(Dead Angel) Josh Ronsen's enigmatically-named (and impossible to spell) vehicle for strange experiments in sonic reduction and the occasional foray into performance art has rarely sounded this minimal, which is saying something, given his penchant for removing the rock, the beat, and the rhythm from his music until it resembles nothing so much as near-random trickles of found sound. Ronsen is the only artist I've ever heard who can deliberately record music that sounds like field recordings, and there's much of that perverse aesthetic at work here. He's also joined by other like-minded improvisational artists on most of the tracks -- only "shoham" and "art brings a tiny gleam, swamped by garrulousness" are solo performances -- including Jason Pierce on drums, Glen Nuckolls (acoustic guitar), Genevieve Walsh (drums, flute), and Jacob Green (percussion, electronics, oboe). The tracks are all different variations on subdued, minimalist improvisation in which the space between tonal events and the modest dynamics are every bit as important, maybe even more so, than the actual notes played and noises made. The exceptions to this largely-favored stylistic temperament are in the droning, dark-ambient solo pieces, although they are no less minimal and cryptic than the rest of the album's offerings. Those already familiar with Ronsen's output will find much to dig into here; those not yet hip to his studied but eccentric approach to all things minimal will find this an excellent starting point. - RKF
(Vital Weekly) Brekekekexkoaxkoax, being the group around Josh Ronsen. He too has long pieces. The first two are recordings by him on prepared guitar and Jason Pierce on drums. This is fairly traditional improvisation and one of these would have been enough. I'd prefer 'I Never Saw The End Of The Fire'. 'Shoham' is Ronsen solo on electronics, with a nice subdued drone like piece. The piece after that 'We Ought To Have But One Single Thought' lives up to its title and is a free piece, not like the opening pieces but more open ended, just as the piece that closes the release, but that one is again for a totally different line up. In between that there is another solo piece. Perhaps some of it is a bit long, but throughout I thought this was the best of the four, if only for the sheer variation. - Frans de Waard
(Ampersand Etcetera) have put together a definite compilation in I manage to get out by a secret door (eh?35) comprising 2 improvs withJason Pierce, 2 solo pieces and another 2 improvs (with Glen Nuckolls and Genevieve Walsh) recorded between 2002 and 2006. Taking them out of order: Shoham ( which is track 3) is a wonderful layering of electronics providing ambient vibrating feedback with ringing tones in it. The mood returns in the fifth track - Art brings a tiny gleam, swamped in garrulousness (yes, titles as long as the pseudonym!) where turntables and guitars are added - again vibrant, ringing, chimes drones a crackling and a lovely long fade. Between these two We ought to have but one single thought is the first piece with Nuckolls and Walsh (guitars, drums, flute). The two guitars work here to provide an almost rocking/bluegrass feel as they develop the piece, gathering pace, the electric guitar a tonal wahwahing base. In the last few minutes it becomes more edgy and the addition of flute provides new tones. Jacob Green (percussion, electronics, oboe: and the others are now on percussion, guitar, flute and oboe) for the closing These are mere words, powerless, useless whose first half is full percussion with guitar through, while the woodwinds offer a tonal ambient second half. These two pieces are less than 10 minutes each and work well. Where I had some difficulty with the album was the first two tracks - 35 minutes - which is just Ronsen on prepared guitar and Jason Pierce on drums. Banality may vanish and truth may appear is almost 20 minutes of plinky prepared guitar whose percussive effects are paralleled by the percussion. The full range of picking, some feedback, scraping, playing etc are worked through but for me this was an opener that didn't really go anywhere for the first 15 minutes but did find a focus near the end. I kept skipping the second track - I never saw the end of the fire - fearing 16 similar minutes. However, when I did get round to it I really enjoyed it - more active from both guitar and drums, gets almost beaty at times, but also struck through with ambient tones. This is a good album - the variety on it provides a welcome diversion. However I would program the album with this track first, then the others alternating as currently and ending with the current first track as a long farewell. And make it an even better album. - Jeremy Keens
(Kathodik) Il moniker Brekekekexkoaxkoax (semplice da pronunciare; non trovate?) con cui si immedesima il genialoide chitarrista e multi-strumentista Josh Ronsen, da quel di Austin, rientra solo tra quelle centinaia e centinaia di sigle che frequentano l’emisfero della free-form trans-oceanica. “I Manage To Get Out By a Secret Door” è una raccolta di materiale non giovanissimo: dentro si trovano performance solitarie create per un paio di compilations mai pubblicate, oppure materiale ‘totally-free’ ideato con altri musicisti, spesso a contatto con attività concertistiche&non del giovane improviser. Cronologicamente, si compie un balzo all’indietro nel tempo (il biennio‘02/’03) quando troviamo ad aprire due lunghissime sessions con il batterista Jason Pierce. Tra Banality May Vanish And Truth May Appear e I Never Saw The End Of The Fire vince la prima con il suo incedere a piccoli passi, sovrapponendo disordinate espansioni della batteria agli analitici fraseggi jazz(y) delle corde. Tensione sul filo-del-rasoio di moda anche negli spazi più elettro-elettronici del cd: Shoham (only electronics) e Art Brings A Tiny Gleam… (turntables, guitar and electronics), entrambe, allungate e condotte come dei mantra cibernetici da tramandare ai posteri del XXII° sec. In un flash: isolazionismo microtonale, drone-music e soundscapes ambientali di discreto valore in un simposio futuristico distaccato da qualsiasi orientamento radical-free acustico. La strada scelta, come si nota, è poli-estetica, includendo nelle occasioni dal vivo anche pratiche visuali, teatrali e letterarie. Questo spirito freak di Ronsen può in parte essere ricollegato alla tradizione psichedelica del Texas, anteponendo al rock tutte le possibili diramazioni dell’arte moderna. Interessante, ma suggerito particolarmente ad un pubblico neofita di nova-musica. - Sergio Eletto
(KZSU Zookeeper) A mix of sparse clangy improv with dark droney improv. Some avante and yawny but others narcotic and blissful.
