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Monday, January 10, 2022

Brgs – Breakfast With Cardew (Zvocni Prepihi, 2021) ***½

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Cornelious Cardew was a very important figure for the avant-garde and experimental music of the 1960’s and 70’s. From his controversial attack against Stockhausen (well, I definitely agree with him on that), through the radical experiments of AMM, the Scrarch Orchestra, up to his solo work, being a militant for the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) and until his tragic death, his output was always controversial. His biggest legacy, probably, is that still his work and written thoughts provoke debates and are open to new representations.

I’m not familiar with the work of Jaka Berger and this fact, many times, can be of a benefit when writing a review. I have no certain expectations, no preconceived ideas about what I’m going to listen to. That suits tremendously Treatise (a graphic score by Cardew), I guess, a work that has improvisation and openness at its very core.

Berger (a.k.a. Brgs) utilizes a lot of audio sources to achieve what he had in mind –or, maybe, to improvise and see where his original ideas were taking him. Various objects, string boxes, a prepared snare drum, a modular synth and feedback speakers. Berger, I believe, tried to find a balance between timbre and texture, percussive elements and melody. His interpretation covers some of the pages from Treatise and not the whole work. This allows the CD to feel fragmental and totally personal at the same time.

Using all the aforementioned sound sources, Berger tends to resolve into a lot of rhythmic structures, taking advantage of the percussive nature many of them have. But it would be an oversimplification to say that rhythmology forms the basis of Breakfast With Cardew. Being such an open work (with graphic notations I must remind you) it is easy for every interpreter to get lost, or in other words to make it more his own than “Cardew’s”. The nature of Treatise is exactly what allows for works like Breakfast With Cardew to be called solo efforts and not (even) interpretations of existing scores. As Treatise balances successfully between improvisation and the written (whatever that is) language of a composer, it makes possible for a new gaze at the old picture.

Breakfast With Cardew feels like a nice start for a more detailed version from Brgs.

You can listen to the music here: