This music is always aurally compelling...
Martin Longley 2008-03-20
The bass clarinettist and saxophonist, Lothar Ohlmeier, has for several years beeen a lynchpin in the modern jazz and classical fringes of Holland, moving to the UK in 2000 after forming Azilut with Julie Sassoon. Here he's paired with the software acrobat Isambard Khroustaliov (AKA Sam Britton), who's half of the mighty Icarus, those electronic shapers of massive ability, if not fame. Ohlmeier and Khroustaliov's music is as complex and challenging as their names!
At just over 33 minutes, this album is short. That's the only retro-looking aspect in evidence. The pair's collaboration is part of an increasing body of work that addresses the interface between live instrumentalists (often improvising) and sound processors, either subsequent, or in real time. Both approaches are used here. On the opening Haze, the bass clarinet is completely hidden, to begin, obscured by sonic transformation, frosted twists and clinging gauze-tones, with reed-matter gradually peeking through as the piece progresses. It's a slow motion growth, with clicks and breath-wheezes magnified for a massive sound-stage. After Sunrise sounds closer to mainline free improvisation, using sampled piano as its raw material, crumpled into orchid clusters. The scale is even grander for The Vague Terrain, with Khroustaliov shooting violently warped sonics across a vast wingspan, combining a feeling of intimacy and grandeur within the same piece. During Monkey Puzzle, part of the clarinet sound is kept intact, playing along with subsequent transformations, in a clucking, brutal rupturing. This music is always aurally compelling, but also has bonus aspects within the realms of tactile sensation and visual fantasy.