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Dog Day C3R 013


Aaron Dugan (guitar)
Jeff Arnal (percussion)

Track Listing

1. Pyrene (4:29)
2. Trickum Shoals (7:26)
3. Pisco (3:16)
4. Flutter Code (1:14)
5. Lenora (1:40)
6. Magic Hour (6:17)
7. APP (3:18)
8. Dead in the Water (1:14)
9. Collision (4:18)
10. Lisboa (3:09)
11. Last Legs (2:08)
12. Allenby (2:42)
13. Paz (2:07)
14. Patch of Yellow and Blue (1:47)

Dog Day is available online

CD Baby

• In Europe at Oaksmus
• in NYC at Downtown Music Gallery

Aaron Dugan and Jeff Arnal have been actively collaborating since 2003. The culmination of this work can now be heard on their first CD Dog Day, released in July 2007 by the eclectic visionaries at C3R Records in Ontario, Canada. Dog Day is a tour de force that is dynamically and stylistically diverse. The duo streams sound from musical memories - the blues, Webern, Go-Go, free jazz, squeaky wheels and middle school dances. Enjoy!


"Matisyahu's guitarist Aaron Dugan describes his background as coming out of John Coltrane and Sonic Youth. Here he's playing assertive noise guitar with a backbone of granite lyricism against Jeff Arnal's hard-as-nails drumming. The music is so compacted and diligently controlled that its 45 minute duration feels longer, as improvisations flat-pack themselves down to essentials. Interstellar Space is perhaps the obvious model, Dugan and Arnal learning from Coltrane and Rashied Ali's exquisite ear for tersely disciplined structuring and note changes. Dugan's melodic language is broad enough to add naked prime melodic intervals to the expected walls of white noise. The first track begins with a flood of activity from Arnal's kit. Then a brief pause before Dugan's gnarly guitar makes its presence felt. But in a neat reversal of the standard ploy on piling more layers on top, Dugan refocuses his energy by stripping everything down to octave tremolos before rebuilding. Arnal's kit brightly tuned and his punky gestures push belligerently against the grain. Among the displays of high energy there are more sober moments. "Pisco" is assembled from pointillistic splashes that sound intriguingly non-intentioned; later spectra of guitar distortion and bowed cymbal fuse into a relaxed continuum. For the penultimate track, "Paz", Dugan gropes a melodic line noisily in the ribs. So much of Dog Day is perched between harmony and noise that this is a logical place for the album to end up." Philip Clark, the Wire, UK

"Both living in New York, Aaron Dugan and Jeff Arnal have been playing together since 2003 and Dog Day is their first recording as a duo. Many of its tracks are brief bursts, a temporary toying with an idea, then onto the next texture, imparting an episodic feel. Arnal makes great use of tuned skin tumbling, lightly flashing around his kit with varied degrees of force, one moment thoroughly abstracted, the next opening up to a rolling rhythm. Dugan's various pedal effects are also in evidence, his signature sound has a squeezed nasal ring, descending from that of Sonny Sharrock via Wayne Krantz, with elements of John McLaughlin in his wildest incarnation. Dugan's scything angularities can sometimes sound like fracture rockabilly. Arnal can also play rough, even when still using brushes. The pair held their album release party at Zebulon last month, a coterie of admirers huddled at tables down front, with a growing crowd at the bar who couldn't help but chatter through the set's quieter portions. This is why their best moments arrived at full throttle, when the drum rhythm was strong and the guitar fully cranked, cutting above the background noise. They played in front of a film that looked like they hadn't chosen themselves and this tended to make the more subdued stretches appear as soundtrack music, particularly as Dugan and Arnal sat in complete darkness. The most exciting stretch was when three guests - Amy Carrigan (voice), Reid Taylor (bass) and Seth Misterka (alto sax) - joined them for the final improv. Their presence seemed to lift the music up, swelling Dugan and Arnal with a greater confidence, Vocals and horn paralleled each other and the piece shimmered with cross-latticed energy. The disc arguably allows a greater appreciation of sonic sensitivity when compared to the duo's gig, even if said sensitivity often entails a more faithful reproduction of torn-up string distress and tonally varied skin-abuse." - Martin Longley - All About Jazz, New York

"This duo is hooked up! There is strong balance and powerful flow of ideas back and forth. Free rock/jazz?!? No matter what you might call it, these cats are listening and responding quickly and tightly. It is cool to hear Jeff's drums as the lead instrument on a few of these pieces. Jeff plays brushes on "Trickum Shoals" and sets up the swinging sort of groove for Aaron to respond to with a minimum of notes placed just right. Jeff does a good job of bowing or rubbing his cymbal on "Pisco", a rather eerie piece with a minimum of notes used. Each piece involves different structures or textures or combinations of sounds. Some are very short, under 2 minutes, but all seem to say something stimulating. Both Aaron and Jeff change the sound of their instrument or their approach to playing on each piece, selectively coming up with new ideas on each piece. They even come up with a handful of strange, twisted melodies on a few of these pieces. Quite a successful pairing of their talents and often an unexpected delight." - BLG, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC

