Spill is the Berlin-based duo of Magda Mayas on piano and clavinet and Tony Buck on drums/percussion, formed in 2003. They have, to date released 3 albums as the duo, and have collaborated with John Butcher on the UnSounds label release Plume as well as with American bassist Damon Smith on the CD Spill Plus (on the Nuscope label).
Tony and Magda have been playing all over Europe, the USA, Australia and Lebanon and, for a three month period in the summer 2016, were together on a artist residence program at Villa Aurora in Los Angeles.
November 2017 sees Tony join Magda for a 10 day period during her residency at Montalvo Arts Center in California, where they have worked on new SPILL recordings.
Andrew Choate, 2012
"Spill is the Berlin-based duo of Magda Mayas on piano and Tony Buck on drums, and Stockholm Syndrome features two long tracks recorded in concert in Helsinki and Oslo in 2010. While we've all heard pianos played percussively, it's much rarer to hear someone play the drums with as much attention to melody as Buck. High-pitched bowed cymbals form harmonic sequences with brushed straw, wood on wood popping and bass thump drags. This duo isn't the kind where one person challenges and relents and waits for their partner to do the same. The friction they generate is instead the result of being so continuously and seamlessly intertwined that conflagrations of star-burning intensity naturally appear at every other twist. Mayas has a spectacularly gifted ear for timing, and translates it into her hands on the keys, giving Buck the freedom to create more and more unusual combinations of melody and rhythm. This duo is one of those rare groups where not only is the instrumentation perfectly matched, but the style with which the musicians approach their instruments is so personal that it's astonishing how well it all comes together."
The next night’s highlight was the duet by Tony Buck (percussion) and Magda Mayas (prepared piano). Harmonics seeped from all that they struck, scraped and wrung out producing a luscious ebb and flow of complex layers. Lost in the evocations of this piece, I imagined at one point that I was hearing the everyday sounds of a small town, notated and reproduced in musical form. Eyes closed, I lost track of instrument identity sometimes and had to look back at the stage to understand exactly what was creating these sounds so full of cadence, resonance and melody.
The Wire, April 2009
Reviewed by Brian Morton
(Magda Mayas & Tony Buck / Gold): There’s just 36 minutes of music here, but every second of it is interesting. Pianist Mayas plays chunky, bell-like clusters that seem to observe a slowly evolving musical logic, neither obviously melodic nor conventionally harmonic. Drummer Buck for the most part works a parallel path, working busily but delicately round his kit. The opening minutes of “mercury machine” are full of light, skittering figures on the metal parts and big, damped clusters on the piano, some of them hand-damped inside the sound box, I suspect. It opens out thereafter, but there’s no attempt here to emulate the iconic piano and drum duos of the past – Coltrane and Ali, Taylor and Roach. Mayas and Buck create their own intimate languages and in the process deliver something very special and exactly the right length.
„....Improvised duos have lots of pitfalls to avoid: levels of alertness and/or talent can be too disparate, the speed of interaction may never sync, one person can try too hard to push the music in a certain direction, etc. But from the very first sounds they made and all the way to the final tones of the encore, these two were in perfect balance throughout. Tightly intertwined at the level of both the sonic material they pursued and the rhythmic pointillism with which they went about their journey, they stunned me into wide-eyed, open-mouthed attention. Even their minuscule pauses overlapped. And when they didn’t, it was as if they were just making room to highlight and frame what the other was doing. Pianos are naturally percussive instruments, and especially so when attacked from the inside, and this piano/drum duo exploited that overlap of sonority with exquisite concentration. Buck and Mayas were completely wrapped up inside each other’s sonics. There was no mimicry from one sound to the next, but everything they did was complementary. The spectrum of sounds used wasn’t especially large, but the context within which they played the sounds made the narrative difference between delicate and violent absolutely apparent and meaningful. A taut, highly successful combo.“
Spill is a duo of Magda Mayas (piano, clavinet, tiger organ, harmonium, objects and preparations) and Tony Buck (drums, cymbals gongs, bells, tabla, percussion). In San Francisco and Berlin they recorded these four lengthy pieces of heavily layered sounds, but no doubt all of this played in real time. Both of them are masters in creating clusters of music on their own instruments, using all fours it seems to create their sound. Each of these pieces is a delight to hear, rich in sonic excess, rich in details thereof. Spacious music with clusters of organ sounds, scraping of the inside of the piano, the objects on cymbals and hi-hats, culminating in the brutal free rock force of ‘Sermon’ at the end of this CD. A long but fruitful trip. (FdW) monotyperecords.com
The now now festival, 2011
In the Kiasma theatre I was soon pushed the rest of the way down by the duo of drummer Tony Buck and pianist Magda Mayas. Their organically chaotic blend of prepared piano and exquisitely textured percussion won me over with its dynamic warmth and seismically shifting mutations. Performing live, they made it look free and easy, but these two virtuosos are at the top of their game, cheerfully walking through the door that John Cage opened so long ago.
Spill Plus (with Damon Smith)
(CD, Album )
Plume (with John Butcher)
(CD, Album, Ltd)