The zeitkratzer ensemble performing two tracks by John Duncan in a collaboration promoted last year by Podewil in Berlin. A project started over a year ago, the result of continuous and tenatious work over several meetings between Duncan and the musicians, in charge of performing two originally electronic compositions with their acoustic instruments.
The 27 minutes of the first piece revisit NAV-FLEX, a composition published last year by Duncan in the double CD with Francisco López, NAV. In zeitkratzer's hands the piece seems to acquire new life, maintaining the positive qualities in Duncan's original work: those high, obscure phantom sounds, that slow pulsing bass, those extremely suggestive drones, slow and gradual waves that expand throughout the entire space of the mind and body, measuring full and empty.
Managing to frame an ungraspable track such as NAV-FLEX and perform it as a piece for acoustic instruments was a theoretical challenge, a challenge clearly won, resulting in complex sound full of detail, giving extremely diverse effects at all volume levels. What's striking is the richness of the tonal range, the continuous hastening of the instruments, the expansions in the sustained notes. This is a cyclic, insistent work that takes form through echoes and rumbles, a silent becoming of chimerical sounds. Sublime in the capturing of a stillness with night-like flavor, through low and enshrouding notes, gradations of a matter that is something 'other' from us, sublimated in slow passages of beauty. The reciprocal hastening of the instruments, the diffuse persussive articulation, the rustling and the breathing, the soft touches: without knowing how, we find ourselves surrounded by a dreamlike matter that undermines and deforms every normal perceptive coordinate.
TRINITY is an older work, included in the 1996 compilation A Fault In The Nothing: short, grating and stinging compared to NAV-FLEX. A crescendo of striated chords that explodes in rapid, stabbing movments of sound, just as effective as the first track although in an opposite direction. If the first was all a compact stirring, TRINITY is an explosion in a thousand splinters, marked by brass rhythms and beats of the string instruments, composed by refrained clusters of notes, that die in a single breath of three minutes.
Fresh is an album that shows the potential of a way of composing that's creative, open and unrestricted by the limits of computer music, enriched by that beauty that is a balance between a complexity of methods and motives, and clarity of results. (Daniela Cascella / Blow up)