Commendably, Trevor Taylor’s FMR seems not concerned with easy digestibility in its catalog, mainly based on improvisation that doesn’t wink at tender hearts. No exception for the pairing of reedist Udo Schindler — who has published a lot on this imprint in recent times — and double bassist Wilbert De Joode, a man identified with his instrument to the point of having saxophonist Ab Baars stating “Wilbert does not play bass anymore… He has become his bass“. I spent several hours with this music, as fascinating as it is hard to fathom. Still looking for a decrypting code to file it satisfactorily in my mnemonic archive.

Schindler and De Joode conceived this material in February 2020 during two concerts in Munich, parts of a series called “LowToneStudies”. While low frequencies do abound, impressively characterizing our listening room’s response, there is more to it than that. Schindler explicates his indefatigable search for unorthodox articulations through bass clarinet, soprano sax, f-tuba & tubax. The latter, devised by Benedikt Eppelsheim, is a modified saxophone thriving in the contrabass and sub-contrabass ranges. I’ll let you imagine the pressure on the auricular membranes when the CD is played loud, as De Joode’s big box lends itself perfectly, for obvious reasons, to being a sympathetic partner across these explorations of resonance physics.

There’s still time to admire the respective techniques of the players, their descriptive curiosity and contrapuntal intuitiveness coalescing in clever interactivity. Schindler and De Joode appear rather obstinate in avoiding any excess of linear transparency, juxtaposing advanced acoustic philosophies in such a way that the total sonority becomes, in a sense, self-shaping. One imagines overlapping dark clouds in constant motion, as before a nasty storm; yet, throughout the program we also perceive the duo’s congenital smartness in not constipating the atmosphere with oppressive heaviness. Ultimately, it’s better to simply live with what is heard without necessarily seeking explanations, or openings to some hypothetical logic.