Four On Another Timbre Byways


Electronics, percussion and cello, respectively. There’s a clandestine essence in this music, like if the participants – instead of diffusing the fruits of their gestures in the vastness of a church as it is the case – were furtively gathering in some sort of damp hole under a huge uninhabited building, the vibrations of the latter leaking into the general mindset. The interest resides in the fact that nobody tries to departmentalize the improvisational intuitions through forced heterogeneity, the player constantly remaining in the middle of a natural, if slightly contaminated flow. No element remains unemployed, with Kanngiesser’s cello obviously at the centre of what’s more recognizable, subdued dissertations and sensible management of the upper partials mixed amidst the customary rasping activities, with an increase of the timbral corporeality in the second half of the disc. The heterodox trait of Dumont’s tampering is neither predominant nor disproportionate, his despoliation of percussive structures voluntarily restricted within the collective entente, pragmatic manipulations of mismatched kernels complementing the unidiomatic quality of the interplay. One could very well doubt about the effective presence of Abbott’s electronic processing, which is extremely subtle, almost to the point of invisibility, yet transforms certain passages quite effectively with a laconic rebuilding of unfixed configurations. Not a seminal album, but excellent nevertheless.


This reviewer likes hermetic improvisation to a certain extent, but still finds difficult – after at least four tries – to get satisfaction from Meshes, a trombone/electronics/cello presentation divided in two parts. If you pardon the obvious pun, the sonic components don’t mesh well enough, often appearing like a somewhat disjointed series of extemporaneous lumps, callous non-tones and unreadable noises thrown out in absence of hypothetic structures, visible intuitions or, in the worst case, a coup de theatre. The only significant result was achieved by playing the CD softly amidst further activities in Christmas day’s afternoon (one person typing and the other decorating wool, complete silence in the valley except the wind) without paying excessive attention to the development – or lack thereof – of the investigation. The factual rendition of what is emitted or manipulated is virtually useless; only a few irregular spurts of wheeze-and-gurgle rarefaction – in between various kinds of frictional activity and intermittent signals – sporadically woke up my interest. Sorry, connection failed in this case.


A 30-minute live set for percussion and violin. Initially, the players act through micro-infusions of minuscule components within a larger system of coarse liverishness, a rather nervous attitude identified by the piercing insensitiveness of over-acute string harmonics and threadbare uneasiness. It doesn’t take much for things to become constant: aural nuisances exchanged with mild-mannered rubbing (at times bizarrely sounding as a gentle insufflation), unsympathetic abrasiveness enhanced by a nimble manufacturing of instantaneous oxidization, also attributing an element of dingy imperturbability to the general mood. The captious exploration of the inside mechanisms of a single unit characterizes both musicians’ method for large parts of this music, turning an evident inhospitableness into its best quality. After a while, even the most cynical listener is swallowed by those tiny vortexes, the whole informed by a treasured penuriousness of bombast. “Meagre” is beautiful, “toneless” is charming, “uncertain” revealing utter confidence in a vision which is perceived as unique, although that’s not really so. The final part introduces an almost ritual semblance, a sensible restraint defined by stretched sounds highlighted by well-audible echoes from the external world. As it happens with the bulk of Simon Reynell’s releases, one might or might not be able to appreciate a weak-looking nudeness, yet there’s undeniable substance in those protruding bones.


The longest and overall most satisfactory item of this quartet. The instrumentation comprises trumpet, electronic and alto saxophone but here, more than everywhere else, I struggled a bit to focus on the correct individuation of the sources. This is also the recording in which the incidence of external intromissions (car engines, airplanes, birds) is working rather efficiently as actual complement to the music, finely structured per se and researched from the inside with palpable purpose. In general, this trio represents the entity that furnishes my ears with the best idea of a stream of activity directly related to anything having to do with life, both in a purely physical meaning and as an extension of simple gestures which in turn can originate reactions, convenient or less. Speaking of the timbral palette, there’s an obvious prevalence of soiled vibrations (mostly deriving from Coleman and Wright’s preparations, clearly audible as they get implemented on the spot), long-held pitches (predominantly in the piping-and-shrilling regions), buzzing groans and occasional aching laments – a wonderful series of the latter, almost animal in their intensity, starts about half a hour into the set – meshing with the classic saliva-drenched, pressurized sounds that have become an EAI trademark, this time successfully circumstantiated and dosed, delivered only at the due moment. Protracted silences emerge every once in a while, the artists apparently stopping to swiftly reconsider the work done and find a new starting point; in those instants the cityscape is heard quite well, and it’s just beautiful. The intelligently parsimonious use of a radio is a plus, a splendid juxtaposition of ruthlessly sharp tones and “Blue Moon” probably the album’s top in terms of coincidental brilliance and unintentional sarcasm. One needs persistence to penetrate the essence of Control And Its Opposites and, believe me, once you manage to do it those 80 minutes literally fly. Don’t neglect this unassuming masterpiece.

Another Timbre

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