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2017 15 Mai

Open To Space

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Noah Solloway took his time for his first novel A Person Who Visits A Place. I remember a short story titled “The Waiting Room” in one of the new literature magazines, For Starters, a few years ago, and found it again now as part of a well thought mesh in this ambitious first novel, published in 2014, that I spotted browsing the shelves in a library. Solloway studied at Columbia and works as a teacher for English and PE at a public school in Brooklyn, but his novel displays a strong European influence because of its metaphysical claims. The title itself sounds a bit abstract, but the story isn´t. There are 52 chapters, one of each describing, well, a person visiting a place, in a variety of sense. I cannot exactly say how many characters there were involved, because some of them have no names and others who have names do change them. It´s kind of a family structure, there is this young close-mouthed student who struggles for a new life, apart from poverty and loneliness, his mother works as a waitress, which is described from his and her and the father´s and the goldfish´s perspective. There is the student´s affluent girlfriend, there is this superego father-in-law, a famous writer living on an island, there are some close friends, there is a baby girl and several unborn, but persons, time and space are malleable, and page for page you lose control. In an online Interview Solloway said as a teenage boy he loved Moby Dick and I think there´s a crime element and through that you discover dark under-shade. Where is real life? What is memory like? What does liberty mean, hazard? Although the novel´s structure is quite experimental style (in one chapter the main character, a young writer, encounters Alain Robbe-Grillet in a coffee bar in Paris and talks about possible structures of novels) there are always meditative parts and it´s not an essay. “He thought of weather. How unpredictable it still was,” writes one of the narrators. “He looked down at his feet to watch the waves recede, leaving jagged little rivulets in the sand and took comfort that he could find no order in their paths either.” It´s not a sit-back-book, it´s a lean-forward-book. I just checked, the second novel by Noah Solloway, Decent, was released this spring and it will soon be made into a major motion picture.


Was mir an Michaels Moderationen oft aufgefallen ist, waren Bemerkungen der Art, wie Musik ein Raumgefühl schafft, Räume öffnet und imaginäre Landschaften spürbar werden lässt. War mir der Gedanke – wir unternehmen hier einen großen Zeitsprung, bis ins vergangene Jahrtausend – zunächst noch unvertraut, wurde mir die Kategorie schließlich zu einem entscheidenden Element. Ich erinnere mich, damals lief Michaels Sendung noch vierzehntätig montags zwischen 1:05 Uhr und 2 Uhr, an eine Retrospektive über die aus Virginia stammende Gruppe Labradford, wie sie von Album zu Album karger wurden in ihren Kompositionen, abstrakter, und, bevor gar nichts mehr blieb, löste sich Labradford auf. Marc Nelsen als den Sänger von Labradford zu beschreiben, wäre übertrieben. Nelsen streute eher gelegentlich seine Sprache in die Klanggebilde ein. Ich empfand es als beruhigend. Ich besorgte mir alle Alben von Labradford, A Stable Reference (1995), Prazision LP (1993), E luxo so (1999), fixed: context (2000) und irgendwo dazwischen einfach nur Labradford. Wie die Landschaft immerzu in Bewegung bleibt, sich weitet, den Blick zum Himmel, zum Horizont, immer auf etwas irgendwie Schroffes. Jean Baudrillard schreibt in seinem Essay Amerika (1987) im Rahmen einer Gegenüberstellung Europa – USA: „Unser Freiheitsbegriff wird nie mit ihrem räumlichen und beweglichen konkurrieren können, der aus der Tatsache folgt, daß sie sich einst aus jeder historischen Zentralität befreit haben.“ Neulich las ich, zum zweiten Mal, die Autobiographie des US-amerikanischen Schriftstellers James Salter, Verbrannte Tage. Ich hatte von Salter die Erzählungsbände gelesen und einige Romane. Ausgezeichnet in Stil und Dramaturgie. Figuren, die sich in etwas verrennen. Salter hatte einige Zeit in Frankreich gelebt, in Deutschland, in Rom. Auch er beobachtete Unterschiede im Raumgefühl. Über Europa schrieb er: „Die wirklichen Einwohner beanspruchen keinen Raum.“ Seit 1998 veröffentlichte Marc Nelson seine Musik auch unter dem Namen Pan American. Er führte seine Arbeit mit elektronisch geprägten Alben von großer Ruhe fort, zum Beispiel The River Made No Sound. Renzo. Quiet City. cloud room, glass room. Für mich sind es Klassiker. Musik, die ich immer auflegen kann. Vorgestern erschien ein neues, wunderbares Werk von Pan American: A Son. Unter diesem Link könnt ihr das komplette Album hören. 