1) starts very quiet, mostly all percussion, cymbal, bells, drums, sparse and collage-like
2) again, very percussive but takes on an abstract near-gamelan quality
3) a great chill drone, electro in source, lovely
4) offtune dissonant guitar and percussion dominate this improv
5) a great somewhat noisey drone, ebbs and flows, metallic
6) mix of cymbals, flute and droney tones - Your Imaginary Friend
(Touching Extremes) Josh Ronsen - unaided, or in company of Jason Pierce, Glen Nuckolls, Genevieve Walsh and Jacob Green - keeps sending encouraging signals via his Brekekekexkoaxkoax project, which regularly strolls around two poles - semi-structured improvisation and drones - often integrating their reciprocal qualities. This collection, assembling pieces recorded from 2002 to 2006, is not an exception: the first selections find Ronsen and Pierce manipulating prepared guitar and drums in quiet, if unsettling duos where - as pleasurable as the listening may be - we don't move too far from the habitual sonorities of the genre: twinkle, rustle, screech and bump if you see what I mean. Nice stuff, yet the best comes in the second half of the CD: a pair of superlative rumbling laments by Ronsen alone on electronics (in one of them, also guitar and turntable) - "Shoham" being so dominant that my furniture rattled during the playback - and two shorter joint improvisations where the mix of acoustic and electric instruments places the music several hundred yards from a characterization: not really free, as there seems to be an underlying organization (at least in the minds of the performers) but certainly nothing to do with alternative or "post" rock, either. Let's just say that this is a fine album: 65 minutes that get swallowed without problems, three of the tracks reaching a superior level. - Massimo Ricci
(Sea of Tranquility) Brekekekexkoaxkoax is an ongoing experimental vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Josh Ronsen's minimalist, improvised music. I manage to get out by a secret door is compiled from six separate sessions recorded between 2002-2006 that find him performing his prepared guitar and various electronics in a solo, duo, trio and quartet configuration. The first two compositions are strictly improvised, abstract pieces of music that combine Ronsen's plethora of prepared guitar which basically consists of his percussive plunking and scraping along with the odd belch of feedback, with drummer Jason Pierce's almost distant sounding percussion work. These two tracks which clock in at almost twenty and sixteen minutes respectively are long, drawn out collages that don't rely that much on actual musical notes, just sound. The same can certainly be said for the third track "Shoham" which features Ronsen on what amounts to six and a half minutes of electronic drone. Thankfully things start to finally open up a bit sonically by the fourth composition "We ought to have but one single thought" as the unit expands to a trio. With the added instrumentation the tones begin to also feel distinctly warmer as Ronsen and second guitarist Glen Nuckolls provide a thick cocoon of pulsating sound overtop drummer Genevieve Walsh's furious brush strokes. "Art brings a tiny gleam, swamped by garruiousness" is once again a solo foray for more of Ronsen's drawn out electronic textures, which unfortunately kills off some of the momentum built up from the previous track. The disc concludes with "These are mere words, powerless, useless", the only composition recorded in a quartet, and a track that once again works due to the infusion of added instrumentation, which comes by way of the slightly distorted sounding wind instruments such as oboe, flute and clarinet. I manage to get out by a secret door will certainly prove to be a challenging listening experience especially for people who lean towards more conventional sounding, instrumental music. Inevitably it won't appeal to everyone. As a whole I think the results on I manage to get out by a secret door could have been better, due to the fact that the two solo electronic pieces not only sound out of place here but they don't really have much to offer. The true promise of musical fireworks is only hinted at when Ronsen expands the unit, thus expanding the sonic capabilities of the music as well, unfortunately though this doesn't occur nearly as often as one might hope.
(Bad Alchemy) Quoth the Raven: brekekekexkoaxkoax. Diesen Krächzer von Namen hat sich Josh Ronsen gewählt. Auf I manage to get out by a secret door (eh?35, CD-R) breitet er ein Spektrum seiner Improvisationsgelüste aus - solo mit nur Electronics oder mit Turntable, Guitar & Electronics. Die EGitarre, meist präpariert gespielt, ist sein Hauptwerkzeug, in Duos mit dem Drummer Jason Pierce, zu dritt mit Glen Nuckolls an der akustischen Gitarre und Genevieve Walsh an Drums & Flöte, und schließlich noch zu viert mit zusätzlich Jacob Green an Percussion, Electronics & Oboe. Auf der Agenda stehen Dumitrescueske Drones und Geräuschnuancen, mit viel Fingerspitzengefühl hervor gekitzelt, perkussives Rascheln und Knistern und Klimpern, drahtig gezupftes Saitenspiel, Entstehungsort ist Austin, TX. Ronsen sammelt dort Informationen über John Cage, das Schnurren von Katzen und Songs aus möglichst jedem Land der Welt (Germany - Fehlanzeige) und er schreibt am experimental music + mail art zine Monk Mink Pink Punk (issue 12 - 07/07 enthält z.B. Interviews mit Eric Cordier und Keith Rowe). Bei seiner Improvisiererei habe ich den Eindruck, dass immerhin den dröhnenden Soli und dem Trio, bevor die Drummerin ein Juckreiz befällt, ein ansprechender Flow glückt.