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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Two from Relative Pitch

Kaluza/Roder – Am Frankfurter Tor (Relative Pitch, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Relative Pitch has been a mainstay in my personal list of independent labels that constantly push the envelope. I have written before about it but it’s never an overstatement to mention who is doing some important work in a musical practice, like improvisation, still marginalized by the music industry.

Another key factor for my fondness towards the label is that is continues to present small scale music, which is always a preference for my personal tastes. Don’t get me wrong, music is just music, it doesn’t matter if it produced by one or forty one people. But, to put it simply, I’m really drawn by the minimalism of a couple of people getting together to play and interact.

This is exactly the case with the duo of Anna Kaluza on alto saxophone and Jan Roder on double bass. Their "get together" attitude produces a sublime recording that reminds the laid back atmosphere of past seminal duos from the free improvisational canon. Most of the short tracks feel like snippets, exercises for edgy melodic lines, timbre and exchange of ideas. Roder’s double bass is in no way just keeping the rhythm. His syncopated plucking follows Kaluza’s sax every step on the way.

In the longer tracks, they both seem to feel more relaxed to explore their ideas, while the notion of heading towards all directions at once is present in all of them. Am Frankfurter Tor deserves a lot of listening, so watch out because it demands your attention.

Masked Pickle – 7 (Relative Pitch, 2022)

The trio of Masked Pickle (Olivia Scemama on bass, Tom Malmendier on the drums and Clara Well on any kind of vocals) is a lot more edgy, plus it confirms that the presence of women improvisers on the label’s catalogue is much higher than the average. A fact that shouldn’t pass unnoticed as well.

The instrumentation, by itself, makes this CD a “weird” listen. I really enjoy when at a first glance on a recording (be it a physical object or a digital one) I’m totally clueless on what I’m about to listen. Masked Pickle fall exactly on this category. The frustrated, funny and aggressive vocalizations of Well form the basis of a noisy improvisation that stands proudly on the margins of anything that could be called as jazz based music. After repeated listening I believe it’s more accurate to comment that is thrives just outside of them…

The electricity of Scemama’s bass gives 7 a rock edginess that deliberately deconstructs any easy path for interpretations about this recordings. The most obvious “jazz” element of 7 is Malmendier’s polyrhythmic drumming, but do not take this for a fact. He is constantly provoking the others to leave any kind well trodden path and run into the wilderness.

Malmendier’s choice is followed (or he follows her) by Well’s vocals. Well (a first time listen for me) takes no shortcuts in presenting her vocals as gutsy and witty as possible. I really loved how she blends with the other two, making her voice the third noisy instrument of the recording, while standing out as angry as possible.

No star ratings needed here dear reader, this is one of the best recordings for 2022 and probably will stay on my list until the end of the year.



Richard said...

Happy to see you sending some love to Relative Pitch. They are a consistent source of great music.

I wasn't familiar with Masked Pickle (I bet there's a good story behind the name.) But Tom Malmendier is excellent on the album Steppe with thisquietarmy. After one listen, Masked Pickle sounds like another Relative Pitch winner.

Anonymous said...

Masked Pickle is a euphemism for the clitoris. It is also the name of a club.