Out now.

2023 23 Feb

Dream Territory

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Holmes, Mellin and Romero are drifters. The new album of the New York trio Numün opens with „beyond“, electronic and acoustic sounds entangle before a pulse clears the field from the quite high frequencies, a calm campfire groove starts, for  a while – they know how to take breaks all along the way. Simple. But beautiful.

The vinyl has the colour blue („blue is the colour of the room where i will live“  echoes of my thinking brain), and this album surely works fine in a spacey evening ambience, with a fireplace, a window with a view, candles. „steps“ is the second track, and it‘s nice again, how the balance of  mellow spheres and soft rhythms draws you into the music. Gentle does it.

Think of new age without  pathos and „rosarote schwärmerei“, and the chamber music of Nunün fits well. „sideway“ wins over you  with eastern drones and a western guitar: appalachian peace music, so to speak, greetings from John Fahey (and my sofa of free associations). Never too dense, this track is multi-layered, the percussion (tabla?) enters from the horizon, comes a tiny bit closer, never taking center stage. Pastel colours all around.

The last track of side 1, „eyes open“: Trina  Basu enters on violin. Ah, this band obviously has a knack for mellow pulses. A touch of gamelan without cross rhythms. Easy to understand, that this music is connected with the broad stream of so-called „spiritual music“.  I call it „horizontal music for the open  mind“.





The second side opens with „vespers“. A bit of cowboy melancholia filling the space (daydreaming a wooden bench, an american veranda, a warm summer evening, simple as that). Be careful to call this tasty.  There are  these higher tones swirling around (higher and higher)! For friends of Popol Vuh, Numün is a winner, calm and polite.

Oh, soft breathing (murmuring) follows at the beginning of – sic! – „voices“. The „indian violin“ of Trina Basu again… vocals „enchanted style“, I add with a smile. Nearly groovy. A strain of Ambient Americana, carefully executed.

„lighter“, the penultimate track: we get a feeling for magic‘s structure: a bit of „kling klang“ followed by a guitar that prepares the ground,  makes the dust dance (the details sharper now, dear reader, happens when tuning in more and more). Quite elementary percussion, uplifting. Modern mood music – impressive how Numün stays away from grand gestures without turning breathing quietness into precious prayers. Fine again, how, from a distance, a special melodic figur approaches on silent feet before being dissolved into texture again.

A music full of warm welcomes, no need ever to turn up the volume.

The record‘s finale: „lullaby“. I like the overall atmospheres, the mellow approach. The constant presence of higher frequencies may be their way to look „beyond“. The music wins in fact (I just did it) when turning down the volume.  I feel seduced by this ending  (i want it to stay just a little bit longer). Is that birdsong?

Okay, I start again. side 1. Listening to „beyond“: with the volume 4 db down, and the softsoftsoft pulse, i am calming down even more, have to smile, when  Mr.  Campfire calls the night in , the birds, the fireflies, the apparitions. (Haha, with words, I’m a free floater!) By the way i speak all my words into the air, meaning,  into a machine that translates spoken words in written language. Ladies, gentlemen, howling dogs and singing ghosts, I’m grooving in. No more words, i think i‘m in. A lovely affair. Dream territory.  Cerulean blue vinyl.



At 38, jazz pianist Gerald Clayton has been on the scene for a while and has already staked out his musical turf for what promises to be long and productive career. He is probably best known for his work with Charles Lloyd, who guests on this album. Clayton’s father, John Clayton is on bass and Justin Brown is on drums. A very breathy vocal stylist  MARO guests on a couple of beguiling tracks. All in all, Bells on Sand is a very intimate affair and really shows off a lot of Clayton’s many musical talents and facets.

