THE DORF / PHILL NIBLOCK – Baobab / Echoes

Umland / XI

Over the years, Phill Niblock has accustomed us to the discovery of new performers for his massive droning environments. This double CD introduces us to the German collective The Dorf led by Jan Klare, an ensemble of 25 members (or more) capable of fearlessly tackling Niblock’s trademark walls of sound, but also absorbing and transferring the main traits of the American’s vision – and that of other equally influential composers – into a realm of expression that is the group’s own.

Recorded in Dortmund in 2019, the concert starts with a remarkably mighty version of Niblock’s “Baobab” covering the first disc in its entirety. The monumental effort is diversified by the very human element, clearly distinguishable within a sonic agglomeration including a bit of everything, even a Theremin. Voices, horns and strings float and waver as well as expressing absolute firmness of intent. The dynamic concoction occasionally reminds of Hermann Nitsch’s orgiastic ceremonials. At any rate, an excellent interpretation of the piece.

The second half of the program features a three-part suite composed by Klare, “Echoes”. All sections might be identified by a single adjective: enthusiastic. The Dorf apply a joint consciousness to a textural wholeness governed by pulses now Reichian, now Glass-ian… or, just in case, out-and-out anarchic. In such contexts, one can imagine Glenn Branca’s rebellious spirit interfering with the rhythmic flawlessness of this engine, always powerful yet never exactly “regular”. Unexpected outbursts would suggest an appreciation of The Mothers Of Invention, while certain timbral overlays evoke memories of Reinhold Friedl’s Zeitkratzer. 

OK, I pulled out a bunch of comparisons for ease of comprehension. Nevertheless, The Dorf aren’t copying anyone. They simply prove to be a gathering of lively souls, willing to understand and fully express the essence of what they have stored. Their aerials capture signals and retransmit them with the necessary strength for a listener to be decisively affected. Now forget the words, and move on to listening, in the holy name of Loudness.

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