Sunday 17 January 2010

Thirty Minutes (Or Less)

RADU MALFATTI – Wechseljahre Einer Hyäne (To Ulrich Krieger)

Performed by Intersax (Ulrich Krieger, Martin Losert, Tobias Rüger and Reimar Volker), this composition for 2 x baritone, alto and soprano saxophones by Malfatti is among the most fascinating I’ve heard from his repertoire (which, admittedly, is not exactly my specialization). This recording is dated 2003 and was captured live at Berlin’s Podewil. Amidst the expected silences (in this case we can really say that, thanks to an excellently behaved audience who literally seems to hold their breath during the execution) gently blown clusters of the peaceful kind materialize at different times - sometimes closer than one would expect - over the course of 30 minutes, fading neon signs involuntarily trying to indicate the right way to a lost soul in a street at late night. When those murmured chords vanish, a single saxophone maintains a note a little longer, remaining alone for a few instants to nail the meaning of that figure to the ground. I don’t know if it depends on your reporter’s not exactly sundrenched mood in a gloomy, coldly plumbeous Sunday afternoon, but the piece results an ideal sonic complement to the aura of pessimistic resignation which has been lingering in the house for a while today, and that someone – not me, though – might associate with a pre-death sensation, like if everything that’s made appeared as a waste of time, the living organism just going through the motions to arrive at tomorrow. The intrigue of life also lies in the correct mental management of similar moments, and the music is very effective in that sense – especially when enriched by the circumstantial noises coming from afar. (Et Le Feu Comme)

SAP(e) featuring BERNHARD GÜNTER – Improvisation

The trio of Aurélien Besnard (clarinet), Christophe Devaux (electric guitar) and Guillaume Contré (laptop) moves around the regions where concentrated instrumental tampering borders with micro-sonic extemporaneity; that’s why the presence of Günter – here on pocket trumpet, clarinet and effects – appears as virtually perfect for the occasion. The interchange between the artists is informed by a constant impression of unexploded intensity, mainly characterized by timbres seemingly unwilling to depart from the grey area between corroded metal and suburban dimness. The only instantly identifiable voice comes from Devaux’s intimately miked strings, from which knotty snippets, luminescent oxidation and quiet drainage raise their small heads amidst brain-cuddling longer tones emitted by the reeds. The computer’s activities are clearly discernible but not overstated, the lone exception a looped fragment that disappears ten seconds after having entered the audio frame. An odd sense of organic liquidness permeates a sizeable part of this appealing work, whose persuasiveness ultimately resides in its capacity of holding our concentration in a grip without pauses, halfway through tangible matter and sinister reflectivity. (Et Le Feu Comme)

PIERRE GERARD – Plateaux (For Gilles Deleuze)

The common denominator of this three-headed review is Pierre Gerard, a Belgian composer who also happens to be the boss of the above linked Et Le Feu Comme net label. In keeping with the typical Koyuki standards Plateaux is very minimal, both in the sonic and the graphic design (the latter courtesy of Luigi Turra). The inexpert ear could easily position it in the undeserved company of less significant onkyo-derived releases, yet this would be terribly wrong, as Gerard knows what he’s doing much better than hundreds of so-called “alternative” artists. His sense of event placing is astonishingly acute: there’s not a moment in the whole album in which a sound appears unnecessary or unwanted in that particular instance. Speaking of tone and timbre, he masterfully alternates vapour and grain, sequences of hovering low-frequency “presences” interspersed with jagged interruptions and piercing interferences, like needles waking us up from a hypnotic illusion. One feels isolated and enraptured at the same time, the practical incapability of defining the sources of these undersized daydreams an actual advantage. This mixture of dynamic activity, extreme accuracy and mesmerizing minimization of nervous peaks - clocking at the perfect length of half a hour - should not be left disregarded. (Koyuki)