Udo Schindler & Katharina Weber

Spielzeit Atemzeit Horizontzeit
Unit Records UTR 4484

Elisabeth Harnik & Udo Schindler

Empty Pigeonhole

Creative Sources 247 CD

Dedicated to promoting improvised music in and around his hometown of Krailling near Munich, multi-instrumentalist Udo Schindler presents monthly home concerts throughout the year. Recorded three months apart in the same location, with the exact same instrumentation, Empty Pigeonhole and Spielzeit Atemzeit Horizontzeit are eloquent testimonies to the unprecedented plasticity of experimental sounds. Spielzeit Atemzeit Horizontzeit, which translates as “Game time breathing time horizon time” was recorded with Swiss pianist Katharina Weber and consists of nine short, but inter-related improvisations. The other CD, with Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik, is in two sequences of about 25 minutes each. Schindler, whose day job is as an architect, plays cornet, soprano saxophone, bass and contrabass clarinets on both dates.

Although she has played Free Music with the likes of guitarists Fred Frith and bassist Barry Guy, Bern-native Weber spends much of her time working with notated composers and chamber ensembles. Because of this her technically perfect ripostes don’t seem as warm or communicative as Harnik’s. More compelling, the clearer contributions from Gams-based Harnik lock tongue-in-groove with Schindler’s contributions. While Schindler’s unexpected smears of sound plus brittle striations quickly dispense with any clichés about architectural organization in his playing, the Austrian pianist’s varied experience may account for the creation of a more comfortable sonic zone. Harnik has duetted with saxophonists such as Dave Rempis and Gianni Mimmo, as well as playing in a regularly constituted combo with violinist Allison Blunt, vocalist Annette Giesriegl and drummer Josef Klammer.

During the course of Empty Pigeonhole’s improvisations any vocalized or percussive inferences created come from Schindler’s horn collection or Harnik’s underground mining of her instrument’s lowest reaches near the backboard and capotes. As well her harpsichord-like strums plus vibrations on the internal string set provide an equivalent amount of fiddle-like strokes for the program. Essentially the initial narrative features the pianist using key jujutsu to construct a concentrated carpet of shaded and bouncing notes or methodically stopping the keys in response to, or presaging, Schindler’s multi-horn strategy. During the course of “Empty Pigeonhole Part I” bites, yelps and tongue slaps emanate from the higher-pitched reeds, while Schindler use whiny brass farts or stentorian contrabass clarinet smears less frequently to asset his individuality. Creative resolution of segmented parts arises midway through the second track following detached sequences which are more solo with accompaniment than duets. Metaphorically rescuing timbres from desert island isolation, Schindler’s soprano saxophone slurs and Harnik’s rolling tremolo bond in an all-consuming cry of victory.

Numbered and named individually, but actually flowing into one another, the Weber duets appear more coldly calibrated on the pianist’s part. Sounding at first as if she’s sight reading her part, even to the extent of suggesting Middle European romanticism on “Geflüster Der Wurzelstöcke”, Weber only begins to loosen up enough to pluck basement-dwelling notes after Schindler begins shattering her keyboard composure with brays and squeaks. Tongue slapping and a vertical keyboard exposition reach a climax of aggressive vamps and extensions on “Der Schwarzdornderwisch Test Die Flügel”. Alternating between harp-like dancing string shuffles and powerful percussive echoes that set the soundboard ringing, Weber’s least constrained playing creates an equivalent unfettered response from Schindler, who by the stirring conclusion is stretching out the partials from all his tones. Miraculously at the same time, these extended snorts and shrills slide out the proper harmonies to bond with Weber. From that point on the sometime racing banshee-like wails from woodwind or brass mouthpieces are smoothed into connective chording the pianist.

While the end result of both these piano-horn duets is almost equally acceptable, the strategies expressed by Harnik-Schindler make that journey all that more bracing.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Empty: 1. Empty Pigeonhole Part I 2. Empty Pigeonhole Part II

Personnel: Empty: Udo Schindler (cornet, soprano saxophone, bass and contrabass clarinets) and Elisabeth Harnik (piano)

Track Listing: Spielzeit: 1. Und Ausreisstöne Sprechversuche 2. Der Schleier Der Seitentöne 3.

Wetterlagen Am Fistelgebirge 4 Geflüster Der Wurzelstöcke 5. Hoch Geschoben Ein Stirnhöhlenpochen 6. Sperrgebiet Aus Windkeilen Und Pilzringen 7. Der Schwarzdornderwisch Test Die Flügel 8. Am Rüttelkarst Lärmstimmig 9. Über Zitternden Langschatten

Personnel: Spielzeit: Udo Schindler (cornet, soprano saxophone, bass and contrabass clarinets) and Katharina Weber (piano)