June 5, 2024

Llibetats Sonores
Liquen Records LRCD 010

FMR CD 541-0419

Five years and nearly 1,700 kilometers sperate these trio sessions. But both are concerned with blending technically diverse acoustic and electronic sonorities into offbeat but original programs. Recorded in Munich, 2017’s superGAUS features three Teutonic musicians who have experimented with subsets of creative music for decades: Anton Kaun, whose electronics and effects are usually found in the multi-media and noise music fields; Gunnar Geisse, whose use of laptop guitar and virtual instruments are prominent in the improvised and New music sectors: and Udo Schindler, whose singular mastery of reed and brass instruments and synthesizer have resulted in notable sessions with everyone from Elisabeth Harnik to Peter Jacquemyn.

Expanding academic studies into sonic action in 2022’s Llibetats Sonores are València-based soprano and baritone saxophonist Josep Lluís Galiana, who has worked with the likes of Agustí Fernández; composer and visual artist Avelino Saavedra playing shakuhachi, percussion and electronics; and Joan Gómez Alemany, another artist-performer adding pre-recoded samples and electronics.

Divided into seven sections which effortlessly flow from one track to the next, the València session begins with polyphonic miasma that soon fragments into identifiable baritone saxophone honks whose nephritic properties judder alongside tremolo electronic wave forms. As the piece evolves the protracted Part II exemplify the session’s thesis and resolution as whizzing oscillations slowly relax into andante ring modulator-like pops as saxophone slurs are contrasted with shakuhachi peeps, which despite dog-whistle approximations preserve linear flow. That evolution characterizes the remainder of the disc, with fierce saxophone overblowing and tongue slaps lined up against bright reed squeezes at the same time as wave form drones rumble. Further resonations are introduced in the form of percussion created by key pressure and voltage stings against unyielding metal. Consolidation into passages of impenetrable hums are countered when Galiana works his way up the scale with circular breathing on “Part VI (solo de saxofon soprano)”; and when Alemany’s selection of samples on the concluding “Part VII” include vocal babbling, adhan-like chants, bell-ringing, gong resonation and additional sounds from what could be a Maghrebsourced horn and prestissimo human cries. Sonic shape and cohesion is finally resolved as metallic clangs dissolve beside steadily ascending shakuhachi trills and descending baritone saxophone snores.

Although involved with the same sort of electronics and instruments interaction as the València trio, the Munich threesome’s single improvisation is distinguished from the other with an emphasis on acoustic tones. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t as many voltage wave forms heard on superGAUS as Llibetats Sonores. In fact the oscillations include similar squeaks, processed crackles and synthesized drones as the other disc and add unique textures that sounds like rotary hammers and buzzing static. But the tonal definitions of  Schindler’s reeds and Geisse’s laptop guitar and virtual instruments are more pronounced and upfront than similar tones on the other disc. By the time the single track has evolved a quarter of the way synthesized distortions that bleed over the sound picture start to break apart as keyboard-like clips, violin-like sweeps and orchestral samples mixed with reed peeps penetrate electronic drones. By mid-point the non-voltage sections become more prominent, as field recorded conversation are reduced to pointillist syllables and as reconstituted orchestral samples that intersect with altissimo reed smears and tongue stops cut through concentrated buzzing static. Each time the electronic interface attains thundering synthesis and threatens to dominate, human-projected reed snarls, virtual keyboard clips and faux slide whistle peeps swiftly balance the sound articulation. Sliding to the finale, and not unlike Galiana, Saavedra and Alemany, this trio uses reed flutters and virtual pianism to reassert acoustic timbres past machines buzzes and a mechanized gongs.

Each session is a noted instance of bringing parity to acoustic and electronic impulses. Owing to the breath of creative musicians’ craft, each trio has an antithetical emphasis that animates the specific disc to an acceptable outcome.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Llibetats: 1. Part I 2. Part II 3. Part III (duet instrumental) 4. Part IV 5. Part V (solo de percussió i electrònica en viu) 6. Part VI (solo de saxofon soprano) 7. Part VII

Personnel: Llibetats: Josep Lluís Galiana (soprano and baritone saxophones); Avelino Saavedra (shakuhachi, percussion and electronics) and Joan Gómez Alemany (pre-recorded electronics and sound structure)

Track Listing: superGAUS: 1, superGAUS

Personnel: superGAUS: Udo Schindler (reeds, brass and analogue synthesizer); Gunnar Geisse (laptop guitar and virtual instruments) and Anton Kaun (electronics, effects, toys and equipment)