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A caveat on this review- electronic music is neither my forte nor my passion. In fact, most of the time I can take it or leave it. Sound sculptors like Jim O’Rourke (who incidentally pens the liners on this disc) do next to nothing to excite my senses and the space explorations of Nachtluft drift into a similar orbit of ambivalence. The root of my inattentiveness resides in the sad fact that much of the time I just don’t get what’s going on. With acoustic instruments the challenge in freely improvised music often comes in finding the undiscovered sounds attainable through them. The limits on electronics are uncharted; theoretically speaking virtually any and all sounds can be created at the flip of switch or the press of a button. I realize this is grossly simplifying things, but there’s something about that pandemic ease that seems like cheating to me when it’s applied in an improvisatory setting. It’s a narrow-minded opinion and one I’ve been trying to surmount, but it still colors my attitudes and perceptions. A cardinal sin as a reviewer is to admit ignorance, but all this being confessed I’m probably the wrong person to be reviewing this disc.
The music Nachtluft creates is rife with echoing reverb and amorphous, tension-treated percussion. Who is creating what and when is largely a mystery most of the time and it seems to be in the larger scheme of the group’s designs, irrelevant. Theirs is a collective whitewash of sounds with the composite being far more important and immediate than the individual parts. According to O’Rourke the three musicians have made a veritable science out of shaping space and dynamics, organizing concerts that have happened “simultaneously on different continents, on bridges, through satellites.” In this meeting space is filled with a menagerie of sounds and silences from loop-laden blasts of dissonant drums to eerie swathes of amplified, enigmatic echo. Snatches of acoustic percussion that do run the gauntlet often take the form of staccato bursts of dense drumfire, which dissolve as quickly as they arrive. The boundaries between the four pieces seem largely negligible as each one bleeds into the next trailing fuzzy drum tails heavily saturated with voltaic energy. Whether Messieurs Müller, Bossard and Widmer are at the top of their game on this disc, I’m ill equipped to say. One man’s ineffectual noise is indeed another individual’s erudite genius.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.