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Go to the Lothar Ohlmeier & Isambard Khroustaliov website  Lothar Ohlmeier & Isambard Khroustaliov - Nowhere [Not Applicable - 2008]

According to the late great Frank Zappa certain instruments have 'Humour Something' (HS in short), something inherently funny about the sound of the instrument. One instrument that has that HS for me is bass clarinet.

Not that I consider that a bad thing, because like Zappa I believe humour belongs in music, but also the fact of something being funny does not mean it can't be taken seriously. That said, it's not an instrument you see taking the lead very often. Which is sad as it is a beautiful sound. On Nowhere there's the chance for lovers of this special sound to get their fix, as it's the main instrument, and its player Lothar Ohlmeier is only assisted or electronically enhanced by Isambard Khroustaliov (a pseudonym of a more catchy real name Sam Britton, who also works in Icarus), whose work is usually quite subtle.

Ohlmeier studied bass clarinet at the Amsterdam Conservatory (as well as saxophone, after having studied clarinet in Hannover). This background and a subsequent career in improvised music—which made him end up in the UK and eventually resulting in this joint venture with Britton—may give you an idea on how he plays this difficult instrument. Technically high standard but abstract and soundwise very much in the composed tradition of the past century. A difference is that his improvised parts, along with electronic parts, are in a way composed afterwards via tape montage. Another tradition of the past century, so in a sense what we have here is quite traditional music, where the laptop is the most modern soundsource. Two pieces, After Sunrise and Dusk are live improvisations though, without tape montage or other alterations.

The source recordings and improvisations on Nowhere were recorded in churches in England that gives a nice atmosphere and I'd say that sound is what's it all about. The electronic glitches, bits and pieces scattered through the jumpy and start/stop bass clarinet improvs form an interesting microcosm in which the energy of free improv and the acousmatic precision find eachother and hopefully the listener.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

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