Burkhard Beins/Lucio Capece/Martin Küchen/Paul Vogel

Fracture Mechanics
Mikroton cd 56

Hermetic in their experiments like technicians in an air-tight chamber, the four members of Fracture Mechanics have generated an hour plus of sounds which relate as much to the first part of quartet’s name as the second. While most of acoustical properties are related to instruments more mechanical than manual, the virtue of this presentation is how wave forms, sound envelopes and processes are fractured to create a unique program.

Like contemporary scientific endeavors, Fracture Mechanics crew is multi-national as well with the CD itself recorded in a radio studio in Ljubljana. Except for the engineer though, none of the participants are Slovenian. Berlin-based, Argentinean Lucio Capece plays soprano saxophone, soprano saxophone samples and wireless speakers; Paul Vogel is a Swiss/Irish specialist in clarinet, electronics and domestic glassware manipulation; Martin Küchen, who plays tenor saxophone, flute, radios, ipod and speakers is Swedish; and Burkhard Beins, a German, who also lives in Berlin, employs a hand oscillator, monotron, e-bowed zither, snare drum and objects. Ignore the first track, apparently added for vanity’s sake, which captures the musicians discussing where, what and how spatially they should improvise. The “Transubstantiation” or substance conversion occurs on the following tracks.

Essentially the extended interactions differ little from one another. You accept Fracture Mechanics’ definition of a sound world or not at all. Rejection would be a mistake though, since you would miss insight in how seemingly incompatible textures can be intertwined into a intriguing sound tapestry Although three reed players are involved nowhere are expected saxophone or clarinet cadences audible. Crying puffs, flat-line air expelling and bubbling shrills curve and vanish with the same frequency as the other so-called real instruments’ sounds make their presence known. Only on “Pendentive”, when deep drum reverberations serve as the track’s introduction, are the instruments’ traditional sonic properties exposed. Nonetheless, when synthesizer-created loops and flutters also pock-mark the connective narrative, like comparing the taste of butter and margarine, the properties which separate acoustic from electric instruments become gratuitous. Besides ring modulator gonging and tick-tocking percussion suggestions, the same track is distinguished from the general miasma when faint samples of non-western radio-sources enter the mix. Divergent broadcasted noises, consisting of half-heard voices in unknown languages also mark “Transmogrification “, the extended final track. Continuous rotation of whistling pops, backwards moving flanges and tuning static define the wave forms here as the aural equivalent of a snake eating its own tail. Eventually though, the fractures and cracks are stitched together to create a scrapping metal whole, which pulsates like an indivisible mass. Finally fire-engine-like blares re-splinter the mass into squeals, strokes and blows, which ingeniously relate back to “Pebble Snatch” the first musical outing.

Solo-less and at points an impenetrable tone cluster, the CD is mostly for those whose musical acceptance is akin to literary followers of the non-linear new novel.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Transubstantiation 2. Pebble Snatch 3. Pendentive 4. Transmogrification

Personnel: Paul Vogel (clarinet, glassware operation and electronics); Lucio Capece (soprano saxophone, soprano saxophone samples and wireless speakers); Martin Küchen (tenor saxophone, flute, radios, ipod and speakers) and Burkhard Beins (hand oscillator, monotron, e-bowed zither, snare drum and objects)