Leonard * Day * Jerman
Isinglass (C45)
Eh? 2016

Side A
1) One
2) Two
3) Three

Side B
1) Four
2) Five
3) Six

Cheryl Leonard, Bryan Day, Jeph Jerman


(Disaster Amnesiac) As promised in a recent private message, Public Eyesore/eh? head honcho Bryan Day has made some more recordings available to Disaster Amnesiac; it looks like he's ramping up production again! I'm happy and honored to be the recipient of so much great sound and music from the label. It may be that I'm going out of sequence here, but the Leonard/Day/Jerman tape, Isinglass, had my immediate attention. Anything with Cheryl's deeply aesthetic organic/electric hybrids grabs Disaster Amnesiac pretty hastily. Across seven pieces, put to tape over one year's time, this trio concocts soundscapes of deep, very organic nature. As I've listened, what at first sound like big slabs of sound reveal these great crenellations and nooks, small pockets to be delved into and investigated. One gets the sense that Leonard, Day, and Jeph Jerman put a lot of effort into letting the pieces unfold at within their own pace. Leonard's sound processes seem to act as guides, walking point into the exploratory auditory zones, while Day's invented instruments give some tonal and percussive action and Jerman's household objects color and comment. Disaster Amnesiac's favorite piece has to be the cassette's side one closer, during which feedback sounds jet out from the slow moving maelstrom. Among the other pieces, there are also fun sounds from bottles touching, strange whistles from who knows what, and all manner of curious tones, meshed together with a kind of delicate forcefulness. Disaster Amnesiac would advise the potential listener to don headphones for listening to Isinglass. Though calm on its face, the sounds that this trio makes have the deeply moving impact of massed mental glaciers or tsunami, oozing into the listener's perceptions with wide strokes that reveal hidden bits to be savored for their subtle surprises. - Mark Pino

(Chattanooga Pulse) Isinglass comes from a trio of unconventional sound creators who invent instruments and repurpose objects to create almost completely abstract tracks; as they unfurl, they have the uncanny ability to inspire opposites in the mind of the listener, at least in this writer's case. On one hand, the unusual sounds can make the mind race, as it struggles to recognize sound sources or imagine how on earth a certain noise was made; on the other hand, these tracks also have the ability to simply paralyze the mind, where no thought processing is necessary—everything is purely felt. Cheryl Leonard concentrates on using nature as a source for sounds and instruments and has spent time in Antarctica making field recordings and using stones, shells, ice and bones for compositions. On Isinglass, Leonard is credited with playing unique instruments such as the "kelp flute" and the "driftwood pipe organ" along with "wobbly rocks" and a "bowl of sand." Jeph Jerman is a kindred spirit who also has an affinity for natural sources and has previously played objects such as pinecones, branches and seed pods; however, on Isinglass, he utilizes an unspecified list of "household objects." The least organic of the three, Bryan Day straddles the natural and man-made worlds with one-of-a-kind instruments and also collects radio signals. Scrapes, vibrating strings, tiny pieces of wood, marbles rolling around in bowls and resonating gongs share the aether with whispering ghost transmissions and alien broadcasts. What sounds like whale songs or human breaths that vibrate surfaces provide an animal aspect among artificial sounds. The original six-track version of Isinglass was released digitally in 2014, but this new edition, released on cassette, features new artwork and an extra track. Oddly, for this writer, the most affecting track is the final piece, "Seven," which is slightly despairing, using the metallic hum of what sounds like an antique device, with occasion rustles of human interaction. Isinglass could have easily been a chaotic free-for-all jumble, but it is actually quite calm and slightly eerie; it has the solemnity of a monastery, but one that has been overtaken by overgrowth. - Ernie Paik

(Vital Weekly) On cassette we find label boss Bryan Day playing invented instruments and radio transceivers in a trio recording with Jeph Jerman (household objects) and Cheryl Leonard on driftwood pipe organ, driftwood mobiles, kelp flute, kelpinet, wobbly rocks, Japanese bowl, gongs, motorcycle sprockets and bow of sand. For me the lesser-known player is Leonard but I understand that just like Jerman and Day she likes to take explore the use of natural elements and convert them into musical instruments. In the two sidelong pieces they explore all of this with an open mind. If one was expecting some rattle of objects, crackle of leaves and such like, one has to think again. Much of this deals with rubbing objects on objects forming a more drone-based sound. It's hard to imagine how they achieved this sound, but it sounds great. That is one part of the story, as otherwise they play also a more loosely based object sound in which the three of them meticulously explore their instruments but also they listen to each other and the others are doing, a call and respond to make this into some beautiful music. There is some great tension between these three players and also between the various sounds at hand, and sometimes one has the idea that they are on a vessel, or using motorized sounds, but I might be entirely wrong of course. Overall I though this was a beautiful release, and maybe, just maybe, I thought a CDR would have been better, in terms of sound quality. - Frans De Waard