Al Maslakh
al maslakh (the slaughterhouse) is a ufo created to publish the unpublishable in the lebanese artistic scene



Mazen Kerbaj | trumpet

01 | VRRRT | 04.51
04 | BLBLB FLBLB | 03.18
05 | TAGADAGADAGA | 03.16
06 | SSSSFF | 02.09
07 | WHOO PF WIZ | 04.37
08 | ZRRRT | 05.23
09 | PIIIIIIII | 02.12
11 | FFFFSS | 04.21
12 | TAGA PF DAGA | 02.23
13 | PIUU FLP TACC | 03.32
14 | BRRRT | 07.07
15 | BROTZ | 03.05

all music improvised and recorded by mazen kerbaj
no cuts | no overdubbing | no use of electronics

recorded on 15th and 16th of jan 05 at dahr el souan | track 1 3 8 11 & 14 recorded on 15th of aug 04 at new york
mastering yann chaaraoui
artwork & design mazen kerbaj

produced in lebanon by al maslakh


[…]On the same label there is a solo CD of Mazen Kerbaj on his trumpet. On the cover it says 'no cuts, no overdubbing, no use of electronics', and especially the latter is hard to believe. In some pieces it seems like Kerbaj is playing his instrument with a fan or some other sort motorized gadget, but it might also be paper or metal objects rubbing and scratching against the trumpet, which give this sort of electronical sound. You could wonder if fifteen tracks, with a total length over fifty minutes is a bit too much, but Kerbaj shows here, more than on his duo CD with Hautzinger, a very talented trumpet player that can easily match the best work of Axel Dörner, and offers plenty of new techniques to play his instrument. Watch him as he conquers the improvisation world.
Frans de Waar | Vital Weekly

Mazen Kerbaj is an astounding improviser, as clearly demonstrated by this adventure for solo trumpet. On the CD cover, he writes "No cuts, no overdubbing, no use of electronics"; he's right in advising us, because the sounds emitted by his instrument are beyond the limits of believable. Each track is aptly titled with a tentative onomatopoeic transcription of the noises he generates - there is some fabulous poetry here, just listen to "Tagadagadaga" or "Flooka Brooka Clooka" to realize that they truly sound that way. Industrial blare, malfunctioning electric plants, distant helicopters, firemen wrestling against a hell of flames and exotic chirps are all parts of the repertoire; "Ffffss" lets us experience the numbing effect of a guerilla happening right outside your window, something that this Lebanese musician has tattooed in his mind (he was born during one of the harshest time frames in that area's history). Music made with few means, exquisitely mature in its conscious suggestive force, "Brt Vrt Zrt Krt" is a necessary addition in every serious collection of contemporary creativity.
Massimo Ricci | touching extreme

Mazen Kerbaj and fellow Lebanese improviser Sharif Sehnaoui founded the Al Maslakh ("Slaughterhouse") label together and have been running the Irtijal festival in Beirut for five years now. If you're ever passing through the Lebanese capital, you'll also learn that Kerbaj is also a cartoonist and the son of the nation’s greatest film star. Not surprisingly then his work cross-references diverse artistic disciplines including installation, performance art and music theatre. His trumpet playing is certainly unorthodox: he sits down, holds it between his knees and even manages to play it simultaneously with assorted percussion instruments. Circular breathing, it goes without saying, comes naturally. Kerbaj extends the trumpet to the point of almost abandoning it completely, going way beyond Axel Dörner's steam engine huff and puff and the quarter-tone exhalations of Franz Hautzinger (with whom Kerbaj has released two albums: Abu Tarek, on Creative Sources, and Oriental Space with Sehnaoui and Helge Hinteregger on aRtonal). Every piece on this disc explores a different technique, and it sounds like Kerbaj has been developing them for a long time. The opening "Vrrrt" uses sounds from two different devices simultaneously, while on "Pshshsshsssshp" Kerbaj prepares the horn with assorted rubber tubes (the influence of Rajesh Mehta, or nargila?), ultimately deconstructing it altogether and even abandoning it in favour of assorted small instruments, as on "Cling Clang Clong (Krrrt)" – listening to the panoply of sounds he extracts from his kit I can imagine the concert promoter’s disbelieving grin upon receiving Kerbaj’s tech-rider.. Elsewhere, there's an almost Industrial feel to the draughty sewer of "Ssssff" and "Flooka Brooka Clooka" and the steam whistle of "Whoo Pf Wiz." And, in Julian Cowley’s recent feature on the trumpeter in The Wire, Kerbaj revealed that the Lebanese Civil War has influenced his playing as much as musique concrète. You can hear that well in pieces like "Piiii", whose high-pitch sounds like a siren, and rearing its ugly head on "Brrrt". But the closing "Brotz" is a dedication to Peter Brötzmann, and its rumbles and growls sound like a dinosaur trapped in the bell of his mighty tenor. And like Brötzmann, Kerbaj has little time for lowercase's beloved silence – for all its experimental rigour, this music really swings!-
Vid Jerast |

