WERNER DAFELDECKER / CHRISTOF KURZMANN / JOHN TILBURY / STEVIE WISHART – Dafeldecker / Kurzmann / Tilbury / Wishart

Mikroton

Seven live tracks – five recorded in Vienna, two in Wels – give us a rather splendid vision of four strong personalities sounding unassumingly intelligent across a 50-minute span. The instrumentation features electronics, bass, lloopp, clarinet, piano and hurdy-gurdy.

After an introductory droning spell that had me thinking about a somewhat static dissertation, surprises turn up when Wishart’s hurdy-gurdy – a predominant voice in various parts of the performance – alternate nervous zigzags and measured oscillation while a background of quiet bubbling activity is decorated by Tilbury’s dewdrops, the whole melting in an intoxicating textural mantra. The mating of Dafeldecker’s arco with misshapen timbral identities in “Wien 3” is too beautiful to last; it is in fact the shortest track on offer, but deep as a well in terms of thrills. On the other hand, “Wien 4” combines scattered events and light touches with grating hints to melodic figures and tremolos, executed over noises of all kinds – including the piano’s insides – and ebbing-and-flowing subsonics; Tilbury stamps the finale with the solemn austerity of his unhurried arpeggios. Kurzmann’s clarinet characterizes the initial phase of “Wien 5”, perhaps the album’s most entrancing moment. The instruments rotate around the same tonal axes, partially dislodged by underlying drones until glissando prevails, disintegrating any tendency to harmonic stability. The hurdy-gurdy acts as an acoustic village’s fool in a skip-and-pray metaphor of genuine ritualism.

The first Wels take is mildly ominous, mostly utilizing the lower regions of the piano and, in general, tending to uninviting territories where rumble, hum and autistic repetition gather. The second chapter’s temperament is even darker, the opening segment akin to the fragment of a East European folk song. The performers trade sketches and convey glimpses of imaginary sound worlds, gaining knowledge of something that they instantly retransmit, transforming silent implications and intuitions into flashes of highly suggestive interplay, emphasized by humming pulses and first-matching-then-divergent parabolic designs. An excellent way to conclude a record that deserves to be rescued from anonymity, and in several occasions made this reviewer consider the use of stronger words to depict its unpretentious radiance.

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