January 3, 2020
Before Zero Crossing
Gotta Let It Out GliO 25 CD
Les Bruits de la tête 015
An electro-acoustic sound researcher as well as a brass player, French trumpeter Timothée Quost is in the processing of creating a new capillary language for his horn. Quost, who is also affiliated with free improvising ensembles, mixes the sonic traits available from condenser microphone, mixer and studio monitor with breaths to create wholly idiosyncratic textures. Later he calls on the talents of Julien Podolak to help record and mix the results for further freshness. This puts him in the vanguard of brass timbre experimenters, alongside the likes of Birgit Ulher, Peter Evans and Axel Dörner.
Each of these fine CDs offers a variation of the equation. Oak is stripped down to a bare skeleton, presenting five tracks of only Quost, trumpet and add-ons. Before Zero Crossing is more expansive. Its 14 tracks include the addition of soundscapes captured on the streets of Copenhagen, plus Spartan contributions from the alto saxophone of Lotte Anker on two tracks and the viola and voice of Mika Persdotter on two others. In truth the soft voices of children and raucous party sounds provide more of a contrast to the trumpeter’s low-pitched thumps, sniffs and electronic wriggles on “Before Zero Crossing - Track 2” than Anker’s studied glissandi. However the Danish reedist who has long been involved in solo and group expression is more of a presence later on. Challenging the busy cries, conversations, pipe-organ-like textures and city street ambiance with irregular peeps and crying tremolo runs, Anker amplifies Quost’s strategies. They encompass time clock-like pacing, metallic smacks, growls in the body tube and shrieking whistles. Persdotter’s asides are less connective since they seem to be verbalized in a non-specific language. Yet Quost’s tremolo blowing creates near-accordion-like sweeps as his valve taps counter the uncomfortable alienation. Additionally her scratchy fiddle runs are subsumed within trumpet grace note flutters and buzzes. Later, after a protracted silence, on the final track, the unaccompanied trumpeter creates shaking percussion and pipe-chanter-like blowing that in its originality is a stunning and defining contrast to the textures that have preceded it.
Meanwhile the rest of Before Zero Crossing and all of Oak are dedicated to how many unique timbres can be sourced from a single horn. On the first, impressionistic and expressionistic motifs are expressed with every sound from continuous high pitches to brief whooshes and lip burbles while granular synthesis shakes up and refines the electronic interface. Additionally brass echoes are added to the mix as well as the sound of pure air passing through the tube to the bell. There are tensed unrolling of brass connection in the penultimate tracks as well as the sound of elevated capillary shrills and the trumpeter’s own voice. Some sequences can be highly rhythmic others can be mournful enough to approach “Taps”, while all are distinct.
More of a DIY package, Oak is even less formal and includes tracks that allow for protracted brass exploratory sequences. Sprays of capillary swills swollen to limits with hot amplification come up against metal-upon-metal resonations. Air may be simply pushed in and out without valve movement or become so discordant and dissected that the definition of non-melody is reached. Bellowing through the horn is one experiment attempted, as is alternating of ear-splitting and near-mute cries. When the percussiveness accelerates as do the unsegmented brass drones, the effect is as reminiscent to the capturing of primitive music from isolated tribes. Eventually the concluding “Oak 5” shakes cries from the instrument that sizzle like steaks on a Bar-B-Q as well as tugboat whistle-like honks as that thump and pump with added pressure. The climax finds air moving in-and-out of the body tube with direction, but not melody or rhythm. Finally the output moves to a low-pitched timbre that shudders to another distinctive summation.
The Young Man with a Horn romanticism which has tainted brass players from Bix Beiderbecke to Chet Baker and put a premium on prettiness is as firmly banished from these sessions the same way as France’s New Novel shook up traditional literature a half-century ago. Like that change Quost’s quest will make traditionalists uneasy. Those willing to take the listening risk will likely be rewarded.
Track Listing: Before: 1. Prelude in Louisiana 2. Before Zero Crossing - Track 1 3. Before Zero Crossing - Track 2# 4. Before Zero Crossing - Track 3 5. Before Zero Crossing - Track 4 6. Before Zero Crossing - Track 5 6. Interlude in Copenhagen 7. Before Zero Crossing - Track 6 8. Before Zero Crossing - Track 7# 9. Before Zero Crossing - Track 8 10. København Montage 11. Before Zero Crossing - Track 9* 12. Before Zero Crossing - Track 10 13. Before Zero Crossing - Track 11 10 14. Before Zero Crossing - Track 12*
Personnel: Before: Timothée Quost (trumpet, condenser microphone, mixer, studio monitor); Lotte Anker# (alto saxophone); Mika Persdotter* (viola and voice)and Julien Podolak (recording and mixing)
Track Listing: Oak: 1, Oak 1 2. Oak 2 3. Oak 3 4. Oak 4 5. Oak 5
Personnel: Oak: Timothée Quost (trumpet, condenser microphone, mixer, studio monitor) and Julien Podolak (recording and mixing)