Axel Dörner, Franz Hautzinger, Matt Davis, Ruth Barberán, Greg Kelley… e agora Birgit Ulher. A linhagem dos “micro-trompetistas” vai-se multiplicando, e se o primeiro destes nomes ainda volta, em certas ocasiões, ao trompete free mais convencional (sobrevivência económica oblige; vontade de “estar em todas”?), a sopradora alemã de costela Fluxus e formação nas artes visuais (seria proveitoso fazer um paralelo entre o seu recente interesse pelo repentismo fotográfico do polaroide e o tipo de improvisação que pratica) tem estado a focar e a aprofundar a abordagem microtonalista do instrumento que toca, ainda que não a possamos comparar com aquele que parece ter sido o introdutor desta forma “estilhaçada” de utilizar tal espécime da família dos metais - Hautzinger. Há algo de indubitavelmente feminino que a diferencia, acrescentando uma lógica que não encontramos no agudo construcionismo do austríaco. Não se pode dizer, no entanto, que Ulher é uma militante da “nova improvisação”, pelo menos quando essa referência é utilizada em oposição à hoje tão invectivada “velha improvisação”. Não só contam as suas convicções artísticas, que vêm muito de trás, das propostas de George Maciunas na década de 60 do século que passou, como até as escolhas que faz para seus parceiros musicais, combinando recém-chegados com consagrados. Em «Unsk», à frente do quarteto Tidszon, tem, por exemplo, a colaboração do baterista Raymond Strid, membro dos Gush de Mats Gustafson e da orquestra de Barry Guy em contextos de clara ressuscitação do free jazz.
É, aliás, curioso verificar como o músico sueco se contém ao longo da duração deste disco e como procura desconstruir o seu discurso percussivo, fugindo à estética free. Voltando a Birgit Ulher, acrescente-se apenas que este título afasta todas as confusões entre aquilo a que se vai chamando, a propósito ou despropósito, “quartertone trumpet” e o reducionismo: esta é uma música densa, intensa, inquieta, nervosa até. A improvisação está a mudar mais uma vez, contra os dogmáticos de todos os tipos, os “velhos” como os “novos”, que afinal já não são tão novos quanto isso... Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

Nemmeno una probabile fiacca, dovuta al caldo soffocante di questi giorni, è riuscita a frenare il Portogallo e la propria scena indipendente, tra le più attive musicalmente al momento in Europa. Discorso non solo concerne al jet set dei musicisti, ma anche allargato agli ambiti produttivi, con etichette sempre più emergenti nel panorama internazionale. La Creative Sources, poi, nel corso di un modesto lasso di tempo ha subito una notevole crescita (produttiva e qualitativa), acquisendo un sicuro posto di riguardo da parte degli aficionados delle musiche di ricerca. [...] L'asprezza di questi suoni viene ripescata, in dosi più massicce, anche nell' articolata interazione tra Birgit Ulher, Martin Küchen (musicisti ruotanti nell’improv svedese) e i tedeschi Lise-Lott Norelius e Raymond Strid. La comunione tra strumentazione acustica e apparecchiature elettroniche è più presente. Si percepisce una chiara contrapposizione stilistica tra gli svedesi, maggiormente debitori di istanze free jazz (Küchen, i soffi improvvisi tra baritono e soprano s'inerpicano tra il passato di Albert Ayler e l'irruenza di Peter Brotzmann) e i tedeschi, maggiormente liberi da schemi precisi e più intenzionati a sperimentare liberamente.
Tre lavori che nascondono il sapore del ‘già detto’: questo il pensiero che balena alla mente, dopo essersi voltati ad osservare tonnellate di lavori simili accatastati sullo scaffale, ma importanti per l'etichetta, curata con passione da Ernesto Rodrigues. La possibilità di aprirsi, come in questo caso, a produzioni estranee al circuito iberico è di rilievo per un paese che, a differenza di molti, non vivendo di particolare benessere nutre una certa indifferenza nei confronti della propria comunità artistica. Sergio Eletto (Sands-Zine)

The ideas contained in "Tidszon" flow so naturally that the CD meshes splendidly with the environment of the Saturday morning I'm listening in. The alternance of soft blows and irregular squeakings by trumpet and sax, respectively played by Birgit Ulher and Martin Küchen, is the base on which a four-way interchange develops with Lise-Lott Norelius' electronics and Raymond Strid's percussives. The artists also make good use of "normal" objects (you guess) which, quite awkwardly, stretch the boundaries between scheme and utter deconstruction. The textural palette, quilted in a tireless search for varieties, is undoubtedly ample and often surprisingly strategical, making you expect something that actually never developes the way you thought. This is resourceful, limpid stuff resisting our will of giving it a name to have it fitted into some kind of contextual trap. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

