Mark Kirschenmann: Cybersonic Outreach

, composer


Trumpeter and composer Mark Kirschenmann releases Cybersonic Outreach, a collection of unedited improvisations. Known for his solo electric trumpet performances, Kirschenmann's use of pedals and plugins expands his expressive palette, allowing him to navigate freely between stylistic idioms and carve out a forward looking aesthetic.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 60:44
01Long Walk
Long Walk
02The Cascades
The Cascades
03Turning Time Tables
Turning Time Tables
04Duet for Vocaloid Trumbots
Duet for Vocaloid Trumbots
05Out of Bounds
Out of Bounds
06Color Wheel
Color Wheel
07Our LightHouse
Our LightHouse
08Lamentation for my Mother
Lamentation for my Mother

Composer, trumpeter, and improviser Mark Kirschenmann releases Cybersonic Outreach, a focused collection of improvisations for processed trumpet and electronics. Kirschenmann’s scholarship has focused on improvising practices, and he has cultivated his own unique approach that draws on wide ranging sources, from Messiaen to Stockhausen to Morton Subotnick, Miles Davis to Ornette Coleman, and including various idiomatic musical traditions.

Kirschenmann’s approach on this release remains consistent throughout — for each piece, he establishes an electronic environment that evolves during the track, and uses effects and processing to transform his trumpet into a different instrumental voice. Within the context of that “instrument,” Kirschenmann then explores pitch and gestural material, mining it for depth. His patient excavation of unconventional scalar and melodic materials frequently takes on a ritualistic character, functioning as a meditation on expressive affect, gesture, and registral expansion that shares some characteristics with Indian classical music. Within this consistent soloist and electronics frame, Kirschenmann’s palette is broad, cultivating several unique timbres and sonic devices.

Kirschenmann’s ability to transform the timbre of his trumpet is remarkable — he can sound like an exotic double reed instrument one moment (Long Walk), a flute/piccolo the next (The Cascades), and a pitch shifting electric keyboard out of 70’s fusion after that (Turning Time Tables and Lamentation for my Mother). Sometimes the effects on the trumpet sound are more overt, as in the harmonized arpeggiations of Out of Bounds, while at other times it seems Kirschenmann is able to generate timbral transformation largely through his own control of the horn, like in the prayerful, quasi-vocal dialogue between low and high registers in Duet for Vocaloid Trumbots.

Similarly, the electronics are alternately ambient and active. In The Cascades, they are glitchy, evoking the percolation of a vintage mainframe. In Out of Bounds, they establish a nocturnal landscape of insistent crickets and insects. Color Wheel features a mournful low brass sound, a “tuba mirum” of sorts, over an increasingly active electronic part of unsettling bell sounds. They establish an introspective harmonic pad that supports Kirschenmann’s poignant phrasing in Lamentation for my Mother.

Cybersonic Outreach is a manifestation of Kirschenmann’s meticulously cultivated approach to improvisation, timbre, and technology. But it is also a deeply felt personal statement, an hour’s worth of music that manifests a spiritual journey. It is this marriage of the intellectual and ineffable impulses that make Kirschenmann’s work so impactful and uniquely moving.

– Dan Lippel

Produced, composed, performed, engineered and mixed at home in Ann Arbor, MI during the COVID-19 pandemic by Mark Kirschenmann

Mastered by Margaret Luthar at Welcome to 1979, Nashville, TN

Artwork by Ken Kozora

Mark Kirschenmann

Mark Kirschenmann is a composer, trumpeter, improviser, and educator residing in Ann Arbor, MI. For decades, he’s been electrifying the trumpet with pedals, plugins, and MIDI. At the University of Michigan, he teaches courses in improvisation, composition, music theory and technology. His recent recordings include Cycle of Restoration and Full On!, both with free jazz drummer extraordinaire William Hooker. He is currently recording solo comprovisations for trumpet equipped with a bamboo interface.

Mark’s electric trumpet aesthetic draws upon a variety of resources, including Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Pete Cosey, and synthesis pioneers such as Morton Subotnick, among many others. Mark’s primary compositional influences include Olivier Messiaen, J.S. Bach, Igor Stravinsky, Morton Feldman and Kaija Saariaho. As an improviser, he embraces the Black American avant garde, particularly Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and the Chicago AACM, and the Hindustani and Carnatic classical traditions of north/south India.

Mark spent a decade on the road playing in a variety of contexts that included funk, soul, R’n’B, jazz, fusion, and rock. He has also performed with luminaries such as Nicole Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Vinnie Golia, Myra Melford, Henry Grimes, Rob Mazurek and Oliver Lake. Mark is a founding member of the incendiary quartet Maschina, the Miles Davis “electric” period septet Big Fun, and the adventurous trio E3Q.



The Wire

If Out Of Bounds, the fifth track on Cybersonic Outreach, were slipped onto the Invisible Jukebox, it's likely that Jon Hassell's name would spring to mind. Ann Arbor resident Kirschenmann also likes to subject his trumpet to electronic processing. He is clearly besotted with the range of sounds and transformations he can achieve and, at home during the pandemic. he indulged that passion to the full. Often the instrument sheds its identity radically, sounding more like a theremin than a horn. It's easy to envisage contexts where this electroacoustic hybrid might flourish, but here Kirschenmann's fondness for shrillness soon grows tiresome and his electronic doodling sounds inconsequential.

— Julian Cowley, 10.16.2021


Take Effect Reviews

A trumpeter and composer, Mark Kirschenmann creates 8 improvised tracks here, where he tweaks his instrument with pedals and plugins, often altering it in ways that make it unrecognizable, and he’s got some careful electronic noises on hand, too, for the iconoclastic affair.

“Long Walk” starts the album with nearly 9 minutes of low buzzing, unusual trumpet manipulation that emits reed like sounds, and “The Cascades” follows with a sci-fi like presence, where Kirschenmann somehow makes the trumpet seem like a flute/piccolo with his inimitable approach.

Halfway through, “Dust For Vocaloid Trumbots” uses vocals like an instrument amid the cinematic backdrop, while “Out Of Bounds” presents harmonized arpeggiations in unorthodox, mesmerizing ways that few could replicate.

“Our LightHouse” arrives near the end, and recruits a distinct quivering in an almost soulful sort of way, and “Lamentation For My Mother” exits the listen amid droning paired with the almost squealing of the brass that might make you think of a keyboard from the ‘70s.

A fascinating display that maneuvers pitch, timbre, and technology, Kirschenmann’s unique vision makes for an unpredictable journey through his creative mind, and it results in a daring listen.

— Tom Haugen, 12.02.2021

Related Albums