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Christoph Irniger Pilgrim: Crosswinds

Don Phipps By

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With Crosswinds, Christoph Irniger's quartet Pilgrim offers a scintillating trip into a musical subconscious —a dream state where one opens doors only to find more doors —a spiral staircase where the top is always just beyond reach. For the most part, the album consists of tunes that are both sparse yet engaging. And it is this mix of idioms that makes the album so successful.

Irniger's raspy breathing is often heard in his sax playing. His attacks are warm and straightforward but somehow eerie. His combination of effects contrasts with bassist Raffaele Bossard's dark wooden tones and the arcs created by Michi Stulz's drumming, which always seems to emphasize the right beat at the right moment in time. Dave Gisler exhibits his guitar prowess by, at times, settling beneath the music with eerie electronic scrapes or through full frontal attacks, like those that end "Crosswinds" or "Inside." Stefan Aeby too offers color and texture to the musical imaginings, for example his upper piano chords on "Miniature" atop Gisler's wailing guitar or his rolling efforts on the jagged switchbacks of "Point of View," where he offers counterpoint to Bossard's hard plucks and Irniger's sax lines.

Irniger composed all but three of the pieces on the disc. Aeby composed the whale-song-like "Miniature," Bossard, the strange effervescent "Aeon," and the entire group created "C Major Improvisation." Yet even in those pieces not composed by Irniger, the musical arc is maintained—a deep dive to the bottom of a chasm of mystery.

As Irniger states in the liner notes, Crosswinds is "about the game between the inner child and adult in us." It is this play, between the real and unreal, the dream and the waking state, the subconscious and the conscious, that make Crosswinds a uniquely riveting affair.

Track Listing: Big Wheel; Luce Oscura; Point of view; Miniature; Crosswinds; C Major Improvisation; Studio Song; Inside; Aeon.

Personnel: Christoph Irniger: tenor sax; Stefan Aeby: piano; Dave Gisler: guitar; Raffaele Bossard: Double Bass; Michi Stulz: Drums.

Title: Crosswinds | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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