ANDREA NEUMANN / SHARIF SEHNAOUI / MICHAEL THIEKE / MICHAEL VORFELD – Nashaz

Al Maslakh

Defying the logic of a description while at the same time refusing an idiomatic collocation appears to be the main goal – although involuntary – of the music produced by this quartet, recorded in a Berlin studio that seems to have enhanced every detail of the performance. This is the sort of record that can accompany your life for entire days (as in this reviewer’s case over the last half-week) without explaining why the need is felt to return to it. It’s neither a memorable showpiece, nor a collection of throwaway improvisations destined to the archive after a single try; and it doesn’t even stand halfway through those extremes. Yet it presents a sound world that is just gripping – mainly because of the seriousness of all the musicians involved – in spite of an evident difficulty of penetration.

A plausible starting point for an analysis might be Arnold Schoenberg’s concept of “melodies of timbres”, expressed in the Harmonielehre. The diversification of the palette (inside piano, mixer, guitar, clarinet and percussion) permits to follow the unfolding of varying strata as parallel projections of transitory acoustic existences. There is much to be enjoyed in terms of sonic grain, rhythmic intersections, meshing of heterogeneous instrumental characteristics. Significant chunks of the interplay scintillate amidst intricate networks, each musician caring for a precise section of the vibrating composite. And, trust me, this group generates vibrations in large quantities; but they don’t limit themselves to that. They send out signals, and do not wait for “acceptable” responses; make things quaver, clatter and distort; give birth to strangely flexible harmonics; listen to the final reverberations of a dying chaos in conditions of near-silence. Expertly and quietly, they ultimately manage to disrupt order and articulation without looking as uneducated transgressors.

And so, another spin begins. Still disconcerted, still curious, still willing to finally find that code that has fooled the “normal” principles of deep listening until now. I am pleased to be surrounded by the creatures that populate Nashaz.

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