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Jason Kahn / Tomas Korber / Christian Weber - Zürcher Aufnahmen

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Artist: Jason Kahn / Tomas Korber / Christian Weber

Album: Zürcher Aufnahmen

Label: Longbox Recordings

Review date: Feb. 15, 2007

Guitar, bass, drums. A look at the instrumental line-up might prime you for a power trio, but a survey of the individuals involved reads more powerstrip. All three players are based in Switzerland and associated with some branch of improvisation. Tomas Korber, the youngest, plays guitar and electronics, and is often identified with an electro-acoustic improv scene which he refuses to completely embrace. Double bassist Christian Weber’s best-known associations are with percussionist Christian Wolfarth and the group Day & Taxi; you could say he’s the record’s jazz man. Jason Kahn is an expatriate American who has strayed a long way from his early roots as a drummer who skirted the exploratory fringe of LA’s hardcore scene in the '80s. Nowadays he runs the Cut label and uses sounds generate by the interaction of percussion and electronics — on Zürcher Aufnahmen he uses a snare drum, a cymbal, a mallet, and an analogue synth — as means to explore the acoustic qualities of the rooms in which he plays. Together they get down to the essentials, working subtle variations on rigorously circumscribed areas of sound on each of this CD’s six numbered tracks.

“1” opens with a thin, granulated stab of high-end electronic whistling. At once ephemeral and undeniable, especially when the high pitches approach the pain threshold, it’s as bad-ass as this record ever gets. In short order the audio lancet is joined by bowed bass and a lower, undefinably-sourced thump, and then the whistling splits and splinters into strips of feedback. This blend of the clearly acoustic and electronic with unidentifiable material persists throughout the record. It works to direct the listener’s focus away from origins and towards effects. This is a close listener’s record, guaranteed to annoy the casual spinner and likely to reward the sort of attentive and engaged listener. If you’re the sort who only watches water when it’s white and frothing, steer clear. But if you can marvel at movement of tiny streams coursing through the dust away from a tipped-over bowl of water, this is your record.

By Bill Meyer

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