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  • Mayas / Nutters / Olsen / Galvez Review

    MAGDA MAYAS/CARLOS GALVEZ/KOEN NUTTERS/MORTEN J OLSEN - Dirty In The Different Tradition (FMR 173; UK)

    2004 recordings by this piano/doublebass/percussion/bass clarinet quartet of N-Collective members. They say they are "heavily infuenced by the sound logic of Helmut Lachenmann, the forms of Matthias Spahlinger and the soundworld of Morton Feldman and Anton Webern", but I don't believe that kind of nonsensical rhetoric. This is old-school plink-plonk Euro-improv equal parts MIC and SME, a kind of music we just don't hear enough these days. These four youngish musicians are on fire here with a perfect balance of energy and restraint, affirming the infinite wellspring of creative potential for collective free improvisation on acoustic instruments based on traditional call-and-response split-second interaction and physical engagement with traditional instrumentalism. In my opinion it is impossible to be retrogressive under this timeless methodology. The musical surface is extremely pointillistic, a constant stream of spikes, lurches, and jabs that explodes out of the speakers. Morten J. Olsen's percussion has the nervous energy and isolated gestures of Raymond Strid, but compared to, say the Guy/Gustafsson/Strid/Crispell quartet, this music is much more sparse and careful. In fact, there are a few passages where the slow and taciturn surface feeling of Lachenmann or Feldman comes through, but always with some jagged shifts just around the corner. The final minutes of the disc offer a stunning passage of brooding semi-repetition that recall Feldman's "Trio" or "For Philip Guston". Magda Mayas piano playing is very original and she plays the instrument the only way that seems sensible to my ears: as little as possible! Yes, I have limited patience for piano music, but Mayas has an ingenious way of using both the inside and keyboard of the piano to create sparse, tiny fragments of motion that are compatible with multiple layers of the musical context. I've also been deeply impressed by her trio with Sabine Vogel and Michael Renkel and she is definitely a leading light of the next generation of improvisors. These are Very Serious Musicians who must feel the weight of European Art Music Culture on their shoulders, pursuing virtuosity and situating themselves in the post-academic avant-garde and all that stuff. I'm glad to hear people still pushing the limits of conventional vocabularies on acoustic instruments through the parameters of rhythmic complexity. They're all fantastically agile musicians. Bass clarinettest Carlos Galvez has done obvious things like studying with Harry Sparnaay and working with Boulez to premiere a new piece. I was blown away by this disc and it doesn't lose its focus for a single moment. -Michael Anton Parker

    Hear a bit of this disc: Maybe on the norm for a conductor

    FMR Records