Press for “Fall of Song” (Bullock/ Rawlings)
[Rawlings and Bullock] trade miniature feedback spikes and various scrapings, bangings and silences so deep and wide you could steer a submarine through them. Rawlings employs feedback circuitry and a lab assistant’s attention to detail… Only extremely infrequently would it be possible for the source instruments to be identified by a casual listener… A tough, unforgiving listen on disc. – Keith Moliné, The Wire
This disc has endless ripples of what so many electric improv records (hell, so many records) tend to lack: inflection. – Brendan Murray
Press for “In Six Parts” (Feeney/ Rawlings)
“The final track does a briliant job of summing all the previous elements into a wonderfully cohesive package. Hell, it almost sounds “heroic” at some points as the sustained high pitches acquire a semi-tonal character and play off the deep, cello growls, providing an especially delicious counterpoint. A very satisfying, well-conceived album from two musicians not heard often enough.”
Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
“This latest offering from two stalwarts of Boston’s so-called lowercase improv community is as dour and uncompromising—but ultimately as rewarding—as Robert Bresson or Samuel Beckett…. But despite its refusal to make the slightest concession to the listener, the music draws you in and doesn’t let you go.”
Dan Warburton, The Wire
Press for NRA
N.R.A – Recorded live at OfficeOps, Brooklyn, New York, June 26, 2004 as part of free103point9’s “Assembled: Free Jazz + Electronics” (free103point9 Audio Dispatch, CDR)
From the Village Voice, Nov. 2-8, 2005
By Chuck Eddy
Judging from their CD (recorded live at OfficeOps in June, 2004 N.R.A. are a totally whacked-out yet beautiful noise-improv trio.
From Time Out New York
Nov. 3-9, 2005
This N.R.A. isn’t much for gunplay. This ace free-improvising trio specializes in open-ended soundscapes that range from desolate to the violently active.
From Downtown Music Gallery newsletter
By Michael Anton Parker
This documents a 2004 session by the trio of Tatsuya Nakatani (floor tom, singing bowls, cymbals, rubbing and scraping implements, etc), Vic Rawlings (open-circuit electronics, prepared cello), and Ricardo Arias (balloon kit). It amuses me to report that I’ve found this recording to be by far the strangest and most impenetrable music I’ve ever heard from any of them. It’s probably the most puzzling electro-acoustic improvisation I’ve ever heard, neither lowercase subtlety nor dense noise, but rather a complete avoidance of any common approach to improvisation…It’s just a puzzle that might not have a solution…it’s a rare and profound treat to be able to interact with sound and never be given answers about it’s meaning to eventually become disillusioned by. A minor miracle.
From Vital Weekly (www.vitalweekly.net)
They sure like to play things loud, but they don’t go for the endless stream of sound and being as free as possible. N.R.A. loves their quieter moments, thus letting their instruments breathe, take shape, and then letting them move on. When they burst out they do it well and loud, but it’s not their main thing. A very fine disc of first class improvisation.
From Dusted Magazine
By Adam Strohm
The three extremely resourceful musicians who make up N.R.A. have numerous musical connections and like-minded tendencies, but it?s their inventiveness that?s the most appetizing facet of this meeting. Tatsuya Nakatani has made a name for himself with a cache of percussive elements and techniques that leaves conventional percussion, even within the context of free improv, far behind. Vic Rawlings? work as a cellist depends heavily on preparations and extended technique, though it?s his work with open-circuit electronics that more obviously engages the imagination. Ricardo Arias, a Colombian expatriate, is the least notorious member of the trio, though he?s the man with the most interesting instrument. Arias has been working for over a decade with what he terms balloon kits, essentially collections of balloons with a common physical anchor. Here, he utilizes the bass-balloon kit, holding down the bottom end of N.R.A.’s improvisations.
N.R.A.’s music can be quite anonymous; though some sounds can be attributed to specific players, it takes merely an iota of imagination or a millisecond of confusion to find oneself unsure of who might be responsible for a jagged clatter or resonant thump. The elephantine whine of a manipulated balloon could just as easily be the sound of a bowed cymbal, and where one ear may distinctly hear Nakatani?s pattering, another surely identifies Rawlings making a percussion instrument of his cello. With the three musicians using such particular tools in their creation, this ambiguity is a surprise, but not an altogether unwelcome one.
Experienced in person, this set was likely bolstered by not only the cues to who did what, but the visceral visuals of the trio?s novelty instruments. On disc, the set can be rather impenetrable, but whether such difficulty breeds curiosity or disregard will depend on the listener, since both seem valid reactions.
N.R.A: untitled (HH-7 CD)
Posted by Brian Olewnick on November 25, 2005 06:27 PM
N.R.A. (Tatsuya Nakatani, percussion; Vic Rawlings, open-circuit electronics; Ricardo Arias, bass-balloon kit) is heard in a raucous, lively 2003 performance. They tend toward the active, even rampaging as on the fine fourth track where Nakatani and Rawlings set off some blistering explosions that send the trio careening and ricocheting wildly. But the final cut, at a relatively sprawling eleven minutes, might actually be the most successful, more brooding and expansive, with Arias generating dangerous-sounding near-pops and the others producing more sustained tones with dark underpinnings, leading to a coda of furious sawing. A good, solid platter of noise, this one.
Paris Transatlantic Review. February, 2006 ? Dan Warburton
Tatsuya Nakatani / Vic Rawlings / Ricardo Arias
In the same line-up you might be forgiven for expecting a fun-filled happy hour of red-nosed wacky toybox improv…this is uncompromising, often nasty stuff…All three musicians go out of their way to put themselves in dangerous situations, and the results are consistently compelling, sometimes downright thrilling. Check it out.
NRA Live Reviews
Vision Festival X – Day Five, June 18, 2005 (Part 1)
By John Sharpe
The unconventional instrumentation was contradicted by a rather sober appearance, like three bank clerks. The single improvisation was predicated upon extended technique, focused on extracting and merging long tones varying in pitch and volume.
Arias tortured an array of balloons of various sizes to produce sustained squeaks by incessantly rubbing them with polystyrene or pulling strings across them. Nakatani’s contribution to the sonic landscape entailed scraping cymbals across drum heads, bowing pure tones from metal bowls and even blowing raspberries against his drum skins. Rawlings scraped and tapped his cello and at one point applied a tuning fork to the cello body, but avoided any conventional note making. His electronic washes provided a unifying thread holding the performance together. The piece progressed through high pitched squeals, creaks, wails, susurrations, whinnies and gratings, punctuated every so often by a bang as one of Arias? balloons gave up the unequal struggle against his frottage.
The Vision Festival, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Sleep In The Subway Station
By Lars Gotrich
…the trio improvised a hour-long set of haunting noise well-suited for a horror movie with a creaky house.