Click here to [close]

Friday, May 19, 2023

T.ON - plays Herzog/Muche/Nillesen (Impakt, 2023)

By Martin Schray

At the beginning, in the first track “Inspiration,“ it seems as if you were caught in a huge, infinite sewage tunnel system, from whose depths a lot of eerie noises resound. Bass and snare drum grumble away, while the trombone emits sounds of a large animal that breathes out its last bit of life in the shallows of the gutter. These sounds seem blatantly amplified, in “Being“ you think bats are flying over your head, your own breath and the hissing of pipes seem to be overly audible. Waterdrops, distant footsteps, rats running at your feet, echoes - the full monty. Music as a soundtrack for your own mental cinema.

Matthias Muche (trombone), Etienne Nillesen (snare drum) and Constantin Herzog (double bass) play this adventurous music that blurs genre boundaries while pushing the limits of contemporary instrumental techniques of trombone, drums and double bass. The combination of these sound styles creates a wide spectrum, from intimate simplicity to vast soundscapes with a wide variety of expressions of harmony, melody, rhythm, noise and timbre. The result is a homogeneous, compact, very dense, yet audible and clear music, where the focus is not on the individual signature, but on a communal experience, the three instruments merging into one.What is more, there is also the unique sound associated with the venue: the album was recorded in Cologne at Church St. Gertrud, one of the brutalist concrete churches from the 1960s. With its extreme acoustics it adds another quality to the music. Sound in a specific space has always been an essential part of the trio. In this sense, they have experimented with different playing setups, with spoken parts and soundscapes, spatializations via external sound funnels or quite purely with the naked instruments.

This is the basis that the thirteen pieces unfold seemingly easy. The titles arise from the phrase “Inspiration Is A Condition Of The Heartstrings Being Plucked And Vibration“ plus some kind of encore, “Hello," with vocals by Anthony Moore. In this last piece, one of the aforementioned spoken parts, Moore addresses the listeners claiming that the sentence we are about to hear will have disappeared by the time we have reached its end. Actually, it’s a piece that recapitulates on a meta-level the process of making music by this trio, a perfect summary of the album.

The form of interaction between space and sound, playing attitudes and the sound possibilities of the individual instruments is at the heart of the music. Nothing sounds strained, nothing gets lost in the nowhere, no cheap imitations of the playing of the fellow musicians - the trio acts as a unit from the beginning, the fusion of sounds and dynamics is the goal - and that throughout at a high level of intensity. simply an excellent album.

T.ON - plays Herzog/Muche/Nillesen is available as a CD and as a download.


If you want to get an impression from the band playing live in this church, watch the following video: