CD Reviews

Monday 10th October

October 11, 2011

A CD of improvised music tonight recorded in 2010, partly in Argentina and partly in Chile. It is great to be able to say that the days in which I would have been surprised to have received such a thing have long gone and that improv is now thriving in most parts of the world. The disc is a new release, in lovely packaging on the Three Chairs Recordings label, run by the trumpeter Leonel Kaplan, who appears on this release in a trio alongside Christof Kurzmann (lloopp laptop) and Edén Carrasco (alto sax). The album is named Una Casa / Obervatorio after the two sites at which it was recorded, with a track apiece captured at somewhere named Una.Casa in Buenos Aries and likewise somewhere named Observatorio Lastarria in Santiago.

Christof Kurzmann seems to be a relatively frequent visitor to South America, and my perception is that he has done a lot to help promote and support the music on that continent. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of his music. I have never been entirely sure why, though his turn towards melody every so often and the sometimes quirky use of samples are a couple of things that have put me off. I am very pleased then that his contributions here really work well alongside the trumpet and sax. These two pieces, each lasting less than twenty-five minutes are straight down the line improv meetings, but they straddle the borders between different approaches to the music nicely, with a lot of extended technique coming from Kaplan and Carrasco and Kurzmann staying primarily with electronic, bleeping, buzzing and fizzing sounds, with the more oddball fits and starts kept to a minimum. The combination here works really well, setting up the musicians nicely to be able to wrap their contraptions around one another’s- all three instruments just about identifiable and yet complimenting each other nicely.

As with all good improvisation, the joy of tho music comes through the interplay between the trio. While they don’t leave a lot of blank space not he canvas they also keep things quite slow, and work mostly with textures piled upon one another rather than letting the music form any kind of horizontal adrenalin. If the moniker Electroacoustic Improvisation was ever likely to fit well with one CD, it may well be this one, simply because the blend of sounds is entirely electroacoustic, with the ear often tricked into thinking that a sax or trumpet sound may come from the laptop, or vice versa. From the outset of the opening Argentinian recording a trumpet (I think) sound can be heard that at first glance could just as easily be a twisted laptop sample. Its testament to the excellent understanding between these three musicians that the music feels thoroughly organic and that the separate instrumental parts all seem to fold together. there are three distinct musical personalities here and yet this isn’t noticeable- they all seem to be combined together towards a single musical goal. When the music gathers here and there into more dramatic, busier sections there is a tension to be heard, but in quieter moments the overall feeling from the music is one of harmony and collective agreement, though Kurzmann in particular keeps enough surprise and variety in his sounds and their placement to stop the music from slipping into anything predictable. The three musicians know their instruments inside out, can produce any section of their palette at a whim, and so are able to concentrate on developing the music itself rather than worry about particular sounds.

I’m not sure what else there is to add. This is just really enjoyable, engaging improvisation that is a pleasure to listen to and become involved with. Its a disc that should appeal to all sections of the improv listening audience, never going close to reductionism, but also steering clear from call-and-response chatter. An all-round very pleasing, exceptionally well made package. Buy it here.

Comments (2)

  • simon reynell

    October 11, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I agree: this is a lovely disc.

  • lukaz

    October 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    good record to my ears also, got it from Christof when he was staying in my place recently (and he did a very good duo improv recording on the radio w Slovene vocalist Irena Tomažin, something between aso and schnee). Christof indeed spends a lot of time in S. America and has done a lot of the work to promote and shed the light on some exellent musicians there. Part of his work encouraged me to do No Hermans Carrasco and Berlin- Buenos Aires Quintet (w a little help from Lucio Capece of course:)). He has two albums coming up which will for sure divide some ears in different camps of improv … to give a bit of selfpromo you can listen to ‘Una Casa’ today at 21.30 CET on Radio Å tudent here:

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