tony dryer: double bass
jacob felix heule: drum set
jacob lindsay: clarinets

quiet and static acoustic musical territories explored through the pragmatic application of compositional and improvisational structures

new album, Idea of West, out on Creative Sources

sound samples:
before there was mass (10:10, 18mb)
in order to reroute the wind (7:04, 13.7mb)

($10 + $5 shipping)
e-mail jacob@heule.us to make other arrangements

(photo by suzy poling)

the trio:

Dryer/Heule/Lindsay formed to explore musical territories made prominent in recent years emphasizing quiet and static musical structures. The trio seeks to relate to these new territories through pragmatic application of improvisation and compositional structures, rather than through stylistic imitation. Also of note is the trio's adherence to purely acoustic sound production in a music typically dominated by electronics.

The trio attains a new approach to music making by rigorous adherence to fundamental methods of sound production. New material is discovered through a process of simplification, heightened awareness and a shedding of idiomatic mystification. Through this practice the action of producing sound itself becomes material; method becomes content. A focus on quieter dynamics opens a new world of micro-sound possibilities.

No restrictions are placed as to the media of composition for the trio and to date has varied from traditional notation, graphic and text scores, verbal instruction, as well as non-premeditated improvisation. The binding element is an adherence to clarity and an elemental awareness of process and material.

the musicians:

Jacob Lindsay is a clarinetist focusing on the continuum following the U.S. free jazz movement spawned in the 60's, moving through European non-idiomatic free-improvisation, and globally into its current incarnations. Jacob works with the full range of clarinets, combining traditional approaches to the instruments with new approaches based on pragmatic, pre-fabricated methods of sound production and structure.

The music of improvising drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Felix Heule spans the spectrum from overwhelming brutality to reductionist austerity. Since 2004 Jacob has been a member of the brutal improv/acoustic grind duo, Ettrick, which toured the U.S. for the third time in April 2008. He has also toured the US and Europe with Gowns, and plays drums on their forthcoming Southern Records Latitudes Sessions album.

Bassist Tony Dryer has toured extensively with rock groups including the Flying Luttenbachers, the Cold War, and Usurp Synapse, as well as a solo tour of the US. Dryer and Heule recently toured Europe with the international sextet, the Bay/Oslo Mirror Trio, and related projects.


Mid-paced rather than hectic, Idea of West dwells and takes pleasure in forms rather than inaugurate them, using its orthodox subtleties, refinements of technique and conventional musical concerns to steadily disperse its resonances on different planes. Through its focused pace and structuring, not to mention its subtle inputs and considered yet flexible angles of attack, the familiar sounds found herein manage to re-discover a certain freshness over the course of the albums some six compositions.
The groups extended techniques often have an almost obsessive, restricted focus, but they locate polyphonic material in some unlikely places. During "Before There Was Mass", Tony Dryer's breathy sounds, laid over Jacob Lindsay's light and shifting clarinet and the abstract meter of Jacob Heule's on percussion, seem closer to flute than contrabass. With "Meant And Memory", too, Lindsay's command of multiphonics, lip fluttering and other extended techniques is impressive, but never simply virtuosic; his rich, warm tones combine with Heule's long sweeps of cymbal tones to create a spacious atmosphere and a memorable musical experience.
In general, the album is as sparing of its means as possible given the density of music it eventually delivers. Harmonics, rather than being solid, are microtonal on tracks such as "There Is An Opposition Together" and "Light From Another Light", shivering through the mix like distant aftershocks. Similarly, tiny sounds and almost subliminal textures, though all one can hear at first, eventually start to swell and grow astringent in a kind of ponderous playfulness. If never especially powerful, with due patience, there is ample room to consider its estimable intelligence and considerable harmonic subtlety. - Max Schaefer 2009-04-01
The Squid's Ear

