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Friday, July 14, 2017

Blindflug - Without Doubt (Self Produced, 2017) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

Blindflug (blind flight in German) is the new trio of American, Tübingen-based vocal artist Lauren Newton, known for her ongoing collaborations with innovative improvisers like double bass masters Joëlle Léandre and Tetsu Saitoh and composer and reeds player Anthony Braxton, with young Swiss reeds player Sebastian Strinning, who collaborates with drummer Gerry Hemingway in a new trio, and drummer Emanuel Künzi. The trio's debut album was recorded live at Jazz Ghet Baden in Baden, Switzerland, and at a Swiss studio during 2016.

The title of this album, Without Doubt, captures faithfully the atmosphere of this set of free improvisation. Newton sets the tone with her imaginative stream of wordless vocalization that deconstructs and reconstructs, again and again, any common syntax, offering enough room for Strinning and Künzi to contribute colorful sounds until all three form a fragile, sometimes turbulent texture. On “Ways”, she suggests a brilliant interpretation to Strinning extended breathing techniques and Künzi fragmented percussive sounds, forming an enigmatic narrative, deciphered even deeper with her intuitive language. “Sphärischefische” (spherical fish in German) is a fantastic game-like play with language and sounds. Newton juggles with the title phonetic syllables, morphing it constantly until it becomes totally unintelligible and having its own volition and rhythmic drive, but sometimes sounding similar (or not) to other German words as “creative”, “heavy”, “research” or even “Hellenism”.

The studio pieces, “Baden Part I-IV” focus on extended, yet more abstract and free-associative sonic searches. The last one is the most playful one. Newton plays with the German word “kuh” (cow), charging the beast noun with surprising, new nuances, while Strinning and Künzi add the sounds of a hyperactive, vocal cow with a resonant cowbell. These improvisations suggest an egalitarian dynamics that cements the organic, fearless interplay of this trio, always delivered with an arresting sense of elegance and reserve.

Blindflug may not be headed to any known, chartered destination but Newton, Strinning and Künzi collective flight offer many magnificent sonic visions.