[…] Deeply rooted in free jazz and free improvisation, Kerbaj has been making music (and/or noise) like this for about eight years. The first release on Al-Maslakh, "Brt Vrt Zrt Krt," consists of 15 of his trumpet solos, ranging in length from two to seven minutes, each exploring a way to produce abrasive sound on the otherwise sweet-toned instrument.
Kerbaj milks the trumpet for all it's worth, using its surfaces, its sounds, and its many accessories, including different mouthpieces, mutes, rubber hoses, and more.
Although he argues that his album is more than an index of technique, Kerbaj names each piece with a snatch of onomatopoeia, conveying the sound with a mash of consonants and occasional vowels, such as "Cling Clang Clong (Krrrt)." He insists that these letters mean nothing. They are neither acronyms, nor abbreviations, nor references to the trilateral roots of Arabic words.
That's not to say that the music itself is meaningless. But it necessarily eludes being easily explained through language. Kerbaj winces and grimaces before offering this assessment: "I hate to say this in Lebanon," he says, but there is something in his work that betrays" a nostalgia for soundscapes in times of war. It's more afterward that I realize this, but 'Tagadagadaga' [the album's fifth track] sounds like a rifle."
In a sense, Kerbaj's trumpet solos are the aural equivalents of artist Franz Ackerman's paintings titled "mental maps," evocations of geographic and psychological space that resist traditional markers and structures of narrative. […]
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie | The Daily Star - Beirut

Several years ago I remember investigating a fine compilation on the A Bruit Secret label entitled From:/To:. Along with contributions from many European electro-acoustic players, I was surprised to note the presence of Sharif Sehnaoui, a guitarist from Lebanon. Lebanon! Who knew? As it turns out, Beirut is home to a really vital scene with young players who have just begun to document their work. While a couple recordings have appeared on Creative Sources, the Al Maslakh label is this scene's own and its first two releases (both limited editions of 500) are killer.
Gifted trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj first came to my attention on his duo disc with like-minded trumpet restructuralist Franz Hautzinger. Hautzinger's wet, splattery, deconstructed sound on the quartertone trumpet seems to be an inspiration for Kerbaj's wide-ranging solo work on this disc, BRT VRT ZRT KRT (Al Maslakh 01). Over the course of an hour, he delivers 15 incisive performances which focus on the instruments basic sonic and idiomatic properties - breath in the bell, the sharp click of the valves, and so forth. Kerbaj specializes in the low and the flatulent, but even in these registers his improvising isn't declamatory (like, say, the great Bill Dixon) as much as it is furtive. Rather than splashing paint on a canvas, he traces invisible shapes in the air. That's not to say that the range of techniques displayed is narrow, because precisely the opposite is the case. There are squeaking, chirping birdsongs on "PSHSHSSSHSSSSHP," sympathetic whistles that float above the main line on "BLBLB FLBLB," and didgeridoo fantasies (mixed with electronic-sounding mangling) on "ZRRRT." What's more, Kerbaj engages in some really interesting sound layering, where something like a whirring metallic crank supplements his breath work on "Cling Clang Clong." Ultimately, like many solo improv albums, this sounds like a catalogue of techniques more than anything else. But it's also a very compelling musical statement by an improviser who deserves attention, and who is quickly moving into the ranks occupied by fellow trumpet adventurers like Greg Kelley, Birgit Ulher, Hautzinger and Axel Dörner.
Jason Bivins -

