Sophie Agnel/Joke Lanz/Michael Vatcher

May 23, 2023

Klanggalerie GG 426

Kaleidoscopic, kindred and kooky, the Animals here are represented by a cornucopia of unique and familiar noises created mostly by extended techniques from three seasoned improvisers. French pianist Sophie Agnel and US drummer Michael Vatcher are often found in more decorous improvisational settings with the likes of Wilbert de Joode or Daunik Lazro. Joker in the pack is Swiss turntablist Joke Lanz, whose Sudden Infant trio sets the standard for meetings among free, noise, ecstatic and industrial creations.

Animals’ baker’s dozen of tunes hocket between expressive titles and enigmatic ones understood only by the trio members. So while, for instance, the introductory “Laughing Hyenas” may extrude human chortles and belly laughs among the keyboard clanks, needle-drop scratches and vigorous percussion, original interpretations permeate many others. The mystery associated with “Agatha Christie’s Notebook” for example is collated with snare top pulses, repeated piano chord slaps and boiling squalls compressed into whistles from stopped and flanged turntable dexterity. Or decide what jazz-like piano comping, slapping percussion paradiddles and vinyl-sampled yelps have to do with “Baby On Board”.

At the same time the more obvious connections aren’t belabored but expressed with invention and humor. Mechanical creaks and bel canto warbles from existing LPs may tout “Siren Song”. But the nautical and mythological inferences are secondary to how Agnel’s descending exposition is unperturbed in its horizontal evolution as Lanz’s squeaks, wriggle and reversed vinyl samples evolve around her. Burbles, drones, squeaks, shakes and bangs are all part of the performance’s tremolo evolution. Yet by the concluding “Paul Rutherford’s Trombone” and the penultimate “Frog Pond Ballet”, the connections among bassoon-like snarls and goose honks on one hand and inner string piano plucks and drum shuffles becomes clearer as a spontaneous post-modern strategy

Agnel, Lanz and Vatcher’s blueprint depends on appreciating the singularity plus the sum of its projected creative sound clamor and how each turbulent sequence is displayed and resolved.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1 . Laughing Hyenas 2. Lullaby For Dionysus3. Poltergeist Activity 4. Baby On Board 5. Michael Nyman Fell Asleep 6. Agatha Christie’s Notebook 7. Metallic Meditation 8. It’s Not Allowed 9. Odobenus Rosmarus 10. Wally Walrus 11. Siren Song 12. Frog Pond Ballet 13. Paul Rutherford’s Trombone

Personnel: Sophie Agnel (piano); Michael Vatcher (drums) and Joke Lanz (turntables)