Scenneries cs356









Since I discovered Loriot through his magnificent solo album, reviewed in Vital Weekly 1010, his name pops up regularly. More recently (Vital Weekly 1043) we discussed “The Asembly’ by his Systematic Distortion Orchestra. Now we find him in a duo setting with Christoph Erb, a familiar name here already for a longer time, especially for his releases on his own Veto Records. The Portuguese Creative Sources label, specialized in improvised music however releases this new one,. Recordings took place at Teigi Fabrik in Kriens near Luzern.
What is offered is a beautiful and well balanced recording. One can hear and distinguish every movement by both players, and follow their interactions. Both use a lot of (extended) techniques, totally in function of their expressive improvisations. I have heard already many records with Erb, but on this one his playing springs out for me. Some very poetic dialogues with a focus on sound, timbre and textures unfold here, with Erb playing tenor and soprano sax, and Loriot viola. They create intimate spheres through their concentrated and inspired playing. These two players are a perfect match. There is a real chemistry between these two.
They inspire one other to beautiful responses and proposals. Their interactions demonstrate a high level of musicality. Very nice work! Dolf Mulder (Vital Weekly)


Fissure not fusion could be the word that most closely mirrors the activities of French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot. A former resident of both Paris and New York, he’s now set up shop in Zürich where he moves among so many multidisciplinary project that it would appear he can clone himself. Take the two CDs here which showcase his talents for either micro or macro invention.
Concerned with the singular and reductionist qualities of duo playing, the tracks on Sceneries are the equivalent of peering through four murky glass panes in the same window. The vision is the same but slightly distorted, depending on which angle is least clouded. Loriot’s partner is Lucerne-based tenor and soprano saxophonist Christoph Erb, another day tripper who has played with stylists as varied as Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang stateside and Paul Lovens and Hans Koch in Europe. In contrast, like a party balloon that can be inflated to zeppelin size, The Assembly assembles an assembly of 11 New York-based players to poke and probe at the four tracks that are either Loriot or group instant compostions. Ironically the additional players add expanded abstract timbres rather than group harmonies. Unconventionally formulated the Systematic Distortion Orchestra consists of one saxophonist, four brass players, two double bassists, three percussionists and Loriot.
Rippling string strokes and near airless reed gusts characterizes the meeting of Erb and Loriot. Multi-directiinal as well as mulitphonic, initially the contrasting tones are expressecd via unaltered circular breathing on the reedist’s part and fiddle string plucks so staccato that the scratches could come from an enraged feline. Yet like faint moon glimpsed through that same disky wondow pane, the abject stillness is often interrupted by more bellicose tones that could be a cap-gun outburst, or an insisstent engine drone. By “Annoyed Hibernation” and the following “Tincture” like choleric nappers roused from repose the two connect on a visceral level as sibilate lip motions and yelps from the reedist plus see-sawing double stroking from the violist work up into such a pinnacle of shrillness that human-sounding pain is almost heard. The jagged edges are smoothed down on the subsequent and longest track, with tandem cries and sprawls calmed with slower timbres and then pick up speed again. Before a finale that resembles an aural boxing match of snorting tongue slaps and string-stropping, pizzicato slaps from Loriot and shill, rough burbles from Erb meld into a nearly tone as if the two have become one.
One would be the loneliest number if not for the 10 additional players present on the other CD. However like a lab experiment put into beta trials, the duo tone melding of Erb/Loriot is interpolated to this larger group. More attuned to a caustic Free Jazz aesthetic, the disc’s concentrated narrative moves forward on the first two selections via protracted drum rumbles as blitzkrieg-like attacks from individual horn and string players attempt to disrupt the proceedings. Because of this, cumulative sul ponticello string rubbing and jagged Donald Ayler-like trumpet blasts make the heraldic exposition pivot widely as it advances. Eventually though, like the well wrapped birthday present made out of odds and ends, these busy disparate tones reach a climax of rugged percussion snaps and inner tube saxophone vibrations. Adept plunger tones from trumpeters Brad Henkel and Joe Moffett gnaw enough of a hole in the miasma to establish a theme that once established slowly fades.
A puzzling interlude of music and recitation by bassist Sean Ali slows down the momentum of the session, which doesn’t kick back into high gear until the concluding “Le Relais”. Also the only time Loriot moves to the forefront his strident slices and whistles move in and among the others’ work with the intent and aggravation of a buzzing mosquito. Eventually as his stinging insect bite-like shrills redirect the others as if they were seeking quarantine, concentrated beats from the percussionists and heraldic brass slurs concentrate into an extended multi-part crescendo and finale.
Just as his geographic identity is fluid, so too are the skills Loriot exhibits as a player and improviser. These CDs demonstrate his dual talents. Both are equally notable, as long as you don’t mind the recitation on the large group set. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)

