SOPHIE AGNEL / BERTRAND GAUGUET / ANDREA NEUMANN – Spiral Inputs

Another Timbre

The different levels between performers working in comparable sectors of the musical area concerning with the atypical exploitation of the acoustic properties of instruments inside a room derive from the ability of repeatedly causing what in recent years has instead practically disappeared. The kind of emotional, visceral response to a sound – alone or in a combination – that brings the listener to mentally exclaim “a-ha” if he/she’s particularly cold-blooded, and to perceive veritable goosebumps, or get a glimpse of something within ourselves connected with a past experience, in relation to the manifestation of such a type of sonic circumstance.

Spiral Inputs possesses all the qualities of a masterpiece, becoming evident since the initial spin. The palette is shaped by two pianos (a “regular version” with preparations, a second deprived of the insides whose frame is used with electronics) and two saxophones. The sounds appear, first softly tapping our attention’s shoulder, then establishing a silent authority given by the peculiar mixture of incisiveness and delicacy that the musicians concoct. Occasionally one distinguishes “roles” – Agnel, for example, is the engenderer of occasional monochrome patterns or, if you will, the most noticeable rhythmic component in the general texture – but there’s no question about the fact that the tapestry weaved by the artists does not imply compartments. It’s a wonderful wholeness, made of natural-sounding diversity, a resonant heterogeneity whose constituents make a responsive audience richer, willing to abandon a customarily passive role of mere receivers. We feel like wanting to materially participate in the performance in a way or another. This is the sign of a capacity to involve that not many musicians own.

Should I be forced to pick a favourite amidst the four tracks the choice would fall on “Spiral #3”, gifted with an additional dose of mystery, a fragmented eeriness that, after a while, opens up to a repeated cluster by Agnel; its beauty is literally aching, bringing back memories of childhood in a flash. But the whole album deserves a plaque in the Hall Of Fame of the last decade’s best improvisation. A mature statement that leaves the doors open to throbbing hearts while still walking along the ear/brain gratification axis.

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