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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Pierre-Yves Martel & Philip Zoubek - Otherwise (Insub, 2018) ****

By Stef

The album cover art depicts a car on the edge of a surface collapse. It still has some chances, but not much. It is unclear what will happen or even whether anything will happen. At the same time, there is a strange beauty to be found in the picture. The uniformity of the color, the contrast between the white of the snow and the darkness of the earth. Both the story (will the car fall?) as the aethetics (white vs dark harmonised in a green sheen) present an inherent tension. As a viewer, your attention is captivated and you are left with a big question mark.

The same can be said of this music. Carl Ludwig Hübsch plays tuba, objects and pitch pipes, Pierre-Yves Martel plays viola da gamba, pitch pipes and synthesizer, and Philip Zoubek plays piano and synthesizer. It is their third album, and it is powerful in a quiet way. The three artists create a wonderful sonic environment that is both menacing and calming, it builds tension but it's at the same time strangely harmonious. The combination of piano, tuba and viola is as unusual as it is effective: rhythms are fragmented yet implicitly present, minute tones are stretched and contrasted with the deep resonance of the tuba and the high voice of the viola.

Like their other albums - "June 16" (2013) and "Drought" (2016) - the collective improvisation is tight and I would even say that it has become more subtle and precise. On the second track (of two) they use synthesisers to create a backdrop of changing and oscillating noise. Purists may cringe at the thought, but I encourage them to listen with an open mind. It works, and it increases the intensity of the piece, adding darkness and sonic density.

Listen and be captivated.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.



Richard said...

I haven't picked this up yet, but I highly recommend two earlier albums also on Pierre-Yves Martel's website, "tse" and "drought", the second of which has this same line-up. I think Martel is doing great work, and he's a pleasure to watch live.