Avec Sceneries, le label Creative Sources poursuit sa vitale documentation des musiques improvisées radicales mettant en valeur des artistes excellents, originaux, voire rares. Très belle collaboration entre un saxophoniste chercheur et un violoniste alto intense (ou l’inverse). S’inscrivant dans les territoires mis au jour par Evan Parker et ses brillants émules (Urs Leimgruber, Michel Doneda, John Butcher, Georg Wissel, Stefan Keune, Martin Küchen, Ariel Shibolet, sans oublier les Guionnet, Denzler et cie…), lui aussi saxophoniste ténor et soprano comme Evan et Urs, le suisse Christoph Erb travaille sans relâche harmoniques, respiration circulaire, bruissements de la colonne d’air, prises de bec, techniques alternatives et mérite amplement qu’on l’écoute attentivement. C’est un souffleur original dans un domaine surchargé de talents et de démarches individuelles. Ce qui rend ces Sceneries vraiment intéressantes se font sentir dans la qualité du dialogue, par la profondeur de la recherche et à travers les équilibres que lui et son comparse altiste, Frantz Loriot, réussissent à atteindre. La fureur, la rage et le complet détachement du duo dans Annoyed hibernation et son prolongement avec Tincture, nous ramène à l’esprit et l’urgence qui animaient Evan Parker jeune et le Doneda atteignant la maturité. Le dernier morceau montre qu’il continue à chercher de nouvelles sonorités et de nouvelles idées en les combinant avec succès. Frantz Loriot fait partie de cette jeune génération radicale qui a défini l’usage de l’alto (violon « plus grave ») et la mise en avant des spécificités sonores de cet instrument : après la flamboyante Charlotte Hug, suivent Benedict Taylor, Theo Ceccaldi, Frantz Loriot et il y en a d’autres. Frantz fait exploser le timbre, étire les sons, tord la tessiture, sature les frottements d’harmoniques irréelles. Dans les mains d’un expert tel que F.L., le violon alto est devenu un instrument idéal pour faire éclater les sons à l’égal du saxophone poussant/ inspirant le saxophoniste à explorer de plus belle. Donc je vote sans hésitation pour ces deux improvisateurs, autant pour chacun d’eux séparément que pour l’entité vraiment remarquable qu’ils forment dans cet enregistrement en duo. Il faut suivre Christoph Erb et Frantz Loriot car ils nous persuadent déjà qu’ils iront encore plus loin en atteignant sans doute la plénitude de leurs aînés cités plus haut et de l’ombre desquels ils parviennent à s’imposer. Superbe album à mettre dans la série des albums en duo à recommander !! Jean-Michel van Schouwburg (Orynx)

