savagnières |cs045








































Szpinet i powerbook... to zestawienie mogloby sugerowac, ze muzyka szwajcarskiego duetu oparta bedzie na antynomii "stare - wspólczesne", ze bedzie to próba zderzenia brzmien klasycznych i nowoczesnych, ze byc moze powstanie postmodernistyczna hybryda stworzona z efektów klasycznej pianistyki poddanej
komputerowym manipulacjom.
Tak jednak nie jest. "Savagnieres" to dzielo niezwykle spójne i jednolite, zlozone niemal wylacznie z elementów wspólczesnych. Szpinet jest uzywany po prostu jako instrument strunowy, jawi sie dalekim kuzynem preparowanego fortepianu, instrumentem, którego barwa sytuuje go gdzies pomiedzy gitara, harfa oraz lutnia.
Elektronika tworzy zas dla niego oparcie, dopelnia, nieustannie pulsujac i migoczac. Muzyka duetu Baumgartner - Schiller to dialog dwóch improwizatorów, skupionych na dzwieku, badajacych go, smakujacych i lepiacych z niego ciagnace sie, nieznacznie zmieniajace sie ciasto.
Nagrania, które wspólnie tworza, rozwijaja sie niespiesznie, delikatnie ewoluujac. Zmiany sa powolne, jakby muzycy nieustannie zastanawiali sie, gdzie umiescic dany detal. Ta powolnosc, rozwaga i starannosc powoduje, ze w muzyce nie ma niezbednych szczególów, ze jest ona poukladana i uporzadkowana, ze w pewien sposób staje
sie aseptyczna i chlodna. To ostatnie okreslenia nie maja stanowic zarzutu, poniewaz ta plyta niezwykle mi sie podoba, to raczej próba oddania ducha tej muzyki. Muzyki, która jest bardzo przyjazna, raczej melodyjna i przy tym niebanalna. Gdybym mial porównac "Savagnieres" do jakiejs innej plyty, to pierwszym skojarzeniem jest "Schnee" duetu Stangl-Kurzmann, z tym tylko, ze uzycie szpinetu zamiast gitary powoduje, ze muzyka Baumgartnera i Schillera ma nieco inna aure. Tadeusz Kosiek (Gaz-Eta)

Also Peter Baumgartner (powerbook) and Christoph Schiller (spinet) are new names to me. If I remember well, a spinet is a sort of harpsichord, but I forgot what the exact difference is. In a Swiss place called Savagnieres, they recorded together. It's hard to tell wether this is a laptop transforming the sound of the spinet, or the two playing together. I assume the latter. The spinet, an instrument with strings, is played like a prepared guitar with ebows, objects, fans, but also loose objects. The laptop provides a nice backdrop of likewise continuous sounds. This brings quite an intense release, a combination of drone related sounds and the more free improvisation music, which could appeal to fans of micro-sound and improvisation alike. The first highlight so far. Frans de Waard (Vital)

Titled after the Swiss city it was recorded in one year ago, "Savagnières" features Baumgartner at powerbook and Schiller at spinett, quite an unusual instrument especially in the improvised field. Electronics are mostly kept at a quiet and very minimal level, consisting in modulated sinewaves and drones; quite the opposite for the spinett playing, which is hectic and energetic, while avoiding the noise peaks which are often present in the Creative Sources catalogue. Nonetheless, Schiller knows how to dose the plucking and picking of his instrument, so that the two elements (electronic and acoustic) actually merge very well, creating a suspended and mysteryous dialogue. As always, top-notch design by Carlos Santos. Eugenio Maggi (Chain DLK)

[…] Esta utilização alternativa dos instrumentos tem contornos particularmente deliciosos em “Savagnières”, no qual a espineta de Christoph Schiller contracena com o computador de Peter Baumgartner. Pesa na audição deste disco a circunstância de a espineta ser de origem medieval e o Powerbook o “canivete suíço” dos tempos modernos. A sua associação tem uma carga simbólica mais do que óbvia, mas o que se verifica é a desmontagem radical da mesma, com a espineta em processo de desidentificação e a informática a confinar-se apenas a um quarto das suas capacidades, pouco mais do que a articulação de sinusoidais. […] Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

Peter Baumgartner is primarily a sound poet, working with language since 1989 and active in the sound installation field (he came to the computer in 1999), while Christoph Schiller has a fine arts/free jazz background, having also written many pieces for voice (he's the leader of Millefleur, an improvising vocal ensemble). Savagnières reveals both technical finesse and a healthy dose of curiosity, but the contrast between its laptop continuity and the unconventional acoustic source of Schiller's spinet is somewhat atypical compared to much of the Creative Sources catalogue. Schiller has been using the spinet in improvisational contexts since 2002, and its plucked, bowed and struck strings break the reassuring flux of Baumgartner's computer-generated waves. The musicians explore a few basic concepts, as if forced to play games in a tiny room, yet the dialogue between stasis and movement is rewarding and fruitful; what could easily become a fine wallpaper of digestible minimalism instead enriches and develops the introvert convolutions of the spinet, which at times resembles some Oriental instrument or a slowmotion version of Keith Tippett's prepared piano. The laptop's pulsating warmth radiates constantly, despite irregular collisions that move the surrounding air enough to make us breathe in warped, unreal easiness. Massimo Ricci (Paris Transatlantic)

