Bassist and composer
Bill Noertker released three CDs of original
music on the Edgetone Records label this
spring, 2020, just as the earth was going
through a pandemic known as corona virus.
Changes, changes, a sonic book of changes
here, for your ears!Vast!
The music contained
in these three discs leans into melody,
harmony, rhythm and texture in varied and
The melodies are
often written with crisp, neo classical and
exacting lines, and then go into central
sections that are based upon improvisation
utilizing chord changes, discrete or
otherwise. Or sometimes going into apparently
purely intuitive sections of sound shaping.
Yet each individual piece follows its own
formula like an autodidact.
Annelise Zamula is
the only constant in this three disc suite
besides the bandleader Noertker. She is highly
adept and expressive, and is a great
interpreter of the bassist's melodies and an
improviser with great tone and conception on
the alto saxophone and the flute. She
previously played with Noertker in the art
rock band Bardo, and the instrumental
collective the After the End of the World
The music contained
on this series of recordings titled Tricycle
I, II, and III was inspired by trips the
composer took to London, Sidmouth (England),
and Mexico City.
I can hear aspects of
Mexico from the disc called "Leonora, Tricycle
III' in two pieces called'Metro
Cosmos (entrance and exit)', with a chorus of
two flutes looping around ceremoniously, and
turning into a kind of a rumba.
appears on the disc called 'Elysium, Tricycle
II' with beautiful flute lines stretched
across a backpainted soundscape of pizzicato
bass, kaleidoscopic drumming, and harmonic
commentary by the piano only to enter a room
of extended techniques and percussion; perhaps
portraying the internal dialogue comings and
goings of a meditator's brainwave patterns.
'Holiday Princess of
1946' from the disc called 'Amor Fati,
Tricycle I'has a swing underpinning and a jaunty
head over a vaguely ominoustonality.
Things get fractalized midway through this
middle of this track thanks to the detailed
drumming of Jordan Glenn and Noertker's bass.
The cartoon of the melody returns, You can
hear the ghost of territory bands barnstorming
across a post-depression midwest America
through the DNA of the swing and the
saxophones. I can also hear elemental sounds:
wind and water, under the atmosphere, on the
There is a lot of
music to deal with on these three recordings,
packaged in monochromatic purple, green, and
orange, respectively. Noertker has a bit of
the film director in him. He is a story teller
using sound to convey impressions of a place.
The nature of music without lyrics is a great
abstraction, dealing with combinations of
sound that have emotional resonance that are
personal to each listener. The music is all
performed by various quartets and quintets.
(i.e., saxophones, piano, flutes, oboe,
acoustic bass, and drums)Each
ensemble is strong and well blended, all
recorded live in San Francisco at concerts in
2018 and 2019. Delicate andimaginative:
sometimes soundscapes, sometimes ping ponging
across the linear landscape of a score and
sound, crossing bar lines of different meters
to make a shape like the back of a dragon. The
recordings are clear and transparent. There is
no post production addition that I could
detect. It's very much like being immersed in
the vivid sound of the band;in
I've listened to all
of the music three times through. It is epic
in scope and yields repeated, rewarding spins.
Bill Noertker is a unique composer to be
reckoned with, indeed. This music is
cinematic, curious, and soulful.Highly