AMN Reviews: Lina Allemano’s OHRENSCHMAUS – Rats and Mice (2020; Lumo Records)

Trumpeter Lina Allemano has steadily built an oeuvre of work that is subtle, complex, and strangely appealing all at the same time. This is the first release of her OHRENSCHMAUS (rough translation: “ear candy”) trio with Dan Peter Sundland on bass Michael Griener on drums. Like so many recordings these days, the pieces involve compositional frameworks that are followed to some extent by the players, but leave room for improvisation. But this effort stands out in a crowded genre.

Case in point, Year of the Eye is a disjointed and arrhythmic piece with staggered lines and Allemano providing staccato bursts ala Anthony Braxton. In between these her melodies approach being catchy, in juxtaposition with the explorations of Sundland and Griener. The remaining tracks offer a similar form of organized chaos with use of extended techniques overlaid or interspersed with more traditional playing. The trio wanders in and out of structure so fluidly that the impact isn’t that jarring even when the music is.

Throughout Rats and Mice there is a strong sense of exploration, but one that is grounded in a compositional direction. Allemano, Sundland, and Griener have a plan, but an open-ended one that stops just short of all-out free improv. They execute their plan with energy and grit. As a result, this debut is a wonderful recording with charm and intellect that leap out of your speakers. Highly recommended.