How to improvise on an existing work of improvisation? American outfit Pillow took the plunge by carefully placing European free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann’s group improvisation piece Images on the rack. Don’t expect any tortured notes or twisted chords, though, as Pillow respectfully and patiently square up to Brötzmann’s music. Written especially for his Tentet and released on Okkadisk, Images is one of Brötzmann’s most meditative collective works of improvisation. Tentet member and cellist Fred Lonberg Holm took up the challenge and together with his Pillow quartet breathed new live into the composition, and a completely new piece of music is born. The reflective mood of Brötzmann’s original is admiringly kept intact in Pillow’s interpretation, considering that it’s constructed in eleven parts. Apart from Lonberg Holm, Pillow is: Liz Payne (bass, viola and percussion), Michael Colligan (tubes and dry ice) and Ben Vida (trumpet and guitar) from minimalist post-rock band Town and Country. The quartet strives for tight harmony in the tradition of classic sixties improv groups like AMM and MEV.
The totality of sound is paramount and individual proclivities and the virtuoso solo performances are wisely avoided. Plays Brötzmann reveals a quartet in full flow; predominantly calm, trance-inducing improvisations will occasionally veer off at unexpected angles, but they rarely loosen their grip on the listener. In this twilight world, the music levitates between modern classical, free improv and melancholic post-rock. Impressively, these musicians have managed to dose the ingredients taken from the storerooms of their respective musical backgrounds for the preparation of Images to perfection.