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Mika Vainio / Kevin Drumm / Axel Dörner / Lucio Capece - Venexia

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Artist: Mika Vainio / Kevin Drumm / Axel Dörner / Lucio Capece

Album: Venexia

Label: Pan

Review date: Jul. 31, 2012

Mika Vainio, Kevin Drumm, Axel Dörner and Lucio Capece have performed brute noise, near-silent improv, atomized audio flecks, long tones, abstracted metal and essentialized dance beats. Together on Venexia, they remind me of a peyote ceremony where the participants occupy a sweatlodge and collectively undergoing an intense experience that is simultaneously shared and quite private. There are points where only one man is playing, and his playing is so remote from representation or function that it seems to be meant mostly for the player’s ears, and yet whenever you hear another man join in, the contribution is so apposite that it seems like it out to be carved into stone — or maybe just vinyl. It seems like nothing is happening, but the tension is palpable and gripping, and whenever you reflect on the content of a moment it is quite different from what came before. Each man is mostly silent, perhaps lost in his own world, but maybe listening for the rare moment when someone opens up and shares an insight that you might or might not understand.

Put another way, this is a group improvisation that never sounds like “improvised music,” and rarely sounds like a group playing together. Instead they contribute in turn, or layer tones one atop another so that all four players sound like they are playing the same impossibly dense, long-held chord.

The instrumental line-up is fairly egalitarian across the electro-acoustic spectrum, encompassing synthesizer, computer, sruti box, reeds, and trumpet, but Capece and Dörner so strongly favor the sounds of breath and the amplified internal workings of their horns that their playing fits right in with the synth and computer. Both Drumm and Vainio are quite capable of God-hammering heaviosity, but there’s none of that here. Instead this music deftly balances consonance and paradox, yielding a listening experience that is rich without every seeming to want to reward the listener.

By Bill Meyer

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