I saw him perform solo last night at the 222 in Healdsburg CA. Also an art gallery, The 222 is a relatively new venue, having started of as an occasional stage for events relating to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. 

Last night, surrounded by beautiful artwork, Clayton opened with a jazz waltz I know but couldn’t place the title for the life of me. He played just the most recognizable A section, and then veered off into modal improvisations that were quite stunning. He followed that with an abstract, Debussy-like version of Spring is Here, then a more traditional reading of Like Someone in Love. He also captured the wistful yet cautiously optimistic vibe of Monk’s Mood, evincing a deep understanding of Monk’s harmonic vocabulary without a hint of facile imitation. The reinvented standards were interspersed with some enticing originals and extemporaneous playing; the show was peppered with groove oriented ostinatos, soulful gospel tunes and even some American roots music. He ended one improvisation with Elizabeth Cotton’s Freight Train. He closed the show with a gorgeous reading of Martin Rojas’s En la Orilla del Mundo (At the Edge of the World,) the opening track on Charlie Haden’s essential Nocturne album. His reading was obviously inspired by Gonsalvo Rubalcaba’s fine contributions to that classic. 

Clayton is a resourceful pianist. Using the piano as an orchestra, he thinks like a composer/arranger and is sometimes all over the keyboard, adding in little counter lines or flourishes in the upper registers while keeping everything going in the bass and mid range of the instrument. Clayton has an extremely refined touch; it would seem his classical background serves him well. While he is also a beautiful line player, clearly his is a very pianistic musical vision. He plays as if he’s in love with the sound of the instrument, and it shows in his singing tone, extraordinarily wide dynamic range and ability to elicit myriad colors out of the instrument.

All of this is apparent on the new album, his second for Blue Note. The album features a duo with piano and bowed bass, duos with Charles Lloyd (that duo is coming to the 222 soon, a Bay Area exclusive,) trios and solo piano as well. It’s an intimate recording and one that I will be coming back to frequently. I just love Clayton’s concept, a tasteful blend of traditional and modern styles that seem to borrow from almost everything. His solo performance some   Nights ago belied an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history of jazz piano and beyond to classical, gospel and American folk traditions. Listening to him, the first word that came to mind was “elegant”, the way Ellington was an elegant player, although in an entirely different and original way. Incidentally, Gerald Clayton is also a killer B3 player.


This is a ghost story. Nova Materia‘s new album came by midnight. A place nearby a nature reserve. My home. A taxi stopped, motor still running, ringing the bell, a young man said sorry for being so late, we had both our masks on, I received the envelope. Inside, the cover of the vinyl had something familiar (the old Made To Measure-label from Bruxelles back again!), set for release at the end of June. First pressing, fresh from the factory, a short note added, and, hand-written, the permission to play it – first time ever – in my next night show. If I like it. Too kind. I cannot remember I ever got an album under such circumstances. Secret delivery by night. I was awake, had done my little meditation exercise – a glass of „Two Left Feet“, two candles burning, my record-player in motion, gave it a go. I didn‘t know the name of the composers – that can happen, months ago, I couldn‘t relate anything with Floating Points.

I listened to the album from start to end. „To enjoy in all its aural elements, please listen on headphones. Compatible with stereo on loudspeakers.“ These guys care for sound, don‘t they? My headphones are quite good ones, and though their suggestion is old school, it makes sense. The sound quality stunning *, and more important, the whole album is a quiet burner. A revelation. A journey through an ancient area, real, surreal, desolate, full of mythology, history, horizon.





Now here comes the challenge. It‘s known as „The Stonehenge Trap“. Imagine you are impressed by  the aura of such a power spot, and want your music to be informed with it, live up to its nameless mysteries. So what will happen with fresh field recordings, the music in your mind at hand (in fragments)? It can all too easily end up in some „new age nirwana“. Or „electro-acoustic ivory tower studies“. Nothing like that. Listened a second time, a third time. I was caught inside, softly seduced, on the other side. A lesson in getting there, A five-star album in the rare genre of where-am-i-music. Eduardo Henriquez und Caroline Chaspoul have painted their masterpiece.


