Excerpt from "The Shifting Air That Is Our Minds"
Seattle's Chris Pugh won a Marzena International competition award for his composition "Heqat," and had the honor of hearing it performed at the prestigious German Donaueschingen Musik Tage Theatre by the Ensemble Recherche, one of new music's most renowned.... "Heqat" should be getting much more attention, as should Pugh. Pugh cites Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen as his greatest influences. In his avant-classical composition, "Heqat," those inspirations register to create an illusion between time and space but that relationship becomes increasingly dense in his free jazz composition, "Penumbra." "Heqat" received a much-deserved standing ovation when the Ensemble Recherche performed it in Germany and then Vienna. Seattle audiences might well be emulating those audiences, if only they knew to go and hear Pugh at every opportunity.
Lloyd Peterson, Earshot Jazz, August 2007
PUGH & GOLD MOLINA
Composer Chris Pugh, a guitarist blessed with a questing ear for prickly sonorities and a breathtaking knowledge of the European avant-garde, duets with pugnacious out-jazz drummer Jack Gold Molina. Despite seemingly disparate backgrounds, both seek to play orchestrally, treating their respective instruments as instigators of melodic, rhythmic, timbral, and harmonic turbulence.
Christopher Delaurenti, The Stranger, September 5, 2007
Guitarist CHRIS PUGH and drummer JACK GOLD have both been mainstays in the Seattle music scene. They're players who have crossed boundaries musically and although not well-known to the public at large have been contributors to the creative Northwest music scene going back to the 1980s. PENUMBRA / HEQAT (Soldisk 9406) is a disc in three parts. The first part is "Detritus," a Free Jazz blowout. Gold lays down an all-over rhythm pattern as Pugh's guitar howls, wails and feeds back. Pugh is an inventive guitarist and never seems to settle for one approach for too long. Occasionally he'll let a modal line or a random chord seep out but this is true, free improv. "Talus" follows and it is quite the opposite from the first improvisation. The sonic spectrum is quiet and subdued but no less harsh. Scrapes and quiet sonic textures create an ominous backdrop and both players tread the soundscape with assured footing. Both of these tracks were done in a studio, recorded 10/22/06 in Seattle, WA. The third part is a departure. It is a composition by Pugh, "Heqat," performed by a string trio (Melise Mellinger, vln; Barbara Mauer, vla; Lucas Fels, cel. recorded 11/94, Vienna, Austria) in a live performance. It's a dense, knotty work, reminiscent of the German style of string quartet writing in the latter part of the 20th century (i.e. Lachenmann or Rihm). It's played spiritedly by the ensemble. This is a disk that shows two musicians who seem to refuse to be restricted to just one style. (total time: 71:02)
Robert Iannapollo, Cadence, Oct - Nov - Dec 2007
Chris Pugh / Jack Gold
Penumbra / Heqat
(Sol Disk, www.soldisk.com)
For its first release in three years, Seattle-based Sol Disk imprint has issued a split album. The common denominator is guitarist/composer Chris Pugh, who appears on two tracks with percussionist Jack Gold as Penumbra. The last track was composed by Pugh and features Trio Recherche. Penumbra's music is angry - full of intense turns and scraping conflict. Best parts are the controlled feedback altercations that Pugh sets up, to which Gold responds with a fury of abandoned percussive rolls. It's not until "Talus" that we get a glimpse of the duo's less frantic side, as Pugh revels in edge-wise slides across the strings, while Gold responds with gentile tinkling on the cymbals. "Heqat" is an all-string piece which dates back to 1994. Performed by Trio Recherche - violinist Melise Mellinger, Barbara Maurer on viola and cellist Lucas Fels - the music is more jagged, more demanding than Pugh's work with Gold. Through its ups and downs, the trio of musicians takes on a lot of clashing passages, where conflict is born out of sheer necessity. Bearing witness to this musical clash first-hand is worth the price of admission alone.
Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta, December 2007, Poland
Chris Pugh & Jack Gold: "Penumbra/Heqat"
"Penumbra/Heqat" occupies a unique space between the experimental edge of the Jazz spectrum and spartanic free Improvisation, between the magic of the moment and contemporary composition. First, Gold joins forces with Guitarist Chris Pugh on two extended sessions around the twenty-minute mark. "Detritus" is a magnetic nocturnal maelstrom, with Gold's cracking, cool and concentrated shuffles pulsating darkly and Pugh playing with feedback textures, droney passages and tone bending, always returning to an incisive rhythmic pattern, which serves as a sort of Leitmotif. The duo is unafraid of holes and gaps in their performance, allowing the music to all but drizzle out, before recomposing themselves for another energetic barrage of detrimental dialogues.
"Talus", meanwhile, researches a quiet space of rustling and creaking metal, through which Pugh's Guitar navigates with sharp scratchings, yet utmost care. Astoundingly, the track seems to be built on two long solos, with Gold ascending to the limelight in the latter stages of the piece after having cooled down to a whisper and servile accompanying functions in the early moments. The discreet nuances and richly creative work with very few means is an excellent preparation for concluding string trio "Heqat", written by Pugh. Violin, Viola and Cello paint darkly glowing arches and ardent vibratos on the canvas of the nightsky in a piece which could potentially go on forever.
Tobias Fischer, Tokafi, 2008-10-31, Germany