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Monday, January 15, 2024

Rudi Fischerlehner - Spectral Nichts (Not Applicable, 2023)

By Martin Schray

At rock concerts in the 1960s and 70s drum solos were the part of the show that, unless you were a drummer yourself, you could most likely do without. More often than not, it felt like drummers were stroking their egos by playing a series of rather basic rhythms as fast as they could, with little or no overall cohesion or unifying concept. What played almost no role at all was melodic phrasing. Listeners, however, often tend to focus their attention on the phrasing of the melodies in the music, even though the rhythm is of course also important - especially in freely improvised music. If Rudi Fischerlehner had played in one of the supergroups of the 60s and 70s, one would have looked forward to his solos.

Olaf Rupp, with whom Fischerlehner often plays (e.g. in Xenofox), summed it up nicely in one of our Sunday interviews: “Rudi has found a wonderful way to bridge the gap between regular looping beats and free flowing pulse. It reminds me of the orbiting grooves that Björk once had on an app she published. Like multiple, circular layers of polymetric patterns. This gives the other players a lot of freedom to choose without breaking up the connection.“ On Spectral Nichts - a pretty pun with the words “Nichts“ (German for “Nothing“) and “night“ - Fischerlehner has found a way to bring this bridge even more visibly into focus. The first two tracks on the album are representative of this.

On the one hand, there is “Rhythm Sculpture“, the opener, which is exactly what the name says: a block of shapes made of rhythms. These are the looping beats mentioned by Rupp, but they have nothing of the hectic pace of Drum'n'Bass, instead coming across as transparent, almost repetitive in the style of minimal music. The piece drags along, it is the rhythmic shifts that captivate the listener. Only at the very end the speed accelerates dramatically. In “Intuition Repeat“, on the other hand, he highlights the free flowing pulse presenting us his cornucopia of forms, wiping, rattling, scratching, and crackling. There is no technical skill on display here, it’s all about subtleties, setting pointillistic accents, synaesthesia, and ultimately also about sounds and little melodic blasts.

Spectral Nichts is an excellent, surprisingly varied album. The liner notes mention that it “describes a musical and emotional landscape of polyrhythmic structures, abstract sound collages and aggressive drum patterns. A musical world inspired by influences from Haitian and Japanese music, musique concrète and turntablism, free jazz, punk and new music.“ True that.

Spectral Nichts is available as a CD and a download.

You can listen to the album and order it here.