Nor |cs289

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Nor”, com Axel Dorner, Nuno Torres e Alexander Frangenheim a juntarem-se ao violetista português, contém outra surpresa: repetem-se pulsações, isto é, formam-se ritmos definidos, reproduzem-se notas e situações, não temendo a introdução de tematismos. Podem logo depois ser contrariados, mas ocorrem e com uma frequência que nos demonstra não se tratar de meros acidentes no fluxo das improvisações. O efeito é teatral, dramático, e acaba até por ter maiores repercussões neste contexto do que teria numa composição em que esse procedimento é de norma. Rui Eduardo Paes (Jazz.pt)

Œuvre de la maturité, les trois mouvements de NOR, enregistrés en 2014, sont une sublimation colorée et obstinée de la démarche réductionniste. A la fois dense et léger, faussement sommaire mais paraissant de plus en plus sophistiqué au fil des écoutes successives. Deux cordes, deux vents. Le saxophoniste Nuno Torres est le nouveau venu qui compte dans la galaxie Rodrigues au Portugal. Son jeu en marge complète à merveille les effets de souffle et les morsures du vent du trompettiste Axel Dörner. L’archet d’Alexander Frangenheim s’est fait léger, accidentel, presque évanescent. Des séquences caractéristiques se succèdent entre deux respirations faites de drones et de plaintes, de pincements ou de coups secs. Ernesto Rodrigues agite lentement les phalanges sur le cordier. Passée l’anecdote, s’engage une cadence où les sons tenus se complètent commentés par la percussion des pistons. Chacun s’invente un rôle, une consistance au bord d’un brouillard céleste et dépose à demi-mot des vibrations inconnues, des grésillements et froissements d’un autre monde. Le climat s’enrichit avec une belle cohérence. On connaît la démarche, on croit avoir entendu cela, ces souffles muets qui s’échappent des tuyaux sans faire chanter la note, ce crissement mat de l’archet, mais, après des dizaines d’albums, notre altiste lisboète et ses compagnons nous enchantent encore tant les sonorités se renouvellent constamment. Ecoute au millimètre, dosage infini des moindres interventions, inspiration du moment précis, avion dans le lointain, gaz qui s’échappent par les fentes … les improvisateurs font gémir et pleurer le bois, flageoler le glissando, trembler l’archet, bourdonner l’harmonique ou broebeler la colonne d’air comme le ferait un grenouille à la surface de la mare …Une suite fragile de détails infimes s’enchaînent sans fin, créant une architecture, retraçant un plan, un itinéraire sans hésitation à travers un continent inconnu où le paysage devient saturé, les nuages grondent, un vent souffle …Un très beau moment. Jean-Michel van Schouwburg (Orynx)

Ce disque noir est l’œuvre d’Ernesto Rodrigues, Axel Dörner, Nuno Torres et Alexander Frangenheim, enregistrés par ce-dernier le 2 mai 2014 à Berlin.

Déjà, l’archet du violoniste effleure l’alto et les souffles cherchent en trompette et saxophone des trajectoires à dessiner. Ce n’est pas l’hésitation mais l’habitude – celle de prendre son temps, qu’ont Rodrigues, Dörner et Torres – qui commande les premières minutes de l’improvisation. Et c'est Frangenheim qui, le premier, interrompt le jeu de patience et met un terme à l’attente d’un auditeur qui redoutait avoir déjà entendu Nor alors qu’il ne l’avait pas encore sorti de sa boîte.

Tournant, c’est donc Frangenheim qu’il stimule. D’un archet long ou d’un soudain accrochage, le contrebassiste oblige ses partenaires à abandonner le propos étouffé de techniques pourtant étendues. Sans le bouleverser non plus, la contrebasse rebat le jeu et transforme ses minutes de discrétion en saisissante musique d’attente : alors une longue note de trompette, la répétition d’un grincement ou l’insistance d’un aigu, donnent à l’exercice un charme opérant. Guillaume Belhomme (Le Son du Grisli)

