Pretty Obscure Releases Deserving A Mention

CHRISTIAN LILLINGERS GRUND – First Reason

Apparently, master pianist Joachim Kühn fell in love with drummer and composer Christian Lillinger’s work at a first listen, having had the chance of appreciating his playing at a festival in Ibiza in 2008. He is also the producer of this record, besides lending hands as a performer in three of its eleven pieces. Basically, Grund (=ground in German) is a quintet made of two reedists (Tobias Delius and Wanja Slavin) and two bassists (Jonas Westergaard and Robert Landfermann) in conjunction with the leader. The adjective that immediately springs to mind when listening to this recording is “cerebral”, not necessarily (and not always) in a negative sense. The well-oiled correlations between the parts and the right amount of emancipation thrown in every once in a while contribute to depict a music that sounds sharp but not acrimonious, elements of tradition and scientific analysis of the instrumental relations weighing exactly the same. If the intelligibility of the arrangements is absolute and the procedural democracy shown in all the tunes substantial – contrapuntal friction and thorny melodic linearity both critical ingredients of the recipe – nevertheless there’s a noticeable level of frigidity getting in the way of a thorough enjoyment of the CD, which in essence appears as a fine-sounding rational exercise with a couple of noteworthy moments (such as the superb “Feldarbeit”). Definitely one for the intellect, not for the heart. (Clean Feed)

IN SAND – Whatever

A quintet specialized in “free chamber improvisation” as per their own definition, whose playing is heavily informed by strings (Gus Garside – double bass, Richard Padley – guitar, Danny Kingshill – cello, Satoko Fukuda – violin and percussion) but also aided by a laptop-managing Scandinavian soul, Thor Magnusson. Garside and Kingshill were two thirds in the excellent The Pursuit Of Happiness on Emanem, the third member being the fantastic and unreasonably unsung Sylvia Hallett. There’s a lot of meat to be chewed in this recording, which expands the vocabulary of improvisation without sounding sacrilegious, always keeping a door open to comprehension. Idealistic mixtures, chaotic conjunctions and sudden clearings of the instrumental horizons succeed in absence of a manifest logic, yet determine the birth of one during the course of the events. Remaining anchored to this spiny consecutiveness – namely, following what the players do not including befuddlement – is nigh on unfeasible, due to the material’s constantly shifting dynamics and severe fragmentation. This notwithstanding, the music agrees to the creation of a comfortably human habitat, at least for the well-versed. Irony and grace are appropriately utilized, and the rare instances in which things really don’t work (for example, when voices appear) are easily forgotten. The electronic excrescences are rarely seen in the front row, still resulting extremely functional when spotted. Overall an interesting album, though not truly one for the ages. (Uneasy Listening)

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