VA: Sieben Mal Solo

Just as its title promises, Sieben mal solo is “seven times solo,” a June 2007 live document of seven musicians performing extended (seven- to ten-minute) solo sets that was recorded at the Atelier cri du coeur in Berlin. The audience is exposed to a wide range of techniques as the players treat their largely acoustic instruments in radical fashion, so much so that often the sounds produced sever all connections to the instruments as they're normally heard. Dave Bennett plays the Ogrephonique and, consequently, his set retains interest for the vast and extreme range of sounds he generates. Lars Scherzberg, on the other hand, mangles his alto saxophone so that it becomes a conduit for fluttering noises, whistles, chirps—everything, seemingly, but regular sax sounds. Axel Haller bows and scrapes his electric bass until it groans in seeming agony while the other musicians likewise push the limits of their instruments' potential: Paul Hubweber's trombone violently growls, brays, and emits strangulated horn noises; using nothing more than accordion, Ute Völker channels the soundtrack for an imaginary snuff film; and Sabine Vogel births an alien species with bass flute and electronics. Admittedly, an album of seven solo improvisations won't have mass appeal but listeners with an appetite for courageous and boundary-pushing musicianship should find much to be fascinated by here.

February 2008