BEN ZUCKER – Confluere

Not Art

Previously unknown to yours truly, the sound world of multi-instrumentalist Ben Zucker – at least in the 31+ minutes of Confluere – is an intriguing proposition for getting a little relax in ultra-anxious times. Never exceeding any limit, staying well clear off the “groundbreaking” sign, it nevertheless deserves attention beyond conjectural meanings or hidden messages, of which there is absolutely none.

The layered parts result to this listener as unprocessed as one can wish, each voice occupying a distinct position in the mix. The ambit is that of a soothing kind of improvisation with a minimum of instant structure but, in essence, not revolving around fixed shapes or tonal definitions.

This notwithstanding, the adjective evoked by these acoustic aggregations is just that: “harmonic”. Meaning that the atmosphere is peaceful, the melodies unfold calmly, the resonances are all-encompassing. A few lights remain glowing during the darker sections, the chiming of the vibes certainly assistive in that sense.

Acknowledgments may be individuated in Jon Hassell and Ben Neill (the trumpet’s phrasing is soft-spoken and “atonally intoxicated” more often than not) and in that era of past ECM recordings – think late 70s/early 80s – when audiences were fed names not exactly “famous” but still capable of producing fine soundscapes surrounded by the classic Manfred Eicher reverberation. At that time, the commonplace percentage was not so high.

Most of all, this album winks to the ears without vulgarity. In its own way, a fascinating example of fairly naive music thriving in the absence of superfluous rational connotations.

Across the initial instants of the first listen my eyebrows were raised, somehow cynically; after completing it, I felt the need of an immediate replay. Enough said. Give Zucker’s work a try in the right conditions: you’re going to appreciate the warm embrace of its unassuming truthfulness.

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