"Dog Day," recorded in December of 2006 and released on C3R records, a small Canadian label founded in 2002, presents yet another successful effort to divert from the usual avant-garde approaches to jazz guitar, which had for years, with the exception of free funk, been confined to either the noise-improv style of Derek Bailey or the moderately "out" sound of a John Abercrombie type player. The rise of guitarists like Nels Cline, whose influence is strong here, and, more recently, Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut, have signified diversions from this mold, and here, Dugan shows some similar promise. What is refreshing here is that Dugan is not afraid to use a classic rock/blues tone, with shades of an early metal sound, in a cutting and poignant on this album to convey harmonically complex ideas. However, Dugan is able to incorporate a satisfying blend of voices into his style, not falling into one mindset throughout the entire album. Complementing the guitar is drummer Jeff Arnal, who exhibits an unorthodox sense of traditional rhythm in his playing, similar to the type of drumming Gunter "Baby" Sommer liked to play with Peter Brotzmann and company back in the 70's and 80's." - Mike Szajewski, WNUR, Chicago

"Jeff Arnal is one of the premier improvising drummer/percussionists on the globe. With this newly issued outing, he teams with Philadelphia-reared guitarist Aaron Dugan for some zealous episodes containing fun, frolic and masterful invention. They extend the probabilities of standard duo fare via highly rhythmic jaunts and counterbalancing dialogues. Moreover, Dugan's odd-tunings and distortion laced maneuvers often complement Arnal's pulsating rhythmic exercises as they generally expand and contract the free-form element. On "Pisco," the artists cleverly fuse minimalist like foundations with vivacious sound-sculpting motifs. And in various regions of this disc, Dugan injects a mechanical grunge element into themes, punctuated by Arnal's sweeping polyrhythmic attack. Then on "Magic Hour," all hell breaks loose due to Dugan's whacked-out guitar lines, built upon steely rock chords and Hendrix-like wailing. And the fun doesn't stop there, evidenced by the guitarist's echo-laden psychedelic voicings atop the drummer's pumping beats during the piece titled "Lisbon." In sum, the musicians breakdown a few genres while adhering to customary free-jazz approaches, all executed with clever methodology that aims to excite one's neural senses." - Glenn Astarita, www.ejazznews.com

"The small canadian C3R-label was established in 2002. Gradually this label builds up a personal catalogue of very diverse experimental music. Albums by Maja S.K. Ratkje and Lasse Marhaug, Tsurubami, Gordon Monahan, Jesse Stewart, Axel Dörner and Diego Chamy have already been released. Also an excellent CD by Jeff Arnal together with Michael Evans, called 'Meja'. An impressive album of improvisations by two percussionists. For 'Dog Day' Arnal is in the company of guitarist Aaron Dugan, and this album is another highlight. Again Arnal proves himself as an amazing drummer who often takes the lead in the battles with Dugan. As a duo they have been actively collaborating since 2003. On a day in december 2006 they recorded 14 improvisations for this album. Aaron Dugan is a new name for me. He has performed with Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Susie Ibarra, Ikue Mori, Ori Kaplan, Zeena Parkins, and many others. He toured and recorded with Matisyahu, and has three albums out produced by Bill Laswell. Originally he comes from Philadelphia, but nowadays he works in New York. I haven't heard any of his previous work, but is very refreshing and surprising to hear an guitarist improvising, but at the same time staying close to rock and even metal music concerning his sound. It gives the feeling of listening to some free rock music. As a duo they amaze with their constant flow of ideas in high-energy improvisations. Arnal dances on his percussion, playing highly subtile, speedy and multicolored patterns, with great virtuosity and refinement, whereas the guitarist in contrast plays in a consciously stiff and a bit clumsy, nonchalant way. The maximizing strategy of Arnal and the minimizing style of Dugan make up a very explosive brew. This one is not to be missed when you love improvised music. Highly recommended." DM, Vital Weekly