* The 3Dio Free Space Pro II comes with two matched, integrated DPA 4060 capsules mounted at the opening of the ear canal. The Free Space Pro II delivers a very sensitive and natural binaural recording. The extremely low noise floor of the DPA 4060 capsules results in a very open and dynamic binaural realism, especially during very delicate recordings. This sensitivity, coupled with the wide dynamic range of the microphone capsules, makes the Free Space Pro II ideally suited for professional studio recording and high-end recording binaural capture. The quiet ‚openness‘ of the mic is great for field recording as well.

Dedicated to the music lovers of the Punktfestival 2021, all of them who came by boat, by feet, by car, by airplane, by train, to dig and dive deep into the music played on the highest floor of Hotel Norge and elsewhere in town.




(ONE) Mathias Eick: Arvo (from: When We Leave) / Big Red Machine: Birch (from: How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last) / Catherine  Graindorge: Butterfly In A Frame (from: Eldorado) // Haiku Salut: Entering (from: The Hill, The Light, The Ghost)* / Gaspar Claus: Une faule (from: Tancade) / Dark Star Safari: Murmuration (from Walk Through Lightly) / Ayumi Tanaka Trio: Ruins (from: Subaqueous Silence) / Trond Kallevag: Amerikabaten (from: Fengelsfugl) // Villagers: Full Faith in Providence (from: Fever Dreams) / The Grid & Fripp: Fire Tower (from: Leviathan)


* Engagingly wistful fifth album from Derbyshire Dales instrumental trio. Starting life as a series of field recordings captured in charged locations – an abandoned house in Germany, the birdsong-framed Peak District countryside – The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is pitched as “a miniature exploration of sound in relation to memory”. From this near-Proustian premise, multi-instrumentalists Louise Croft, Sophie Barkerwood and Gemma Barkerwood conjure nine wordless, shape-shifting essays using keyboards, electronics, guitars and orchestral instruments.

(David Sheppard)



(TWO) – STERNZEIT – // ToiToiToi: Never A Dull Moment, Whimsical Waltz, Kuckuckswalzer (from: Vaganten) / Villagers: Fever Dreams (from: Fever Dreams) / Haiku Salut: Trespass (from: The Hill, The Light, The Ghost) // Michael Mantler: Folly Suite (from: Coda (Orchestra Suites)* // Low: More, The Price You Pay (It Must Be Wearing Of) (from: Hey What) / Jo Berger Myhre: Everything Effacing, Smallest Things, Part 1, Aviary (from: Unheimlich Manoeuvre) 


* Austrian trumpeter-composer Mantler makes music that can move from shadow to light in a moment. The mercurial moods of this accomplished and articulate set are its strongest suit, and the stylistic breadth of the writing and arranging serves notice of an artist who has duly fulfilled the potential he showed way back in the late ‘60s as a member of the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra. […] While the shape-shifting nature of much of the material is impressive the emotional charge of the strings, which are icily seductive and seductively icy, is strong, and greatly enhanced by the interplay of Mantler and guitarist Bjarne Roupé, a skulking presence for much of the performance. ‘Coda’ makes a very convincing case for Mantler’s gifts as a composer, and stands as work that has considerable appeal for the role of improvisers, including himself, who are woven into the scored materials in a highly disciplined way that does not make their individual flourish any less engaging.

(Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes)



(THREE) – „Open the Gates – a Rhapsody in Dub (and  Jazz)“  – a discreetly hypnotizing mix of Various Artists – Studio One Dub Fire Special, The Congos: Heart of The Congos (40th anniversary edition), Lee Perry and The Upsetters: Black Ark In Dub & in the middle, surrounded by waves and waves of Rastaman chants, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme Live In Seattle* – KALENDERBLATT (Vor 175 Jahren – die erste Vollnarkose)


* „You have to get a bit used to the „stage presentation“ of the instruments here: the saxes „leftfield“, and the biggest space reserved for Elvin and McCoy (left to center, and right) – somehow funny, because the two did leave soon, being not too happy with Coltrane‘s quite radical departure! After a while it all works – the saxophones never buried in the mix!

