Shuffling Particles

There’s an enhanced CD among the recent releases by Ernesto Rodrigues’ Creative Sources called Drawings. The “enhancement” consists in a 55-minute MP4 video – Der Raum, by Arno Oehri – which shows the working processes between Scott Fields and German visual artist Thomas Hornung, who lives in Basel and spends about one hour every evening by making spur-of-the-moment drawings on A4 paper sheets, “typically in black but occasionally in colored chalk”, as per the guitarist’s words. The three collaborators first met in 2004 during a residency in the Swiss Alps, yet only after a while the American decided to dig out something from those sketches, converting them in a multi-page graphic score whose constitution is better explained by the composer himself in the liner notes.

Fields, one of the most interesting phrase scramblers in contemporary jazz also in more “regular” outings (check his efforts on Clean Feed), asks the listeners to play the 98 audio tracks of the disc in shuffle mode – the same method applied to Hornung’s 171 pictures, previously selected, when he performs this work live. This modus operandi is not really crucial for the ultimate result, as the severely fragmentary conciseness of the solos causes the whole to sound exactly as a haphazard reproduction of the initial program even when the record is played straight; I seriously doubt that a remote chance of memorizing this album exists. What needs to be noted is how brilliantly this man manages to conjure up a growing quantity of uncommon timbres, chordal surges, skeletal counterpoints and unclassifiable pitches from his axe (manipulated conventionally or through various kinds of implementations), elevating the music to a degree of consequentiality on a par with its pictographic complement.

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