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Kirke Karja / Étienne Renard / Ludwig Wandinger: Caught In My Own Trap

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Kirke Karja / Étienne Renard / Ludwig Wandinger: Caught In My Own Trap
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt developed a style he termed tintinnabulation, because of its resemblance to pealing bells. While pianist Kirke Karja doesn't use the same technique as her esteemed countryman, the sustained resonances of her playing on "Caught In My Own Trap "often suggests trouble in the belfry. That is certainly the case on "Take My Tender Heart," the first number on the wonderful album by the cosmopolitan trio of Karja, French bassist Etienne Renard and German drummer Ludwig Wandinger. The threesome came together in 2019 and has one previous release "The Wrong Needle" (Kirke Karja, 2022) to its name, but is already making waves across the continent.

Although Karja claims the lion's share of the composer credits on a program of seven originals, four joint inventions and one bass solo, the band comes across as a collective enterprise in which Renard and Wandinger play equally significant roles. As a consequence, there is no disjunct between the charts and the improvisations. That is especially so as each of them maintains a focus on a particular idea. Nowhere more so than on "Soda" where abrupt piano and drums smacks frame the manically sawn bass which forms the centerpiece of the cut, giving a satisfying sense of structure to an extemporized creation.

Integral to the outfit's modus operandi is an approach that imbues contemporary classical influences with a heavy rhythmic overlay and a hefty dose of improv. The stuttered dislocated beats on cuts like the intense "Seiklus" or the convulsive stumble of "First Last Dance" surely hint at a familiarity with hip hop in the guise of J Dilla, and in that way also resemble the work of another innovative piano trio Punkt. vrt. Plastik. Perhaps unsurprising as Wandinger is also an associate of Petter Eldh, one-third of that last ensemble.

Is there also a whiff of prog rock in the love of bombast and dramatic gesture? The sudden appearance of a grand richly voiced theme after the stark recurring phrase opening "Margaret" might indicate an affinity, though as the track continues the wheedling arco harmonics and rippling bell-like tremolos imply an even more mercurial personality for the dedicatee.

The prolonged reverberations of the unaccompanied "Piano Interlude," notes ringing against overtones in a kaleidoscope of consonance and dissonance evoke nothing as much as a party of campanologists gradually letting go of their inhibitions. An ecclesiastical tinge also infuses the other solo number "Double Bass Interlude" where Renard's superbly measured bowing recalls a church organ in its depth and vibrato.

Other highlights come in the shape of another group conception, "Sweat" where, with his fondness for metallic timbres, Wandinger's percussive clatter resembles someone is repeatedly dropping a drum kit out of a window, as it accompanies Karja's atonal scuttle and Renard's abrasive creaks to a galloping crescendo. Elsewhere Karja's dazzling cascades illuminate the airy descending progressions of "Prelude," while a lilting melody peeks through the fragmented staccato of "Foam," before Renard's dark lyricism takes the curtain call.

With such riches of both imagination and execution, this is an outing to seek out and savor.

Track Listing

Take My Tender Heart; Sweat; Seiklus; Foam; Soda; Margaret; Piano Interlude; Prelude; First Last Dance; Double Bass Interlude; Pollock; Runder Sadness.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Caught In My Own Trap | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: BMC Records


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