Mark Lorenz Kysela - Eins+ [Gruenrekorder - 2013]Well, this is one of those releases that I could possibly never stop writing about - but instead, I’m going to say very little indeed.
Exquisitely packaged in a metal tin, with a glossy booklet full of liner notes and biographies, “Eins+” is a collection of compositions performed primarily on clarinet and various saxophones by Kysela. These compositions come from six names, all but one new to me: Christoph Ogiermann, Thomas Stiegler, Martin Schuttler, Michael Maierhof, Alvin Lucier and Uwe Rasch. (No prizes for guessing who was previously known to me…) The booklet explains each composition comprehensively and whilst I really do like releases that come with words, I must admit that in this case they initially hindered my listening. I’m from the school of thought that believes its the sounds that must ultimately be judged; and often something thats interesting and clever on paper, doesn’t translate into anything you might want to actually listen to. So, I found it more rewarding to just listen to the pieces, then return to the words later.
The contrast between the word-play of the composition notes and the pure sensual beauty of the sounds is often very marked. The obvious “earthiness” of a solo acoustic instrument, easily cuts through whatever words the composer has built on top of it. This is evident across all the pieces, but particularly on Maierhof’s “splitting 13”; where the saxophone explores such a physicality in sound, that words aren’t needed. (Indeed, one of the few negative elements of “Eins+” is the use of “preset” keyboard sounds on Schuttler’s “schoner leben 7”; these give a sometimes “amateurish”, cartoonish feel to the staccato jabs of the work - though later on, there’s a very tense, eerie passage pitting keyboard drones against sax.) All of the pieces stand up on their own, as sound; presenting a comprehensive mix of cut-ups, drones, field recording techniques, tape-work, noise and electroacoustic techniques.
I realise that the above is very cursory, but its really because I don’t think “Eins+” needs to be “sold” to you. Its simply a great album. It contains a truly wide range of explorations of what a sax or clarinet can do, aided and abetted by tapes and electronics; with just as much attention paid to composition and performance, as to recording techniques and environments. Its unashamedly “difficult” at times, but also has the starkly beautiful simplicity of Lucier’s piece “In Memoriam Jon Higgins”. Its not an album of easy pleasures - it rewards careful listening and is at times overtly “academic” - but the sheer visceral pleasure of the sounds and their intelligent deployment make it unmissable.Martin P