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Monday, May 22, 2023

Franz Hautzinger - Gomberg III-V - Airplay (Trost, 2023)

By Eyal Hareuveni

The late Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo said once that "most trumpet players think that the trumpet is a musical instrument to make sound with breathing, but I found it is a musical instrument to make sounds to express Breathing”. Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger has a similar philosophy and has used the name Gomberg as an alter ego and a tool for him to "overcome his own limitations" as a trumpeter. Hauzinger began his Gomberg recordings with the milestone Gomberg (Quartertone-Trumpet Solo) (GROB, 2000) and Gomberg II >>Profile<< (Loewenhertz, 2007).

Gomberg III-V collects recordings from 2008 to 2018, in Vienna, Hautzinger's hometown, and his current home in Brest in north-western France. The 22 miniature pieces are commissioned works, created for distinct art spaces or site-related works, works for films and theatre, performance artists, writers and poets and some are musical diary notes, or, as Hautzinger calls them, references"to the breath of the souls". Hautzinger sees his solo work and especially Gomberg III-V as a “point of reflection: it can awaken a feeling that one did not know existed long ago”.

Hautzinger plays on the quartertone trumpet, augmented with electronic effects, zither, his voice and percussion. Gomberg III-V is a monumental catalog of Hauztzinger’s explorative and idiosyncratic language - a highly personal vocabulary and syntax, expressed with an array of extended breathing techniques - that reimagines and often transforms the trumpet into an alien sonic entity. His minimalist yet precise, almost otherworldly electronic sounds borrow the syntax of reductionist electronic music.

Fellow Austrian guitarist Burkhard Stangl, who wrote the liner notes and collaborated before with Hautzinger, describes Hautzinger as a sonic shaman and a trickster who always crosses sonic borders, radically carefree of everyday rationality, and a musician who evokes archaic memories from a time when there was not yet a distinction between the divine and the non-divine. And, indeed, Hautzinger is a fearless master of sculpting enigmatic ambient and hyper-orchestral soundscapes, with total command of effects, including noises, processed and fragmented poetic voices and subtle, futurist dance beats. These miniature pieces become more economic and austere in time but maintain a rare, elusive quality. A piece like “Anna Politkowskaja”, titled after the Russian journalist and human rights activist who was murdered in 2006, is one the most beautiful and unsettling pieces here.

Stangl asserts that Hauzinger marks the end of another Viennese musical school and the founding of its new one. Clearly, Gomberg III-V is a radically singular work and one of the most impressive trumpet albums of our times.