In light of Stratocluster’s August 31 collaboration with Lukas Ligeti and James Ilgenfritz, we asked the leader of the ensemble, Ian Mikyska, to arrange the first in our series of monthly curated playlists.
In 2013, Stratocluster released their first album on the Czech alternative label Signals from Arkaim and played a series of concerts that projected them to the forefront of the Czech improvisational scene. The ensemble has performed at the Wakushoppu concert series at Café v Lese, the Ruins of Intolerance festival, Festival Alternativa, and Agosto’s own vs. Interpretation Festival in 2014.
Stratocluster presents a mix of approaches to improvisation. Its members have backgrounds from noise and electronica to jazz and classical music; they use electronic and live instruments, idiomatic and non-idiomatic improvisation, samples, and most recently, multimedia approaches including textual and verbal improvisation and movement-based or theatrical elements.
"The selections on this playlist come from several different sources: some of the tracks go as far back as [Stratocluster’s] debut album TAMANRASSET (2013), characterised by a more musical, jazzy sound ("Khostrov Forest; Armenia" and "Black Sea near Bafra, Turkey").
"Then there are two tracks from our single HOVNA LACONIC ("Hovna Charisma" and "Friendly Hovna of the Wronged Scorpio"), two short selections from our casette JABLKA HRUŠKY MEOTARY (PEARS, APPLES AND OVERHEAD PROJECTORS, released on the Meteorismo label): "02b-04" and "04-8." These portray us in a more lo-fi aesthetic and in a more relaxed/extreme atmosphere—all the recordings were made on a pocket walkman during breaks in rehearsals for our concert at the Institute of Intermedia in the autumn of 2014.
"And finally, a few tracks from our album in the making, FM (to be released on polí5 in 2016), which takes us into site-specific and field recording territories: "Kovová věc na palmovce" features a large metal sculpture near the Palmovka metro, "Kobra" is a short hommage to John Zorn, and "Kolektivní vibrafon" highlights one of our favorite things to do: have an unfortunate number of people playing one instrument. Finally, "K obědu" and "K cestě do práce" are two more radio-concept pieces, to be listened to on the way to work, or to eating lunch." Ian Mikyska