Doppelmoppel: Outside This Area (2008)
If one of the ongoing preoccupations of an identifiably European approach to free improvisation is the undermining of conventional group line-ups, then a quartet of two guitars (Uwe Kropinski and Joe Sachse) and two trombones (Conny and Johannes Bauer) has to be some kind of statement in itself. The same is true of the music they produce, and the statement in Outside This Area's case is eloquent, persuasive and compelling.
For all of its merits as a form of musical expression, overt humor is something only intermittently obvious in the recorded documentation of it, but Doppelmoppel makes it an integral part of the deal. "Walk 2" is notable in this regard, particularly in the tentatively conversational opening passage, in which an acoustic guitar has the effect of shaping the music without functioning as a lead.
The scurrying activity of "Walk 6" would suggest a certain restlessness if it wasn't for the fact that the trombones are set on a more stately course. Here too is one of the numerous examples on this set where one of the guitars serves as a neo-percussion instrument, adding a dry, slightly arid quality to proceedings as if to offset the perverse hornpipes of the trombones. Not graced by anything as earthbound as a tempo, the progress of the music is the key, especially when the kind of trombone and guitar dialog ensues which can only be the product of the deepest working knowledge.
In that regard "Walk 3" is as close to a definition of working methods as anything here. The music almost literally starts from nothing, but the something it becomes is quietly compelling for all of its low volume. Again the augmented vocabulary of the guitar is to the fore, although this time in the service of relatively straightforward rhythmic ends. There's a mile-wide streak of good nature running through this one too, unequivocally exemplifying how close this group has become through the simple expedient of repeated exposure to each other's methods.
Another result of that is their shared knowledge of the value of brevity. Thus the trombone duo on the less than two minutes of "Walk 7" shows off not just its related knowledge but also knowledge of jazz history, calling to mind the likes of Dicky Wells and Grachan Moncur III in its mixture of the earthy and the cerebral.
Track Listing: Walk 1; Walk 2; Walk 3; Walk 4; Walk 5; Walk 6; Walk 7; Walk 8; Walk 9; Walk 10; Walk 11.
Personnel: Conny Bauer: trombone; Johannes Bauer: trombone; Uwe Kropinski: guitars; Joe Sachse: guitars.