[…] For his solo trumpet record "BRT VRT ZRT KRT", Mazen Kerbaj chose to explore the sound possibilities of his instrument. He's not into rhythmic or melodic territory. Once again, this is music that was closely miked [he must have stuck the microphone right inside of the front end of the trumpet]. Is it easily accessible? Let me ponder that point for a while. To be honest, these are really sounds for those with strong determination to get something new out of music. These are not your traditional trumpet sounds as you're used to hearing them. Take "Cling Clang Clong (KRRRT)" as an instance. Right from the beginning, we're faced with this drilling sound, with what sounds like some construction people working on fixing a beaten road. Then, as we move on to "ZRRRT", we're faced with a sound that resembles the didgeridoo - a traditional Australian instrument that, when played right, produces deep bass overtones. "BRRRT" resembles a motor boat revving up on the lake. At the end of the recording, you're left asking yourself - were any of these sounds processed? Then you stare at the CD sleeve, where it clearly states "no use of electronics". If that's the case, a big round of applause goes out to Mazen, as I had no idea the trumpet had such a heavy split personality disorder.
Tom Sekowski | Gaz-Eta

Tiny acoustic compositions for trumpet and neighbouring objects. A thorough ruidistic research in the realm of the acoustic, where different materials -excited by means of blown air- meet the electroacustic. Various acoustic textures are carefully observed and blended with other materials by means of timbric mortar as sole criteria.
Pedro Lopez |

A few years ago Atavistic Records promoted its Unheard Music Series of free jazz reissues with a t-shirt bearing the Evan Parker quote "my roots are in my record player." If Mazen Kerbaj doesn't have one, he should, and not just because Parker is one of the Lebanese trumpet player's favorite musicians. Kerbaj first discovered improvised music through recordings, then followed their example to start playing it himself. There was no tradition of free improvisation in Lebanon, indeed no musical avant-garde at all, before he and alto saxophonist Christine Sehnaoui staged the country's first improv concert in the year 2000. Since then Kerbaj and a few confederates have organized Irtijal, an annual festival that presents their music and that of such esteemed out-of-towners as Peter Brötzmann and Michael Zerang. He's also played with European and American players on their home turf, appearing at the High Zero Festival in 2005 and forging a profitable relationship with Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger. Most recently he's founded a label, Al Maslakh (the Slaughterhouse), to showcase the local scene; the two recordings under consideration here are its first offerings.
If these records are any indication, Kerbaj is not likely to be remembered solely as a rainmaker; he's one hell of a trumpeter too. He works in roughly the same trumpet-as-sound generator vein as Hautzinger, Axel Dörner, and Greg Kelley, but he developed his style in relative isolation and it's all his own. Brt Vrt Zrt Krt is an aptly onomatopoeic title; using metal plates as mutes and rubber tubes to connect his horn to a saxophone mouthpiece, Kerbaj coaxes all manner of unearthly squeals, whistles, whooshes, and clatters from his instrument. On "Cling Clang Clong (Krrrt)" he makes it sound like a teapot about to boil; on "Blblb Flblb," he evokes wind blowing through a bent dry pipe; "Tagadagadaga" suggests the approach of a helicopter, an image of particular import when you consider that Kerbaj grew up in a country at war. But Kerbaj's radical sounds are means, not ends; he uses them to the listener on a trip in which one's sense of the expected is undermined and one's hackles can't help but rise.
Bill Meyer | Signal To Noise

