James Fei's mini CD contains two short conceptual pieces. In the first, he explores the effect of contact miking a sax with a paper card reed and sending the signal to a gated fuzzbox and amplifier, producing break ups and crunches not unlike those that thrill fans of extreme rock. In the second, he sings and plays "Camptown Races" into a bass sax, exploring the harmonic interference effects of the two sound sources... In a world of cosy distractions, something clean and hard and necessary. —Ben Watson  The Wire

(Fei is) attracted to the classical avant garde, and although an improviser his pieces often involve a conceptual compositional element. This mini-CD offers twelve minutes of truly intriguing music from a relentless experimenter. The main piece inserts a cardboard reed into the sax and amplifies it, resulting in a ten-minute evolution from tiny, semi-random clicks into a wall of feedback. Truly inventive stuff. Let's hope Fei records more often. --Richard Cochrane  Musings

"Any saxophone player who creates his own reeds out of cardboard is inviting problems. Mr. Fei does not make it easy, but he has my attention straight away...James Fei is using the John Cage premise of chance within an imposed sound set-up. "for card reed and gated amplification" is a blossoming act of self-sabotage. The experiment is deliberate but the actaul result is gradually going out of control, until of course it is switched off. Mr. Fei allows low-fi electronics to interrupt the flow of the sax mutation to the extent that feedback deliberately pricks the soundscape at peak points, eventually splitting the whole thing open with white noise. It feels like a meditation that has jammed. I believe this really is new music. It becomes possible to hear rhythm within a reed and an uncertain source-pot of electrics...I find this exciting. This limited edition mini-CD is just two experiments. There will be others. My own view is that such work is important, and if it takes James Fei forward then it is worth going with him. I seriously like what I hear."  --Steve Day  Avant




for card reed and gated amplification

[Organized Sound Recordings 1]

In for saxophone with card reed and gated amplification a paper card reed is used in place of the usual cane. The paper's slow periodicity no longer produces a continuous tone, but rather a series of clicks, emphasising the discrete aspects of sound production. These intermittent pulses are contact mic'd and fed into a gated fuzz box and amplifier. Throughout the duration of the performance, the gate is gradually shifted from completely closed to open—first resulting in occasional bursts when levels of the instrument barely peak above the threshold and eventually ending in continuous feedback. The gated fuzz box is built from a Craig Anderton circuit (thanks, Craig).

In Camptown Races I, the melody of the Stephen Foster tune is sung into the bass saxophone, exciting shifting overtones of the constant low C as the melody progresses.]

MP3: Camptown Races I (for bass saxophone and voice)  

3" CD in a mini jewel box. Signed and numbered edition of 125. OUT OF PRINT.