Recorded live in 2016 (though any ancillary or crowd noise seems to have been edited out in post-production), this quartet of world-weary improvisors came together to let loose upon their unsuspecting onlookers two performances of roughly twenty-six and seven minutes plus, and simultaneously beg any number of pertinent questions. How has this form of sonic communication/sound art evolved? Should it indeed 'evolve'? Is the very nature of this particular 'style' content with often being mere genre music? Is it 'music' at all? And aside from the few who bore witness to this live exhibition, what do the majority of us come away with, not being able to attend the gig in person, after experiencing it at home sans the visual/environmental accoutrements?
Listening to this in the comfort of one's own headspace, perhaps it is the last question that truly defines both this recording and the genre at large. Let's face it: veritable mountains of plastic have been forged these last few decades alone to initialize the vast catalog of EAI that props up shelves across the globe, and labels such as Creative Sources have been instrumental in moving such mountains. Yet there's a lack of elasticity to albums like Kletka that have not held the idiom in good stead. True, the players on hand are no slouches: Belorukov can hold his own amongst any number of competing preparatory saxophonists of his generation; Liedwart's facility with the generative software ppooll is acute and quite well-known; newcomer Moimeme can massage his frets and objects in the best post-Rowe tradition; and label honcho Rodrigues ploughs a seemingly limitless furrow of ideas from his hoary and twisted viola strings. (Not that each individual's contributions are easy to discern in the resultant morass; the collective's approach is ever-subservient to the whole.) The sounds erected by the quartet check all the right boxes: it's all tensile, tense, textural. But the collage of noisemakers often lose the plot, the random sounds only intermittently coalesce, and what emerges is often problematic within the 'squeaky improv' these four mine: liminal, lowercase happenstances that amount to little more than episodic charges untethered to any kind of central idea. It's all presentation, and taken out of the live context, doesn't amount to the most visceral of half-hours.
It must be emphasized that the performers involved demonstrate an obvious alacrity with their chosen instruments; how they choose to use them, and what results during the execution, remains the sole yardstick against which the listener measures. Kletka is surely competent, but its pedestrian design scheme seems too by-the-numbers, redolent of so many like-sounding gatherings past it's very efficacy is called into question. Not necessarily the evolution one aspires to.
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