CD Reviews

Monday 21st May

May 22, 2012

Very late tonight as I start to write, so excuse me if this post is a little short. A spot of brevity will probably do me some good anyway. Tonight’s disc is a Cdr on the Ilse label named 9 times 5 by the quintet of Bruno DuPlant, Lee Noyes, Anders Dahl, Christian Munthe and Massimo Magee, musicians spread around the globe, from France, New Zealand, Sweden (twice) and Australia respectively. The release is another example of how music can be put together via internet file exchanges, and in this case involves the five group members recording their own individual responses to a graphic score ¬†created by Duplant. There is no indication towards instrumentation given, but certainly there is a bass in there (Duplant one assumes), percussion of some kind (Noyes?) , electronics (Dahl) and acoustic guitar (Munthe) and I am not sure what Magee’s contribution this time might be, his ability to switch nutriments frequently making it difficult to pin him down, though someone here is playing a piano…

The music is actually really good, the kind of thing that this sort of internet collaboration seems particularly good for. i don’t know for sure how the disc was compiled, but I would guess that each of the five musicians recorded their own response to the score, with the five tracks then superimposed to make the final work. One surprising thing about the release is that it all sounds very crisp and clear. Often when five separate recording set-ups are used and then combined the different tracks may each have a particular colour and character of their own, so upsetting the balance of the whole a little, but really the different instruments here all sound like they were recorded in the same room, which is a credit to both the amount of care taken over the project by the musicians and whoever did the final mastering. The score consists of time frames in which very simple diagrams are placed, things like zig-zagging lines or rough spirals, basic stuff but enough to give the musicians a rough outline for their contributions. The score also requests the musicians to respect the ideas of space and silence and never play loud. These last instructions help the music stay uncluttered throughout, with just a few short parts appearing where so much happens that it becomes difficult to separate the different musicians’ sounds. With the exception of the call of a chicken which can be heard at one point (I will guess a resident of Anders Dahl’s farm caught by mistake by the recording and left in deliberately?) the sounds are all low key but often quite edgy and fidgety, with brittle little pops and scrapes coming and going frequently, rarely from the same source in quick succession, with a nice feeling of tension building up through the way the different sounds interact with one another, even though in theory the way they fall together is to some degree down to chance, Duplant’s score allowing.

So its all a gritty, crunchy little affair with a really nice balance of vaguely similar and yet each individual sounds. Dahl’s whistling feedback mixes nicely with more incidental parts from the others, and the combination of instruments generally works well all round, complimenting each other rather than fighting for the same ground. Most interestingly though, it all combines really well, and the interactions between the five musicians seem alive and relevant. While I think I may well have identified this work as a scored piece rather than an improvisation, I would certainly not have doubted that the musicians might have all been in the same room together. The quality mastering helps here, but the way the sounds all combine do not suggest randomised collaborations. Clearly the score pulls the musicians together to some degree, but also some good consideration has gone into which sounds each musician might contribute. This is, I suspect a neatly controlled, well planned work, allowing the best to be drawn out of the five musicians, even though I think few of them had met before the recording, and I suspect probably haven’t since. A very nice release indeed then, tight, acute music with a fair amount of restraint surrounding the busy little twists and turns. Available here¬†with very nice cover images too.

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