nulli secundus |cs222








































Releases by Creative Sources indeed hardly land on our desk, despite their extensive catalogue. They are up to catalogue number 222 with this new release, and like we should know from the ones we reviewed in their earlier days, all of their music is from the field of improvisation. Here we have a trio of Andreas Willers on electric and acoustic guitars, Christian Marien on drums and percussion and Meinrad Kneer on double bass. The music was recorded in February of this year at Ausland, one of Berlin's finer places for such music and then mixed a month later, so perhaps taped to multi-track and then mixed, or perhaps it's edited down. Either way is fine. THese players aren't well-known to me, even when Kneer every now and then mails releases on his Evil Rabbit label. These nine pieces, totaling some forty six minutes, show a few things: excellent improvising skills obviously, with a fine love of playing their instruments kind of 'as intended' by them who build such instruments and not like resonant sound boards. But that can result in a fine bit of mean noise, such as in 'Ubersturz'. Stylistically these three men aren't confined to one style. That 'Ubersturz' piece is noise, and rock like, but then they might play as easily something that is much more acoustic jazz like, of course always in a total free mode. This gives the release quite a varied impression, which works pretty well here, and could appeal to a wider audience than those hardcore improvisation/free jazz lovers, but to anyone with an open mind towards free rock, free noise and free jazz. All you need is an open mind, but then this music has a lot to give.
And then right after this CD, I happened to stick on the one by Lean Left, partly because I assumed it would be along similar lines, and partly because it was the next one on the pile 'to be heard'. Lean Left is a quartet of Terrie Ex on 'left' guitar, and Andy Moor on 'right' guitar. Both are members of The Ex - Terrie Ex even the founding member - a Dutch punk band, if you still may call them like that, who have broadened their horizons considerably. Here, as Lean Left, they team up for sixty seven minutes with Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and B clarinet and Paal Nilssen-Love. Now, normally the way Vandermark plays would not be my cup of tea, but I am more than happy to make exceptions. For the better part of these sixty-seven minutes I was concentrated on doing some boring manual work on a website, copying and checking links and such like. And all of this time the music from Lean Left was blearing away in the background. Sixty seven minutes of unrelentless free improv
ised music with a strong free jazz tag attached to it. It's not always full on craziness with these four men, but most of the time it actually is. I was thinking that while doing all this silly work, I preferred the loud, ongoing noisy bits of of this CD, but when I was listening more closely, even concentrating, than it seemed to me that I actually was more attracted by the more introspective moments, and less by its all out free jazz playing. Not something I would play everybody, working or otherwise, but one that I seemed to enjoy quite a bit. FdW (Vital Weekly)

A gorgeous free improvisation session between guitarist Andreas Willers, drummer Christian Marien and doublebassist Meinrad Kneer. I’m already quite fond of the latter (especially in his work with pianist Albert van Veenendaal). Here, he shines with his choices of textures and intensities – praise that also applies to the other two protagonists. Willers’ electric guitar occasionally soars with surprising delight (the short “arcoring”), but in general what strikes me is the intense yet easy-going group playing. Bravo. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

Another amazing master stroke of improvisational music by Portuguese label Creative Sources come from Ausland in Berlin, one of the most recommendable places in the lively German capital for lovers of this kind of music, where Andreas Willers (electric and acoustic guitars), Christian Marien (drums and percussions) and Meinrad Kneer (double bass) recorded "Nulli Secundus" (Latin expression meaning "Second to None") before mixing it one month later. The references to electromechanical engines, turbines and similar stuff both in the artwork and the titles could suggest the sound this trio manages to built should be "semantically" connected to this branch of human knowledge and technology and certainly their funny interaction could remind the functioning (or sometimes malfunction) of those contraptions, but there's a vague sense of humanity which got added by some lopsided melodies and some crescendoes in the midst and in the mist of metallic strindencies, bangs, clangors and mechanical sighs that I cannot associate it to a machine. Moreover they show a remarkable heterogeneity as you could feel that some track lean towrds jazz standards, other ones toward rock or even noise declensions, so that I think an association with a humanoid automaton could be apter to their funny outgrowth. You could imagine this being in the attempt of mimicking Jimi Hendrix ("Shoct", "ubersturz"), playing flamenco ("Triolog") or a serenade ("Froschball"), whose final outcome got inevitably influenced by some oxidizing spring or rusty gearwheels, unoiled or unfastened parts and other problems. Check it out! Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)

