Wednesday, August 11, 2010
AMM - Sounding Music (Matchless, 2010) *****
Can you imagine a band consisting of two pianos, saxophone, cello and percussion to sound like a breeze? Add melodica and bass guitar and the end result is a fifty-one minute whisper? Imagine a soundscape that is made of icy fragility, full of surface tension an invisible undercurrents? You can sense it and feel it, but you can't touch it? It's so abstract it becomes concrete?
This can only be achieved by the masters of the genre: John Butcher on tenor & soprano saxophones, Ute Kanngiesser on cello, Eddie Prévost on percussion, John Tilbury on piano, and Christian Wolff on piano, bass guitar and melodica.
Please forget about those instruments. They do not sound as you expect them to sound. They sound different. You do not actually hear piano, sax, percussion or cello.
Also forget about the individual voice of an instrument. You do not hear them as separate instruments. You get a total sound, built up from layers of incomplete sounds, creating something new, something unheard, of ethereal beauty, with no hurry, no sense of urgency, just the slow development of sound, minimal, gliding through silence, delivered with uncanny restraint and control, yet full of suspense, with little moments of recognition : a piano key, the slow release of air through a horn, the sizzling of a cymbal, the pain of a bowed string, a single melodica note, trickling through the overall sound, whose volume swells and shrinks like the coming and going of waves.
It would be boring if it was not so superb. But like most great music, it is full of paradoxes : it is the soundtrack to a nightmare, yet equally inviting, it is relaxing and nerve-wracking, industrial and spiritual, soothing and scary ... it is one long piece, but I was disappointed that it ended so soon.