In the world of John Coltrane, even „A Love Supreme“ was not carved in stone. To experience, how the whole band is opening all gates, leaving no stone unturned, is such a delight. Young Pharoah didn‘t need long to find the right chemistry.

Here I have to smile a  bit: it is Mr. Sanders‘s second appearance in 2021: in Seattle, being part of a crew that set „A Love Supreme“ on fire (without doubt one of the most adventurous archival discoveries of the year), and, as a master of less-is more, on Floating Points‘ fantastic album „Promises“ (not so much loved by the readers of TheBlueMoment:))

P.S. I always found „Live At The Village Vanguard Again“ being the best entrance to Coltrane‘s late years. „Coltrane in Japan“ is gorgeous, too, though only in ancient mono!

(Michael Engelbrecht, comment on Rirchard Williams‘ review in his music blog The Blue Moment)



(FOUR) Rhythm & Sound: (from: Rhythm & Sound) / Rip Hayman: Waves for Flutes (from: Waves Real And Imagined)* / Leonard Cohen (from Thanks for the Dance) / Thomas Köner: Takla-Kahan (from: Aubrite, reissue 2021, Mille Plateaux) / Leonard Cohen (from Thanks for the Dance) / Rip Hayman: Seascapes (from: Waves Real And Imagined)* (excerpt) / Gas (aka Wolfgang Voigt): Königsforst 2 (from: Königsforst) 


* „Archival and new work from student of John Cage, Ravi Shankar and Philip Corner Rip Hayman. Pastoral multitracked flute music on one side and chilly nautical field recordings on the other: quite lovely. ‚Waves: Real and Imagined‘ is another solid release from Sean McCann’s Recital imprint. A founding editor of Ear Magazine and boss of NYC’s oldest bar, Hayman is a fascinating character. This release collects a piece he recorded back in 1977, a decade before his debut „Dreamsound“, and pairs it with a piece he recorded last year. The two compositions work astonishingly well together. ‚Waves for Flutes‘ is calming and delicate, with multi-tracked flutes reminding fondly of Mary Jane Leach or Hayman’s Recital labelmate Sarah Davachi. The track sits completely out of time, sounding as transcendent and otherworldly as ambient music and as spiritually rousing as sacred music. Seascapes‘ achieves a similar goal, but uses only environmental recordings. Hayman recorded it in two sessions last year on the Pacific ocean, and the fizz of the waves effortlessly lull us into a meditative state. It’s not far from Irv Teibel’s iconic „Environments“ recordings, and that’s about the highest praise we can give.“ 



(FIVE/1)  Robert Wyatt: Old Europe (from: Cuckooland) / Barney Wilen: Harlem Nocturne / Besame Mucho / Goodbye  (from: La Note Bleue)* / Barney Wilen: All Blues, live with young Jackie Terrasson)


* Dear Micha! Very good to hear from you. Thanks for letting me read your piece (on Barney). There should be a Barney Wilen Appreciation Society for people like you and me… he had such an interesting life and seems never to have played an unworthy phrase. All best. Richard (Williams)


(FIVE/2) Bob Marley and The Wailers: Rastaman Chant (from: The Capitol Sessions 73)* / War: The World Is A Ghetto (from: The World Is A Ghetto)**


* „Sometimes we look back on things we did when younger and cringe. Sometimes we laugh at ourselves. Sometimes, as with War, and particularly this important album, we can knowingly nod and say, „I knew it all along.“ Even as a zit-faced white kid growing up in Arkansas, it was abundantly clear to me that this music was far more interesting than most of what I could hear on the radio; its racially homogenous, heavily percussive sound with „boys night out“ group vocals still, to this day, hits the spot like none other. Along with the sounds of similarly themed and likewise wonderful bands like Santana and El Chicano, with the music one could practically taste, smell, and get a tactile feel of what they were all about.“

(Brian Hulett) 

2021 9 Sep

Open letter to Jan Bang

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I‘m leaving, heading south.

