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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Markus Eichenberger & Christoph Gallio - Unison Polyphony (ezz-thetics, 2022)

By Keith Prosk

Markus Eichenberger and Christoph Gallio improvise ten obliquely intersecting melodies for clarinet and soprano saxophone on the 40’ Unison Polyphony.

Eichenberger and Gallio have performed together on and off for around four decades and appeared contemporaneously on several compilations but Unison Polyphony is their first meeting on a recording.

Mellifluous melodies irreverent of the other serendipitously converge for short moments to beat as one in accord. Through discretized monophonies tethered to breath in playful Lacy-like affects extended to sustain or breathy subtones in respiratory cadences that best express harmonics, when each slows their lines converge in dynamic equilibrium to unveil their shared dimensional harmonic spaces.

There is a strange sensation that the point at which each feels furthest apart is the same point at which each feels nearest each other. Art Lange’s liner notes explores this contrapuntal concept conveyed neatly in the title through the equation one plus one equals one by way of Thomas Carlyle which reminded me of Ibn ʿArabī’s the oneness of many to which I was only recently, shallowly, and it seems serendipitously introduced to through Thomas Merton by way of Brian Harnetty’s Words and Silences . Melodies retrace motifs not for lack of inspiration but to celebrate new articulations necessarily contingent upon new time to illuminate the many possibilities of one. Beating patterns of intense clarity most often emerge as each approaches unison with the other but there are moments of independent multiphonics which are just a recognition of the many parts constituting one sound. Acknowledging the brief use of C melody saxophone, adjacent to this simultaneous closeness and farness of a thing could even be those qualities of the instruments, each reeds of similar shape and range but diverging materials and overlapping harmonics. Perhaps even the relationship of the performers, separate but near and at last recording together here, mimics the music’s relationships. All this to say, there is a recognition that the oneness of many only becomes possible through the multitudes of one and Unison Polyphony deeply and resonantly expresses the true unity of going one’s own way, alone, together.