Steve Swell – Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen

(Silkheart) On a first glance at the title we’re automatically reminded of a milestone of minimalism by another famous Steve; but there is nothing in this work by Steve Swell that can be reported on as “minimalist”. Rightly applauded as a virtuoso trombonist, the man is also a discerning composer, this CD fully supporting our assumption. Picking Olivier Messiaen as the subject of a tribute is in itself a brave move; assembling a quintet of top-notch instrumentalists to concretize the sterling configurations and the spontaneous germinations implied by a partially notated score might even represent a danger, all the more … Continue reading Steve Swell – Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen

Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended

(hatOLOGY) Clarinettist Eichenberger and double bassist Studer have been operating in tandem for over eight years after having attended more populated assemblies since the late 90s. Suspended is an affidavit of the solidity of their joint sharpness, an album consisting of seven improvisations defined by sometimes strange titles (“Walking Harshly”, “Glancing Loudly”) yet distinguished by the qualities that separate the practitioners of serious acoustic craft from the self-publicists who categorize the act of drooling into a tube or swatting flies off a string instrument as “art”. The aforementioned qualities can be encapsulated in two words: concreteness and reactivity. In the … Continue reading Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended

Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Miguel Mira – Mikrographía

(Creative Sources) The extremely short duration — less than 19 minutes — classifies Mikrographía as an EP. However, such a restricted temporal frame is inversely proportional to the interplay’s quality, made explicit across three tracks of mysterious counterpoints bathing in relatively ambiguous resonance. Aside from Chrysakis’ piano — obviously more identifiable than the rest of the palette and, in a way, dictating the extemporaneous harmonic paths of the spontaneous fluxes — the overall dynamics follow the rules of a hide-and-seek game of sorts. Think an evacuated neighborhood enshrouded by grayness, but occasionally illuminated by entrancing oblique lights. When the Rodrigueses … Continue reading Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Miguel Mira – Mikrographía

David Area / Tomás Gris / Ernesto Rodrigues – Chorismos

(Creative Sources) I’ll spare the title’s philosophical implications for another occasion, and get straight to the point. Creative Sources was among the first imprints to present works by artists honestly willing to travel the no man’s land separating sound from silence. For this, Ernesto Rodrigues’ label is respected by this reviewer in spite of the latter’s repudiation of similarly oriented music in recent years. I have spoken at length on the insincerity of certain assumed milestones — in reality, forgettable albums — by composers and/or improvisers who fabricated a trend for exploitable audiences (and, not infrequently, built rewarding careers on … Continue reading David Area / Tomás Gris / Ernesto Rodrigues – Chorismos

Jean Derome – Résistances

(Ambiances Magnétiques) When it comes to naming names in the all-encompassing landscape of contemporary music, Jean Derome’s eminence remains relatively unquoted amidst the sacred cows of the last decades. A first-class reedist and composer, he’s indelibly associated with René Lussier — specifically, in the duo Les Granules — beyond significant proprietary works (random memory selection: 1988’s Confitures de Gagaku, on Victo). Derome has shown time and again that his idiosyncratic creativity, compositional skill and ability to put a theory into artistically fructiferous practice are second to none. In its clever mix of conceptual consistency and stimulating interplay, Résistances clearly explains … Continue reading Jean Derome – Résistances

The Remote Viewers – Last Man In Europe

(Remote Viewers) The Remote Viewers might include throat-cutting improvised sections amidst notated scores, or emit toneless murmurs during long stretches of suspension. Nonetheless, two words that perfectly identify their music are “order” and “intelligibility”. Perhaps I’m slightly influenced by the public image projected by the press pictures showing them neatly attired. However, the sense of lucidity conveyed by a recording like this is not questionable. Following a series of changes in the lineup for the preceding chapters, Last Man In Europe is a trio for two saxophones (Dave Petts and Adrian Northover) and double bass (John Edwards). This reduced version … Continue reading The Remote Viewers – Last Man In Europe

Udo Schindler – Botenstoffe

(Confront) German reedist Udo Schindler was not born for acridness and collision. The owner of a transparent “inner tone” transferred on different species of saxophone and clarinet, Schindler is a firm flag-bearer of that area of improvisation where “balance” is the first commandment. Not exclusively in terms of acoustic weight and artistic relationship; what is looked for is an ideal equality of the existing gradations to be achieved — almost at the molecular level — through a precisely defined emission. This constitutes the starting point of a series of delicate questions to which only a committed player can answer; the … Continue reading Udo Schindler – Botenstoffe