Elisabeth Coudoux

Emiszatett – Earis
Impakt 021

A caustic claustrophobic CD that contends with the confined Covid circumstance in which it was created, the compositions by Cologne-based cellist Elisabeth Coudoux continue to concretize copious tone colors. Coudoux, who plays with the likes of Carl Ludwig Hübsch and in Zeitkratzer, brings out additional motifs in these cameos by incorporating the voice of Pegelia Gold. Already present are interactive tones honed over time by her Emiszatett collaborators. With Philip Zoubek’s prepared piano and synthesizer, Robert Landfermann’s acoustic and electric bass, Matthias Muche’s trombone and Etienne Nillesen’s extended snare drum the dozen tracks combine the flexibility of improvisation with notated music’s tempered pitch and tempo changes,

Languidly, quintet members initiate string glissandi, percussion clatter and brass squeaks to pulsate alongside oblique vocalization. Emphasizing mood over motion, fog-thick density is intermittently broached by wood pops or string set strops. Tracks such as “Curious Force” and “Pluses” illuminate this strategy. Vocal bays layer double bass or cello string slaps that intersect with ceaseless mumbling on “Pluses”. In contrast the former is a Gold showpiece with pseudo-scat singing and gasps undulating along with group patterning, and features a multiphonic crescendo completed by an unaccompanied lyric vocal tone. Not everything is hushed and diminished though. With its fluid electric bass line, electric-piano-like vibrations from the synthesizer and the trombonist’s gutbucket slurs “Peculiar” aspires to Rhine-Ruhr funk.

Codex’s compositional strategy is most descriptive however on the title track. As the soprano voice joins with music box-like tinkles to express the rarefied theme, string thumps, brass toots and processed whistles straighten it into linear motion revealing the power beneath the delicacy.

A small achievement by a small group, this disc is perfect listening in a small room. Without being precious the cellist’s mature music can be a buffer against pandemics and other world absurdities.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Eerie Entrance 2. Captivates 3. Curious Force 4. Automagic 5. Space of Heva 6. Smells Matter 7. Peculiar 8. Pluses 9. Daily Rhythm 10. Snowbound 11. Earis 12. With Sound

Personnel: Matthias Muche (trombone); Philip Zoubek (prepared piano and synthesizer); Elisabeth Coudoux (cello); Robert Landfermann (bass, electric bass); Etienne Nillesen (extended snare drum) and Pegelia Gold (voice)