Axel Dörner / Werner Dafeldecker / Sven-Åke Johansson – DER KREIS DES GEGENSTANDES

Monotype The unsettlingly severe cover photograph, with its combination of pollution and forlornness, is perfect to illustrate the stern type of interaction generated by this trio. Axel Dörner has remained one of the few trumpeters around warranting a degree of audibility – and recognisability – during theoretically “reductionist” actions, his proper (if uneven) pitches relieving the hissing pressure to which many of his exhaling fellows have definitively given the keys of their creative catacomb. Listening to those trembling held tones and petulant cries is cause for hope: not everything has been inundated by warm dribbles – there’s still room for … Continue reading Axel Dörner / Werner Dafeldecker / Sven-Åke Johansson – DER KREIS DES GEGENSTANDES

Lasse-Marc Riek – SAISON CONCRÈTE

Semperflorens That Lasse-Marc Riek is one of the founders of Gruenrekorder is evident from the similarities between some of the atmospheres informing Saison Concrète and the vague, half-tangible depictions of diverse environments in Merzouga’s Mekong Morning Glory (see above). This 44-minute work emerges from a protracted silence, after which all the possible variations on what we already know on the subject are presented one after another: buzzing insects, far-flung droning, tinkling objects, whimpering dogs, rustling steps, rain, children, birds, reiterative aspects of unknown mechanical processes. But what sets this CD apart from the rest of the worthless crowd is the … Continue reading Lasse-Marc Riek – SAISON CONCRÈTE

Merzouga – MEKONG MORNING GLORY

Gruenrekorder Those who think “Morning Glory” is the third course of “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” on Atom Heart Mother might like to know that’s it’s also a tropical vegetable (aka water spinach) native to South East Asia, which influenced Eva Pöpplein and Janko Hanushevsky (aka Merzouga) as they sailed down the Mekong river across Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in 2008. As for the musical outcome, the voyage represents an interesting stab at combining field recordings and processed instruments, with a prepared bass guitar the lone extra-environmental source. The gradual increase in sonic concentration maps the transition from unspoiled nature to downtown … Continue reading Merzouga – MEKONG MORNING GLORY

Lucia Mense – ELECTRONIC COUNTERPOINT

Satelita Lucia Mense specialises in an instrument – the recorder – which immediately brings back memories of unruly classrooms. Here in the land of bel canto, educational programmes by successive governments (“left” or “right”, it doesn’t matter – is there a difference?) have always considered music as good as junk, and most “students” behave accordingly, using cheap plastic recorders to create teacher-exasperating cooperative chaos. But Mense is German, and has subjected her instrument of choice (a wooden one) to a steady diet of diverse genres, with particular predilection for contemporary composers – my first introduction to her work was Phill … Continue reading Lucia Mense – ELECTRONIC COUNTERPOINT

Dick Wood – NOT FAR FROM HERE

pfMENTUM Reedist Dick Wood is something of a legend in the Californian new jazz scene, described as an “inimitable musician / raconteur / provocateur and general disseminator of freewheeling artistry, love and cuisine” by Nels Cline. In this long-awaited release he fronts a quintet whose members can extract improvising material from a pinhead and make you feel they’re having a lot of fun doing it. The leader’s alto flirts and tussles with Dan Clucas’s cornet and flute impressively throughout, their heterogeneous conjunctions and vixenish allusions steeped in knowledge of the past. But putting the hype of the press release aside … Continue reading Dick Wood – NOT FAR FROM HERE

Irène Schweizer – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Intakt When Irène Schweizer sits alone at the keyboard in Zurich’s Tonhalle in April 2011, two months before her 70th birthday, the magic in the air materializes fast. Broad-shouldered fairy tales are narrated with the impassioned grace of someone intimately acquainted with the instrument, acting as the causal factor of sound’s chemical reaction with the surrounding air molecules. Tackling a programme including affectionate homages (of which Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino” and Thelonious Monk’s “Four In One” are both outstanding), the pianist questions the very meaning of the term “interpretation”, turning known quantities into utterly individual expression, a combination of concrete … Continue reading Irène Schweizer – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Nils Petter Molvær – BABOON MOON

Thirsty Ear The title of Baboon Moon‘s opening track, “Mercury Heart”, is an immediate (involuntary?) nod to David Torn’s Cloud About Mercury, a genuine milestone that came out back in 1987. It seems trumpeter Molvær and comrades Stian Westerhus (guitar) and Erland Dahlen (drums) have got themselves stuck in the same year – there’s a been-there-done-that sigh of resignation to these nine tracks, plagued by over-processed guitars, clichéd loops and Mark Isham-meets-Jon Hassell fog. Not to mention the headache of those whopping drum ‘n’ bass patterns. With its Marc Anderson-like steel drums (Steve Tibbetts’ percussionist, in case you forgot) and … Continue reading Nils Petter Molvær – BABOON MOON