Boris Hauf - Next Delusion (Clean Feed, 2012) ****
Berlin based saxophonist Boris Hauf creates some unusual music, synthetic of several modern styles, regardless of genre, combining jazz with noise, minimalism and electro-acoustic musings. On "Next Delusion" he is accompanied by Keefe Jackson on tenor sax and contrabass clarinet, Jason Stein on bass clarinet and the triple percussion line-up of Frank Rosaly, Steven Hess, and Michael Hartman on drums.
As the cover art illustrates, this is not exactly music for birthday parties, offering the combined sound of resigned desperation, sadness and doom. The first track evolves quite monotonously in the literal sense, with increasing volume and intensity. The second track starts without percussion, with the three saxes playing slow subtle harmonic shifts, to be suddenly interrupted by a triple percussion outburst, then gradually both conflicting approaches overlap and end in harmony. On "Fame And Riches", the mood is black again, with Hess's electronics adding to the eery atmosphere of low-toned unison lines. The album ends with a rhythm-less free-for-all in which saxes and percussion explore chaos, broken by sustained and very long rumbling of the drums, finishing in an orchestrated repetitive and rhythmic fashion.
There are moments when you wonder about the actual substance of what you've just heard. But then, it's so intriguing you want to listen again. And that feeling does not go away. What is happening here? Possibly a strange and not unpleasant kind of disorientation. And somehow that is what we like.
Boris Hauf - Proxemics (Creative Sources, 2011) ****
On Proxemics, released almost simultaneously with the other album, we find Hauf back in the company of Steven Hess on drums and electronics, Keefe Jackson on contrabass clarinet and tenor sax, and Juun on piano.
Even if the overall atmosphere is as dark as on "Next Delusion", the touch is lighter, possibly because there is no real percussive sound, more transparent, more open. The minimalism is quite strong, with long single-toned lines, somehow a little flexed to increase intensity and with powerful interaction between the four musicians : slow, feeding off each other, adding a touch here and there, building the fragile pieces with caution. Despite the linear minimalism, the music remains highly unpredictable, full of mystery and tension.
Juun's piano adds a lot, from percussive moments, over scraping sounds and harp-like playing to real piano phrases, even if repetitive. On the last track Hauf plays harmonium, laying a sonic foundation for the whole piece, which in a way evolves differently, with the various instruments, and especially the saxes playing actual phrases, creating a crisp and bright ending to an excellent album.
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