Lovers of the reductionist approach to improvisation will maybe adore this session that Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Axel Doerner (trumpet), Nuno Torres (alto saxophone) and Alexander Frangenheim (double bass) recorded on 2nd May 2014 at Studioboerne45 in Berlin. They aptly titled it as NOR, the negation of logical OR in Boolean logic, which produces a value of 'true' (1) if and only if both operands are 'false' (0). If your mind chew these subjects as your eardrums chew reductionism, you will easily understand that this matching makes sense as well as the cover artwork: maybe it's not easy to see on the low-resolution image I'm attaching to this review, but there's a picture of the moon covered by nocturnal clouds inside that circle surrounded by a plain black field, as it seems that the Apollo Guidance Computer (if not engineered by Kubrick...), which supposedly brought man on the moon, was entirely based on NOR logical gates and three inputs. The 'false' or 0 operands are the instruments (two winds and two chords) in this session, as you can imagine: all of them are not played in a conventional way, so that you won't easily guess who is "playing" what, but the first to break what could be labelled as 'silence' and some sparse particles of sound in this silent colloidal suspension is Frangenheim's double bass, the most "silenced" voice in the first 21-minutes lasting of the three improv sessions you'll find in this release. The shortest session ('just' 13 minutes) is faithful to the same approach, but its general sonority could be thought as a wicked version of a soundtrack for a documentary focusing on the supposed moon-landing, and some sci-fi nuances get evoked by the brutalized winds in the third session, even if this one features more frequent of alternations between 'empty' and 'chaotic' moments than the second one. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)

[...] The album I particularly want to feature here, however, is Nor by a quartet of two musicians from Portugal & two from Berlin. Although I confess that I skipped hearing it last time, my interest in Nor increased with my greater appreciation for Rodrigues's music overall — and indeed, as chance would have it, Nor was recorded (chronologically) between the two sessions on Primary Envelopment — as well as my continued interest in Alexander Frangenheim's work (most recently via Kochuu). The relation between Creative Sources & the Berlin music scene, and more specifically Frangenheim, seems to be very fertile at the moment (and indeed, I have had something of a Berlin theme in this space recently, which might say more about me than anything else, although I don't know exactly what). The quartet is completed by well-known trumpet player Axel Dörner & saxophonist Nuno Torres (who appears on many of Rodrigues's recent albums, including Jadis la pluie était bleue). Although the first track of Nor, which is almost half of the album by length, traverses some of the same audibility issues that I've expressed ambivalence about here, the next two become increasingly assertive. Indeed, Nor 3 comes off for me as a wild, multi-player Scelsian improvisation: The more distant becoming of the first track (the interest of which is somewhat episodic) emerges directly & forcefully into consciousness by the third. (And one can see how a similar notion is figured graphically, in straightforward fashion, by the album cover.) As suggested in the "becoming" comments concerning the Clinamen Trio & elsewhere above, I find this sort of "polyphony" (as also explored by e.g. Baloni, although often in a more light-hearted vein) to be quite intriguing. Whereas Scelsi's infrachromatic improvisations powerfully illustrate an emergent (non-chronological, i.e. related to Aion) sense of becoming, that becoming is in the singular: Scelsi's transcribed improvisations are ultimately his, and that singular, personal quality is found in most of his mature music, even if arranged for multiple instruments. With Nor, we have a quartet, not to amplify a singular becoming, but to express multiple becomings. (I've framed this concept elsewhere, and you'll eventually be able to read that, as multiple immanent temporalities. In other words, and I don't know how the musicians themselves approached the session, the temporality of the different becomings is not identical, i.e. not imposed: Temporality itself emerges in multiplicity, although obviously it is in turn "captured" by the eventual CD master.) Such a "becoming" style is also evocative of e.g. Spill Plus (although the approach to multiplicity is different), another album with Berlin connections, but also Australian connections: Although I know of no Australian references in Scelsi's oeuvre, his sense of emergence & becoming seems to fit Australian traditional art well. Whereas there are no Australians on Nor, that influence appears to be there (and maybe someday I will have some idea how to answer the question, "Why Berlin?"). I should also note that the instrumentation on Nor is entirely acoustic, at least as designated, thus separating it somewhat from e.g. "ea" or other quiet improvisatory styles like lowercase — although the latter should be qualified: Dörner is specifically identified with lowercase, and ultimately this album is electroacoustic via the recording medium itself: In that sense, it can be figured as breaking the fourth wall (to invoke theater): Originally acoustic sounds are going to be electronic at some point, if they are to appear on a CD album (to sound on electronic speakers), or pass through a microphone at all, calling into question the very assertion of "originally": The microphone becomes inherent to the conception. Anyway, whereas these specific electroacoustic or lowercase concerns are reflected more generally today, Nor takes its own approach, and it's an approach I find to be increasingly compelling. I take the title as a disavowal of imposed binary (or even discrete) choices, suggestive of transverse movement in response to such imposed discipline, a sort of "none of the above," as some have put it e.g. in the context of USA politics. That sort of motion is exactly what we need, an opening to different (multiple) becomings. And now I feel caught up with recording comments for the moment, after my little illness. More will appear soon enough, though, I'm sure. 26 April 2015. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts