FREDY STUDER – Now’s The Time


A 2-LP solo set and a 250-page book. There’s much to relish in this box set by Everest, released in the year in which one of the finest European percussionists – Swiss Fredy Studer – turns 70. He may have stayed rather quiet over the years, but just take a look at his CV to realize what the commonplace “playing with a who’s who of great musicians” means. Studer really saw them all – almost.

The idea of listening to a single sonic source for more than twenty minutes is anathema for the average audience, especially when drums are involved. Now’s The Time might very well be the album destined to alter that sort of inadequateness. I have repeatedly been in its company in the last 48 hours, and it hasn’t ceased to gladden these frazzled ears.

To borrow another expression from the third estate of journalism, Studer is in total command of his instrumentation; he never feels like overstating to exalt his own inventions. Think of the difference between an insightful person who speaks infrequently, intuitively picking the essence of the correct meaning every time, and an individual replete with inferiority complexes who constantly aggrandizes his/her pitiful self through unrestrained blah-blah. Now, guess what category Studer belongs to.

Am I transmitting the impression of a record full of artificial Zen silences? Wrong. This work explores the basics of rhythm and timbre with a naturalness that is extraneous to the large part of hypertechnical instrumentalists, more interested in dilating the ego than establishing a connection with the receivers. Studer creates patterns – and not only that – to go straight to the core of percussive sensitivity, enhancing clear-cut imageries with elusive resonant nuances. Each detail becomes fundamental, all the tracks resplendent with lively linearity.

At the basis of these geometries lies the splendid sound of the skins, tuned to near-perfection; even a tom roll appears as a deep statement, deprived of what Frank Zappa would call “bogus pomp”. However, in the title track the cymbals generate such a marvelous aura of reverberant overtones that we wouldn’t mind if it lasted three days. And if you want additional pulse-induced trance, try “Joysticks”. We could pointlessly explicate each piece’s wealth of beauties, but this is a glorious harmoniousness of multiple components.

Everything we do, voluntary or less, is defined by a rhythm. What many people fail to understand is that the same is valid for what they see/perceive as chaos. Studer might teach a thing or two to the wannabes who dissertate about Fibonacci then recoil in horror in front of odd metres or theoretical discordance in a composition. Still, he would do it with the polite distinction of someone who does not brag. Those who have already understood don’t need to.

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