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Koch / Schütz / Studer - Tales From 30 Unintentional Nights

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Artist: Koch / Schütz / Studer

Album: Tales From 30 Unintentional Nights

Label: Intakt

Review date: Mar. 26, 2007

This trio of veteran Swiss improvisers characterizes its music as a style-free zone, a description that misleadingly implies that they don’t trade in styles or genres. But their self-description – check one of their websites and you’ll learn that they play “Hardcore Chambermusic” – gives them away. They’re really all about styles, assimilating, digesting, reassembling, and repurposing them with a facility sharpened by 17 years of shared plundering. Their line-up might look suspiciously free-improv-rooted, but the way multi-reedist Hans Koch, five-string cellist Martin Schütz, and drummer Freddy Studer augment their instruments with electronics, samples, and (on other records, but not this one) collaborators puts them in a more of a freestyle zone.

On “9/29 (for Walter & Marianne)” a murmuring clarinet pops out of a squiggle of electronic tones, snakes around a few looped clarinet doppelgangers, and stretches luxuriously against a textured backdrop that sounds like that cheap string synth Can used in the mid ’70s. It’s bluesy and sublime, but it’s just a way station on the way to some heavy fuzz-toned chug and womping drumbeats that could incur some hoots and hollers of recognition and appreciation from fans of the early Mahavishnu Orchestra.

“9/21 (for Markus & Sylvio)” opens with echoed cello plucks sprinkled with rhythmically dancing static that bring to mind early Pole. But as the music segues into another track recorded ten days earlier (the album is culled from a month of intensive gigging), an earlier European appropriation of reggae comes to mind. The cello pitch-shifts into the bassment, the samples fly in and out of the mix, and we’re in the land of Wobble, Czukay, and Liebezeit’s “Trench Warfare.”

“9/23 (for Sonja)” closes the record with a noir-ish brush-on-drums and a walking cello line prodded by a popping, probing soprano sax line that would have done Steve Lacy proud. Unintentional nights? They might not have mapped out what they were going to do, but Koch, Schütz, and Studer know exactly what they’re doing.

By Bill Meyer

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