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Pail Bug gen 18

PAIL BUG is the initial document from this improvising unit with an advanced proposal of group construction. Featuring four composer/improvisers each on the forefront of contemporary musical discourse: Dietrich Eichmann (piano), John Hughes (double bass) Astrid Weins (double bass) & Jeff Arnal (percussion).

PAIL BUG compositions are built from extreme magnification of small sounds and gestures, a new lens on European improvisation tradition via extensive historical lineage; Eichmann was a student of Schlippenbach and Weins worked extensively with Peter Kowald. Arnal, for his part, is the sole U.S. based participant and his studies with Milford Graves reinforce a muscular angularity in the temporal structure of the material.

The comprehensive schematic that emerges comes from discreet musical construction paired with layers of interlocking rhythms, each instrument creating singular elements contributing to a wholly effected, sculptural group conception. Extended technique provides the source for microscopic textures and within these textures internal rhythms appear; the group uses the emerging complexity of these pulses superimposed against one another.

Emphasis is also placed on the individual silence resulting in the emergence of various breakdowns into knotted duos and trios which mass back into the generated pause underpinning a collective understanding of real-time orchestration. The compositional framework produces an outcome rich in expanded understanding of nuance and gesture, liquidity over solidity, reimagined instrumental potential and architectural possibilty/capability.


Dietrich Eichmann - piano
John Hughes - double bass
Astrid Weins - double bass
Jeff Arnal - percussion

Track Listing

1. First Pail          8:28
2. Second Pail  13:19
3. Third Pail         11:48
4. Fourth Pail      6:16
5. Fifth Pail          7:06

Listen to Fifth Pail

Format: CD ecopak
Release date: 2012
Recorded on December 19, 2009 at Vivaldisaal, Berlin
Mastered by Gunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson
Design by Anthony Levin-Decanini & Darian Stansbury

Purchase Pail Bug

• Online in Europe at Oaksmus
• Online at Squidco
• in NYC & online at Downtown Music Gallery

Selected Press

"Polymath percussionist Jeff Arnal has pursued parallel paths since his arrival in New York in 2000. He has found forums to display both the aggressive punk-like approach that initially attracted him to music plus the improvisational subtleties he picked up following his studies with contemporary composer Stuart Saunders Smith and percussion master Milford Graves.

Pail Bug, recorded with his longtime associate, Berlin-based pianist Dietrich Eichmann plus two bassists - Hamburg-based expatriate John Hughes and German Astrid Weins - exemplifies the free music side of Arnal's talents. Eichmann's contributions are crucial to the elaboration of the five instant compositions or "pails". A schooled composer who has written pieces for the SWR Symphony Orchestra, the Lyon Opéra Ballet as well as a concerto for saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the Ensemble Modern, Eichmann still fits seamlessly into an improv setting. Here he superimposes keyboard clanks and clips onto the agitated friction produced by tandem slashing bow work or sly pizzicato pops from the dual bassists. Meanwhile Arnal's rhythmic interpolations encompass everything from positioned press rolls to miniature bell pings and cymbal scratches. Frequently, the group interface fragments enough for protracted duo or trio interludes within the lengthier tracks.

Eichmanns's high-frequency chording and dynamic contrasts are particularly distinctive on "Second Pail" when, after an abrasive race across the keys, he outlines a new melody sequence swiftly taken up by Hughes and Weins. As the drummer doubles his strokes to create polyrhythms, the bull fiddlers separate their responses into high-pitched shrills and low-pitched plucks. Eventually it's the pianist's cascading chords, strengthened with pedal power, that push the others together to a satisfying collusion. Eichmann operates similarly on "Third Pail" as he builds metronomic pulses and kinetic left-handed keyboard rumbles into a pressurized theme whose tension only dissipates due to Arnal's subtle percussion accents." Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record

"Two double basses, piano and percussion. That's a lot of low-end power, if you know how to harness it. Pail Bug tries hard to avoid the obvious in these low-key improvisations, but it can't get away from the rumble. And on the whole, the rumble is what carries these pieces into some wonderful realms." Jon Worley, A&A

"Although piano, drums and two acoustic bassists is an unusual line-up, this quartet is quite well-balanced with an ample amount of space and exploration for each musician involved.. The interaction between all four members of this quartet is especially intense and often riveting." Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

"A unusual line up, that's the first thing we can say. It is only the name of Jeff Arnal that did ring a bell. I reviewed two excellent duo albums by him with Aaron Dugan and Michael Evans, released by C3R. The recording on this release is already of some time ago. It was recorded on December 9, 2009 at Vivaldisaal in Berlin Germany in one session. No idea if this quartet is still in existence, and if so, if this recording reflects where there are today. Probably not. Because we are in the company of some very good improvisers, who are constantly heading for something new. German composer and pianist Dietrich Eichmann first studied with Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano) and Wolfgang Rihm (composition). Cecil Taylor, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Luigi Nono, and Morton Feldman, a.o. are his points of reference. In 2002 started his duo work with Jeff Arnal, a highly original percussionist. Arnal studied orchestral percussion and composition. But same as Dietrich Eichmann he is also a very capable improviser. John Hughes is active in the jazz and improvisation community of Hamburg, playing with numerous improve groups and projects. Weins worked extensively with Peter Kowald. So far the crew. There improvisations are very concentrated and a lot happens. They chose different angels in the improvisations. The second one starts from repetitive motives from the piano. The third starts with a dialogue between two basses with some coloring by Arnal. Throughout fantastic interplay between the musicians is to be enjoyed. There several moments on this cd where the music really lifts you up into something beyond. Great intense work." DM, Vital Weekly


John Hughes
Live in Hamburg: Eichmann / Arnal 2007 LP