looking in my ear |cs063








































Amerykansko-niemieckie trio powraca, by muzyka opowiedziec posepna historie. Muzyka, której bliski jest duch zarówno klasycznego brytyjskiego insect improv, jak i wspólczesnego berlinskiego redukcjonizmu; muzyki, która bedac bardzo intensywna i bujna, jest jednoczesnie wyciszona i spokojna.
"Looking in My Ear", trzecia plyta Tripwire, zawiera material zarejestrowany w listopadzie 2004 podczas Phenomorphonic Festival, odbywajacego sie w Hamburgu - miescie, w którym urodzil sie, zyjacy obecnie w Berlinie, saksofonista Lars Scherzberg. Organizatorem tego festiwalu, poswieconego eksperymentalnej muzyce akustycznej i elektronicznej, jest kontrabasista John Hughes, który przybyl do Hamburga z USA w 1998 r. Trzeci czlonek tria, perkusista Jeff Arnal, na stale mieszka w Stanach Zjednoczonych, jednak dosc czesto gosci na Starym Kontynencie, regularnie wspolpracujac z muzykami europejskimi.Cala trójka penetruje rozmaite muzyczne obszary, grajac jazz, muzyke improwizowana, wspólczesna i elektroniczna, nie stroniac tez od wspólpracy z artystami z innych kregów.
Dziesiec utworów, które znalazly sie na omawianej plycie, zarejestrowano podczas dwóch dni. Trudno jednak stwierdzic, które kiedy nagrano, bowiem muzyka tria jest niezwykle jednorodna i spójna, i to do tego stopnia, ze wydaje sie, iz mamy do czynienia z jedna, dluga wstega improwizacji, która ktos pocial na kawalki.
Muzykom udalo sie stworzyc nagrania utrzymane w podobnym stylu. Kazdy utwor, zachowujac wlasne, wyraziste oblicze, posiada rysy charakterystyczne dla czlonka jednej, latwo rozpoznawalnej rodziny.
Sonorystyczna improwizacja Tripwire, grana notabene z wykorzystaniem dosc klasycznych technik artykulacji - ot, nieco wiecej niz zwykle multifonii i dronów w grze Scherzberga, delikatnego opukiwanie paleczkami talerzy i bebnów przez Arnala oraz nieomal nieustanne arco kontrabasu Hughesa - nie jest calkowicie pozbawiona dobrodziejstw melodii i harmonii, sprawiajacych, ze material, choc obarczony pewna doza abstrakcji, jest atrakcyjny i calkiem lekkostrawny, i to nawet pomimo smetku emanujacego z muzyki. Jesli chodzi o ow szczegolny nastrój, to zapewne nie bez winy bylo miejsce koncertu, bowiem w kosciolach muzycy na ogól potrafia poskromic temperament i grac mocno stonowana muzyke.
Chcialbym jeszcze zwrócic uwage na bieglosc muzyków w poslugiwaniu sie instrumentami oraz na ich wzajemne uwazne sluchanie, które pozwolily stworzyc tak udana plyte, ktora polecam wszystkim zwolennikom nieco bardziej swobodnego grania. Tadeusz Kosiek (Diapazon)

Recording imperturbable instrumental manifestations in a church - in this case, Hamburg's Christianskirche - has lately become a pretty common habit in the improvised music collectivity. "Looking in my ear" is a fine example of sensitive exploration of silence by three respectful players. Lars Scherzberg's sax rides waves of disguised significance by demolishing pre-conceived structures, extrapolating twists and turns from the straight lines of thoughtlessness. John Hughes, on bass, is capable of titillating every spot of his instrument to form logical constructions with clattering apprehensiveness and breathtaking emotion - check his splendid plangent glissandos on the magical "Irradiate", my favourite track of the album. Jeff Arnal is a sweet-talking, attentively listening man on a percussion set
which is transformed in a polychromatic palette where the terms of the conversation change a little bit, getting that necessary spark of
contradiction able to transform sonic byproducts into lenitive massages for an ever-too-distrustful nervous system. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Trio interplay, this is a rather active group for Creative Sources, and one of the few named as a band rather than as a set of of individual
improvisers. Tripwire's previous release on the Generate label documented their 2001 live and studio recording in Germany. Here the trio of American bassist Hughes and drummer Arnal with German saxophonist Scherzberg perform 10 tracks at the Phenomorphonic Festival in Hamburg, Germany. The pieces are a combination of active and atmospheric, a dense and creative set fueled by
Arnal's impressive drumming and percussion, which appears to include an odd assortment of electronic percussive elements. Scherzberg is restrained with a distinctive and buzzy tone, using extended techniques in unusual dialog.
Hughes alternates between plucking and bowing, an expressive and rich language that complements the action. A great mixture of reflective discussion and flurries of activity, dynamic, interesting and encompassing. Squidco