This is an open letter to you, dear Jan! And nothing to worry about, haha. Since I know it belongs to your morning rituals to look at manafonistas, I thought this to be a good idea and take you by surprise. Thousands are reading this now – my friend in Northern California, an old buddy in Würzburg, even some wonderful people near your hometown I met this year at PUNKT …

Now, I don‘t know what the others will write within the next weeks, they might supply you with some worthy stories and informations, but in many cases you have to use the translation magic of Deepl (that made it, for instance, possible, that I could translate the forthcoming PUNKT 2021 review by our Italian friend Damir Ivic for the Italian ROLLING STONE).

I do write that cause I will be absent for a while on a „psychedelic retreat“ in the Black Forest, with a good quantum of shamanism, meditation and other stuff of making you fly and high and dance,  without mobile phones, Ipads, internet. But with On Land, The Survivors‘ Suite, and Rock Bottom. Three secret horizons. In fact I‘ll be lost in the woods on a quite adventurous trip. A different kind of journey, to quote the subtitle of Eivind Aarset’s fantastic new album. Hopefully a happy return on September 29.





So, Jan, on its way to Kristiansand soon, via Christoph Giese’s special parcel service, two vinyls, and one comes from my archive. When that album was reissued not long ago, after decades,  I got two items by error, from this long lost treasure – and after our recent talk about early encounters of David Sylvian with Jon Hassell and Ryuichi Sakamoto I thought  this album might put you in a state of wonder. Chances are you never heard it. Look at the cover, and you might think of a seascape near your hometown at first glance, but look again, it IS the Pacific

The familiar sound of a cocktail shaker full of ice and distant seagulls gives way to a simple melody, a rhythm lolling in the light. We are on a journey back in time to an old Japan half of a lifetime ago. The seventies of the 20th century, that foolhardy decade.

Back then, we dreamed of Mount Fujiama that looked out at us on large postage stamps, playful and majestic, when we were baby boomers. Japanese guys dreamed differently. And so we find ourselves right in the middle of a music that conjured up their choice holiday paradises in those days of economic prosperity. The southern islands in the Pacific.

„Pacific“ is the title of this long-playing record. The work was composed in 1978. Okay, I know you missed the 70’s LIVE, but I am very sure you have been THERE quite a long time, via old and ancient records, early Norwegian ECM stuff etc etc etc

Almost all of PACIFIC is instrumental, except for the one song line that sums up all the reverie „with the summer in her hair“. Three PACIFIC explorers: Shugeru Suzuki, Harry Hosono, who was soon to co-found the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the third, one of the cracks of the Japanese City Pop scene, Tatsuro Yamashita. And an old acquaintance who also played on the album, Ryuichi Sakamoto. Bloody young, you wouldn’t believe it.

What an album! A pinch of early synth-pop, the Japanese version of American exotic dreams a la Les Baxter, melodic funk rhythms, a floating drift from horizon to horizon, a shangri-la for samples, a healthy breeze of New Age – easy peasy, soft and breezy. Safe journey.

Take care, Michael!

Hier, mit diesen beiden Texten über das Teamwork Eno/Holland, endet mein erster Teil der Remixe alter Texte aus dem Jahre 2011. Eine Fortsetzung folgt im Mai. 2012 werden dann, wenn wir mal positiv denken, weitere Manas  dazustossen, und den Blog in ein munteres Perpetuum mobile neuer und alter Texte verwandeln. Wir sollten im kommenden Jahr den Textraum 2012 / 2013 öffnen. Damit der Chor vielstimmiger wird. Dieser Text hier ist natürlich remixt, und bietet eine verdichtete Version meiner Besprechung von „Drums Between The Bells“. 




From early on, Brian Eno has been quite sceptical about words, their meanings, their ability to distract our attention from sound. So, although having written outstanding, at times surreal lyrics for his brilliant four song albums in the seventies („Here Come The Warm Jets“, „Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)“, „Another Green World“ (this perfect mélange of songs and purely atmospheric pieces) and „Before and After Science“), he had never added the lyrics.

