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Album Review

Walter Fähndrich - Christy Doran - Remo Schnyder - Samuel Wettstein: Âme Sèche


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Walter Fähndrich - Christy Doran - Remo Schnyder - Samuel Wettstein: Âme Sèche
The literal translation of the album title from French to English looks to be 'soul dryer,' but in reality it could imply something else. Regardless, this international quartet abides by a surfeit of unorthodoxies. And while guitar hero Christy Doran is perhaps well-known to the global avant-jazz, improvisation and jazz fusion audience, the other artists' musical appetites span noise music, classical, jazz, improvisation and a host of cross-bred musical idioms. Nonetheless, the musicians' biographies are well-beyond the scope of this article.

This largely temperate improvisational journey contains microtonal and minimalism-based checkpoints along with possible influences from the likes of avant-garde or new music icons such as John Cage and/or Karl Stockhausen. Here, imaginative violist Walter Fähndrich is the lead voice amid creaky parts and fluttering staccato runs, yet many of these segments feature the musicians' terse statements via mimicking exchanges and noise-shaping forays in concert with Samuel Wettstein's colorful and discreet use of electronics. However, the band does capitalize on employing space as an additional medium. No doubt, the program isn't cluttered with furious discordant escapades: the music breathes.

The musicians' asynchronous advancements and electro-organic textures are brimming with solemn notes, brash outpourings and eerie harmonic musings that may take the listener into an abyss. Doran's closed-hand chord voicings, lightly distorted phrasings and saxophonist Remo Schnyder's skittish lines on "7," offset Fähndrich's strings scraping maneuvers, producing a jagged orbital motif. But "10" starts with Wettenstein's high-pitched synth noises and the violist's crusty phrasings, spawning a domino effect atop asymmetrical patterns, as though the music is bouncing off the studio walls in odd-metered sequences.

"11" is constructed with Fähndrich's maddening thrust along with his cohorts' blurting notes, as the band seemingly navigates through rugged terrain. Overall, the presentation features numerous, yet not far-reaching, dips and spikes, although they don't stray too far from executing their craft on a horizontal axis but turn up the heat in choice spots. Indeed, it's unconventional, but you're guaranteed to hear something different or previously unobserved on subsequent spins.

Track Listing

#1 – #13


Walter Fähndrich: viola, voice; Christy Doran: guitar; Remo Schnyder: saxophone; Samuel Wettstein: electronics.

Album information

Title: Âme Sèche | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Leo Records

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