The portugese label Creative Sources started as an outlet for the musical activitites of Ernesto Rodrigues. But since the cd by No Furniture, a trio of Boris Baltschun (sampler), Axel Dörner (computer, trumpet) and Kai Fagaschinski (clarinet), the label gives also room to german improv projects. Listening to the cd Tidszon this is no surprise, because the improv music of these ensembles is comparable to the projects of Ernesto Rodrigues.
We hear the same sparse, meditative improv music, that gives room to each little sound, subtlety and silence.
Tidszon is a quartet: Birgit Ulher (trumpet), Martin Küchen (baritone and soprano saxophone, selected mutes, pocketradio, Lise-Lott Norelius (objects and live-electronics), Raymond Strid (drums, percussion). Their 'Unsk' was recorded at Tonstudio Hrólfur Vagnsson in december 2003.
Tidszon and Unsk are words without meaning, as are the names of the tracks: Hovt, Irkst, Mawt, etc. This shows a comparable love for abstraction. Because we cannot associate the music with the meaning of the titles, one could say that is focuses the listener more on the concreteness of sound.
The music is sometimes so intimate and modest that it disappears into silence. Tidszon dwell in a micro-world of sound close to silence. Dolf Mulder (Vital)

Of all the recent releases by the fine Creative Sources label, Unsk by the collective Tidszon may be the richest. The quartet consists of trumpeter and electronician Birgit Ulher, saxophonist Martin Küchen, electronician Lise-Lott Norelius, and percussionist Raymond Strid. Küchen and Strid are doubtless the more familiar of the four players here, and of the four they are the more expressive. Strid is a fantastic player, taking off roughly from Paul Lovens’ rumbling and slashing percussion but extending that influence in multiple ways. He has graced any number of excellent recordings with Marilyn Crispell and Mats Gustafsson, and on each he strikes that difficult balance between muscle and color. And Küchen is an amazing, and at times incendiary, saxophonist who recently won some deserved acclaim for last year’s fab Exploding Customer disc on Ayler Records. But paired with Ulher – a terrifically inventive trumpeter who explores territory close to that of Franz Hautzinger, Ruth Barberan, and Greg Kelley – and Norelius (who is new to me but is quite adept with her electronics), they explore a frostier, more remote area of improvised music.
While these improvisations are clearly informed by contemporary electro-acoustic music, they are equally beholden to robust European traditions of free blowing. And there are many moments in Tidszon’s music – with objects rolling on drumheads, spit gurgling in horns and long electronic tones connecting it all like threads in a web – where that elusive synthesis between old and new idioms seems to have been achieved.
Some pieces come across like genuine four-part conversations, with clearly distinct gestures popping here and there like flash bulbs: a flourish of electronics, a delicate brush stroke, a chewy reed or brass lick. Yet just as many radiate with the aural equivalent of listening to a colony of insects laboring away on the other side of a steel plate; there are sounds of grinding, boring, drilling, and wheezing. Even on these occasions, the fascinatingly cryptic playing sparkles with the individuality of the players, who clatter, gurgle, chortle and burn in distinct ways.
So much freely improvised music succeeds or fails on the basis of gesture: what possibilities can be opened up with/through a single utterance or feint? How does a lone chirrup crystallize a larger flow of events? Or in what ways might a meaningful narrative be spun not so much from continuous wild expressionism as from interlocking muted asides? These are the questions Tidszon pursues and, if the music doesn’t seem to resolve over the course of these eight improvisations, that’s largely because the musicians’ collective aesthetic resists closure. In Tidszon’s world, that openness is the mark of compelling, challenging improvisations. Jason Bivins
(Dusted Magazine)

