Wednesday 1st February

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Just about time tonight to squeeze a brief review in then, brief because I don’t have much time to write it, but also because I’m a little short of words to describe this one. Its something of a challenge to me, being a solo percussive album that references all kinds of music that I am not that familiar with, as well as touching on some really nice areas that I am. The disc is a recent release on the Polish Mathka label named Un, by the Kraków based improvising percussionist Tomek Choloniewski.

There are five tracks here, all quite brief as the release only clocks in at nineteen minutes in total. the title of each playing with elements of the word Untitled. the opening Unit begins things nicely, a kind of semi-subdued exploration of soft bell like sounds, none really with extended decay, but gentle enough sounds to portray a kind of warm, glowing feel. The playing is relatively active, certainly not sparse, but also not as frantic as it gets elsewhere on the disc. The second track, Untitled is a very different affair, a teeming, tumble of  expressive drumming accompanied by partly muted yelps and shouts from Choloniewski. This track sounds like traditional jazzy drum soloing to me, and I like it, though it succeeds mostly through its brevity and explosive impact. With a little more than a minute left of the piece, the first showing of a degree of overdubbing appears, as a deep bass rhythm is played back, but reversed, so a very simple, mechanically obvious but also quite effective element accompanies the live playing to give it all a sense of driven urgency.

My favourite track is the piece that follows. Untilted lasts just three minutes but is quite lovely. Bowed and struck metals wrap around one another with a beautiful sense of space and timing, getting gradually more varied and agitated as the track moves to its end. I am obviously reminded of Eddie Prévost in places, but the somewhat fraught dying seconds sound thoroughly original. An entire album like this piece would have been great to my ears. Unlike the fourth track, United, which opens with more backmasked percussion, it extends out into an incessant rain shower of hard strikes at what sounds like cowbells, then more reversed sounds and a closing blur of bassy drumming. This piece sounds the most aggressive and simplistic to me here. The album closes with Unlitted, initially a much calmer affair in which a slowly revolving sound, perhaps made by rubbing something in circular motion around a drumskin is penetrated every so often by little intrusions of assorted percussion, and then another flaying improvisation appears, just for a minute or so before it cuts dead and ends the album somewhat unceremoniously.

An intriguing little EP then, really nice in places, less inspiring elsewhere. At its strong points the likes of Prévost, Mark Sanders and Le Quan Ninh spring to mind, all quite different musicians, but then this is quite a varied album. While I like the way each of the tracks is quite short, little vignettes of expression, I would have liked to have heard a lot more of them, and could easily have enjoyed three times as much music, particularly if the depth of variation could have been continued further. Still, a nice one of roans of improv percussion for sure.

 

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