monday sessions cs320









[Egal wo der Name MIA ZABELKA draufsteht, das musikalisch Gewöhnliche und das den einfachen Mustern Folgende sind in so einem Fall nicht zu erwarten. Auch „Monday Sessions“ – so der Titel des neuen Soloalbums der vielseitigen Musikerin –  zeigt sich als ein wirklich spannender Versuch eines doch etwas anderen Musikentwurfs.
Die gebürtige Steirerin ist eine Künstlerin, die – egal welches Projekt sie auch in Angriff nimmt – stets vor allem auf eines bedacht ist: uneingeschränkt ihren eigenen musikalischen Weg zu gehen. Sich stilistisch in keinem Moment in irgendeiner Form festlegend, fühlt sich Mia Zabelka vor allem zwischen den verschiedenen musikalischen Stühlen am wohlsten. Die E-Violinistin, Elektronikerin, Vokalistin und Komponistin verfolgt in ihrem Schaffen den Ansatz des Crossovers, wobei auch dieser Begriff ein für sie viel zu eng gefasster ist. Mia Zabelka ist jemand, der den Gedanken des Zusammenführens und Verbindens von Verschiedenem noch viel weiter treibt, als es vielleicht andere nun.
Irgendwo zwischen den freien Formen des Jazz, Pop, Noise, Punk, der avantgardistischen Elektronik und Elektroakustik, der Klangkunst und der Neuen Musik agierend, gelingt es der vielseitigen Künstlerin immer wieder, immer andere ungewöhnliche kunstvolle Verbindungen  einer sehr individuellen Note zu schlagen. Nicht anders verhält es sich auch auf ihrer neuen Soloveröffentlichung „Monday Sessions“,  die sich in ihrem Gesamtsound einmal mehr als eine sehr interessante und eigenwillige Interpretation von Musik offenbart.

Eine eigene musikalische Sprache

An dem nun erscheinenden Album etwas überraschend ist, dass der elektronische Anteil in den Nummern ein deutlich zurück- und der vokale hinaufgeschraubter ist. Zumindest dem ersten Höreindruck nach. Vielleicht noch mehr als in der jüngeren Vergangenheit setzt die sich keinem Experiment abgeneigt zeigende Mia Zabelka auf einen mehr akustischen Klang, der aber durch ihren unverkennbaren Spielstil einen ganz eigenen artifiziellen und nuancenreichen Charakter annimmt. Jedes ihrer Stücke erzählt seine eigene Geschichte. Mal geht es überaus geräuschvoll und intensiv zur Sache, dann wieder spannt sie sich in ruhiger und geheimnisvoll stimmungsvoller Art über das musikalische Geschehen.
Mia Zabelka zeigt sich auf „Monday Sessions“ wie gewohnt als eine Musikerin, die ihren ganz eigenen Vorstellungen von Klang folgt und diese auch auf höchst spannende Weise umzusetzen weiß. Genau das Richtige für all jene, die die etwas andere Musikerfahrung suchen. Michael Ternai (Music Information Center Austria)

Traditionally the solo violin recital is more commonplace in the so-called classical world than in Jazz. So it’s no surprise that these high-quality instances of string improvisations arrive from two European whose initial background was in notated music. With 15 years between them, the older fiddler, Portuguese Carlos “Zíngaro” also dabbled in avant-rock music before devoting most of his work to improvisation alongside other sound explorers such as bassist Joëlle Léandre and saxophonist Daunik Lazro. Austrian string-player Mia Zabelka on the other hand, moves between New music and free improvisation where she has played with guitarist John Russell and alto saxophonist Audrey Lauro among others.

Both these sessions were recorded live, in the eclectically Mosteiro de Santa Clara a Velha in Zingaro’s case and Klanghaus Untergreith’s in Zabelka’s. Additionally while both work with electronics from time to time, each session here is completely acoustic although the younger player adds some this-side-of-Bedlam free-form vocalizing to her 10 tracks.

