By Izzy Yellen | Published January 2017
Miller’s Tale is an hour-long program of improvisations that equally spotlights each esteemed member of this quartet: Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Mark Feldman (violin), Ikue Mori (electronics) and Evan Parker (soprano and tenor saxophones). The album is filled with intriguing soundscapes, some built by the entire ensemble and others that reflect the intimate musical relationships the players have with one another. Each of the first four tracks is a lengthy free-for-all featuring the ensemble as a whole, generating moods that shift from the supremely ominous to disjointed havoc. The piano gallops subtly, the violin and saxophone shred like machines and the electronics provide texture in the form of little glitches and ornaments. On tracks 5–9, each improvisation features a different duo, with all combinations represented except piano and violin. This approach provides the listener with a rewarding opportunity to examine each player in multiple settings. The closing track, “A Fountain Pen,” is a duet performance by Courvoisier and Mori. This piano-electronics improvisation brings the program to an enigmatic yet satisfying conclusion. With electronics that dance and swirl around propulsive piano lines, this track is the perfect palate cleanser while also maintaining the essence of the program—the intense exploration of sound and human interaction.