As a rule, Christian Fennesz (electric and acoustic guitars, computer), Werner Dafeldecker (double bass, tape delay, computer) and Martin Brandlmayr (drums, percussion, vibraphone, computer and piano on a track) are scarcely compromising musicians who let us stare - not infrequently in awe – at excellent designs. The hopes in this circumstance were high, especially considering that it took “over four years of intermittent activity” to complete this music, which was recorded starting from regular improvisations that each member of the trio edited into distinct short episodes from which, in turn, snippets were taken to manufacture a longer composition (circa 34 minutes). All of the above is enclosed in a pair of discs, although the one with the three separate tracks lasts 15 minutes minus: a collector’s item but not a real creative statement from this point of view.
In regard to the method, this stuff sounds a tad stylish and probably colder than expected, even if there are moments in which the correlation between the parts works particularly well, for instance when abrupt oxidized roars by Fennesz’s axe get fractured and garbled in tiny bits, perturbing Dafeldecker’s deadpan composites of bass and unhealthily processed paradoxes. Two significant hues are Brandlmayr’s vibes, a constant factor in the sonic palette, and the interspersed silences that grant additional authority to the improvised sections. Sparse appearances of wooden touches and anaemic arpeggios dilute the overall tone in part, thus altering the elegance-to-disorder ratio.
All things considered - and class being always class – this is a good-looking album of mainly manipulated materials which in any case sounds quite blasé when compared to the participants’ customary output. If ECM decided to open their doors to EAI, here’s a recording to look at with interest. My reactions are mixed: there’s no question about the sincerity of the artists’ try to stumble on new expressive ways; yet they succeeded only to some extent, despite the attractive exteriors.