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poire_z (pronounced “pwar-zed”) was an electronic free improvisation music group formed in 1998. The group’s members all have long careers in improvised music; critic Fred Grand of Avant calls poire_z a “post-AMM supergroup.”

At a music festival at Nantes, France in 1998, percussionist Gunter Muller and turntablist eRikm were scheduled to perform as a duo. The same festival featured a performance by duo Voice Crack. The four musicians made an unscheduled collaboration, and afterwards formed a semi-regular quartet.

They recorded several albums and made a number of live appearances before disbanding. poire_z often invited a fifth musician as a guest: Keith Rowe, Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M and others performed or recorded with the core quartet.

As with much free improvisation, poire_z’s music is generally focused more on a group sound, and given the musicians’ unorthodox approach to their instruments, it’s often difficult to discern who is generating any individual sound. Aside from glimpses of Muller’s occasionally unprocessed percussion, their music is nearly all electronic blips, clicks and droning like a shortwave radio tuned in to an extraterrestrial broadcast; critic Ed Howard described the group’s music as “all whir and purr and throb, the soldered electronic exclamations of the Voice Crack duo spurting around the steady rhythmic drive of Muller and eRikm … a dense cycling drone with harsh electronic interjections skipping over the top.

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