Elisabeth Flunger + Stefan Scheib

Passage
Nocord Records NO #

Luxembourg’s prime exponents of unconventionally improvised percussion music have created a mélange of the strident and the standard on the 14 tracks of this intriguing CD. This time out, Elisabeth Flunger, who is actually a native of Bolzano, Italy, has instead of linking her ratcheting improvisations on trash metal objects to the equally unconventional timbres from a DIY electronics-manipulator as on a previous CD, has recorded with someone playing a venerable European instrument: the double bass. Luckily Saarbrücken-based Stefan Scheib, who is also involved with radio plays, theatre and multi-media presentations, is no more a four-square time-and-tempo purist than Flunger would be confused with a contemporary percussionist – playing Jazz or so-called classical music.

Essentially the raison d’être here is to combine the loose and abrasive textures Flunger sources from her haphazardly arranged loose object to rooted double bass impulses. String-trammeling, unconventional tuning and unexpected fingering as well as junctures at which the wood appears to be wrenching apart are some of Scheib’s frequently evoked unconventional techniques. Because of this some tracks revolve around the dual timbres created when stentorian buzzes or near-vocalized shrieks from pummeled steel strings assert their place among the clatter, smash and bang that could result from emptying the items from a kitchen drawer onto the ground. Other novel counterpoint on tracks such as “abends im Schwimmbel” and “Passage intime” find the percussionist’s processional pumps and sharpened stopping from the bull fiddler evolving beside a mysterious oscillation that could come from signal processing. The tremolo interface on the second tune especially features narrow electronic-like pulsing that creates a third adjacent line. Enigmatically then, triple textures can be heard as the pieces get speedier and more dissonant.

Ironically, some of the most imposing duets are those in which Scheib allows his instrument to sound like a double bass. For instance there’s implicit tonal beauty on “Ceres” when heavily vibrated string arpeggios are matched with upward moving metallic smacks and strokes, ending with what sounds like a typical Jazz rim shot. On “außergwöhnliche Belastungen” as well, Flunger's fortissimo mallet strikes and implement rolling goad Scheib’s single string plucks enough so that they pick up in velocity to meet the percussion onslaught.

Proving that the textures produced from junk percussion and conventional instruments aren’t antithetical in the right hands, Passage is another satisfying achievement from Flunger and he partner(s).

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Untitled 2. in Finstern Zeiten 3. unter einem kahlen Baum 4. My paradise 5. Auf nach Texas 6. Black and yellow 7. Ceres 8. außergwöhnliche Belastungen 9. beißen nicht 10. abends im Schwimmbel 11. then 12. Bröckliger Untergrund 13. passage intime 14. Non c’è di che

Personnel: Stefan Scheib (bass) and Elisabeth Flunger (percussion)