BIRGIT ULHER – Radio Silence No More

Olof Bright

My first contact with Birgit Ulher’s idiom occurred during a time in which her trumpet – together with Ruth Barberan’s – was being featured on Creative Sources (a never enough sung label, if you ask me). I vividly remember the instant admiration for two women who were producing unheard sonorities through such a classic instrument, entirely discarding typical jazz-related contexts and relative routines. This record comprises home recordings from 2007, in which the Hamburger Lady (Throbbing Gristle pun intended) utilized radio, mutes and a speaker to conjure up more gurgles, fizzes and groans from the same old machine. While living in a noisy condominium many years ago, this reviewer used to blast impolite neighbours with ruthlessly jarring records as a punishment for their lack of civility. Had Ulher lived and practiced this craft in those people’s place, our relationship would have been lovely. The sounds may be gritty and grumpy as ever, yet the informal quality of the music remains at the forefront; one can imagine responding to the aborted quacks, toxic bubbles and broken flutters with a smiling explanation of how certain physical reactions get perfectly in tune with those codes. Shortwave washes and vocal enhancements are a welcome addition to a palette that hasn’t changed too much over the decade, but that still highlights a conceptual solidity that lots of today’s improvisers desperately need.

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