Tom Malmendier & Dirk Serries

Vanguard
New Wave of Jazz nwoj 030

Emile Škrijelj & Tom Malendier

Tropism

Carton Records Croix-Croix 17

Probing the immensity of percussion textures is Belgian drummer Tom Malmendier in these duets, propelling resonances that range from the unexpected to the unforeseen. Cordially stroking parts of a regular kit on Vanguard, he’s paired with another unconventional player Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries. Providing a boost to abstraction on Tropism, Malmendier uses drums and objects to match pulsations from French turntable and electronics player Émilie Škrijelj.

Serries is an accomplished participant in sessions with players as different as Colin Webster and Asmus Tietchems. Throughout this CD he often strikes the strings of his acoustic guitar in a fashion that he could be heard using a resonating National steel guitar favored by 1930s Blues singers. As he slashes and skins his strings Malmendier responds with crunches, ruffs and cymbal buzzes. Except for a few brief sequences when the interaction stabilizes into downy percussion rubs and string stopping, elaboration is based on how efficiently metallic idiophone pressure can challenge and accompany wound string twangs and frails. As the guitarist work up and down his strings on the title track, for instance, drum pops and bangs fill in the background until string slides lead to a spectacular display of bottleneck-like reverb and single-string plucks up against scratches on unyielding percussion objects. Picking up the narrative, the subsequent “Coded Ideal” is both heavier and thinner. Reverberating idiophone buzzing and thumping screeches alongside twangs so thick that notes seem to detach from the guitar. Later both player’ lines shatter into atom-sized noises.

In musical intercourse with Škrijelj, Malmendier’s usual partner, on the other disc her synthesized collection of judders, buzzes, whistles and glitch vibrations cause the percussionist to respond with fragmented rhythms and emphasize twisting and pummeling. These reflex reactions are given the most space to evolve organically on “Patoko Mata”, which at 20 minutes is twice as long as the other two tracks combined. Besides the rugged plops and frenetic beats, in response to Škrijelj’s pennywhistle-like shrills, percussion vibrates timbres that sound like slapping on plastic bottles. As backwards-running tape-flanges that include sped up voices create a section demarcation, the partners reverse roles. Now it’s his paradiddles that are light and understated with her harsh turntable rubs and screeches creating a percussive bottom. Eventually power pumps and cries give way to samples of squealing multi-tracked voices that yowl and yodel beside subtle drum rotation, finally giving way to a concluding drum pop and electronic squeak.

Not what many would imagine when confronted by percussion duos, there are many unexpected and surprisingly positioned textures to be heard on these CDs.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Vanguard: 1. Incus 2. Twelve Tone 3. Vanguard 4. Coded Ideal 5. Adrift 6. Stock

Personnel: Vanguard: Dirk Serries (acoustic guitars) and Tom Malmendier (drums)

Track Listing: Tropism: 1. Patoko Mata 2. Pua Pii 3. Kipo Kipo

Personnel: Tropism: Tom Malmendier (drums and objects) and Emilie Škrijelj (turntable and electronics)