CD Reviews

Saturday 20th August

August 21, 2011

Ah improvisation- the fire, the passion, the discussion, the coming together of personalities. No matter how unoriginal or otherwise a recording of improvised music may turn out to be, in my opinion no other music is as alive and vibrant as regularly. Each CD that I receive, however generic, if I really spend time with it gives me something of value back. Tonight I’ve listened through a number of times to a new disc by the pairing of Michel Doneda (alto and soprano sax) and Jonas Kocher (accordion and objects) called Action Mecanique. The disc captures (very clearly and lovingly) one of several live performances the duo gave in late 2009, this gig in particular was in Sofia, Bulgaria.

While it would be fair to say that both musicians here (both favourites of mine) use a degree of extended technique when playing, they also are simply taking the range of sounds at their disposal and using them to wrap around those of their colleague to create music that ripples and bulges as it slips and slides. This is thoroughly physical music. In many places Action Mecanique roars and burns full of an anergy that feels almost spiteful, even violent at times. The tussles between the duo have a ruggedly sharp edge. The music puts the image of cars being crushed into small balls at a wrecking yard in my head, full of scrapes and crashes and bangs as well as smaller dragging textures, hisses and squeaks. The sax is the most recognisable of the two instruments. Listening closely I cannot picture in my head how Kocher makes a good proportion of his sounds. Alongside the predictable squeals and wheezes of an accordion are hums and crashes and rubbing sounds that say nothing about the tradition of the instrument. None of this matters much though. If I was at the concert I’d probably be cursing myself for being more wrapped up in how the sounds are made than enjoying how they all fit together. Listening blind here pushes everything in to the abstract. I picture the crushed cars, the stacked up bronzes of Brancusi, the delicate lines of Hepworth, the amorphous bulges of Moore, for some reason sculpture rather than painting, perhaps something about the physicality of this record, its muscularity, sense of form and surface rather than colour and lighting.

The CD is the first release on Kocher’s own Flexion Records label, and comes wrapped in a sleeve made of grey sandpaper, again not an original idea but one that represents this disc nicely, tactile, abrasive, and full of attitude. This disc is issued in a run of just 160 copies and will be made available as a free download once these have sold. This is the kind of disc that won’t get mentioned that often, won’t be considered trendy and is likely to disappear amongst the crowds relatively quickly. It really shouldn’t though as its a fine listen that, to me at least, really grabs you and pulls you in. If you give it your attention it will reward in return. I had a lot of fun with this CD tonight and would thoroughly recommend it.

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