ULRICH KRIEGER – Winters In The Abyss


A tiny print in the label’s website alerts: “CAUTION: Listening to POGUS CD’s may cause you to become one with the universe (or at least your immediate environment)”.

I’m not sure about the universe, but most definitely Uli Krieger’s Winters In The Abyss – a low-frequency microtonal trip in five movements for trombone, contrabass trombone and French horn released in 2015 – contributed to alleviate the effects of today’s unstable atmospheric conditions and free-falling blood pressure on yours truly. It happened in a weird Sunday where very little seemed to make sense (including, of course, the news of earth-shaking nuclear tests in a well-known area of the globe).

Just intonation is one of the several tunings making pitches resound in a way that stimulates anomalous responses from a sensible beingness. This opus – performed by Matt Barbier, Zara Rivera and Paul Rivera – requires a special kind of virtuosity: that of “staying in the middle” of the emission of tones without losing the grip on their physical integrity. Not always a given with wind instruments.

That the bulk of the combinations produce murmuring clusters or, in any case, dissonances of some sort does not prevent the piece from resulting appropriate for soothing the nerves; a curative quietness not deprived of oscillating features. At times the overall texture appears to ebb and flow in accordance with the breathing rhythm, but the bordering upper partials still ripple its kernel. Quite static, yet moving within. You know how this works, by now.

Through barely detectable diversities and slight shifts, the players respect the composition’s scope with no indecision or flaw. Time ceases to be a factor as we’re surrounded by balmy halos of blown drones interrupted by brief intervals (the performers do need air intakes, after all). The music’s economy yields an unexpected richness; the body and the mind are indebted.

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