Rhodri Davies / Mark Wastell / Burkhard Beins

May 3, 2021

Twenty

Confront Core Series core 17

Marking an extended musical alliance a with cusp-of-Covid-lockdown concert, the Sealed Knot trio convened for a nearly hour-long concert which indicated how its blend of noisy and muted tension-release has been refined over 20 years together. Ranging through build up, synthesis and dissolving timbres during a nearly hour-long set, Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies plus British multi-instrumentalist Mark Wastell and German percussionist Burkhard Beins used amplification, silences and integrated tones to their fullest and near-singular expression. Veterans of multiple associations that encompasses Wastell’s work with the likes of Simon H. Fell, Davies with John Butcher and Beins with Michael Vorfeld, the trio’s voice is non-doctrinaire, as reductionist and ambient echoes share space with outbursts that could migrate to Free Jazz or Metal sessions.

The creation begins with arbitrary and affiliated drones, shakes and scratches, stretched rubs brought into play from harp strums, gong resonation and motor-driven buzzes. Eventually muffled oscillations inflate with scraping and thumping resonations, transforming the soundfield into an impenetrable mass with metallic overtones. By the time the one-third mark is reached however, the dominated mass dissolves so that singing bowl swabs are clearly heard presaging the next section. With ratcheting timbres scrubbed in a repetitive pattern joined with stretched string vibrations the narrative become more strident, sharper, louder higher pitched and more dissonant. Pierced by shrill whistles and string strops against unyielding metal, this gonging and synthesized interface is also brief, and is quickly followed by reverberating singing bowl plinks and voltage hisses, plus after a pause, harp string scrapes. This sonic yin-and-yang helps define the trio’s strategy so that further bursts of noise and tranquility alternate throughout the set, with the program’s final minutes given over to uniquely stretched noises which suggest pebbles clattering against the bowl and gong. Replicating both parts of the equation, at first loud and solid than quiet and intermittent mark the final sequenced which whooshes to conclusive silence.

Difficult to pinpoint exactly how the three-part creativity evolves, Twenty is still an exemplary showcase for The Sealed Knot’s singular talents.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Twenty

Personnel: Rhodri Davies (amplified lap harp); Mark Wastell (dual 32” tam tams, gongs, and Nepalese singing bowls) and Burkhard Beins (amplified percussion)