Now, on this album, the poems are printed. An interesting problem for the master of Ambient Music: poems consist of a highly condensed language, everything within a poem requires careful attention, every syllable, every space between lines, every picture, every breath words take. Eno’s trick: everything becomes sound; the listener decides for himself where to move, foreground, background, wordwise, soundwise. The music offers a broad spectrum: funky passages, trash jazz, exotica a la Eno, post-Kraut-electronics and drifting-spheres, soulful chamber music. Inspired stuff.




Poems and music – a special affair! „Drums Between The Bells“ will speak, with an open heart, to people who look for vital music they have never heard before, and to those who are curious about a still quite living thing called modern poetry. Remembering the Eno-Byrne masterpiece „My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts“ (1980) with the cut-and-sample approach to speaking and singing voices (mad priests, talking heads, singers from the Lebanon etc), the new record leads from the „bush of ghosts“ to a „theatre of voices“.

Nine voices (most of them women) give life to words, sometimes these voices (including the ones of Brian and Rick) are pure realism, sometimes they are morphed and treated. It’s never a gimmick, it always serves the words, the meanings, the sensual quality! Brian calls these tracks „speech songs“. And, using the language of people who come from other parts of the world, enriches the English words with a surprising, non-professional freshness, a special vibe!

In the brilliant slow motion piece, „the real“, a female voice is speaking about our ability to see or see not „the real in things“, full of repetitions and small changes. A sophisticated way of mixing hypnotic induction with perception theory: solid earth suddenly feels like murky water. The last lines one can (depending on your state of mind) clearly indentify tell us: „while real runs out and seems to see the real as it runs“ – then the voice turns from a soft speaker to a strange species. Seductive.




What do you think, Brian Eno loves about Rick Holland’s poems? I read his little book „Story the Flowers“ and found an interesting mix of careful attention to everyday life, philosophy, humour and science. Small towns, big towns, coastal areas are portrayed in a deeply sensual way (I’m happy to leave out the word „spiritual“ here). There is always an enigma that won’t be solved too soon. Something that hangs in the air. „I thought this was the kind of poetry I wanted to work with. The poems were short and sharp“, Eno writes in the foreword of a special edition, „their images were strong and the language memorable enough to reward repeated listening.“ The music drives, waits, suggests, breathes, swirls, stops, penetrates. And it does a lot more.

Sometimes the words approach the singing area, but it takes a while till we discover an oldfashioned thing called song: near the end, Eno starts singing, and, you know, so many people – nevertheless how much they love his ambient works – have just waited too long for new songs of Mr. Eno („Wrong Way Up“, 1990, „Just Another Day On Earth“, 2005). Now one can take a deep breath, when listening to the brilliance of „cloud 4“ – but, what’s that: a song that could last forever stops after one minute and fourtythree seconds?! We call this English humour. And remember that old saying: brevity is the essence of wit. But, well, I have to confess: the form of the song is perfect, there’s a opening part, a middle section and an uplifting ending:


„the madnesses of mood / weatherfronts we know / hem us in / or free us like children /just one day apart /a lifetime in the sky / sun, scan the sky like flight / search for any sign / (things) will be alright.“




And then? Then comes nothing (of course a very Cagean and well placed nothing, 56 seconds of silence) – and after that, a quiet revelation, another fantastic song: Eno delivers „Breath of Crows“ with a deepness in his voice you have rarely ever heared. Robert Wyatt will send kisses! Eno sings with a vulnerability, a slowness, an intensity that is not so far away from the last Scott Walker albums.


my god is in the breath of crows / it grows and shrinks with nature’s wish / a fire with no link to the wish of man / but it must be absolute, this god, /for when the mind is still it moves. / my god is in the breath of crows / may i not delude my i to think / he grows to grant my wish / or wash my sin / but let me watch in wonder / as he makes his work / wonder in this. / the sounds of holy night abound / kestrel calls and bells / drink the air /and the race for meaning quells /(let it in) /or the calls will sound like hollow tin /or gramophone circles / and background dust / i must replaced by must / by scent and sense /wonder this.“




I have no doubt that first reviews will be controversial, „thumbs up“ or „thumbs down“. Strange beasts (for sure those that come along with modern poetry) easily produce defense mechanisms a la „highbrow“ or „very intellectual“. There is nothing highbrow in this work. And don’t expect some final words about the album. Many of you will be surprised, I think, in more than one or two ways! Old school? No, this is cuttin‘ edge! And Eno never overeggs the pudding: „Drums Between The Bells“ is a wild thing on ots own peculiar ways.


