Monday, June 25, 2018

Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm - Ouroboros (Monofonus Press/Astral Spirits, 2018)

Multi-reedist Peter Brotzmann and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (who also adds subtle electronics) combine for a very exciting and challenging album of free improvisation which was recorded at Loft Köln in January of 2011. The scouring and rending sound of Brotzmann’s saxophone and clarinet meets the amplified cello in open space, creating soundscapes that work very well together and leave an indelible imprint in the listener’s mind. The relatively short opening track “The Circle” sets the tone of the album with sharp bursts of raw bowing, which are effective in laying a foundation for Brotzmann to enter on tenor saxophone with prescient timing. The raw and rending sound of the saxophone matches Lonberg-Holm’s scouring strings and creates a powerhouse atmosphere. This molten duo improvisation continues on “The Figure Eight,” moving to taut plucked cello and clarinet, they develop a steely night tinged feel, then evolve to crisp bowing and long tones of clarinet working in tandem. Brotzmann erupts with gouts of liquefied sound, as the improvisation spools outward, and then the voltage continues to wax and wane throughout the performance, creating a dynamic tension the drives the music forward. “The Spiral” is the centerpiece of the album, sixteen minutes in length and bristling with raw unfettered improvisation. Brotzmann’s saxophone cuts like a blade on the cello swirls like a whirling dervish, developing excellent chemistry while leading to further intriguing music that sounds great. The textures that are called forth allow the music to avoid becoming stale, charging up the voltage, and then laying out individual solo areas of note. The final track is a brief collective improvisation called “The Fusion of Opposites” with Brotzmann’s potent saxophone meeting the cello squirming and writhing and shooting out in dark and skittering patterns. This was an exciting and well played album by two veteran musicians with broad horizons and fearsome technique. The music that pours from the fingers is an ecstatic that hints at brave deeds past and future. Ouroboros -

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