Subsequent to many years spent with Alfred 23 Harth’s output, I find myself in the same position of the proverbial aging individual who learns to manage and optimize the residual energies as opposed to wasting them in a pathetic illusion of “understanding”. There is no actual need of contextualizing, intellectualizing and filing away a microcosm which translates – in sounds – several of the recondite non-meanings comprised by the phases of beingness that do not foresee a so-called “active role”. We acquire what we can, in the meantime developing skills that belong to the unconscious level. They are, in a way, mechanisms of defense against the unknown. It falls on our personal abilities and strengths to absorb the theoretically incomprehensible nuances of that “unknown” to render them a functional component of the most valuable of gifts, intuition.
So we ground a suppositional “knowledge” on a few random elements underlying the conception of this record, another dumbfounding gathering of altered states, wide-eyed dreams and Pollock-esque splashes. For starters, Harth does not “improvise” with the other musicians, as read elsewhere. In this circumstance he should be credited as composer, given that he assembled and organized contributions singly furnished by Wolfgang Seidel, Fabrizio Spera and Nicole Van Den Plas (although, somewhere in there, snippets do appear from a live set played in 2015 by the trio of Harth, Seidel and Spera). The title refers to both a Korean tea, and an ancient Indian legend; the overall sense of this co-action is rooted in the possibility of keeping an artistic flow ongoing through extended temporal spans and geographic distances. In fact, Seidel and Harth have been collaborating, on and off, since 1983; Van Den Plas was once the latter’s spouse, and also one of his very first creative partners; Spera, hailing from Rome, is a frequent associate of the German over the last decade. Quite a variance of human sources and experiences.
Thus, an awful lot for the mind to receive in such a diversity of signals and gestures. This is a veritable decomposable quilt, multitudes of precisely combined small parts attributing momentum to an integrity that exists, breathes – sometimes hard, sometimes more calmly – and (especially) suggests. Initially, Van Den Plas’ puzzling vocalizations seem to predominate in the mix; however, as one keeps learning the contents (be warned: dozens of listens are demanded to do this) the impression of an “abandon hope ye who enter here” sort of premise materializes. The disruptions emerge from the hidden corners: weak sun rays may attempt to break into a shadowy scene – rarefied piano notes, an electric guitar drone, ductile string lines, soft rolling on toms, the unpredictable argot of Harth’s reeds – but they’re only guide lights across a gasping organism desperately seeking for alternative ways to explicit its acoustic spirit.
The electronic/studio treatments considerably increase the music’s fertility, furnishing a damp cellar of undefined reverberations to a tightly configured guild of like-minded explorers. Field recordings are intelligently exercised, ultimately becoming a crucial shade of this uniquely patterned fabric. All in all, Malcha is a somewhat uncomfortable request to deliver ourselves from private expectations: inside its complexity, “horribly crippled” and “flawlessly designed” presume an equal significance. If you feel fit after reading all of the above, then the process of self-disappearance amidst atypical sonorities to blank out the mind’s twisted geometries can officially begin.