Birgit Ulher / Petr Vrba - Schallschatten [Inexhaustible Editions - 2021]
Schallschatten is an example of texturally seared ‘n’ sonic nerve slicing improv. It’s a six-track affair that features double-headed trumpet playing, radio elements, speaker manipulation, voice changer, and electronics- with each of the tracks being as intense and angular as one another.
The album appeared late summer 2021 on up and coming Slovenia label Inexhaustible Editions, who have been putting out some of the more interesting and edgy in improv and modern composition of late. The release came as either a CD or digital release- I’m reviewing the former, which is ltd to three hundred copies. The CD comes presented in a matt six-panel digipak- this features on its front cover a sky blue backdrop, within it a three filled in shapes – there’s half of a large black upside-down triangle in one Conor, a white circle, and a yoke yellow shape. Then on the fold-out inner sleeve, we get a selection of coloured filled in shapes on a white back. It’s a nicely presented abstract shape-based bit of packaging, though personally I feel it’s a little too colourful and comfy looking for such a seared and at times quite intensely noisy release.
The two players here are German’s Birgit Ulher, who plays trumpet, radio, speaker, voice changer. And Czech's Petr Vrba on trumpet & electronics. And really neither really lets up, or eases back in their texturally focused playing.
Each of the six tracks here run between three and eleven minutes. We open with the seared warbling meets slurred churning electro drone ’n’ pipe like ratting of “Reflexion”. Moving on we have the shredding tone fractals meets baying ‘n’ pressing horn sweeps of “Dissipation”, which latter adds on some effective running down machines textural tone detail/ chatter. There’s the jittering & rattling tonality meets waving UFO sounds and pressing honks of “Transmission”. With the album playing out with the title track- which blends eerier fog horn-like waving bays, piercing textural unfolds, and on-off banks of chatting yet ill-defined electro vocal trails.
As an album, Schallschatten sounds like a group of malefaction robots playing thier approximation of avant jazz. So, it’s not in any way of a soothing or pleasing ride, but if your looking for some head-clearing and laser cranium slicing improv action, look no furtherRoger Batty