4. An outlandish landscape
Sunday morning in Nickelsdorf can be a thing of spiritual enlightenment. You can start the day with your sunglasses on, some frugal breakfast at 1 PM, single malt and cold Austrian beer provided by friends. I could, and an hour later I was good to go and wait for the shuttle to take me to the unknown. It turned out to be the moon, and the moon is the perfect place to spend you afternoon. Especially if you have your umbrella with you. I did. The shuttle stopped at the edge of the forest. There were refreshments there. I heard cheers. I picked up some supplies, opened my umbrella and went about for a moonwalk under the fiery sun at Hesser Gstettn…
An outlandish landscape and a fantastic choice for the performance of Michel Doneda
(reeds) and Lê Quan Ninh
(percussion). It was like an ancestral meeting, a mysterious combination of stardust, arid weeds, pastoral life, early humanity and sound. There was even a dog. The air had a high acoustic conductivity – every crack of stone made sounded like a gravel avalanche, every breath had a biography. Field recording must have been sublime. I could call such a recording “a shepherd’s afternoon. So peaceful and primitive!”
The two wandered the terrain for their sonic investigations and it all felt like home: communion and transcendence. The performance ended with them playing as they strolled away into the sun. I followed like a hypnotised rat being drifted into the sea. I caught up with them later in the night for a talk.
Next up for my warm summer evening I took my seat at the Jazzgalerie to see the german-american trio Keir Neuringer
(alto sax), Simone Weißenfels
(piano), Willi Kellers
(dums, percussion). My peacefulness seemed to fade away as Neuringer
started the show with a poem I found cheesy. I was then immediately blown back to impression by their splendid, accomplished music. My reverie went on for the full concert as my mind raved about the perfection of their free, their commercial beauty, the American musicians’ work ethic and technical superiority: Neuringer was the embodiment of all the important American sax players before him, and the trio was up there with the greatest. Still is and I won’t question my experience. An absolute highlight sending endless vibrations.
There’s a very funky language being used to write about avant-garde and improvised music and though it doesn’t mean much or come easy to me, it seems inescapable with the mighty Talibam!
- keyboard, electronics and Kevin Shea
- drums) and their encounter with Alan Wilkinson
(tenor sax and baritone sax). They were up next and I took a little distance ‘cause the last time I saw them in Bucharest in 2010 I went full mental. You can’t go into a paroxystic trance sitting on a chair surrounded by coolness, now, can you? They went full throttle monkey business impetuously exulting my brain to the point of sublime dementia. This time I didn’t go bananas, it was all intellectual fruity power. This outfit is as powerful as any acidic ecstasy (whatever that may be), going straight to the core – blowing it up and sinuously coming back for the climax. Oh heavenly electronics! Sweeter than a baby cat, roaring like a genius, hurting physicist’s deepest thoughts, crying like a diamond! Oh badass-haunting drums! At what speed you come to feed my imbecile fantasies! Oh that sax attack, oh that sax! So voraciously intelligent! So painfully historic, so sensitive and kind! So intense, so perfect together! E Pericoloso Sporgersi is the album they released then and there - It Is Dangerous To Lean Out! Hi five, aloha and salaam aleikum you twats! Ciao!
Still had beer. There was no need nor desire to move. So I stayed there for the third trio of the night, the peculiar rendezvous between John Butcher
(tenor sax, baritone sax), Thomas Lehn
(analogue synthesizer) and Matthew Shipp
(piano). Some called it “the problematic one” since it was never done before. So I stayed there with my eyes closed for the whole performance relishing every sound and every silence. John Butcher later told us
that “the group wasn’t really trapped by the history of its instruments. If it had been a bass player or a drummer, it would have been a very different kind of music… so, it took it somewhere where there isn’t really a sonic history for that combination”. But it didn’t feel that way to me - it sounded organic in all it’s calmness and natural nervousness. Matthew Shipp: “I feel very comfortable with him [Thomas Lehn]. I mean, electronics could be very intrusive if it was the wrong person, but he seems to really understand a lot about the piano, both the touch and the whole sensibility of the instrument, and he also knows a lot about rhythm […] and that — makes all the difference in the world. Because there’s nothing worse in a situation like that where somebody has the potential to cover that much sonic space and they don’t understand that.” So yeah, It was one of the coolest things ever.
The grande finale (FIRE! TRIO + Oren Ambarchi
) followed and having seen FIRE!
a few months earlier in Control, I was looking forward to Oren Ambarchi
’s input. So I went with Bog to the bar to grab a beer. As we were waiting they started playing and Alan Wilkinson
invitingly started singing Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
so we ended up singing Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
loudly, as if that was being played onstage. We felt too exotic to go back to the concert so we hooked up with Talibam!
for a talk and some distillation. I heard Oren Ambarchi
was pretty silent, not that I had too many regrets. Later on me and Bog played some African stuff for a lovely after party.
In the morning I ate a strudel and passed out for a splendid Monday.
*Photo credits: Peter Gannushkin