"Thanks to the diverse backgrounds of these musicians even a sheer guitar/drums duo - as dissonant as it may be - becomes an exciting trip through a multitude of virgin lands. The guitarist (Aaron Dugan) is an acquired New Yorker hailing from Philadelphia; he has played with a who's who of contemporary greats, including Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Susie Ibarra and Ikue Mori besides leading projects with names such as Jungulungularity and Senor Salty Balls (I never heard these, but certainly I'd be curious to). Jeff Arnal is by now a regular in these ears: born in Georgia but currently living in Brooklyn, he studied percussion with Michael Cebulski, Jonathan Haas and Milford Graves, works as a dance accompanist (his wife being choreographer Estelle Woodward) while also collaborating with a growing number of improvisers over the course of a stimulating career. "Dog day" leaves aside good manners to instantly throw the listener into the trash-talking of the purest form of no-rule improvisation, yet ever since the first minutes of the disc one can tell that these guys are technically very solid, and it shows throughout. Eye-opening, semi-distorted, zigzagging lines and amorphous scintillating scrapes ride along rhythms that range from the most extreme flexibility through an accurate doubling of what the comrade decides to offer, the best example being "Collision", one of the many energizing exchanges of this CD. The music is a cross of joy and rage, a sinless recanalization of those instincts that musicians would always love to extrovert when their conscience suggests otherwise. On top of that, Dugan and Arnal make sure that this rebellious separatism sound, er, nice, thus raising the aesthetical level of the album up a few notches. Concise, never boring sketches tackled with a mix of abandon and concentration, definitely recommended." Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

"Brooklyn-based guitarist Aaron Dugan, best known as the guitarist of the Hasidic Rap-Reggae Matisyahu, and drummer Jeff Arnal, a former student of Milford Graves and frequent collaborator with trumpeter Nate Wooley and bass player Reuben Radding, have been collaborating since 2003, building a telepathic affinity that enables them to move leisurely between ideas and motives that reference everything from 1960s free jazz, innovative Austrian composer Anton Webern, pop songs and blues to sound experiments à la Sonic Youth .The fourteen brief tracks on their debut recording as a duo, Dog Day represent their versatile and diverse musical interests. Dugan begins with swift changes of riffs that are responded to immediately by the Arnal 's rolling drumming, locked on a fitting groove, with both retaining the tension and drama. Even on sparer tracks including "Trickum Shoals," "Pisco," "App" and "Allenby" you can sense the intense textures that both can form, without loading them down with too many notes. Rather, they experiment with fresh ideas—improvising on a simple, repeating thorny guitar line; creating eerie sound ambience by bowing the cymbals and stressing the metallic sounds of the drums; and adding atmospheric electronic effects to the guitar. Dugan and Arnal explode on "Magic Hour," one of the longest tracks, featuring distorted, Hendrix-ian guitar pyrotechnics and dense polyrhythmic drumming. Their tight interplay is always stressed, and the dense "Collision" demonstrate how fast they read each other's moves and push the sonic envelope forward. On "Lisboa," the distant echoing guitar and fractured touches on the drum set offer a tensed cinematic atmosphere, and on "Paz" both are toying with an open-form bluesy scale. The constant flows of original ideas, and the duo's fresh approach, intensity and creative playing command attention, making this a 45-minute, totally absorbing sonic journey." Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz

Artist Bios

"AARON DUGAN's guitar work radiates in Laswell's mix and his sound is a foundational pillar for Matisyahu's magic" William Glasspiegel, Pop Matters. Aaron Dugan is a guitarist and composer originally from Philadelphia PA who relocated to New York City in 1998. He studied Jazz at Bucks County Community College and received his BFA in Jazz Performance at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. Aaron has written music for his own projects Astro-Cusion, Ducarriganigan, Jungulungularity, Sevenseventeen, Senor Salty Balls, Roots Tonic as well as other original projects. He has performed with Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Susie Ibarra, Ikue Mori, Maya Dunietz, George Garzone, John Lee, Ori Kaplan, C Rayz Walz, So Called, Zeena Parkins, Shizad Ismaly, Tim Keiper, Brian Marsella, Seth Misterka, Amy Carrigan. He has been touring, co-writing, and recording with Matisyahu for four years. He's recorded three albums produced by Bill Laswell.

"Percussionist JEFF ARNAL's balletic sense of time and imaginative deployment of colour have combined into a highly original concept." (The Wire) Arnal frequently performs and collaborates with a wide range of musicians and choreographers in the U.S. and Europe. Recent performances include: Ausland (Berlin), deSingel (Antwerp), German Nordwestradio (Bremen), Hallwalls (Buffalo NY), Music at the Anthology (NYC) & Music Gallery (Toronto). He has received grants and fellowships from ASCAP, Brooklyn Arts Council, Meet the Composer and Art Omi International. His music can be heard on a number of independent record labels, including Transit (Clean Feed 2009 & 2005), Dog Day with Aaron Dugan (C3R 2007), Rogue States with Gordon Beeferman (Generate 2006), MEJA with Michael Evans (C3R 2006) and with Dietrich Eichmann (Broken Research 2007 & Leo 2004). Arnal holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Music Composition and Filmmaking from the University of Maryland and an MFA in Music from Bennington College.

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Photo credits

ADJA @ the Cake Shop by Keren Gilboa
ADJA video @ Zebulon by Amy Carrigan
ADJA @ Tonic by Estelle Woodward