirs et ses pieds actionnent un assortiment de pédales alors qu’il contrôle les écrans de ses Mac portables. De temps à autres ses machines projettent une improvisation « virtuelle » qui évoque distinctement une vision surréelle des échanges précédents. Casserley et Linson transforment le temps et l’espace et plusieurs écoutes successives n’en altèrent le rayonnement multidimensionnel. Fascinant.”
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Improjazz, France,
July / August 2009
on Cut and Continuum, psi, 2006
“A shifting collage that has an immediate surface appeal but — more importantly — reveals new riches with every listen. Cut and Continuum is an album I'll still be listening to decades from now, and Adam Linson is a player I want to hear far more.”
John Eyles, All About Jazz
“Non c´é altro da dire, se non che si consiglia vivamente di ascoltare ed andare a vedere dal vivo, se possibile, questo singolare musicista, il cui lavoro é destinato a segnare la storia solistica dello strumento contrabbasso ma non solo.”
Riccardo Valsecchi, All About Jazz Italia
“Tre tracce che del suono d'origine mantengono giusto ombre e baluginii che si rifraggono in un mare di suoni informali e umorali. Microtonale fino a farsi solo cenno, la musica di Linson è indubbiamente poetica ma dissonante, acidognola, talvolta scontrosa, è un gorgo che risucchia e ipnotizza con formidabile abilità dissimulatoria (spesso direste che è solo viva materia elettronica).”
Stefano I. Bianchi, Blow Up #100, Italy, 2006
“Noch mehr Strings bietet Cut and Continuum (psi 06.04) von und mit Adam Linson, einem aus Californien zugezogenen Auch-Berliner ... Cut and Continuum ist sein Solo debut, nur ein Mann und sein Kontrabass. Aber der Clou liegt in Linsons Processing- & Sampling-Skills, basierend auf community-driven libre software plus GNU/Linux systems. So kann er quasi die Bass-Processing-Duoarbeit ... alleine exerzieren in zwei ca. viertelstündigen und einem knapp halbstündigen Anlauf. ... Linsons Klänge, meist per Arcotechniken hervorgerufen, suggerieren ein elektroakustisches Kontinuum, einen schimmernden, kristallfunkelnden Zeit-Raum, bekritzelt mit oft zag geschabten oder gesägten Sgraffitis oder besprayt mit molekular zerstäubten Geräuschflecken. Immer wieder aber auch mit heftigen Ausschlägen. Das, wofür das Wort Kontrabass steht, überschreibt Linson mit Klangphänomenen, die er mit 'peaks of present and sheets of past', 'history growls at the door' oder 'slivers of crystal-images' andeutet.”
Bad Alchemy #51, Germany, 2006
on Free RadiCCAls, 2004, CCA, Glasgow
“An inventive set of solo bass”. … “The quartet of Evan Parker, Phil Wachsmann, Adam Linson and Paul Lytton was a model of integrated flesh and metal.”
David Keenan, Sunday Herald, UK