Frédéric Blondy/Thomas Lehn

Another Timbre at07

Audio editing and shading expand the canvas on which French pianist Frédéric Blondy and German analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn aurally paint resonating variations on many themes here. Although timbres from Blondy’s keyboard are routed through the mechanism of Lehn’s contraption, the resulting shading, dynamics and spectralism still depend on the acoustic prowess and control of both musicians.

Seamlessly melding a fragment of an earlier concert into “Pooq”, the performance, is sonically multi-hued. Stopping and slapping his instrument’s internal strings, Blondy also alternates external key-picking and note-chiming. Eventually his emphasis on crystalline single notes is spatially underscored by Lehn’s triggered pulsations and driven vibrations

Recorded in real time, the three-part “Obdo” evenly matches contributions from the two, with neither destabilizing the concordance. Mallet-smacked and hand-stopped piano strings are amplified by the sound of marbles rolling within the piano mechanism, as concurrent synthesizer waves break up crackling static with hocketing tremolo tones.

Eventually Blondy’s multi-note improvisations reach a throbbing climax, seemingly scraping the finish off the strings as he plays. As these aggressive, high-frequency licks radiate outwards from the soundboard, Lehn’s chirping flanges and intermittent bursts of static solidify into fuzzy, sideband expansions. Joining with the pianist’s contrapuntal licks they subside into a satisfying diminuendo.

Each player has notably partnered in the past with such international sound explorers as saxophonist John Butcher and the band Konk Pack (Lehn) or percussionist Lê Quan Ninh and the Hubbub group (Blondy). On Obdo they confirm their mastery of the electro-acoustic duo with keyboards perfected in different centuries.

— Ken Waxman

— In MusicWorks Issue #102