L’improvisation d’Andreas Willers (guitares), Christian Marien (batterie) et Meinrad Kneer (contrebasse) est franche, directe, farouche. La matière se trouve d’emblée et, sans recherche ni hésitation, poursuit sa route avec obstination. La grande qualité du guitariste réside dans les matières qu’il crée et entretient : sonorités insolites voire sidérantes à la guitare électrique ; espaces déliés à l’acoustique. Ici, le trio transforme un lent bruissement en une entêtante vibration; ailleurs, on ne jure que par le soubresaut et la ruade. En n’isolant jamais une source et en ne brisant jamais sa course, Willers, Marien et Kneer font de leur minimal royaume un continent aux foudroyantes vertus. Luc Bouquet (Le Son du Grisli)

If your Latin is a bit rusty these days (and whose isn't?), the phrase "nulli secundus" means "second to none." The term seems innocent on the surface, but what if "second" refers to time instead of rank? It's just these sorts of inversions that are welcome in the musical world created by this fine improvisational trio, composed of guitarist Andreas Willers, drummer Christian Marien, and double bassist Meinrad Kneer.

Recorded in February 2012 at Ausland, Berlin, the nine songs document a riveting free improvisation session. Most songs clock in under five minutes, and it's astonishing what the group can do in that amount of time; they change course swiftly and decisively, taking the listener on an exciting adventure as they explore the unfolding. "Unkunft," for instance, starts out with a shifting, choppy chaos, which evolves into a clicking of sticks and chiming, slightly ominous notes. The chimes gather together into a skewed melody, and finally the whole tune fractures and implodes. "Triolog" is full of strings and space, with fabulous twangs and tiny bits of lyricism by Willers. There's also a range of unexpected, unknown sounds, including clicks and clacks and what sounds like a whip. "Shoct" is a short, guitar-heavy piece, with Willers getting a range of interesting torques from his instrument; it's like Jimi Hendrix meeting a William S. Burroughs cut-up poem. "Ubersturz" is full of simmering, perilous strings, with everything played at the edge of urgency. The song gains in potency, and by the end becomes almost frantic in its necessity. There's something deeply disturbing about this tune, but only in the most delicious way.

The two longer pieces are a joy to behold. "Geschiebemerget" starts out with mysterious scrapes and shivers, plus more of Willers' glorious twangs and bending notes; some of his sounds are downright pretty, making him a sort of quantum Chris Isaak. The song gains momentum as it grows, slowly building into a quizzical maze of noise. The group plays with the edge of unbearable sound, high notes that quiver the eardrums and threaten one's sanity — but again, in a good way. Then they shift into alien-speak, throwing out sparkling bits of notes that resemble an ethereal Morse Code. By the end the song gets very tiny and spare, drifting into a spacious world, and finally floating untethered into outer space. It's simply a gorgeous piece of music. "Fellatmung" starts out with a noise like burning, the slow sizzling of something threatening to burst. The song takes its time, carefully putting out one note at a time, exploring individual motifs and then pulling them back. But suddenly there's a shift in spirit and mood, with the guitar becoming light and lyrical. Whatever was gaining energy has now come out into the light; the song feels like a birth in a way, with a terrible pressure and intensity bursting into a beautiful sonic flowering.

Altogether Nulli Secundus is utterly enjoyable, a thought-provoking musical offering by three seasoned improvisers. The group is wild and free and open to anything, yet it's their inherent musicality that allows them to choose and combine in a way that's pleasing, even when it's shocking. Florence Wetzel (The Squid's Ear)

Andreas Willer (guitares acoustique et électrique), Meinrad Kneer (contrebasse) et Christian Marien (batterie) forment un trio allemand d'improvisation libre. De l'improvisation libre assez éclectique qui tire ses racines du jazz (pour le phrasé rythmique de Willer à la guitare acoustique), du rock et de la noise (pour les larsens et les aspects parfois répétitifs des percussions), ainsi que des territoires plus réductionnistes pour les longues nappes de cymbales frottées et les nombreuses techniques étendues à la basse.

Les neuf improvisations proposées sur Nullis Secundus sont assez variées donc. Mais la plupart du temps, c'est surtout énergique et réactif. De nombreux éléments se côtoient, dans un jeu de question-réponse loin d'être homogène, mais où l'écoute est tout de même sensible et attentive. Une superposition de modes de jeux et d'esthétiques compose ces improvisations, méthode assez courante et de plus en plus lassante. Ce n'est pas vraiment mauvais, mais c'est pas non plus palpitant ni très excitant : les trois instrumentistes mettent beaucoup d'énergie dans leurs improvisations, leur jeu est plutôt intense, mais ces impros manquent souvent de tension, manquent d'un quelque chose qui maintienne et retienne. Julien Heraud (ImprovSphere)