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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Looper - Matter (MonotypeRec, 2013) ****½

Reviewed by Joe

Ingar Zach, Martin Küchen and Nikos Veliotis make up the trio known as Looper. If I've read correctly this is their 4th album together - which includes an album in collaboration with UK pianist John Tilbury. To call this music understated would be an understatement! Being very minimal I ended up listening on headphones to make sure that I was indeed listening to the record, and not the ambient sounds around me. It is certainly a music which needs your whole attention, probaby the perfect record for very early in the morning, or last thing at night when surrounding world sound is at its lowest. 

Minimal music (*) such as this is always an interesting listen I find. The musicians create an intimate sound world that needs attention, a little like someone who speaks softly whilst explaining something, it would be interesting to hear/see how music such as this works live. The detail the three musicians put into each piece is fascinating, and also very delicate. Although it's difficult to pin-point exact instruments Ingar Zach's soft bass drum, or the fluttering of Küchen's saxophone pads clearly come through from time to time. The cello of Nikos Veliotis like his role in the drone string trio of "Mohammed" is somewhere within the sound of the ensemble, but trying to identify it may be more difficult. On "In Flamen" (tk2) I found myself comparing the sound of the trio to that echoing through the corridors and passages of the London Underground, a sort of fully realised ambient live performance. Everything is slightly blurred, yet you clearly hear all the details.  

Another very interesting point in the music is the amount of rhythmical detail the trio creates. Track three "Alignment", like "Slow" (tk1), uses very subtle - I guess - saxophone key noise to create a sort of clickerty-clack (not unlike a train track) helping the music have a sort of subliminal rhythm. The only piece on the record that is louder than a whisper is the last piece, a sort of electronic drone "Our Meal" (tk4). Here, sounding like an oscillator orchestra, you get different frequencies rubbing together to create a crescendo. We hear the sounds of overblown sax, bowed/rubbed glasses, percussion clicks, cymbal sounds and ..?.. all played and mixed into a highly charged industrial soundscape. This final piece is well placed after all the delicate sounds beforehand, releasing the listener from the previous pieces which have up until now been like listening to the delicate sound of snow falling in the night.

Highly recommended!

p.s. Released on a vinyl LP, and you can find a copy at  

*= As an example check out Another Timbre's catalogue for an excellent representation of what you can do with modern minimalism.