Achim Zepezauer + Guests - Kuhzunft:Slotmachine [Gruenrekorder - 2019]This is a really fun little thing Gruenrekorder have put out. It's ostensibly a project branching out from a website created by Achim Zepezauer which replicates an old One Arm Bandit slot machine, but instead of displaying fruit it plays an overlaid combination of three 45 second audio fragments from artists ranging from Jaap Blonk to John Chantler and Zepezauer himself. This 10" vinyl release - neatly presented with cute crayon artwork collects 30 of the possible combinations spat out by the slot machine, each with a title constructed in a similarly random way.
The opening spin Cowshed Neck Rupture throws out Jerome Noetinger, Simon Whetham and Zepezauer himself, combining with glitchy electonics, field recordings and tape effects. And on the second, Noetinger's classic concrete tape distortions continue alongside Serge Corteyn free improvising on the guitar and Pablo Paredes' piano. And so it goes on, each pull of the machine throwing up unique and often quite natural sounding combinations. Improvising harpist Rhodri Davies pops up on several tracks including five in succession on side B and another titled Raw Women Emerge which has his freewheeling harp improvisations duelling with Michael Vatcher's drums and the prepared piano of Gaile Griciute.
In truth there is virtually nothing here that you would say stands out as obviously put together through random processes, or that sounds out of place. It wouldn't be a surprise to find out the record had been the intentional product of an improvising ensemble - which this group of artists could conceivably be - rather than the combination of numerous disparate fragments. That is undoubtedly due in part to the choice of contributors, all of who have history within the improvising and avant-garde scenes. In which case Zepezauer should be congratulated for in effect piecing together (with a little bit of help from lady indeterminacy) a pretty coherent twenty four minute avant-jazz album.
Perhaps a minor criticism would be that it's not immediately clear who's contributing to each 45 second combination. The credits are listed by artist and you have to go through them to find the relevant track numbers and piece it together that way. But may be having the sources easily accessible ruins the effect of just listening to each combination as it appears. While Jaap Blonk's weird vocalisations might be recognisable to those in the know, many of the other contributions are not so apparent.
With the number of possible combinations now at over eleven million the website provides enough original composition material for a lifetime. It can be found at http://slotmachine.kuhzunft.com/ and is well worth a spin.