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Sunday, April 17, 2022

MingBauSet – Yakut’s Gallop (Fundacja Słuchaj, 2021) ****½

By Nick Ostrum

This may just be my own limited perspective, but experimental vocalists seem to be a thing now in a way they have not been for some time. Yes, singers such as Maggie Nicols, Maja S.K. Ratkje, Phil Minton, Thomas Buckner, Yamantaka Eye, Jaap Blonk, Mike Patton, Anne Rhodes and others have been floating around improvisational circles for decades. However, many others, who hitherto were under the radar, have finally been getting some recognition and slowly winning me over as of late. Add the Schweizerin Vera Baumann to that list.

MingBauSet consists of Bauman, guitarist Florestan Berset - like Baumann, part of the Luzerne scene - and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Hemingway is the only member of the trio I had encountered before. This setting, however, seems to push him to new spaces. Hemingway is attentive and responsive, but focused on sound, space and timbre rather than in his rhythmic escapades in Day & Taxi. For his part, Berset complements him well, leaning on abstract cascades of color and scratchy atmospherics. At many points, one could mistake Berset’s lapping waves as emanating from a mixing board or computer program, or even Hemingway’s percussive array, rather than an electric guitar.

What really stood out to me and my own newfound appreciation for the human voice, however, is Baumann. She is surprisingly soulful at points, singing lines that remind me of Leena Conquest’s poetic chants. At other times, she is utterly indecipherable, in a fashion similar to Saadet Türköz with slightly less abandon, or maybe just more grounding in some new music/concert-hall tradition. At times, the layerings sound like some avant-rock music replete with cosmic soundscaping and absent the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure or, really, any traditional metered or chordal structure associate with rock music. Instead, Yakut’s Gallop is about interweaving sounds, hypnotic extended motifs over which Baumann’s infectious chants prance. For his part, Hemingway really gets space to extend, here, and alternately embrace and shed his instrument’s rhythmic past. Listening through Hemingway, this is a completely different experience from Taxi & Day. Actually, listening through almost any lens, one could say the same. However, much like Run, the Darkness Will Come!, Yakut’s Gallop is well worth a close listen, and another, and another…

Yakut’s Gallop is available on CD or as a download:


Ernst Grgo Nebhuth said...

Thanks for the review. It mirrors my own feelings about the music on this CD.
And Vera Baumann is a great "addition" to the world of improvised/experimental/avantgarde vocalists. Wonder wether she's related to the great vocalist (plus flute/live electronics etc.) Franziska Baumann.

To give your newfound appreciation for the human voice some heads up I would like to point out two seminal artists which could be described as the mother 'n' father of such leanings.
Joan La Barbara with "Voice is the original instrument" (released 1976 but the double CD from 2003 includes some more music).
Than the great and fantastic Demetrio Stratos with f.e. "Cantare la voce" (1978).

Another artist I like to mention is Tamia. A solo from 1978 and her first duo with Pierre Favre "Blues for Pedro Arcanjo (1983) are her first evident outings.
And certainly not at least the short but astonishing recording "Quantum Quantumm" by Ami Yamasaki from 2018.