In the second half of the 1990s, the new "reduced" aesthetics pursued by Radu Malfatti and others threw down a fundamental challenge to the world of improvised music. Within a few years, a number of the original explorers of "reductionism" had begun to move beyond the principles and practices that had initially defined this austere musical movement. In issue 89 of Musicworks magazine (Summer 2004) the Berlin-based trombonist Robin Hayward observed that "by 2000 I was feeling in a cul-de-sac with the much reduced, static music I was producing" and explained how he subsequently sought to break his self-imposed rules by, amongst other things, including an element of narrative structure. More generally, the question of how a viable and relevant musical improvisation for the start of the 21st century should be approached in the light of the aesthetics, techniques and insights of reductionism (and their limits) has arisen not just amongst those identified (usually by others) as 'reductionists' but also a number of thoughtful musicians across the improvised music spectrum. To a degree, each of the three latest releases on Lisbon's industrious Creative Sources label can be seen as a response to this musical problem.
In the second half of the 1990s, the new "reduced" aesthetics pursued by Radu Malfatti and others threw down a fundamental challenge to the world of improvised music. Within a few years, a number of the original explorers of "reductionism" had begun to move beyond the principles and practices that had initially defined this austere musical movement. In issue 89 of Musicworks magazine (Summer 2004) the Berlin-based trombonist Robin Hayward observed that "by 2000 I was feeling in a cul-de-sac with the much reduced, static music I was producing" and explained how he subsequently sought to break his self-imposed rules by, amongst other things, including an element of narrative structure. More generally, the question of how a viable and relevant musical improvisation for the start of the 21st century should be approached in the light of the aesthetics, techniques and insights of reductionism (and their limits) has arisen not just amongst those identified (usually by others) as 'reductionists' but also a number of thoughtful musicians across the improvised music spectrum. To a degree, each of the three latest releases on Lisbon's industrious Creative Sources label can be seen as a response to this musical problem.The members of Tidszon are Birgit Ulher (trumpet), Martin Küchen (soprano and baritone saxophones, mutes and pocket-radio), Lise-Lott Norelius (live-electronics) and Raymond Strid (percussion). The group's sound is another variant of 1970s free improvisation dispensing with agitated crescendos and incorporating elements of the extended techniques and spaciousness associated with reductionism. [...] Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)

Interazioni tra suoni acustici, transistor, radioline e live electronics entro un quartetto devoto alla meno pianificata delle composizioni estemporanee. UNSK è l’acronimo di Uhler, Norelius, Strid e Küchen che si cimentano rispettivamente su tromba, oggetti ed elettronica, percussioni e sax soprano e baritono. Un tipo di impostazione che guarda senza timori alle più radicali esperienze improvvisative che hanno nella scuola inglese il suo più convinto epigone. Sì, perché un tipo di linguaggio, così volutamente negazionista di fraseggio, forma, intonazione e sviluppo, sembra ormai perdersi in un atteggiamento fin troppo datato e inconsapevolmente scontato. La fascinazione timbrica, per quanto ancora ricca di promesse e di allettamenti, finisce per ritorcesi contro musicisti che invece partono dalle più sincere pulsioni sperimentali.
L’idea di spazio sonoro si riduce all’immagine di quattro musicisti che improvvisano in una stanza dallo scarso riverbero e che inevitabilmente evoca dimensioni spesso claustrofobiche, quando, al contrario, una delle vie di uscita al vicolo cieco imposto dall’approccio “impro” non pianificato potrebbe essere quello dell’evocazione di uno spazio o di un percorso, che sia in grado di dare delle suggestioni o di regalarci una struttura a cui appigliarci. Stiamo forse parlando di una forma? Può darsi, intanto là fuori tutto ha forma e prezzo. E anche di questa prospettiva è sempre giusto tenerne conto.
Michele Coralli (Altremusiche)