P.S. The „special edition“ offers a foreword (we get to know somethin about the history of speech-songs), Eno’s imagery inspired by the music, and purely instrumental versions of the tracks – highly recommended, too! By the way, all the music is performed by Brian Eno. On some pieces Leo Abrahams plays guitar, Seb Rochford does some excellent drum work on the opening track, and the wonderful Nell Catchpole (who already added her magic in the days of WRONG WAY UP) plays violin and viola to several pieces.

2021 11 Mrz

JazzFacts today & more

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Eyolf Dale / Per Zanussi / Audun Kleive: „Being“ (Edition Rec.)*
Snowpoet: „Wait For Me“ (Edition Rec.)
Punkt.Vrt.Plastik: „Somit“ (Intakt Rec.)
Tamara Lukasheva: „Gleichung“ (Wismart Rec.)


Mindestens diese vier Alben stellt Odilo Clausnitzer in der Ausgabe der JazzFacts, heute,  am 11. März um 21.05 im Deutschlandfunk, vor. „Jazz auf Netflix“ – ein Autor geht auf Spurensuche des Jazz auf dem Streamingportal nach. In der Rubrik „Was hörst Du?“ fragt Hendrika Entzian die Saxofonistin Charlotte Greve. Und ich stelle Nik Bärtschs Solopianoalbum „Entendre“ vor. Manfred Eicher ist der Produzent – seit den frühen Siebziger Jahren hat er so einige Standards gesetzt, auch auf diesem Terrain, live und im Studio. Kein Grund, nun Routine walten zu lassen, das beweist die Produktion von „Entendre“ allemal. Steve Tibbetts erzählte mir diese Story über Manfred Eichers Begegnung mit japanischen Tonspezialisten während Keith Jarretts legendärer „Sun Bear Concerts“ …



Nik Bärtsch wird mit einer weiteren Passage aus meinem kleinen Interview in den „Klanghorizonten“ im April (dritter Samstag) zu hören sein. Im April erscheinen dann auch neue Alben von Thomas Stronen, Sinnika Langeland und Vijay Iyer auf ECM, die wahrscheinlich auch ihren Weg in die kommenden „Klanghorizonte“ finden werden. (Pianist Vijay Iyer has assembled a new trio with bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey for this forthcoming album named Uneasy). Und es gibt ein weiteres feines  Album der „Natural Information Society“, das bei „Aguirre Records“ rauskommen wird. Das Label wird betreut von Klaus und Werner, und ich habe bei Werner wegen der CD und eines Interviews mit dem Komponisten und Guimbra-Spieler Joshua Abrahms angefragt (er geniesst bei mir schlicht mehr Vertrauen als Klaus.) Und dann traf soeben auch noch ein Rune Grammofon-Paket ein, mit demnächst erscheinenden Arbeiten von Kjetil Mulelid (solo piano again!) und der Gitarristin Hedvig Mollestad. Im Mai freue ich mich auf meine nächste Ausgabe der JazzFacts mit Neuem von der improvisierten Musik.


* I am even more excited about pianist Eyolf Dale’s new album coming out in early 2021 – a new trio with two ingenious „big names“ in the Norwegian jazz scene: drummer Audun Kleive and bassist Per Zanussi. I really like Eyolf; I was lucky enough to join him on tour in the mid-Norwegian coastal region around Molde and Ålesund once, and a year later I was invited to spend a few days filming him recording in the nice studio The Village in Copenhagen, when he was playing in Hayden Powell’s trio. I am sure his new trio project is going to be a great live experience — if the tour will be actually be allowed to take place.

(Ingo J. Biermann, from the blog diary)

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