Elastic Arts' Exposure Series 2018 - A Report
"Heart of the Ghost, a sax-bass-drums ensemble from Washington, D.C., played ferocious, dynamic free jazz with exacting precision. Their lightning shifts and hyper-speed runs betray hours spent playing together, on and off the road, and if you want to hear something that just works, they deliver in spades."
Heart of the Ghost - Heart of the Ghost
"Since 2016, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore have been haunted by saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Ian McColm. Their collective conversations meander through and beyond all tropes of free jazz and free improvisation. All three simmer and rage, at times channeling the fire of late-sixties skronk-fests. But the group can also pull out something much more melodic and sweet, with the storm forever there in the background, barely contained. Their new, self-titled cassette is a master class in finely honed explosions, with bleating saxophones, pointillistic drumming, and ranging bass lines."
"The trio of alto saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore, bassist Luke Stewart, and percussionist Ian McColm is something of a trinity of the finest free jazz improvisers in the region. If you've seen Heart of the Ghost in concert, then you know—Gilgore, Stewart, and McColm's performances feel like a kind of séance, with the trio locked into a musical conversation with one another. It's a language that has a "you had to be there" feel to it... Together, Heart of the Ghost's vibes fits into the lineage of free jazz established by greats like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp. Dive in.
"If you have a chance to hear Washington, D.C. trio Heart of the Ghost, rest assured that you’ve found another portal into the creative vortex that spontaneously lifts hearts, minds and bands off the stand. Their freewheeling improvisations tap into the same defiant spirit decanted by Mingus and the Minutemen..."
"Each album is more meditative and introspective than the last, as they push the boundaries of sound through guitars and a swath of effects pedals. On their last release, II, a collaborative tape with experimental musician Stefan Christensen, the three players manipulate squealing feedback from distortion pedals, sending listeners into a different astral plane. Both McColm and Shapiro are accomplished musicians on their own, but together they push each other’s musical abilities to truly far-out territories."
- Matt Cohen
Xenga/Zach Rowden - Split
"For musicians to thrive in the fringes, where music becomes chaos, it is truly amazing to see two connect so tightly. These sounds alone hold mayhem and sharp bites, but together they are there for each other. Balanced intensities falling from crescendos and climbing mountains together. A sonic mixed drink that goes straight to the bloodstream."
Nagual - Clear III
"Warmth is the feeling most imparted by Nagual. Like the friction from gears in a wristwatch, small parts moving in a hidden harmony. Faintly heard when the world is quiet, but working ever loudly when the mechanism is pressed for audio clarity. Energy in motion and moving forward, sounds rattle and fill thoughts with infinite wonder."
Tabs Out: Top 200 Tapes of 2017
Daniel Bachman / Elkhorn - Rhizome, Washington, DC, June 10, 2017
"Here, (Elkhorn are) joined by drummer Ian McColm, who gives The Black River tunes a wonderfully restless undercurrent. Don’t know if he’ll be collaborating with Elkhorn on future recordings, but on the strength of this set, it wouldn’t be a bad idea!"
Jazz Right Now's Best Live Concerts of 2016
Editor's Pick: Heart of the Ghost, New Revolution Arts, March 17
I.G.M/Lugweight - Seven of Clubs
"It’s spectacular. Just massive. It sounds like if you saw Sunn O))) and they were standing miles from each other and somehow filling the space and enveloping everything in between."
"Torche took stoner rock, right, and just shoved a molten cone of neon-pink cotton candy right through its heart. In this manner, so too does Ian G. McColm, but with doomy, blackened noise."
"As with everything these players do, this was done with spirit, turning this into one of those off-the-cuff, daring improvisational moments that have come to define what is always the highlight of this music festival."
"Perhaps “soundscape” is an overused term, but it’s difficult to think of any other word to apply to the music of Alexandria, Va.’s Ian McColm, aka I.G.M. His massive compositions hang in the air like storm clouds, mixing eerily calm, almost ambient, passages with sudden, jarring slashes of noise. Rhythm isn’t the point here; mood is king."
Paperhaus - "Silent Speaking"
"This dizzying new single from the DC-based Paperhaus, led by Alex Tebeleff, is a fierce, propulsive showcase for guest drummer Ian McColm."
I.G.M/Diego Garcia - Split
"Waves of harsh static create a vacuous sense of doom which nearly overwhelms you, but flows into moments of poignant and harmonious tones; a moment of respite amidst the discord like the second of silence between the flash and subsequent roar of a sonic boom."
"Ian’s music is intense, beautiful, and deeply layered. His journey in this art form is just as unique."
Nagual - String Music for the End Times
"Whatever your preference, and even if you feel like post-apocalyptic times have become too commercial, the musicianship here from the layers on Side A to flat out guitar perfection on Side B should have you listening to this if only because it has guitars (as well as other strings) doing what you (and I) might not have thought possible once before."
I.G.M - Inside Aquila
"The album moves through some frigid fright-fests, humbling, beyond beautiful balladry, but it’s the substance beneath all that that keeps this guy on repeat..."
"This is definitely utility music to an extent, a great tape to throw on to zone out or to put yourself in a sort of mental stasis."
Nagual & Carl Mitchell - Improvisations I & II
"Their two sides of improvisational free-jazz are the stormy stretches and midnight bellows of a cat taking over the house after the masters have fallen asleep on guard duty"
Nagual - The First LP
"A studied, stunning work of loops and zonular textures galore. It's worth a listen if you wish that Kranky's golden era featured Keith Rowe."
"Their tools are more varied than what you might find on a Pandit Pran Nath record, but Ian McColm and David Shapiro’s aim is trained on the same trance-inducing throb."
"Nagual’s first LP has some seriously In Den Gärten Pharaos moments, but where Florian Fricke was a water-baby hippy at heart, McColm and Shapiro are more than happy to hold you under the bath’s surface."
"Nagual is an intricately crafted, heady album, internal, shifting and at times voluptuous in its fecundity and fastidious attention to detail. Every second of it reverberates with the experience of the musicians, and also a timelessness that implies a vast ocean of ideas coming to fruition as sounds."
"Bright timbres are continually tossed onto a gentle harmonic base until the brightness turns glaring, the placid turns frenzied, and the drone reaches the tense outer-limits of the psychoacoustic spectrum."
"It’s as if they extracted only the most malevolent distortions from Terry Riley’s dervishes into a negative image of new age faithfulness."
"This is the type of record that builds up tension in your chest, and makes you take a pause and exhale when it's over."
"This is a must own for anyone who wants an audio representation of tragic humanity. I love this."
"Intelligent, intuitive experimental music that incorporates elements of psychedelia, noise, free-jazz and world music made by dudes you can have a beer with."
"A stunning collection of electro-acoustic drone noise, utilizing guitar loops, pianos, electronics, and drums."
"An excellent record with on one hand the more or less fixed notions of drone music, but also with some fine additions to slowly alter the idiom of that on the other side. That makes me curious to see where they would head next."
"It’s a record of a subtle, haunting escalation – energy rebounding back inwards without a point of exit, accumulating in clouds of light and perspiration in the centre of the recording space."
I.G.M - Virgin Skins
"There’s one thought the listener is left with after Virgin Skins, though: McColm isn’t just a good drummer, but a great performer in general."
Nagual - Clear One: Ether(s)
"Seriously. This tape is gorgeous."