Savagnières (CS 045) features the interesting instrumentation of Peter Baumgartner on powerbook and Christoph Schiller on spinet! Named for the Swiss live venue at which these five improvisations were recorded, this recording is a mostly successful study in contrast. Baumgartner is an interesting figure with his powerbook. Needless to say, he favors drone-based material; but there’s a warmth to his work that actually renders much of his contributions fairly organic sounding (indeed, I was frequently reminded of a hurdy-gurdy). By contrast, Schiller’s spinet work isn’t so much kin to Mukarji’s metallic abstractions as it is to a rougher, more industrial take on Denman Maroney’s hyper-piano. Particularly when the electronics oscillate most vigorously, Schiller attacks and is especially aggressive with the strings (sometimes yielding tonality, elsewhere sheer noise). And every so often, he even conjures up Derek Bailey! The long second improvisation (nearly 20 minutes) is the most languidly paced, but between Schiller’s use of an e-bow and Baumgartner’s metallic swirls, there’s a continual tension that elevates the music. Jason Bivins (One Final Note)

Peter Baumgartner e Christoph Schiller encontraram-se nos dias 10 e 11 de Dezembro de 2004, para tocar ao vivo em Savagnières, na Suiça, sessão gravada e publicada sob designação idêntica à da localidade. A instrumentação do duo é curiosa e rara, se não inédita: laptop e espineta, instrumentos que têm entre si centenas de anos de diferença, quanto ao momento em que historicamente apareceram, facto completamente irrelevante para a economia de Savagnières.
A espineta é um instrumento de tecla da famíla do cravo, com um som que lhe é timbricamente próximo, se tocado de forma convencional. Não é isso que aqui acontece. As cordas de Christoph Schiller são percutidas, dedilhadas e passadas a arco, esgueiram-se suavemente por entre as oscilações das ondas digitais geradas no Powerbook de Peter Baumgartner. Estas formam uma fina película que envolve a delicadeza do preparado acústico – o adequado pano de fundo dronológico sobre o qual se desfiam os acontecimentos, que tanto se inspiram em sonoridades orientais, na música contemporânea ocidental, como na livre-improvisação europeia.
A turbulência é mínima e a sensação de movimento é nítida e sempre presente. O volume geralmente baixo e sem picos de maior ao longo da jornada (apenas sobe uns furos consideráveis durante breves segundos na quinta e última improvisação) esconde uma luxuriante actividade de microfonia, que faz com que esta seja uma sessão que tanto pode agradar ao público da electrónica “pura”, como ao da improvisação acústica. Eduardo Chagas (Jazz e Arredores)

We live in a time where a powerbook — a laptop computer — is branded a legitimate musical instrument. Stating the obvious, perhaps, but it's almost bemusing, perhaps patently absurd, how casually this is taken for granted, particularly since the powerbook's performer is really playing software and manipulating a mouse rather than plucking a string, hitting a drum, or blowing into a horn. Yes, synth players have in essence operated with a similar maxim, but the laptop's infinite versatility belies its patent facelessness. Peter Baumgartner is the man on 'top here, paired with Christoph Schiller, who is credited with utilizing 'spinett' (sic), a harpsichord-like instrument which Schiller bends, arches, and tweaks in ways the spinet's maker likely never imagined. Thrust into the digital realms of Baumgartner's machine-made environment, Schiller's sonic tool handily complements his partner's latent hums and pensive soft-synth coagulations.
Five untitled tracks are plainly marked on the booklet by their individual lengths, each in tandem epitomizing where contemporary electroacoustic improv sits, and how it functions as an categorical entity, on the praxis of modern-day music. The near 20-minute title track is a veritable model of digital economy and acoustic means. Baumgartner and Schiller volley sounds at one another with little regard for simpatico gestures; the former either births dark-hued synth hums or plangent whoops and hollers for the latter to prattle and screech over, or leaves great gaps of silence for Schiller to mussy about in. Sonic nomenclature is largely abandoned; all is effect, residual or otherwise. Travelling in long, sustained vacuums ultimately does both artist's few favors; if anything, such pregnant pauses seem to reveal more a paucity of genuine ideas than overt acts of creation. When the two do gel, once that long second piece approaches the halfway point, at least the applecart appears moderately upset, Schiller strumming the spinet's upper body to achieve percussive attacks that are then sprinkled over the bell-like trilling Baumgartner lays down as foundation. As his partner tugs more and more sci-fi noises out of his p-book, Schiller responds with equally noxious sounds of his own; it's a shaky apotheosis, and not altogether convincing, but it satisfies nonetheless.
Even as the recording progresses, it must again be questioned how well sessions such as this one are mic'ed, recorded, and ultimately doled out for those listeners not present at the event itself. Schiller's random acoustics exude much within this context, but what little decay or sustain they have seems incongruous in the pristine overlay Baumgartner devises. Were it a more maximal music, the cracks between Savagnières' prickly ideals would be so emphasized as to provide the whole recording with more pronounced "force" and a certifiable heft - instead, the reductionism on tap here gets downright wonky, booking regularity rather than power. Darren Bergstein (The Squid's Ear)