Measuring the echo effects of the venerable structure like a combination of outdoor geologist and laboratory researcher in half as many tracks as Zabelka’s, Zingaro extracts tinctures of languid romanticism alongside jumping spiccato agitation. Taking full advantage of the tractable ancient stones, place-marking echoes track his timbral transformations. “Portions of Life” for instance, which begins with a near-pastoral theme, is swiftly compromised as widening back-of-bow pressure creates a sharpened stridency that slides up the scale as it excites. Like a master deep sea fisher, who knows exactly how loose or taut the line should be, the violinist follows a similar method with his bow in addition to calculating precisely where pizzicato motions augment the performance. By “Scroll of Fate”, the final track, each improvisation have travelled up and down so many musical paths that the sonic reflections seem no more outlandish than someone changing from summer to winter garments. Being able to accompany themes at the same time as he advances them, the violinist glosses over the push-pull between pseudo-romanticism and sharpened atonality. His triumph is having the audience accept his sonic audacity with the same enthusiasm it would greet a Mozart performance.

Building on the pioneering work of the likes of Zíngaro, there seemed nothing shocking in Zabelka’s solo violin explorations on four successive Mondays at Klanghaus Untergreith, where she is artistic director. This CD is the result. Attuned to adopting nuanced gestures into violin-accelerated physical movements, each track illustrates a different string-trope. “Imminent disaster” for instance uses tremolo scratches and sprawls to suggest a swarm of angry bees. Around the string pops and picks on “Concentric circles” opposite textures sound as if a heavy object is being dragged across a wooden floor. Meanwhile “Stream of Consciousness” confirms her desire to use automatic-playing gestures to reach a more profound interface as if she was a medium mouthing messages from the departed. Ping-ponging between full spectrum romantic allusions to narrow pitch extensions her sweeps expose a vigorous mellowness taking enough from each tradition to legitimately reflect the Third Stream. The same sort of transformation appears on “Remembrance”. Initial string jitters give way to passages that could be part of a so-called classical intermezzo, then she appears to collect her wits enough to introduce shill jerks. But in the same way as she avoided faux-loveliness earlier on, her timbres never become ear-splitting or overly strident.

Vocalizing which shows up most prominently on tracks such as “Oscillations” and “Papagei” includes gurgles, retches, coos and cackles. Its antecedents appear to be the mouth improvisations of Phil Minton, Nicolas and Léandre with detours into Daisy Duck plus some masculine-sounding overtones. Unlike a teenager whose tonsorial choices are used to express defiant alternatives, Zabelka’s growls, mumbled and spit are in some ways an extension of her free association playing; inner monologues made aural. The key on “Papagei” for example is how appropriately her vocalized cries match her narrow string vibrations or later on how pigeon-like coos further modify the impressionistic program she creates instrumentally.

Solo violin may not be for everyone. But those interested in how two fiddlers from different generations handled the challenges would be well advised to hear these discs. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)

Crissante, voltigeuse, insistante, vrillante, écartelée, cisaillante, robuste, bruissante : voici Mia Zabelka. Mia Zabelka est violoniste, on commence à le savoir. Elle râcle et frotte la corde jusqu’à la rupture. Elle additionne les périphéries de l’instrument, pousse le raid assez loin. Comme d’autres sont adeptes du souffle continu, elle, est partisane de l’archet continu. Elle pousse son instrument dans ses derniers retranchements, le parasite mais, parfois, lui ordonne de comploter quelque partita délurée, énigmatique.

Mia Zabelka est aussi vocaliste : ça, on le sait moins. En duo-désaccord avec son violon, elle le provoque, l’abandonne et l’encourage à crisser encore plus loin. En solitaire, elle navigue entre murmures, étirements, égosillements : drôle de scat sonique-rythmique que celui-ci. Le violon ne me sciant pas les nerfs, j’adopte sans restriction aucune le Monday Sessions de Mia Zabelka. Luc Bouquet (Le Son du Grisli)

