A few reviews edited in a Sunday afternoon characterized by wonderful choruses of cicadas around the house, always my favourite music in the summer (or what once was intended as such – we’re practically having a storm a day or so in this region).
TRIO HOT – Jink
A mega-trio in terms of technical nimbleness, Theo Jörgensmann (g-low clarinet), Albrecht Maurer (violin, voice) and Peter Jacquemyn (double bass, voice) are not afraid of showing what they can do, favouring over-exposure to silent observation every now and then, feet always firmly rooted in dignity nonetheless. Improvisations influenced by modern chamber music – the lone exception a virtually unrecognizable “Round Midnight” – where instant rejoinders to the various suggestions thrown usually draw a rather intelligent acoustic polemic occasionally flourishing into fully fledged quarrels bordering on stylish petulance. The real pleasures, truth be told, come when the trio’s members decide to play less and listen more, yet there’s no doubt about the consistent logic of aural gratification that permeates the disc: these people are able to deliver outstanding tones in instantaneous efficiency, their instrumental accents all but gorgeous. Sometimes this is enough, provided that the limits of good taste are not trespassed, which is not the case in Jink.
CELER – Neon
Inexhaustible as usual, Will and Danielle Long are steadily claiming an important spot under the weak sunlight of contemporary droning. This is Celer’s 21st self-produced release, typically coming in a folded sleeve distinguished by Dani’s artwork, and it’s another half-stunning, half-tranquilizing soundscape – one of the best, in my opinion – whose foremost principle is symbolized by hardly intelligible loops that don’t allow easy admittance to unwarranted analysis. This is valid until one reads the detailed elucidation written on the inside leaflet, which reveals that the sources are “pure instruments reduced to their bare tones”, and that the loop cycles behave according to impulses generated by voltage-controlled neon lights. It would be great to have a video of this process, aiming to “demonstrate a beauty of traditional instrumentation, the transformation of sound into the beauty of electroluminescence, the reflections of man-made lights and the unique color spectrum of nature”. The resulting sounds are particularly delicate and calming, embracing the environment and the listener alike enigmatically yet sympathetically. There’s no divergence, no conflict; everything seems to be perfect when this record is spinning. And – contrarily to what happens in this writer’s head after a while, when he’s exposed to lengthy segments of ambient-related nothingness – the need of going on with the experience remains substantial. Definitely a useful soundtrack for self-looking cogitations but, above all, a splendid release that encourages the enhancement of our consciousness. (POST SCRIPTUM: I decided to leave this review unchanged as a homage to Danielle Baquet-Long who, unexpectedly, left this earth last July 8. She was only 26. Rest in peace Dani, you’ll never be forgotten here).
OFFICE-R(6) – Recording The Grain
A sextet comprising Koen Nutters, Robert Van Heumen, Jeff Carey, Sakir Oguz, Dirk Bruinsma and Morten J. Olsen sharing mixed media (laptops, bass, reeds and percussion), Office-R(6) present us with vivid electroacoustic improvisations making good use of gaps and corners, mostly expressing a disconnected type of application which causes the music to expand its complex designs through a chronic alternance of short notes, concise phrases and not excessively extended deliberations. Multitudes of charmingly dignified timbres fit together without creating chaos, the sense of discipline is exceptionally developed, the whole sounding tight and controlled also when that’s probably not the case. More than resulting problematic at any cost according to a classic “look at how difficult we sound” attitude, Recording The Grain puts forth intelligent questions and gives itself the answers. Paradoxically, this is perhaps the only defect, in that the record lacks a measure of unexpectedness despite a considerable variety, appearing as surgically exact, meticulously intransigent, elegantly authoritative to these ears. The quality of the single voices is very high, though, and that alone makes listening an utter delight. A measured, but not parsimonious work which doesn’t contain the stigmata of momentousness yet – somehow – sounds astute, even seducing, no self-indulgence or vulgar impropriety in sight.
STEINBRÜCHEL – Mit Ohne
Apparently, Steinbrüchel is unable to bring into being less than stimulating music. This short record – the audio counterpart for Yves Netzhammer’s 3-D visual installation “The Feeling Of Precise Instability When Holding Things” – consists of about 18 minutes of warmly digitized emissions which persistently shift and recombine, individuating their brain-relieving raison d’être in narcotic sequences applied to chiaroscuro settings, immaculate frequencies and stretched out tones similar to bell-like elongations or metamorphic virtual realities producing incessant awe in total aural fulfilment. The ever-present symmetries and glowing beauty of this artist’s sonic kingdoms, derived from “particles of melodies searching for space to breathe”, are once again enough for me to classify the work as tremendously charming, and – particularly in this circumstance – perfect for personal utilization independently from the original context. An instantly identifiable class that never betrays, enhanced by a not excessive productivity that, together with the sheer intensity of the sounds, places the Swiss composer/architect light-years distant from the late-coming hordes of laptop rapists.
THOMAS PETER – Medir
Computer-assisted and/or electronic music can remain introvert, if necessary, without the automatic need of intimidating the addressees. Such is the case of Medir by Thomas Peter – an artist I never met before – which sounds pretty closed in terms of memory-retaining power yet exudes a sort of digital warmth that makes it sound acceptable since the very first spin. The composer refers to his work as designed for “imaginary spaces”, although one sees this definition as a little reductive. There’s nothing conceived to let us cry miracle, every element exactly where we expect it to be, perfectly delineated in a well-considered sonic organization which leaves extreme dynamics and gratuitous noise on a side to give more opportunities to subsonic growths, under-skin negotiations between monochromatic excrescences and conciliatory resonances, and mesmerizingly nerve-rubbing pulsations. Only slightly intangible in short spurts – but cannily realized overall – Peter’s sonic concept is discreetly tasteful even if not really unforgettable. Indeed, memorable albums are becoming a scarce commodity nowadays – especially in this area, where not coming out with a dud is already an accomplishment.