Thursday 8th MarchMarch 9, 2012
I have been admirer of the work of Tim Blechmann, the German (but long time resident of Vienna) laptop improviser and very much enjoyed the CD he released a few years back on the L’innomable label as one half of the duo Taus alongside Klaus Filip, also from Vienna, and also a laptop improviser. I was then, exceptionally pleased to hear that the duo were to release their second album on the Another Timbre label. Pinna is that album, a fifty minute long unedited live set recorded in July 2010. Both of these musicians have always impressed me for their singular, very focussed vision for their music. Both work with a very minimal palette, Blechmann usually with a finely tuned array of muted grey fields of fuzzy white noise, Filip most commonly with sinetones. They both also are completely comfortable with the technology they use and their music is rooted entirely in the discourse of the laptop as instrument. They make no attempt to mimic other instruments or to throw firework displays of technological possibility. For me both of these musicians utilise a methodology in their playing as simple as someone like Radu Malfatti (with whom Filip regularly plays) or Sean Meehan. They make powerful music with very simple gestures.
From the outset of Pinna another key element to the work of these two is apparent, the presence and feel of the room in which they perform. I had never managed to see Blechmann play live, though have seen Filip a few times, but both musicians I think it is fair to say seem to feed off of the tone of the room around them. Their music seems to grow out of the hum of air conditioning, the murmur of an audience trying to be quiet, the city outside of the recording space, the murky, featureless detritus that we leave behind as a human race. The first hiss of Blechmann, the first honeyed swell of Filip rise out that familiar sound of a hushed concert space, the early sounds they make, at very low volume and almost inseparable from the sounds of the room. The duo’s sound grows into a dense swell, as happens often throughout the album, but somehow dissipates in ways that seem almost imperceptible. One minute we are hearing a deep grey rumble and a rich tone, the next both have slipped to vitally nothing, or Blechmann has moved to small, nearly inaudible prickly sounds and Filip’s glassy tones may had become transparent. The music is constantly shifting, glacially slow, to the point that when things disappear you don’t notice, and often only when there are sudden dilations of the sound as one or the other musician might expand their contribution. Brilliantly, in an interview with Tim Blechmann for the Another Timbre website, Simon Reynell describes the pace of the music as “like waiting for New Zealand to bump into Chile”. Despite the way the music seems to become a natural, if very gradual flow out of the environment the interplay between the two is still apparent, and there is a tension to the way the two sounds come together, often mushrooming together into deathly slow motion drama. Listening closely to the music, the interconnections between the two musicians, as I have quite often over the past week or so is greatly rewarding, you can get lost in the clouds of grainy tone or you can follow their threads through each other and hear them as two conversing voices.
Pinna is great. It appeals so closely to my own personal preferences in music, a lightness of touch, a sense of restraint rather than busyness, the strands of musical conversation left open on the surface and yet all done with an understated humility. The inside sleeve of what is maybe the nicest example of Another Timbre packaging yet also sums it up, a dense mass of scribbled lines, at first seemingly chaotic, but at closer inspection neatly distributed and containing some sense of order, albeit perhaps only a perceived one. Lovely, lovely music then.