CARL LUDWIG HÜBSCH / CHRISTOPH SCHILLER – Giles U.

Another Timbre

Tuba for Hübsch, spinet for Schiller. An improbable combination on paper, but don’t you dare discounting the ability to extend the voice of an instrument. The duo’s chance to make something innovative with these machines arose during a Swiss residency in 2008/9 and, to quote the liners, “from our first meeting we felt a strong connection in our playing”. Giles U. confirms that the reciprocal interchange works quite well, and listening to the resulting sounds is a lovely experience.

Given the relative comfortableness in distinguishing the sources – the respective registers are so distant that there can be no doubt – it is interesting to analyze the musicians’ quest for the adjustment of pitch. This is especially valid for Schiller’s activity, which spans across uncanny extensions of otherwise short notes, which benefit from bowing and scraping to become akin to a small group of hoarse violas, and different sorts of preparations used for a more percussive lingo. Yet the shimmering character of those plucked strings almost never descends into turbulence; droplets and pings prevail upon bulkiness.

Hübsch is at ease in adapting his physicality to the tuba; not only by modifying breathing to generate effective undercurrents, also adding vocal components to establish a minimum of melodic movement underneath the general dialogue. In the fourth improvisation there’s a splendid moment of contiguousness of acutely scratchy high frequencies and a sort of irregular engine, halfway through a gentle roar and a sputtering old truck; in the subsequent snippet a nicely pulsating continuum is generated by both performers. Throughout this unpretentious recording, two artistic personalities prove their value without the need of recurring to cheap tricks. The innovation factor might not weigh in at an all-time heaviest, but this record definitely deserves to stay.

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