By Paul Acquaro
Let's begin with the players on Untitled (London Leipzig Luzern). I had the chance to see saxophonist Urs Leimgruber play in a duo with keyboardist Jacques Demierre (who was playing an enhanced spinnet) and it was, even by the wide berth given experimental music, an unusual show. Leimgruber had extended passages in which he would either simply move his soprano sax around in the air above and around his head, or blow some almost unheard notes. Trumpeter Axel Dörner, works in both in 'jazz-like' settings as well as more exploratory ones where he extends his playing through both acoustic and electronic means creating immersive sound worlds. Similarly with percussionist Roger Turner who too stretches the boundaries of music through his expressive percussion work. These three musicians on Untitled (London Leipzig Luzern) are at their most experimental. Now, add Ra Ra da Boff, which is one of the many aliases of keyboardist and composer (credited here as playing electric organ) Oliver Schwerdt, and another electric organ player "Ribo Flesh", which I suspect is also a pseudonym...
The music on this disc was culled from a performance in 2015 in Leipzig. The tracks are split into two electro-acoustic trios - Dörner, Turner, Ra Ra, and Leimgruber, Turner, Ribo - and they improvise long, uninterrupted tracks with approaches that range from a collection of disassociated sounds to a fog of menacing tones. The group often takes just a few notes and stretches them over expanses of time and space. Bursts of organ, scrape of drum, a rattle of sticks, and trumpet flare-ups are not uncommon, but they are unpredictable. During the first track, the organ contributes long drones while the others play seriously around it. Dörner leads the way, with a mix of fluttery breath through the horn and rough patches of sound, while Turner's percussion is sparse, but adding sharp contrasts.
Track two begins with scrapes from the percussion, along with overtones from the organ. A minute later Leimgruber can be heard lightly in the background, his saxophone skillfully hanging on a fine line between pushing air and making sound. The track hovers for a bit before he offers some fully-formed notes, clicking of keys, and jumping off into a register at the edge of humans hearing. As the music gains in intensity, Turner finds the right moments to accentuate the saxophonist's ideas and contributes textural fills. As with the track with Dörner, there is plenty of space. Around 11-minutes in, the organ teases a tonal cluster and the extra harmonic layer is nearly physically palpable. Towards the 18-minute mark, the pulse quickens and Leimgruber launches into a series of up-tempo runs. The swell of the organ and the intense clatter of percussion along with the intense chatter of the saxophone creates an otherworldly auditory experience.
The two tracks on Untitled (London Leipzig Luzern) are studies in patience, deep listening and minimalism. Small changes make big differences, and it is quiet music that requires close concentration. There are also two mini-CDs that contain solos from Dörner and Leimgruber recorded during the same session.
Hi Paul - thanks for the review - appreciated!
A minor clarification I would like to add. The pseudonyms "Ra Ra da Boff" and "Ribo Flesh" do not stand for one musician but actually for two.
Means "Ra Ra da Boff" is Oliver Schwerdt and Friedrich Kettlitz. The same is true for "Ribo Flesh". Both play electric organ at the same time. So we have quartets instead of trios. One hint is available on in the booklet. Both alias are credited with the plural "electric organs".
This was confirmed to me by Oliver Schwerdt (Elan Pauer that is;-) and also by Friedrich Kettlitz (albeit in a more "hermetic" though amusing way).
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