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[em] Wollny/Kruse/Schaefer [em]3 Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

False endings are a favourite tactic...

Martin Longley 2008

This is, you guessed it, the third album by the trio that mysteriously calls itself [em], with pianist Michael Wollny being the most visible member outside of their native Berlin. This is principally due to his exposure on other ACT discs, in a variety of settings. Bassist Eva Kruse and drummer Eric Schaeffer complete a line-up that has now become what they seem to describe as enjoying a comfortably disagreeable familiarity, hinting at an uncompromising approach to being an individualist contributor within a group mind. The album's compositions are equally divided, without any radical difference in character, but sharing a constant push-and-pull between themes that sound highly pre-ordained and sections where the listener would swear that improvisation was in progress.

The trio employs a malleable vocabulary, exchanging roles as each tune develops, and often jointly completing each other's phrases. Piano and cymbal will tick time out in tandem, then the bass will pluck a resonant complement to a left-hand piano figure. There are frequent changes of pace and density, and many variations within the arrangements, particularly considering that only three players are involved. These invariably coalesce into a meaningful whole. The emphasis can change, moment by moment, sometimes to startling effect. All three instruments are imbued with a sonorous depth, a high degree of sensitivity. Monsters: Symmetriads, for instance, has a darkly introspective mood, articulated by pointillist piano and hummed bass-bowing, but it eventually transforms into a jerky funk march, revealing an equal interest in both groove and abstraction. This trio often withhold their surprises, offering them to the listener just at the point where any complacency might be growing. The disc has an inspired balance between dispersed atmospherics and punchy, emphatic themes. False endings are a favourite tactic...

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