Playing off of the title of The Idea of North by Glenn Gould, The Idea of West is an attempt by the improv trio of Tony Dryer (contrabass), Jacob Felix Heule (drums), and Jacob Lindsay (clarinet) to translate psycho-geography through what the recording's liner notes describe as "controlled improvisation and compositional structures." With the patience and sustained dissonance of a Morton Feldman composition, and Heule's rhythm-sabotaging scrapes and bubbles, the album's six compositions are as meditative as they are avant-leaning. Paired with martial arts demonstrations - the venue is a martial arts studio - this performance is an opportunity to give form to what often seems like fiercely amorphous music. (Bussolini)
San Francisco Bay Guardian

Textures, détails amplifiés, ça couine et ça grince pas mal... Six plages, une suite d'improvisations usant d'instruments acoustiques mais amplifiés et marquée par l'écoute de type acousmatique. Avec Tony Dryer (contrebasse), Jacob Felix Heule (batterie) et Jacob Lindsay (clarinettes), enregistrés en studio le 16 septembre 2007 par Scott R. Looney. Mastering réalisé par Xopher Davidson. Une réussite du genre.

Idea of West (cs 132) entstand tatsächlich an der amerikanischen Westküste, in Oakland. TONY DYER, der seinen Kontrabass beknurpst und gurrend streicht, JACOB FELIX HEULE, ansonsten auch Free-jazz/black-metal- und Doom-Noise-gestählt mit Ettrick und Hodag, der sein Drumset beharkt, schabt und bekritzelt, und JACOB LINDSAY, der auf Klarinetten von Piccolo bis Kontrabass fiept, grollt und mit Spucke gurgelt, scheinen hartnäckig mit unsichtbaren Engeln zu ringen. Vor lauter Staubwolken lässt sich das aber nur erahnen. [BA 62 rbd]
Bad Alchemy

When we first got this record in, we thought we had it totally figured out. Just take a look at the lineup: Tony Dryer, an accomplished double bassist and former touring member of the Flying Luttenbachers, Jacob Lindsay, local clarinet free-jazz virtuoso, and last but not least, Jacob Heule, a member of SF's only acoustic free/death/grind duo Ettrick! So naturally we figured this record would be a chaotic frenzy of fierce free jazzy madness. And while it is definitely loosely composed and rather abstract, the trio delve into some unexpected territory here. We checked out Heule's website and he describes the Idea of West as an album of "quiet and static acoustic musical territories explored through the pragmatic application of compositional and improvisational structures". Damn, and we thought we had this one figured out!
"In Order to Reroute the Wind" starts things off on a rather minimal note. Rickety scratching and scraping that sound like creaking boats swaying in a harbor of sizzling electric waste. Quiet industrial, barely there type of sound meanderings, a reserved and delicate sound for these ferocious free jazz contemporaries. On first listen, the jazz aesthetic of Idea of West is a bit hidden underneath a more ambient guise. Don't get us wrong, this sounds more like a jazz collaboration than a drone/ambient record, but it defiantly lacks the smack you in the face ferocity of other releases put out by these dudes. But that doesn't mean Idea of the West isn't an awesome piece of work in its own right. On the contrary, the trio confidently evolve Idea of West into a beautifully arranged aural invitation into a strange world of alchemic precision and skilled musicianship. Like a sorcerer who meticulously adds ingredients to a potion, paying careful attention to every detail in hopes of casting the perfect spell, these dudes play with close attention to detail. The record builds up and dissipates as the trio feed off each other's playing, letting chance determination sculpt their meditations into a hauntingly beautiful sonic narrative. Perfect for those of you aQ-addicts open to the weirder, more mystical side of free jazz!! And most certainly recommended by us!
Aquarius Records

selected discography

Dryer/Heule/Lindsay, Idea of West (Creative Sources, 2008)
Dryer/Heule, Three Quartets (Occidentalized, 2008) [includes a live set by Dryer/Heule/Lindsay featuring Liz Allbee on trumpet]

see also: