CD Reviews

Thursday 14th January

January 15, 2010

MillI’ll try and keep tonight’s post brief as I am away for a long weekend with Julie in the morning and I have a lot to do before then. I don’t seem to have the time to do anything right now, but the break away from music and this computer will do me good I think. I’m not sure how I am going to post for the next couple of days, or how I am going to manage to do so, but I will see what I can do. If posts do not appear then I will catch up and put them up at a later date. We shall see.

I have been listening to one CD today, or CDr to be precise. It is one of the clutch of new archive releases put out by Cor Fuhler a few weeks back on his Conundrom label. This one is titled Mill and is a 1997 recording of an improvisation in a church by Fuhler alongside Misha Mendelberg abd Michiel Scheen. The three of them play assorted organs, a harmonium, a hammond organ, a choir organ and a church organ. I know, that is four organs and three musicians, but I don’t know who plays what or who plays two instruments. The recording is also so much unlike anything I have heard from Cor before that I can’t recognise his playing in there at all.

Listening to this and trying to evaluate its pros and cons, and actually just trying to work out if I like it or not is really difficult. As a wrote a week or so back when reviewing the jean-Luc Guionnet album, it is hard to disconnect the sound of a church organ from the history its sound is shrouded in. This is partly the case here, but the added sound of smaller less dense organ sounds in the mix break up the traditional feel of the music. The thing is, if this doesn’t sound like traditional organ music (which it doesn’t) I’m really unsure what it could otherwise be described as. The music is indeed improvised, I think that much is definite, but it does not sound like Improvised Music as such. The usual way that improv works, the to and ‘fro, call and response doesn’t seem to be there, and if anything the music resembles more three people playing organs separate from one another, perhaps not listening to one another in the normal improv manner. I say this because the music does not seem to gel as we might normally expect, it all sounds oddly chaotic, in quite a good way, hard to get a handle on when listening, just about impossible to relate to anything else I have ever heard. There are very few extended sounds, no real drones as such, lots of short jabbing notes, sudden attacks, wild, warbling jazzy lines and little bits of melody. While there are some soft, gentle moments where things drift towards the beautiful (the latter stages of the third track springs to mind) the music on Mill is generally very angular, jerky and hard to pin down. The seventh track, titled Kaaskop might be my favourite however, a mix of tumultuous church organ crashes separated by quiet little noodling parts. The loud sections in particular sound amazing played up high through full speakers into the room.

So its hard for me to say if I found this album enjoyable. I found it difficult to connect with, and something of a challenge to say the least, and so the experience of wrestling with it has certainly been good. Turned up loud it certainly has a degree of majesty about it, a sense of place. It is recorded in a resonant church in front of an audience, and I think every so often footsteps can be heard, as if a musician is walking from one organ to another. Certainly the two large organs here sound spaced far apart. It is an enjoyable challenge then, something to really  sit and listen to carefully to try and fathom it out, but ultimately I guess I struggled to take a lot from Mill beyond the experience of something very different. I’m not sure I know who to recommend this one too either, such is its individuality. If the idea of rampant free improv played on assorted organs in a big echoey space appeals to you then I guess this album is for you! Cor, if you read this, what instrument are you playing here? I suspect the hammond, but I may be wrong?

Great handmade cover as ever though.

Comments (4)

  • Cornelis

    January 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Hi Richard!

    We all played all keyboards (exept Misha didn’t play the grand organ), the footsteps is indeed us going from one to the other.
    I can’t remember anymore who played what, exept a few moments….
    (I did the loud hammnd bits towards the end, Michiel did the Bach reference somewhere, that jazzy ballady thing was me choir organ and Misha harmonium etc, not very helpfull info I think….)

    The reason I put it out, was the oddity of it. Before I move to Oz I wanted to either throw it away or make like 10 copies for the weird people that might be interested.

    Thanks for taking the time
    have a good weekend!

    (oh, and anyone interested, you can get it at Erstdist:

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Aha, so that explains even further why it all sounds like such a mixture of different musical voices if you all switched instruments. Also might explain why I couldn’t trace your playing very easily!

    I am sure there are far more than ten of us weird people out there that would be interested. There are aren’t here? Aren’t there?!

    Thanks so much for sending the music Cor, deeply appreciated as always.

  • jon abbey

    January 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Cor’s above link has an extra parenthesis on the end, but should work.

    and ten seems about right so far, maybe twenty in the end. I haven’t played this one myself as of yet.

  • Massimo Magee

    January 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    well it certainly sounds interesting to me!

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