CD Reviews

Tuesday 14th July

July 14, 2009

OK I won’t start tonight’s post with a moan about anything. The problem is, if I don’t do that then I don’t know how to start a post otherwise. Hmm. Some more from Creative Sources tonight, and a disc released late last year on the label called 3:1 by the trio of Mazen Kerbaj, (trumpet) Birgit Uhler, (trumpet) and Sharif Sehnaoui (acoustic guitar). After last night’s disc, a buzzing, busy example of good improvised music here is another, but instead of the mass of insect-like clicks and pops and rattles that often characterise this end of the music 3:1 is more mollusc-like drags and scrawls and splutters. No criticism intended there, 3:1 is a pretty good release, but its sound world, whilst constantly quite busy revolves more around breathy, squelchy trumpet sounds, which naturally blend together more easily than other, cleaner-cut instruments. Kerbaj and Uhler, while both using quite individual appraoches can often be hard to tell apart here, but this doesn’t matter. they work primarily with noteless blasts of air and murmured gurgles. Sehnaoui attacks his acoustic guitar with a variety of objects ranging from metal files to sticks and stones, his input leaning more towards a kind of textural percussion than any traditional guitar sound. Certainly the strings don’t appear to be plucked or strummed at any point.

There are six shortish tracks on 3:1, amusingly named 0:0, 1:0, 2:0, half-time, 2:1 and 3:1. Each is a complete piece in its own right, a little miniature exploration of the three musician’s work, each subtly different, with different sounds coming to the fore in each. The album was recorded in Uhler’s flat in Hamburg back in 2006 presumably without any audience present, and this shows here as there is an intimacy to the music that occasionally begins to drift towards quieter territory. The eight minute long 2:1 for instance gradually shifts into a strange series of little pneumatic drill like sounds produced by Sehanaoui and one of the trumpeters simultaneously, at one point threatening to collapse in on itself before speeding up a little and stretching the same sound sound further into a choir of woodpeckers with sore throats.

In places things the trio do slightly tread water, going over obvious or similar ground here and there, but the tendency for each track to work in a different area of sound stops any such thing lasting for too long. The pieces are all of a nice length, just long enough for the musicians to work through one area of their sound fully before moving on. The last track might be my favourite, beginning with quite a loud, earthy drone with Sehnhaoui bowing the guitar and creating the most tonal sounds of the album before breaking down into a series of hisses and slithers that eventually become an almost humorous interchange of brief squawks and belches for a few seconds at the end. A game of two equal halves then with an exciting ending. Quite an easy victory when all is said and done, but one wonders if that last goal had gone the other way would I still be sat here now listening to a dramatic penalty shoot-out…

Regarding the large pile of Creative Sources releases I was sent earlier this year, I must now have listened carefully to six or seven of them, and in general, while I may not have heard the release of the year amongst them so far I have certainly heard more winners than losers. To be fair, for the last few reviews I have picked out discs I thought i might like more than others, so perhaps what remains will inspire me less, but on what I have heard so far I’d say that Creative Sources are doing well and the negative press they seem to get quite often is undeserved.

Comments (2)

  • Massimo Ricci

    July 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    “the negative press they seem to get quite often is undeserved”

    I thoroughly agree, Richard – especially when it comes from people who listen to 5% – or less – of the releases, probably one time, perhaps distractly.

    BTW – did you hear about the swine ebola virus in the Philippines? Pharmaceutic industry honchos licking their fingers all over the world…

  • Richard Pinnell

    July 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Agreed Massimo. However I can understand why people find the CS catalogue daunting and often don’t go near it… it is huge and many of the names are unfamiliar, so I can see why people wouldn’t spend money taking risks, which is why reviews are important. I completely agree though that if someone has not listened to much of their output they have right to comment on it.

    Regarding swine flu, I still have a few friends in the pharmaceutical industry and I spoke to one this last weekend. Apparently the business is frantically scrabbling around right now to find ways to maximise the potential profits, and there are a number of “anti-flu” products about to hit the market, which obviously are a waste of space. There is in fact a secret regular update sent out by the UK government to pharmacy companies detailing the risk of any forthcoming flu epidemics. It has existed for years, and is designed to advise companies on how much stock they should hold of flu-jabs etc… because they go out of date. In reality though the report is just used as a tool for predicting profits and working out ways to stockpile any resources that are in short supply so that rivals don’t get them.

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