AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Marcello Magliocci & Alen Grassi – Trama [Plus Timbre pt107]; Johannes Feuchter & Stanislas Pili – über.zeit [Plus Timbre pt108]

Plus Timbre consistently releases freely improvised music often directed more toward sound as such than toward more conventional considerations of melody or harmony; what sets its releases apart from many other sound-based improvised music is the sheer sensual quality of much of it. Even when the improvising is at its most abstract, there’s frequently a palpable delight to be had in the almost tangible sounds of the instrumental voices. The label’s two most recent issues are consistent with this aesthetic. Both contain sound-based improvisations that begin at, but aren’t limited to, that zero point of pure gesture before conventional music emerges; both revel in the pleasures of sonic texture.

Marcello Magliocchi and Alen Grassi’s Trama comprises two long and one short improvisation. The first of the long tracks foregrounds Magliocci’s crisply recorded percussion. As this and the other tracks demonstrate, Magliocchi is an outstanding color drummer able to draw on a sumptuous palette of metal, wood and membrane. Grassi’s electric guitar, in turn, is the dominant voice on the second long track. Grassi sets up simple harmonic tensions with drones and two-chord patterns, and then dissolves it all into picked-out, muted notes and bent tones.

Clarinetist-contrabass clarinetist Johannes Feuchter and percussionist Stanislas Pili’s über.zeit is a five-part improvised suite that begins with the ticking of a mechanical alarm clock and ends when the bell rings. In between, Feuchter and Pili explore sounds ranging from pitchless noise to melodic fragments and drones. Feuchter alternates between the low, reedy buzz of the contrabass clarinet at one end, and the flitterings and trills of the clarinet’s upper registers at the other; in addition, he offers the pre-musical sounds of the plosions and stutterings of breath moving through a wooden tube. Pili covers a comparably broad range running from the rumbling of a bass drum to the shimmering of high-pitched chimes.

Daniel Barbiero