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Friday, July 1, 2022

Der Dritte Stand - Der Dritte Stand (Not Applicable, 2022)

By Martin Schray

Der Dritte Stand is a new trio consisting of musicians of Berlin’s thriving Echtzeit music scene. Matthias Müller, my favorite German trombonist, is well-known for his work with Trigger, Superimpose and Foils Quartet (with Frank-Paul Schubert, John Edwards and Mark Sanders), bassist Matthias Bauer (Johannes’s and Conny’s brother) is a member of the Berlin Art Quartet and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner works with Olaf Rupp in their excellent outfit Xenofox and in Peter Van Huffel’s band Gorilla Mask .

The band’s debut actually is a six-part suite with tracks whose titles have the morpheme "-stand" in them, all of them with a different meaning. “Einstand“ refers to the drinks you buy for your colleagues when you start at a new job, “Bestand“ means “inventory“ or “stock“, “Zustand“ is the state of things, “Anstand’ can be translated with “decency“, “Umstand“ means “circumstance“, something that is important for an event and determines it and “Ausstand“ is the opposite of “Einstand“, it’s the drinks you buy for your colleagues when you quit your job. Ken Waxman refers to another meaning as to the title in the liner notes: “The CD title and trio name, which translates as the Third Estate, or the common people, came about after a fellow musician noted that each player’s surname initially denoted an ancient and honorable profession.“

It’s true that you can link the last names to professions (Müller/miller, Bauer/farmer and Fischerlehner/fisherman) however, to what extent instrumental music can be interpreted in such an explicitly political way is a bit speculative. What we can hear instead are improvisations which are simply finely crafted and highly subtle. The musicians all have an enormously flexible approach that allows for far-reaching sound manipulation. They can create tactile sounds, whether by using extended playing techniques like tapping and rubbing as to bass and drums, and by the mute on the trombone. All this happens casually, which is why the playing process seems so simple and natural. An example is the end of “Einsatz“, when Bauer’s bowed bass meets Müller’s murmured trombone and Fischerlehner’s hissing on the hi-hat. It sounds like a bumblebee flying through electrically charged rain. Much of the album’s music is sonic exploration, the tones speed ricocheting through space. But there are also moments when the musicians decide to play rather traditional free jazz, as in “Zustand“. Fischerlehner underpins the improvisation with a weird, clanking rock groove, Bauer swings in an almost Barry Guy-esque manner, and Müller's trombone is slightly reminiscent of Bauer’s late brother Johannes. Here the music has a special grip and tightness, shifting imperceptibly like a dune. Another example is the first part of “Einstand“, in which the musicians seem to stumble along. There is hardly any rhythmic flow, instead an almost desperate cheerfulness clings to the music - which is to be understood in a positive way.

You can find a lot of aspects which make today’s modern improvised music so delightful - from open, freely associated open soundscapes to dense passages with the aforementioned distant echoes of free jazz. Der Dritte Stand is varied and exciting in the best sense and therefore highly recommended.

Der Dritte Stand is available as a CD and as a download.

You can listen to “Umstand“ and buy the album here: