Christoph Erb/Frantz Loriot

Sceneries
Creative Sources CS 356 CD

Franz Loriot/Systematic Distortion Orchestra

The Assembly

Out Now ONR 024

Fissure not fusion could be the word that most closely mirrors the activities of French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot. A former resident of both Paris and New York, he’s now set up shop in Zürich where he moves among so many multidisciplinary project that it would appear he can clone himself. Take the two CDs here which showcse his talents for either micro or macro invention.

Concerned with the singular and reductionist qualities of duo playing, the tracks on Sceneries are the equivalent of peering through four murky glass panes in the same window. The vision is the same but slightly distorted, depending on which angle is least clouded. Loriot’s partner is Lucerne-based tenor and soprano saxophonist Christoph Erb, another day tripper who has played with stylists as varied as Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zernag stateside and Paul Lovens and Han Koch in Europe. In contrast, like a party balloon that can be inflated to zeppelin size, The Assembly assembles an assembly of 11 New York-based players to poke and probe at the four tracks that are either Loriot or group instant compostions. Ironically the additional players add expanded abstract timbres rather than group harmonies. Unconventionally formulated the Systematic Distortion Orchestra consists of one saxophonist, four brass players, two double bassists, three percussionists and Loriot.

Rippling string strokes and near airless reed gusts characterizes the meeting of Erb and Loriot. Multi-directiinal as well as mulitphonic, initially the contrasting tones are expressecd via unaltered circular breathing on the reedist’s part and fiddle string plucks so staccato that the scratches could come from an enraged feline. Yet like faint moon glimpsed through that same disky wondow pane, the abject stillness is often interrupted by more bellicose tones that could be a cap-gun outburst, or an insisstent engine drone. By “Annoyed Hibernation” and the following “Tincture” like choleric nappers roused from repose the two connect on a visceral level as sibilate lip motions and yelps from the reedist plus see-sawing double stroking from the violist work up into such a pinnacle of shrillness that human-sounding pain is almost heard. The jagged edges are smoothed down on the subsequent and longest track, with tandem cries and sprawls calmed with slower timbres and then pick up speed again. Before a finale that resembles an aural boxing match of snorting tongue slaps and string-stropping, pizzicato slaps from Loriot and shill, rough burbles from Erb meld into a nearly tone as if the two have become one.

One would be the loneliest number if not for the 10 additional players present on the other CD. However like a lab experiment put into beta trials, the duo tone melding of Erb/Loriot is interpolated to this larger group. More attuned to a caustic Free Jazz aesthetic, the disc’s concentrated narrative moves forward on the first two selections via protracted drum rumbles as blitzkrieg-like attacks from individual horn and string players attempt to disrupt the proceedings. Because of this, cumulative sul ponticello string rubbing and jagged Donald Ayler-like trumpet blasts make the heraldic exposition pivot widely as it advances. Eventually though, like the well wrapped birthday present made out of odds and ends, these busy disparate tones reach a climax of rugged percussion snaps and inner tube saxophone vibrations. Adept plunger tones from trumpeters Brad Henkel and Joe Moffett gnaw enough of a hole in the miasma to establish a theme that once established slowly fades.

A puzzling interlude of music and recitation by bassist Sean Ali slows down the momentum of the session, which doesn’t kick back into high gear until the concluding “Le Relais”. Also the only time Loriot moves to the forefront his strident slices and whistles move in and among the others’ work with the intent and aggravation of a buzzing mosquito. Eventually as his stinging insect bite-like shrills redirect the others as if they were seeking quarantine, concentrated beats from the percussionists and heraldic brass slurs concentrate into an extended multi-part crescendo and finale.

Just as his geographic identity is fluid, so too are the skills Loriot exhibits as a player and improviser. These CDs demonstrate his dual talents. Both are equally notable, as long as you don’t mind the recitation on the large group set.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Sceneries: 1. Aurore 2. Floating in a Tempest 3. Annoyed Hibernation 4. Tincture 5. Egress

Personnel: Sceneries: Christoph Erb (tenor and soprano saxophones) and Frantz Loriot (viola)

Track Listing: Assembly: 1. Echo 2. The Assembly 3. Maybestill 4. Le Relais

Personnel: Assembly: Brad Henkel, Joe Moffett (trumpet); Ben Gerstein (trombone); Sam Kulik (bass trombone); Nathaniel Morgan (alto saxophone); Frantz Loriot (viola); Sean Ali (bass, words); Pascal Niggenkemper (bass); Carlo Costa, Devin Gray, Flin Van Hemmen (drums, percussion)