An all-star quintet culled from contemporary improvisers gathered together, one hopes for a while, to perform composed work. Here there are two pieces by Beins and one each from Wolfarth and Zach but if the ensemble continues, we might look forward to spreading out the repertoire to include work from non-affiliated composers.
Needless to say, the arsenal of instrumentation at hand is rather vast, though it doesn't include any electronics that this listener can detect. More to the point, the pieces are clearly compositions, not improvisations (although one imagines some degree of leniency in the scores on that point) which is a refreshing tack. Wolfarth's "Glück" is a robust, rollicking work that, following a bowed metal prelude which ends with some wonderfully rich and harsh stroking, launches into a furious deep percussion mode more reminiscent of Xenakis than free improvisation. It's more to do with timbral relationships than rhythm as such but creates quite a forceful and fascinating sound world, propelling one along through its roiling cascade and darkly rubbed surfaces. This listener found it far more engaging than most of the recordings Wolfarth has released as a solo performer. Beins' brief "Adapt/Oppose 14/1-A" offsets bowed, squeaky sounds with consistently struck metal and bass drum, very effective, leading to washes of cymbals, a very strong build-sustain-collapse picture.
Going into such a project and having heard hundreds of free percussionists over the years, the seasoned listener might have something of a fear of excessive metal-bowing, not unreasonably as it certainly can be an overused device. On the other hand, it's one of the principal means of prolonging duration for such musicians. Here, it's generally handled well, and doesn't become overbearing. Ingar Zach's "Floaters" makes the most consistent use of this approach. As the title implies, it's more of a steady-state work, each subsection being largely self-similar. Initial low rumblings giving way to lengthy stretches of bowed metals, done with enough concentration and focus to allay any worries about overindulgence, though its drone-y nature may test the patience of some. It reverts to the rumbles for the last section. The second part of Beins' work ("14/1-B") opens with a fine clatter but the piece shifts rapidly back and forth between methods of attack, from dry rubbings to keening bowed tones and more. It's something of a collage piece but hangs together well enough, avoiding any piecemeal character, very enjoyable.
As mentioned above, I hope this quintet stays together and expands its repertoire. The results could be pretty fantastic.
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