So, a day late, here are my thoughts on Savagnieres, the duo disc released a few years back by Cristoph Schiller and Peter Baumgartner on the Creative Sources label. Apologies for writing about something that has been available for a while now, but it is certainly still available, and as it passed me by when it first came out I have no problem writing about it now. Savagnieres is one of two discs involving the Spinett player (spinettist?) Schiller that I purchased from him when I saw his live duo with Sebastian Lexer a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed his live performance a lot, and that coupled with the enthusiastic recommendations of Simon Reynell encouraged me to pick up the two discs, Savagnieres being the first of the two I have listened to.
I have written many times before that my natural taste in improvised music tends to lean towards a blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation, and this CD is quite an extreme example of that musical configuaration. For those unaware of what a spinett is, it is best described as a small harpsichord, with Schiller’s personal instrument also modified slightly to allow additional preparations. Baumgartner on the other hand plays here using a laptop, but in a manner that is decidedly artificial and about as far away from the plucked strings and acoustic resonances of the spinett as is possible. While Schiller’s sound changes frequently, full of rattles, clatter, chiming strings and resounding hollow notes, so Baumgartner’s contributions to the five tracks on Savagnieres tend to be deep, semi-rhythmic pulses and drones that change only slightly over time and tend to add a colour and atmosphere to the duo, that Schiller than paints into with his smaller, incidental sounds.
Both Schiller and Baumgartner are Swiss musicians, who seem to have played together for a while. Their music then works well in combination with each other, but the differences between the instrumentation, the sounds made and the history behind each piece of equipment is considerable. While the spinett will have been in use as a musical instrument for several centuries, the powerbook computer has only really been considered to be a viable tool for creating live improvised music for the last fifteen years or so. The difference in sound reflects this. While the spinett has the depth of tradition buried in its sound, the laptop’s output carries a sense of power and persistent strength when compared to the fragility of its older cousin. So on Savagnieres the music portrays not only the electronic/acoustic contrast I enjoy so much but also a distinct feeling of old meets new, tradition meets new kid on the block.
It is this sense of contrasts that makes this CD work for me. On the first four tracks at least, Baumgartner’s sound is mainly made up of rich, partly droning layered synthetic sounds that lean towards circular, pulsing forms, usually quite slow in their rotation and relatively quietly played. Schiller then gives himself something of a free rein to dance around over the top of these coloured planes, sometimes adding just carefully chosen small sounds, sometimes scribbling quite wildly all over things. The five pieces here, numbered one to five each have their own character. In places the music has an echoey, chamber-like feel to it, whereas elsewhere it is upfront and in your face. What is impressive to me is the confidence in the playing of both musicians. Baumgartner here really sticks his neck out with some of his chosen sounds, from the heavy loops of the fourth piece to the distant vocalisation that whisper in the background of the last track, the only one not to contain purely synthetic sounds. He really pushes the envelope in places, challenging Schiller with some very bold sounds that will then hang in the same space for a considerable amount of time. Schiller then portrays his own remarkable dexterity with his unusual instrument (in the world of improvisation at least) by meeting the laptop’s clouds of sound head-on. At times it feels as if the musicians are arguing rather than harmonising, the dialogue heated rather than calm, but still these two musicians find a way to combine their quite different soundworlds in a manner that resembles much more than two unlikely instruments forced together.
Savagnieres is a great listen. Its hard to know how to describe it or what to compare it to. Baumgartner’s nearest comparison might be with Klaus Filip, but his sound is distinctly richer and mroe detailed than Filip’s and more reliant on the looping pulses found on this CD. Schiller has his own voice. Certainly his music could be compared to the playing of a multitude of inside-pianists, but the spinett’s sound is really quite different, smaller, more compressed and tinny, resonant at a much higher register. This is a disc of quite active improvised music, impressionistic rather than minimal, with the musical dialogue much more linear than directly conversational, Schiller somehow the soloist above a wide sweeping concerto. A nice, really quite original sounding release. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)