Friday, 26th January 2024, bar 7:30pm/music 8:30pm, POSK Jazz Cafe, 238-246 King Street, London W6 0RF
Tickets available here
This performance is the UK launch concert for Esz Kodesz, the debut album from Alex Roth’s Cut the Sky (formerly known as Roth/Zimpel/Zemler), whose music has been described as “beautifully expansive” (BBC Radio 3) and “intensely atmospheric” (Prog Magazine).
The album is the culmination of 5 years of music-making in response to field recordings made by bandleader Alex Roth around Poland and Ukraine, at sites where remnants of the countries’ Jewish histories could still be felt—neglected cemeteries, forgotten monuments, former ghetto districts reclaimed by ever-evolving cities.
Triggered and processed by Alex live, these evocative recordings provide springboards for extended improvisations that draw on a rich array of musical vocabularies, from mesmeric trances to ecstatic overdriven drones and incantatory melodies, often referencing such diverse acts as The Necks, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Colin Stetson.
Supported by a Creative Scholarship from the City of Kraków.
Born in Detroit, raised in London and now based in Kraków, Alex Roth is a composer, guitarist, producer, and interdisciplinary collaborator. His diverse body of work encompasses improvisation; orchestral compositions; scores for dance, theatre, and film; and leading numerous bands. He has worked with some of Europe’s leading experimental musicians, such as John Butcher, Arve Henriksen, Savina Yannatou, Kit Downes, Mikolaj Trzaska and Olga Szwajgier.
As well as leading Alex Roth’s Cut The Sky, Alex releases experimental electronic music and explores new technologies as Supersigil; co-leads Sephardic music group Sefiroth; and founded the networked ensemble MultiTraction Orchestra, whose critically acclaimed debut album was hailed by The Guardian as “a remarkable sonic collage by an A-list of international improvisers.”
Alex’s compositions have been recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, and the 20+ releases in his discography also include collaborations with singer/songwriter Alice Zawadzki, Mercury Prize nominee Laura Jurd’s Human Spirit, and Orcadian fiddler/singer/songwriter Catriona Price, among other recordings on labels such as Superpang, Edition, Diatribe and NMC.
Alex is also the founder of Zyla, a multidisciplinary label for experimental art across all mediums.
Formed as part of a residency its leader undertook at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, Alex Roth’s Cut the Sky brings together guitarist/composer Alex Roth with two of Poland’s foremost experimental musicians—clarinettist Wacław Zimpel and drummer Hubert Zemler.
Formerly known simply as Roth/Zimpel/Zemler, the trio dates back to 2018, when Alex relocated from the UK to Poland, reversing a migratory path trodden by his great-great-grandfather over a century earlier. The band’s performances centre around field recordings Alex made at sites where remnants of the country’s Jewish history can still be felt: neglected cemeteries, forgotten monuments, former ghetto districts reclaimed by ever-evolving cities. However, as followers of the individual musicians’ prior projects might expect, the record references a rich array of contemporary experimental vernacular, from mesmeric trances to ecstatic overdriven drones and incantatory melodies, all woven together through exploratory improvisation.
Following the self-released single “RZZ1” (described as “beautifully expansive” on BBC Radio 3), Esz Kodesz is Alex Roth’s Cut the Sky’s long-awaited debut album, supported by a Creative Scholarship from the City of Kraków.
Wacław Zimpel has risen to prominence as one of Poland’s most adventurous multi-instrumentalists, composers, and producers. A prolific collaborator traversing jazz, experimental electronics, minimalism and folk musics, he doesn’t so much blur boundaries as eradicate them altogether. His tireless search for new musical languages led the New York Times to call him a “musical chameleon”. A classically trained clarinettist, Zimpel made a name for himself playing with some of the foremost figures on the international free jazz scene, including Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake and Joe McPhee. His 2016 solo album Lines, hailed by The Quietus as “a spectacular statement”, incorporated analogue electronic instruments and minimalist influences. Subsequent releases on labels such as London’s state51 Conspiracy and Amsterdam’s Ongehoord Records—plus collaborations with the likes of producers James Holden, Shackleton, and Forest Swords (a BBC Radio 3 commission); Grammy Award-winning Bang on A Can star Evan Ziporyn; tabla virtuoso Trilok Gurtu; gnawa master Maâlem Mokhtar Gania—have cemented his reputation as one of the most exciting artists on the European experimental scene.
A founding member of Warsaw collective/label Lado ABC, Hubert Zemler is a percussionist, composer, and improviser. He is involved in countless projects with such diverse collaborators as Ben Frost, Piotr Kurek, Mitch & Mitch, John Tilbury, Evan Ziporyn, Gyan Riley, Resina and Raphael Rogiński. His solo performances range from snare drum improvisations to the music of composers such as Per Nørgård and Steve Reich. As a member of contemporary music groups Kwadrofinik and Hashtag Ensemble he has given many Polish premieres, including Reich’s iconic Music for 18 Musicians. He has also appeared as soloist with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Helmut Lachenmann’s percussion concerto Air and directed a performance of Terry Riley’s seminal In C for Polish Radio. His duo with Felix Kubin, CEL, combines acoustic percussion and electronics, while Opla (with Piotr Bukowski) reinvents traditional Polish folk-dance rhythms for electric guitar and drums.
Alex Roth – guitar, field recordings, processing
Wacław Zimpel – clarinets, electronics
Hubert Zemler – drums
The concert will take place on 26th January at POSK Jazz Cafe in London.
You can purchase tickets here.