One of the finest recent CS releases is Looking in My Ear (CS 063), which comes courtesy of Tripwire: Lars Scherzberg (sax), John Hughes (bass), and Jeff Arnal (perc). It sounds like a cross between some late version of SME with the kind of granular, organic improv recently heard on Reuben Radding’s Fugitive Pieces. Recorded in a very live, reverberant space, Tripwire plays with heavy abstractions of their instruments, exploring the contrast between clatter and long tones, between furtive escapes and the occasional declamation. The pieces are nicely concise, ten focused improvisations where the players restrain almost all traces of ego in the name of evocative group sound, like listening to echoes from a canyon below. Scherzberg is perhaps the most muted of the personalities here, creating all kinds of evocative effects that avoid any hint of saxophone-isms (save for his intense fluttering on “Altitude”). Hughes’ rough arco doesn’t overpower by any means but provides the music with real flash. And Arnal continues to impress as a percussionist, particularly on the disc’s centerpiece “The Precipice Inside.” Jason Bivins (Bagatellen)

[…] Also comprised of 10 tracks, but less than two-third’s New Directions’ length, Looking in My Ear is much different sonically. That’s because the trio members – Brooklyn-based percussionist Jeff Arnal, German alto saxophonist Lars Scherzberg and American-in-Hamburg, bassist John Hughes – are as committed to Free Music as CBT is to Free Jazz. Dexterously employing the outermost limits of their instruments, the sound world of the Tripwire three utilizes extended techniques not only for novel interactions, but also as a way to remove many of the timbral distinctions between string, reed and vibrating surface.
Overall Tripwire has a slight edge here, but mostly because the more conventional – in this context – CBT has come up with too much of a good thing. Its CD could have lost one-quarter of its length without compromising its sound. As it is, all hands on both discs produce fine work on original compositions mostly from trio members as well as in CBT’s case, three memorable lines from someone named “D. Taba”.
Scherzberg never pushes his sax’s voice to that height on Looking in My Ear. An additional difference is while most of New Directions’ tunes are andante, the majority of those on the other CD’s are adagio, the better to fit with the Free Improv ethos.
Besides having refined the cooperative style on two earlier CDs in this formation, all three of Tripwire’s players have extensive, international Free Music experience. Hughes, for instance, plays with the German Improv trio Propele di Katsa and Italian pianist Alberto Braida; Scherzberg works with Hamburg-based trumpeter Birgit Ulher and Berlin-based multi-reedist Wolfgang Fuchs; and Arnal gigs with German pianist Dietrich Eichmann and American pianist Gordon Beeferman.
Tossing aside the conventions of both head-solo-head and the divide among soloists and accompanists, the trio operates most frequently in triple counterpoint, with inchoate ideas sometime brought to fruition – and sometimes not. One defining characteristic is displayed on “A Whisper Unknown” where extended silent patches segment the buzzing arco bass lines, carefully positioned floor tom and chime echoes plus horn squeaks and squawks.
With a particular avoidance of a defining, steady beat and a reliance on oscillated timbres that expand each instrument’s conventional limits, the three also manage to sonically confuse individual tones. Pitter-patter manipulations and soothing pulses may arise from the percussionist or by striking the double bass’s wood; while saxophone lines resemble harmonica exhalations or the spetrofluctuation associated with brass as unambiguously as they do reed vibratos. Additionally, reed tongue slaps often perfectly partner wooden blocks clip clops and striated arco tones.
Another instructive instance of this sonic mishmash occurs on “The Precipice Inside”, almost 12 minutes of subtle pulsations. Sul ponticello bass strokes rest on top of minimalist drum flams and rebounds, as Scherzberg highlights tongue-stopping twitters and hisses colored air through his horn’s body tube. Eventually spittle-directed, darting pitches join the bowed bass line and lightly resonated drum beats for a finale.
While neither of these mixed American-and-other combos could be confused with the other, each articulates a blueprint for contemporary trio improvisation. Eventually, when the CBT’s subsequent discs appear, it’s possible that this initial CD’s reliance on tradition – and excessive length – will be modified so that subsequent efforts will be as noteworthy as Tripwire’s third disc is here. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)