Saturday, November 4, 2017
DEK Trio – Construct 1: Stone (Catalytic Sound, 2017) ****½
By Gustav Lindqvist
DEK Trio – the latest group with Ken Vandermark, stands for Didi (Kern, drums), Elisabeth (Harnik, piano), Ken (Vandermark, reeds)
Elisabeth Harnik, Austrian born pianist, with quite an impressive CV. She’s studied classical piano and composition (Bachelors and Masters degree), she’s played with Wild Chamber Trio & Plasmic Quartet, to mention a few and is also a lecturer at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.
Drummer Didi Kern (Heaven And, Bulbul, Broken Heart Collector) is a very interesting artist whose percussion style involves all kinds of bells and whistles in addition to his drum set. His work with Markus Krispel and Philipp Quehenberger is highly recommended.
Finally, reedist Ken Vandermark need not an introduction here at FJB. His never-ending output keeps on giving us great music year after year. I’m very happy to see him in this relatively new trio and I’ve got very high hopes to hear more from them in the future.
Construct 1: Stone is, as the title implies, recorded at The Stone in New York. We’ve seen and heard Vandermark at The Stone before at Vandermarks 6 day residence there last year. It was very celebrated here at FJB and rightly so. Now we finally get to listen to what happened on January 8 during that brilliant week of creativity and collaboration.
DEK Trio offers 2 great performances on this album (20 and 24 minutes) and right from the start of the first song ‘Speed Table’ I’m nailed to my lounge chair. Vandermark is of course great but the manic and intense playing by Harnik is what really gets to me first. The first tune has a sense of urgency and forces me to not move a muscle until its done. Harnik keeps rolling out long carpets with an alarmin character. She’s so closely connected to Kern that it’s almost scary. Is this improvised or just practiced down to the very last note?! In any case it is insanely tight. When it’s over I need to re-listen and another time to figure out what’s going on. Harnik and Kern has such a strong connection and Vandermark travels in and out of the music with what I hear as the greatest respect for this spectacular performance, of course without holding back his own expression. Wow!
In the second song ‘Stop The Clocks’, Vandermark presents himself with a slow murmuring sound almost vibrating from a distance. Then Kern joins in and they start to build & construct with bits and pieces sprinkled across the soundstage. Finally, Harnik starts adding chords and notes. They’re searching, looking into different directions but with a constant delivery of dispersed sounds. Eventually it comes together with increased intensity and haste. There’s suddenly a common picture being painted with Kern providing a steady beat to which Vandermark and Harnik works very elegant in sync with an even more increased intensity – especially from Harnik. Of course, it can’t last forever. Vandermark and Harnik fades out leaving Kern to work alone. He’s searching, looking in different directions to find a new way forward. He almost comes to a complete stop with Vandermark providing small screeches and and sounds, turning into a mechanical ticking pulsating in strength and intensity, regular and irregular. The trio comes together in this landscape of moving bits and pieces and delivers a final round, trying to find a way out. Kern leads the way with another steady beat as Vandermark and Harnik joins in. It all fades out and we’re left with scattered notes…and it’s all over.
This is so engaging, and adding this as a seventh album of Vandermark’s “Momentum 1: Stone” makes that box set even better, but all in all it stands very well on its own!
Listen to and pick up the album on Bandcamp here:
See DEK Trio live at chachamaru (set 01) (Baustelle, Graz, from March this year:
Concert with Markus Krispel & Didi Kern & Philipp Quehenberger Trio - Ride Nr. 1 // Live 2016 // A38 Free: