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Klangmutationen, "Schwarzhagel"

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cover image This URSK series by Utech has been establishing itself as a force in bringing wider attention to projects that otherwise may have lingered in obscurity.  For example, this Malaysian band has had only a few, very limited releases before, but with this higher profile disc more will get to hear this distinctly unique take on dark, murky free jazz.

 

 

Utech Records

Sonically based around dueling saxophones and underpinned by dark, heavily reverbed guitar ambience, Schwarzhagel is an extremely dark, tense listening experience.  The short opening track of black, reverb drenched ambience and violent guitar string bends serves as a more than adequate prelude to the pummeling that awaits.

The second, longer piece begins similarly with wobbling pitch guitar and carefully controlled feedback that swells and sustains violently, but never feels unnecessary or unfocused.  However, once the saxophones enter, the bleakness is replaced with pure violence.  Tham Kar Mun and Yandsen both manage to produce the most tortured, pained shrieks from their instruments that rivals anything Peter Brotzmann or John Zorn has done similar in sheer brutality.  Unrelenting, the guttural screams continue, occasionally dropping off into a death rattle just to come back strong.  Finally, the horns retreat and the piece retreats into the calmer darkness of the guitar that opened it.

The third long track is more focused on noise laden guitar riffs that are punctuated by subtler, but still uncomfortable horn blasts.  The guitar grows noiser and noiser until the latter half where it erupts into pure unhinged noise that could have been the work of Hijokaidan or Solmania for utter guitar raucousness.  Throughout this piece, however, there is a greater variety of dynamics taking place.  While the former piece was one unending blast, this one allows for some breathing room in the first half, with the volume and density of sound swelling and then retreating, allowing for more tension and less pure chaos.

Ending with another short track, the album closes is a much more softer manner than it opened, chiming, crystalline guitar tones shine through the mist of reverb, and the piercing feedback swells stay carefully under control.  As a whole, it’s an interesting take on what is usually just considered free jazz.  Even with the sonic parallels to the FMP label and other such camps, Klangmutationen retains a darker, more sinister quality that was never quite as apparent in other similar works.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 05 October 2008 14:49  


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