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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

DDK Trio - A Right to Silence (Meena, 2023)

 By Eyal Hareuveni

The DDK Trio - Swiss pianist Jacques Demierre, German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Swiss accordionist Jonas Kocher- was created in 2014 and focuses on expanding the tradition of "instant composition" which goes back to Lennie Tristano and passing through the legendary Jimmy Giuffre trio, and plays improvised music totally focused on the here and now. The trio deploys an expressive palette of sounds ranging from silence to tiny sound lines and massive acoustic eruptions while paying particular attention to the great precision of the articulation of musical discourse. The trio invests an extreme care for sound and deep listening constitutes the core of the trio’s music which draws from the sources of today's contemporary music where multiple sound universes intersect.

A Right to Silence is DDK Trio’s third album and is a 3-disc box set, recorded at Théâtre Le Colombier in Les Cabannes in France in June 2021 during a week-long recording residency at GMEA-Centre National de Création Musicale d’Albi-Tarn. Demierre, Dörner and Kocher decided to apply the principle of non-influence-in-each-other's-choice that they have been practicing for years as a trio. Each one made his own album from the same raw recordings, separately, at his own home or studio. Researcher and sound artist Thibault Walter accompanies the box set with liner notes highlighting the process carried out by the trio.

Demierre, Dörner and Kocher are not only gifted improvisers but also poetic and thoughtful sound artists with distinct and highly imaginative sonic vision and language, and Walter compares the DDK Trio work to an aural diffraction network. Listening to this box set is like experiencing “three cracks in Euclidean space-time” with the complex dances of three listening practices and their many interferences. In A Right to Silence, Demierre, Dörner and Kocher relate to silence differently. Demierre’s ten choices for the first disc stress the meditative, contemplative music of the trio, all highlighting the poetic manner the trio weaves the chamber minimalist music with otherworldly, often electronics-tinged sounds. Silence is a natural element integrated into these pieces. Some of Dörner's eight choices for the second disc repeat and overlap with Demierre’s but these ones focus on the experimental, sound-oriented approach and the methodical dynamics of the trio and the enigmatic, inner logic and tension of these short pieces, as one-of-a-kind "islands of music". The silent segments are added at the end of these pieces and trigger brief moments of reflection. Kocher’s eight choices for the third disc also repeat and overlap the ones of Demierre and Dörner but now sound as if focusing on deep listening, methodological but the intuitive process of improvising-composing these pieces. Silence, again, is an organic part of the sonic vocabulary of the trio.

As Walter notes, Demierre, Dörner and Kocher were not at the same places when they reproduced these pieces, and they did so at different times. But there is always a connection between their real-time choices during the improvisations and the later choices for the box set. “These actions interfere in and from out of the matter of the body that connects them. In fact, wherever we look, there are myriads of undulations that build and destroy the body-spaces transforming them”, writes Walter. You can experience repeatedly the austere and subtle, labyrinthine dynamics of the trio from unique perspectives that enrich and challenge each other, and, obviously, the listeners.

Jacques Demierre (piano); Axel Dörner (trumpet); Jonas Kocher (accordion).\