LUCIO CAPECE / BIRGIT ULHER – Choices

Another Timbre

Capece and Ulher belong to the early generation of improvisers who – seems like a century ago – opened a huge door to a multitude of beguilers convinced that all it takes is emitting humid purrs and toneless scratching to become known (and, let’s face it – they were right: in most instances those people did get famous, thanks both to the incessant plugging applied by selected chunks of the “specialized” press, and to the need of easy solutions to grasp in growing multitudes of bleary-eyed audiences). Choices is not the best we’ve heard from either of the participants, but it does possess credentials. Firstly, the seriousness of the names involved, enough to eliminate any possibility of tackiness; secondly, the restriction of the field of investigation is an advantage rather than a handicap this time, the total duration of 41 minutes (in my opinion, the proper limit for this type of music) pulling out the “stop” signal at the appropriate moment.

In terms of sonic content, three main sorts of acoustic emanation establish the record’s constitutional palette, and they remain manifest – with a good degree of detail and differentiation of the single players – throughout the course of three tracks, of which the central and longest one is a live segment of nearly half an hour. The first trait is the by now “classic” expansion of the air currents that flow inside the instruments (bass clarinet, soprano sax and trumpet), whose popularity in this reviewer’s taste has been steadily diminishing of late; change the implementations and the tricks, but amplified breath in a conduit sounds approximately the same everywhere. The second aspect has to do with researching into percussive pulsation, obtained with preparations that cause a rhythmical “flapping” comparable, in certain circumstances, to that of a snare drum (of a metallic variety, perhaps). The third, and more gratifying facet is provided by the proximity of actual pitches in pseudo-static configuration, gritty clusters and blistering droning pushing the whole towards levels of uncomfortable intensity that are not reached in other parts of the album. This is specially explicated in the final piece “Orbital”, deeply typified by Ulher’s radio.

A solid, if unspectacular CD kept afloat by the artists’ earnestness and sense of direction.

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