Voici un beau témoignage d’une pratique contemporaine du violon enregistrée en concert. Travail très personnel sur la gestuelle et le son acoustique de Mia Zabelka, personnalité active en Autriche et qu’on croise sur les scènes européennes. On l'a découverte avec Maggie Nicols et John Russell dans un excellent trio: Trio Blurb (Extraplatte 821-2). Ces Monday Sessions me rassurent car j’avais trouvé son précédent opus en solo un peu superficiel avec un son électrifié qui gommait la spécificité du violon, et la musique disons, « expérimentale ». Et c’est bien ces possibilités expressives sonores et kinesthésiques qui sont mises ici en valeur dans une dizaine de pièces développant soigneusement un aspect  bien typé de l’instrument. Il y aussi une  intervention vocale proche de la poésie sonore que j’apprécie vraiment (Oscillations). Mia Zabelka va chercher des sons inouïs, sorte de sabir de sorcière sous hypnose. Strömungen est le lieu où l’instrument gratté, percuté et frotté se transforme en discrète boîte à bruits alien. Imminent Disaster voit actionner l’archet de bas en haut de manière compulsive et incarne sa dimension expressionniste. Avec Entfremdung, on peut mesurer sa capacité à sublimer l’instrument comme marqueur culturel et en faire un objet sonore, à creuser jusqu’à l’extrême les propriétés astringentes de l’archet sur les quatre cordes presque simultanément en les pressant sans relâche laissant s’échapper des microsons hyper-aigus. Stream of Consciousness est une belle construction spontanée où des éléments apparemment disparates s’enchaînent comme dans un rêve. Voici un superbe ouvrage qui, s’il ne fait pas montre de la maestria violinistique exceptionnelle des solos enregistrés de Carlos Zingaro ou de Malcolm Goldstein, atteint le même haut niveau musical et de liberté par l’ expressivité, la sensibilité, et un goût irrépressible pour un son brut, hanté. De la free-music sans concession.   Sans de tels albums, mon blog perdrait sa raison d’être. Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Orynx)

5th January, 12th January, 19th January, 4th February of the year 2015 have a thin red line (or I'd rather say a black line, considering their color on a calendar). They occurred on Monday, the first five Mondays of that year to be precise during which Mia Zabelka decided to record these ten improvisations at Klanghaus in Untergrieth, a small village in southern Austrian Styria using her acoustic violin. I don't know if she got somehow influenced by the typical aversion (if not real idiosyncrasy) that working people are generally supposed to feel against the first day of the week, as part of the dramatic stages she masterfully manages to evoke by the awesome way she plays violin or her voice (one of the funniest moment of this release is the vocal track "Oscillations", a whirlpool of mourns, sneers, suffocated wails, choked shrieks, neighs, hiccups, whose extreme and fast-rolling changes could let you think a jester having some epileptic fit) sound perfect for the mindset of people, who got influenced by such a figment of calendar-related imagination. It's pretty bizarre a cliche got evoked by a performing style, the one by Zabelka, which completely avoids cliches, as highlighted by the introductory words of the inner meaning of Mia's improvising by well-known guitarist John Russel printed on the inlay: "We are improvisers to the core, acknowledging an 'everthen that everwas' while constantly trying to subvert and go beyond the mundane. The core of the music is found at any point and is completely malleable making the musical choices that provide a 'narrative' a uniquely personal experience.". Violin tones could get matched to wood-shavings during a sawmilling intended to turn a log into sawdust in "Concentring Circles" or 'flavour enhancers' for the staggering pace of some performative escalations - in tracks like "Imminent Disaster", "Papagei" (German for 'parrots', a funny tracks where Mia seems to emulate those cute birds by the integrated use of violin and voice) or the opening "Dunkles zu sagen" - or tonal expectorating of introspections and mental convolutions ("Stream of Consciousness", "Remembrance"). They sometimes disappear to acquire a percussive functions in tracks where Mia seems to exploits the 'hidden' percussive or noisy features of violin, as it happens on "Stroemungen," "Entfremdung" (a German word whose translation could describe such an extended use of violin, as it could be translated both as alienation or estrangement and as an exception of the destination for purposes that are different from the intended one!). Mia's outputs can also be listened and enjoyed during other days of the week. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)