Mazen Kerbaj jest człowiekiem bardzo zapracowanym. Nie tylko zajmuje się muzyką, ale również rysuje i maluje, a wraz z grupą podobnych mu zapaleńców, usiłuje stworzyć libańską scenę muzyki improwizowanej, kierując wytwórnią płytową Al Maslakh, organizując koncerty i festiwal Irtijal. No i jeszcze prowadzi swój słynny blog.
To właśnie z powodu tego ostatniego o Kerbaju słyszeli lub czytali nawet ci, którzy zwykle muzyką się nie interesują. Zamieszczane w Sieci, przepełnione gorzkim humorem rysunkowe relacje z kolejnych dni starcia Izrael-Hezbollah, zdawane przez "zwykłego Libańczyka", zyskały wielką popularność - podobno każdego dnia stronę odwiedzało kilkanaście tysięcy internautów, wielu z nich regularnie do niej powracało. Opublikowany w formie mp3 utwór "Starry Night" stał się chyba najbardziej znanym w ostatniej dekadzie nagraniem z kręgu swobodnej improwizacji. To szeroko komentowane starcie trąbki Kerbaja z izraelskim lotnictwem, "składającym nocną wizytę w Beirucie", zamieszczano na kolejnych stronach, prezentowano w audycjach radiowych, szeroko opisywano w mediach, zastanawiając się przy okazji, czy jego twórca nie przekroczył granic dobrego smaku. Odpowiedzi na to pytanie każdy powinien udzielić sobie sam po wysłuchaniu "Starry Night". Sam Mazen Kerbaj nie ma sobie niczego do zarzucenia, twierdząc, że jeśli już ktoś miałby się wstydzić to powinni to być Izraelczycy.
Omawiana przeze mnie płyta zawiera materiał wcześniejszy, zarejestrowany podczas dwóch krótkich sesji, które miały miejsce w Nowym Jorku oraz Dar el-Souan w sierpniu 2004 i styczniu 2005 r. Piętnaście, trwających od dwóch do siedmiu minut, improwizacji obdarzono onomatopeicznymi tytułami w stylu "VRRRT", "PSHSHSSSHSSSSHP" czy "PIIIIIIII". Nagrania zostały zaprezentowane w wersji "czystej", tj. bez jakichkolwiek korekt. Słychać tylko to, co zostało zagrane przez Kerbaja na preparowanej trąbce. Preparowanej w klasycznym sensie tego terminu, czyli bez użycia elektroniki. Miast niej trębacz posłużył się rozmaitymi przedmiotami umieszczanymi w ustniku lub czarze głosowej, różnymi tłumikami oraz gumowymi wężami przedłużającymi rurę trąbki do czegoś w rodzaju cybucha nargili. Tytuły poszczególnych nagrań dobrze opisują te wszystkie szumy, szmery, warkoty, trele, piski, terkoty, które dobyte zostały przez Kerbaja z trąbki. Można potraktować "BRT VRT ZRT KRT" jako katalog niezwykłych możliwości sonorystycznych instrumentu, bądź prezentację rozmaitych technik artykulacji opanowanych przez jej autora. Jednak siła płyty nie tkwi w różnorodności niekonwencjonalnych brzmień, ale, a może przede wszystkim, w samych utworach. Dla Kerbaja brzmienie nie jest celem samym w sobie, lecz służy stworzeniu małej formy, dlatego dla mnie nagrania zamieszczone na tej płycie są takimi quasi-kompozycjami niż przypadkowymi zestawieniami dźwięków. Z tego właśnie powodu - choć powinienem w tym miejscu przywołać nazwiska słynnych eksperymentujących trębaczy - będę rekomendował "BRT VRT ZRT KRT", porównując ją do ubiegłorocznej płyty.
Martina Küchena "Music from One of the Provinces in the Empire". Obu muzyków cechuje bowiem podobne wyczulenie na muzyczność nawet najbardziej abstrakcyjnej materii dźwiękowej. Gorąco polecam płytę Mazena Kerbaja wszystkim tym, których interesuje współczesna muzyka improwizowana oraz tym, którzy chcieliby usłyszeć, co można wydobyć z trąbki.
Tadeusz Kosiek | Diapazon

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