Sunday, December 04, 2005

Music: Kevin Sawka

The drum machine has become obsolete.

Well, maybe not, depending on what you may want to accomplish and listen to, musically speaking. The intense, hyper fast beats that such machines are used for in creating various types of electronic music have been replicated and improved upon by a flesh and blood human being who has been mesmerizing people in the northwest and other locales for a few years now. His name is Kevin Sawka, and his insane talent is bound to make him a big shot in the music world anytime now.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHe's already been noticed by various jazz musicians in the Seattle area, along with original Santana drummer Michael Schrieve for his unique, bionic-like skills. While he has performed with such cats, lending his services to enhance jazz or rock based projects, his primary focus is in the world of live electronic music. Drum and bass and jungle are two styles that come to mind when listening to his mind bending dexterity on the drumkit. His enduring ability to perform for hours on end is also amazing in it's own right.

Sawka performs both solo and with various musicians, mostly from the Seattle area. He has performed in numerous late night Seattle loft party sessions where musicians gather to throw down some serious improvisation and grooviness. One such session took place on June 8, 2002 with musicians such as Skerik (Critters Buggin, Les Claypool) on sax, Brad Houser on bass, Eric McFadden (P-Funk All-Stars, Stockholm Syndrome) on electric guitar and mandolin, and Reggie Watts (Maktub) on keys and voice box. Over three hours of exhilirating madness took place, which the following mp3s will confirm. The first one is almost 80 minutes long and fills up an entire CD. I recieved it that way, and I don't have the software needed to break it up. The other two tracks come from the very end of the performance and feature a supercharged rendition of the Charles Mingus classic "Haitian Fight Song". Again, I recieved it broken up in two instead of being one track as it should be.

Seattle Loft Party 6/8/02
MP3: disc 2 (79:48 long!)
MP3: Haitian Fight Song pt.1
MP3: Haitian Fight Song pt.2

A collaboration that appears in Seattle once in a while called Varmint also features Sawka working with people from the jazz and improv world. This exciting mesh of jazz improv and drum and bass includes Sawka on drums, Bill Frisell on guitar, Wayne Horvitz on keys, Eyvind Kang on viola, and Paul Kemmish on bass. Their improvisations represent more pleasant listening than the more youthful and raw loft party show while still being high octane in nature, largely because of Sawka's contribution.

Varmint 4/20/02 I-Spy Seattle, WA
MP3: Varmint sample

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSiamese is the name of the group that largely made Sawka well known in the Seattle music scene. Although the group is no longer active, they still get together once in a while to put on a wild live drum and bass and jungle experience that takes electronic influenced music to another level. Siamese consisted of Sawka, Jeremy Lightfoot on bass, and Dave Z on keys and guitar. They released an EP in 2003 called Ancients of Days that provides a polished sample of their profound sound. I've also included a track from a live performance from a private party in Seattle on December 6, 2002 that really embodies their trademark hardcore style.

ALBUM: Ancients of Days (Mixtape Meditation, 2003)
MP3: Jade
From a private party in Seattle on 12/6/02:
MP3: live Siamese sample

Sawka's current project is called KJ Sawka and consists of both solo performances and performances with band members and various female vocalists from Seattle. His music here seems to emcompass numerous different electronic styles besides just drum and bass and jungle, displaying his growing compositional and sytlistic maturity. Two albums, one live and one studio, have been released recently and I've enjoyed both of them. I've provided one song from each for your ears to enjoy.

ALBUM: Chop Suey Live (Wax Orchard, 2005)
MP3: Sapphire (Magic Mix)
ALBUM: Synchronized Decompression (Wax Orchard, 2005)
MP3: For Oily to Normal Skin

*Addendum: I forgot to include mention of a group that Sawka was involved with for about a year called Live Evil. If you click on the link, you'll find a brief description of the band, along with some mp3s to check out. The version of the song "Boogaloo" provided there is long and is also good, but not as good as the version I'm offering up below. The version I have is much shorter and cut, but is very much worth downloading if you've liked any of the other songs from this post.

MP3: Live Evil - Boogaloo


Blogger matt said...

Hey Freeman --

fantastic post. thanks for all this! I'd never even heard of Sawka -- amazing skillz. All of these projects are great. I'll check out the KJ Sawka CDs. Oh, and thanks for the live evil link. great stuff man. cheers!

1:52 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

One of my friends was fluffing this dude and I forgot all about him. Thanks for reminding me.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Just saw Sawka live last night in San Francisco.... he rocked the house. Show of a lifetime.... he's intense!

2:35 AM  
Blogger Hebus Manfield said...

Please tell me that either you or someone you know has the 2nd disc of the Skerik Seattle loft party from 06-08-2002?????

I sure hope so.

This is the 1st place that I have even seen part of it listed.

Thanks, I hope you can help

11:11 AM  

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