AMN Reviews: Jon Wesseltoft and Balazs Pandi – Terreng (2019; Moving Furniture Records)

Jon Wesseltoft is an experimental musician and composer who focuses on computer-generated music and electronics. He has collaborated with C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, Anla Courtis, and Lasse Marhaug, among many others. Balazs Pandi is an all-purpose drummer who manages to shine in just about any scenario, whether it is avant-jazz, free improv, metal, or pure noise, and has performed with an equally impressive list of musicians. Terreng is the second collaboration of this duo.

From the outset, Wesseltoft and Pandi impart a take-no-prisoners approach. Wesseltoft contributes harsh electronic elements, sculpting structures from white noise, sequenced runs, and aleatoric diversions. Backing this is Pandi being true to his unconventional form – playing what would otherwise seem to be a long drum solo, but in a way that fits with Wesseltoft’s creations.

Terreng‘s two tracks each fall in the 16-19 minute range. Soft Close Up features an atmospheric opening with Pandi playing in a busy yet understated fashion while Wesseltoft sets forth shaky drones and a smorgasbord of machine sounds. These build to jagged crescendos with walled noise strands as well as generous cymbal and tom work. The last several minutes of the track include dense electronic voicings over Pandi’s non-stop rolls and flourishes. Refractions also begins slowly with Wesseltoft providing a looped rhythm over which both he and Pandi restlessly improvise. Over the course of the first half of the track, these offerings become more aggressive and fractured until Wesseltoft goes full-on distorted wall with shifting harsh sweeps and waves.

Sometimes free improvisation can wander close to random noise. In other cases, there is an underlying intent that can slowly be discerned through repeated listens. Here, Wesseltoft and Pandi fall into that latter camp.  Terreng rarely offers anything resembling a melody or beat, as it is an exploration in texture and rasping tonal qualities. And the album comes recommended to anyone who likes their experimentation dense and raucous.

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