Listening to Tidszon (Creative Sources) is a bit like playing those Metronome All-Stars sessions from the late 1940s, when Miles Davis and Fats Navarro sat next to one another in the trumpet section one year, and when Dizzy Gillespie was the sole trumpeter the next. That’s because with Birgit Ulher you can hear representations of the sort of brass evolution Davis, Navarro, and Gillespie were attempting in their time. Plus, to confirm the all-star sobriquet a little further, Ulher is joined by multi-reedman Martin Küchen.
In his way, Stockholm’s Küchen is as revolutionary in his approach as Metronome’s reed winners—Charlie Parker and Lee Konitz—were in their day. Furthermore, UNSK is propelled by inventive Swedish drummer Raymond Strid. His work with ensembles as different as Barry Guy’s New Orchestra and a trio with British bassist Tony Wren and Küchen proves that his adaptability is on the same level as that of Shelly Manne and Max Roach, the All-Stars of the late 1940s, was in their epoch.
You can’t take the metaphor too far, however. There was no category in the 1940s for the live-electronics and objects that Swede Lise-Lott Norelius brings to UNSK.
First of all, push the timbres of conventional instruments out of your inner ear when listening. The soundscape is completely different. Start with UNSK as well. Every so often you’ll hear Strid advancing the odd press roll, Ulher playing some chromatic runs and Küchen trilling and tongue-slapping—techniques as old as the instruments themselves. Still, the sounds here are definitely post-jazz mixed with contemporary composition—which is partially Norelius’ background anyhow.
A track such as “AZODT”, for instance, includes plastic penny-whistle-like squeals, the resonation of traps kit movement along the floor, and sniffs and aviary cheeps from live electronics. At one point, signals from the electronics reconfigure the reed output with a cello-like tone, then unidentified scratches and scrapes are brought forward in percussion clip-clops, solid, brassy tones, and reed tongue-stops.
Trumpeter Ulher, who has also worked with British drummer Roger Turner and Swiss live-electronics experimenter Ernst Thoma, brings a lyrical bent to her solos in tunes like “HOVT”. Overall, though, save for some muted and very internal plunger work, her chief strategy is pushing pure unaccented air from the mouthpiece to the bell, usually without valve reliance. On this track, it’s done over tongue-slaps plus reed drones from the saxophonist, peeps and bell-like resonation from the drummer, and an undertow of looping electronics.
Küchen, who also plays with Exploding Customer, a Swedish Free Jazz quartet, mutes any ecstatic exhibitionism here. Raspy growls join fluttering electronic signals from Norelius, plus cymbals and snare abrasions from Strid’s possible use of knitting needles for drumsticks. Later, a mechanized buzz is interrupted by metallic pressure from a saxophone’s body tube, then shrill reed trills complement bubbly electronic rotations. Strid doesn’t time keep per se, but instead ratchets and smacks items that sound as if they range from a plastic water pail to aluminum pie plates, while speedily pitter-pattering on the snare and ride cymbal. He also uses subtle snare manipulation and a quick martial drum roll to redirect pulsating electronic oscillations, brass mouthpiece tongue-kisses, and serpentine reed trills into consequential movement.
Tidszon’s climax is the final track where high-pitched pulsation from the buzzing electronics, including what sound like ray gun discharges, make space for the others’ output. Their textures include pressurized muting of the sax bell against a pants’ leg, rampaging brass tones, and cymbal rattles and taps as well as strokes on what is probably a plastic version of a wood block.
Younger musicians in the main, the quartet on Tidszon is still in the midst of experimentation and discovery. Try either of this session on for size if you want to witness the results.
Ken Waxman (One Final Note)

Das improvisierende Quartett UNSK ist sich offenkundig einig. Die gute Dreiviertelstunde spannungsreicher Musik auf ihrer CD „Tidszon“ folgt einer kompakten Ästhetik der behutsam artikulierten Klangereignisse und lädt mit dem Verzicht auf expressive Dynamik zum genauen Hinhören ein. Doch besinnliche Meditation steht nicht auf dem Programm der Hamburger Trompeterin Birgit Ulher und ihrer schwedischen KollegInnen Lise-Lott Norelius (live-electronics), Raymond Strid (drums/percussion) und Martin Küchen (saxofon). In acht Tracks von zwei bis knapp neun Minuten Länge entwickeln sie enge Interaktionen. Luftgeräusche der Bläser treten dabei mit Gongs und dem Rascheln der Percussion und niedrigfrequent puckernder Elektronik an der Grenze von Ton und Stille ins Gespräch, und steigern sich auch zur dichten Gegenrede mit Pfeifen, Kreischen und Spaltklängen. Überzeugend in Erinnerung bleibt „Tidszon“ jedoch durch den Respekt, den die vier MusikerInnen sowohl sich gegenseitig, als auch den einzelnen Klängen und damit letzlich auch den HörerInnen entgegenbringen. So ist das Album mehr als nur Dokument geglückter Improvisation – der Tonträger „Tidszon“ transportiert eine Zone unmittelbarer Intensität, die man medienvermittelter Musik nicht zugetraut hätte. Tobias Richtsteig

Vaporized spirits surface on the quartet album by UNSK, an acronym for its members-trumpeter Ulher, electronic specialist Norelius, drummer Strid, and reed player Küchen. The band shimmers through eight coded titles evolving from individual introspective musings that spur responses and retorts from the others of a jagged, abbreviated nature. There is an otherworldly ambiance circling around the abrupt interaction. Silence often is a copilot on this mystic flight, as is a methodical pace, but the action rises above a simmer on numerous occasions. Küchen stretches his notes in rubbery fashion while Ulher uses blunted slurs and tonguing techniques to force brusque tones from her trumpet. The horns coalesce in an atonal sound spectrum surrounded by live electronics and subdued percussion additives that enhance further the purified mystique of the set.
Norelius’s electronics blend in favorably with compatible tone patterns produced by the band. Drums, trumpet, and saxophone syllables are individually plucked from the group’s dialogue and massaged/regenerated in a way that embellishes and fills in some of the blank spaces. Often the pitch is ultra-high, as when Ulher concocts a brew of eerie squeaks and squeals or Küchen takes his soprano saxophone to the upper register. When Küchen’s baritone creeps in, the mood becomes somber as the deep tones of his sax, the drums, and the electronics burrow to subterranean levels. UNSK speaks in an alien tongue, yet the language is easily translated by performing the simple act of listening. Yes, it is difficult, and yes, it is demanding, but immersing oneself into this world of sound will generate rewards. Frank Rubolino (Cadence)