Creative Sources is a super-prolific label; due, possibly, to its founder, Ernesto Rodrigues’ curation policy of literally going into partnership with the artists on each release. It’s an interesting list of artists on their website, too. The names immediately popping out on the front page are Lawrence Casserley, Hannah Marshall and Axel Dörner and all in collaboration with other European players. Already there may be up to fifty further titles available since this item was published. This particular title is a cracking disc of free-playing, in which Messrs Erb and Loriot set up an environment of high anxiety, tension and disquiet. Sceneries is full of strident events, sudden dips in weight; as if the ground were suddenly falling away under your feet, cacophonic interludes, disconcerting melodic information appearing from the shadows like Victorian ectoplasm, only to mysteriously disappear again moments later. This is achieved with the most modest of means – Christoph Erb plays tenor and soprano saxophones, while Franz Loriot pushes himself to his limits on viola. Erb founded the Veto Records imprint, through which he has released his collaborations with other improvisors such as Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, Jason Roebke, Frank Rosaly, Jim Baker, Keefe Jackson, Tomeka Reid and Jason Adasiewicz. Frantz Loriot works with “acoustic &/or electric viola + preparations + fx set + tapes” in groupings such as Der Verboten, Notebook Large Ensemble and Systematic Distortion Orchestra, as well as in duos with percussionist Christian Wolfarth, and clarinettist Jeremiah Cymerman, plus other loose groupings involving Christian Weber, Christian Kobi, Theresa Wong, Pascal Niggenkemper and others.
There are five separate tracks, recorded by Daniel Wehrlin in May 2015 at a venue in what appears to be a housing co-operative in Kriens, Switzerland called Teigi Fabrik. Great interplay between the two musicians and along with moments of risk-taking there is that feeling that you only get when seasoned and experienced practitioners are in the room. What is immediately obvious is these two chaps have drilled so deep into their respective instruments that initially, it is hard to square what you’re hearing with the instrumentation they use. In an inspired move, on the second track, “Floating In A Tempest”, Christoph Erb physically moves away from the recording microphones and we hear the acoustic reverberation of the space they are using. At the end of “Annoyed Hibernation”, I imagine that Loriot’s viola is making a noise closer to that of the desperate swallows of someone drowning than any sound I’ve heard produced by that instrument before. Judging only by images on Loriot’s own website, I would suggest that he may amplify his viola as part of his technique, but this is not stated in the sleevenotes, so it may not be the case here.
To be more general, this is an area where, in the loosest sense of the terms perhaps, free jazz overlaps with electro-acoustic improvisation. The production is crisp and clear which affords us an unblinkered view of this sonic whole. The Alexander Calder-esque, or Pop Art-reminiscent sleeve design is by Carlos Santos. One of the best jazz/improv records I’ve heard in a long while – strongly recommended. Paul Khimasia Morgan (The Sound Projector)

Any improvising duo can drown in the slimy waters of run-of-the-mill jugglery lacking a real purpose. Several albums — including renowned ones — have proven that this format looks ideal for hypnotizing over-trusting audiences with a bunch of technical exercises dispatched for creativity during endless invocations to the Mother of all Vacuities.

But wait; there’s also something called “commitment”. Saxophonist Christoph Erb (here doubling on tenor and soprano) and violist Frantz Loriot possess great experience both as participants in variously shaped collaborations and instigators of ensembles. Still, a record like Sceneries is rare to hear nowadays. Its five episodes are characterized by the force of a tacit agreement: each player seems entirely concentrated on his instrument rather than tending the ears towards what the other is doing. Of course that’s not true, for the reciprocal trust is obvious. Yet the desire of penetrating the sound individually, almost at a molecular level, is out-and-out scary in its persuasive energy.

So, what you get is an impressive variety of deformations of regularity spiced with disjointed scraps of timbral wholeness, as to remind us that skill and will can coexist without fighting. The music’s character is more or less always spiky, in your face, the acoustic picture of a self-sustaining creature determined to survive even in the worst possible conditions. The tones reveal all the components, the upper partials muscular and defined, the noisy qualities extremely usable in sheer musical terms. Convoluted whirlwinds and calcified anti-melodies destroy any residual resistance of silence, relentlessly forcing our attention to fire on all cylinders. At times one needs a few additional seconds to detect what is playing what, such is the degree of sonic transcendence reached. In that sense, a track named “Tinct” hits the ribs like a Korean flyweight, not leaving a single second to the listener to catch some breath.

Erb and Loriot could be compared to a couple of arsonists who, instead of running away after having done damage, stay there to admire the artistic values of their acts while continuing to add fuel. They just enjoy feeling the crackling of the flames so close to their bodies. Guess what: so do we. Massimo Ricci (The Squid's Ear)