Zlatko Kaucic / Tomaž Grom

August 27, 2020

Uho je senca očesa/The Ear Is the Shadow of the Eye

Sploh ZSCD 010

Reversing the background-foreground music custom, two Slovenian improvisers turn tradition on its head by creating a dynamic CD where the cornerstones of the rhythm section – the double bass and percussion – create the entire program. Undeterred by tradition, Zlatko Kaučič uses varied percussion, objects and an amplified zither to expand rhythmic parameters on these dozen tracks, while Tomaž Grom amplifies his bass line with freeze and voice.

Besides leading their own group both have played with a cross section of improvisers, such as Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann in Kaučič’s case and Axel Dörner and Michel Doneda in Grom’s. Still they quickly demonstrate that there’s no need for additional players here as the two build up dramatic sequences of shrills, stops, splays, scratches and silences culminating in the lengthy, somewhat sardonic “Za Naslov Se Boriva = Battling For a Title”. During its elaboration, the duo expresses a buzzing intensity, characterized by the bassist’s journey from shrill squeals at the highest pitch of his string set down to stentorian arco pulls that thump and resonate thickly. Meanwhile these dissected tones are brightened and completed reflective object rattling and bell-tree flutters from Kaučič.

Even before that the two illuminate briefer tracks with textures that are as revealing as they are rhythmic and depict moods as well as movement. Sometimes, as on “Sekira V Ledu = Lucky Claw”, emphasis is on the bassist when his strings take on wailing drones as they descend the scale from high pitches and are met by splatters and splays from the drummer. Other times focus is on the percussionist as on “Kino Uho = Cinema Ear’ where expressive slaps transform watery suction and diffuse crackles into powerful beats doubled by thick double bass plucks. Most descriptively, “Zlata Ribica = Gold Fish” involves both players equally and changes the dual paradigm from subdued to swagger. Beginning with clattering cymbal slaps and drum rumbles with restrained string pressure, the climax regularizes the beat with decisive triple-stropping from Grom.

A striking addendum to their other projects, the skill Kaučič and Grom bring to Uho je senca očesa/The Ear Is the Shadow of the Eye also proves that unadorned bass and drums textures can never be thought of as merely rhythm properties,

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Iz Rok V Ušesa = From Hands to Ears 2. Učna Ura Spomina = Learning Lessons of Memory 3. Uho Je Senca Očesa = The Ear Is the Shadow Of the Eye 4. Pozaba Ne Pomaga = Forgetting Won’t Help 5. Zlata Ribica = Gold Fish 6. Kino Uho = Cinema Ear 7. Tovor = Cargo 8. Dve Desni Roki = Two Right Hands 9. Čeprav Si Pepelnik, Rad Berem Tvoje Pesmi = Though Ashtray (Pepelnik), I Still Like to Read Your Poems 10. Sekira V Ledu = Lucky Claw 11. Zvonka Pavza = Sound Out 12.

Personnel: Tomaž Grom (bass, freeze and voice) and Zlatko Kaučič (percussion, objects and amplified zither)