Birgit Ulher zum Zweiten kommt als Teil des 2003 formierten Quartetts UNSK. Auf dessen Debut-CD Tidszon (Creative Sources Recordings, cs014) lässt sich verfolgen, wie sie ihren reduktionistischen, geräuschnahen Trompetenklang mischt mit dem ähnlich orientierten Impronoise des Stockholmer Bariton- & Sopranosaxophonisten Martin Küchen, den perkussiven und gesampelten Geräuschen von Lise-Lott Norelius, die mit Anitas Livs bekannt geworden ist, und der Percussion von Raymond Strid, einem der durch seine Kollaborationen mit Mats Gustafsson in Gush oder mit Barry Guy renommiertesten schwedischen Improvisierer. Die Vier tasten in halb bruitophiler, halb phonophober Skrupelhaftigkeit entlang der ausgefransten Ränder diskret nuancierter Kakophonie. Die Geräuschwelt ist abgeflacht zum Pianissimowasteland. Jedes Zucken des Phonometers wird zum staunenswerten Spektakel. Die Mikrostrukturen von Geräusch und Stille werden wie unter einem Elektronenmikroskop zu den schartigen Kratern und Grand Canyons eines Sonic-Fiction-Brobdingnag.
Milben blähen sich zu Monströsitäten, Staubflocken zu Riesenquadern, gezirpte und gefiepte Plinks zu mirakulösen Audiophänomenen, Plonks zum Meteoritenhagel. Wie beim Druckausgleich von warm nach kalt wird die Aufmerksamkeit von den Feinheiten angesaugt. Der Horchposten dreht beständig am Zoomrädchen der Signalabtaster. Aber die Sinne, das Hirn, wollen nicht nur wahrnehmen, sie wollen - verstehen ist nicht das richtige Wort -, sie wollen gemeint sein, nicht nur im Sandsturm der Geräusche rumstehen wie Sperrgut. Die eingefangenen Reize sind bei Tidszon nicht nur minimal, sie sind fremd, sperrig, so abstrakt wie die Titel: ‚HOVT‘, ‚IRKST‘, ‚MAWT‘, ‚SYOT‘... Die Noisequelle lässt sich lokalisieren zwischen 58°N und 61°N, 14°O und 17°O - Svealand. Ihr Zielgebiet ist unbestimmbar. Rigo Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

[…] Tout comme Tidszon (CS 014 cd) du groupe UNSK où officie Birgit Uhler avec Lis-Lott Norelius aux objets et live-electronics, Raymond Strid aux percussions et Martin Küchen aux saxophones. Qui a connu Ray Strid au sein de GUSH avec Mats Gustafsson sera surpris par la délicatesse de son jeu complètement libéré (des tics oxleyens, entre autres). C'est aussi un des rares percussionnistes présents dans ce label. Martin Küchen fait oublier que d'aucuns ont vu en lui un autre Mats Gustafsson. Éclairée indéniablement par la contestation réductionniste, la musique de UNSK maintient quand même une filiation (lointaine) avec le Spontaneous Music Ensemble de John Stevens, un des héros de Ray Strid. Une conception de l'interactivité et le sens du contraste. Surtout si on compare Tidszon aux enregistrements des groupes qui successivement forgent la marque de fabrique de Creative Sources. […] Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Improjazz)

Raymond Strid, maintenant en ce sens une grande tradition de batteurs de jazz et de free, domine cet enregistrement en y imprimant la marque très forte du batteur qui emmène, arrache, fait avancer. Il partage ici ce rôle dominant avec Lise-Lotte Norelius à l'électronique: on voit que les traditions instrumentales des genres sont tout de même sérieusement bousculées. Bien que les interventions des deux musiciens ne soient à proprement parler ni mélodiques ni harmoniques, ni rythmiques, leur duo imprime un mouvement à l'ensemble. Il serait injuste de passer sous silence Martin Küchen et Birgit Ulher qui contribuent à l'élaboration d'une musique assez ample et de caractère atmosphérique. Noël Tachet (Improjazz)