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Antoine Beuger, Jurg Frey: Dedalus

John Eyles By

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Dutch flautist Antoine Beuger and Swiss clarinetist Jürg Frey are two of the leading lights of the highly influential Wandelweiser group, whose music (according to another key member, Radu Malfatti) is about "the evaluation and integration of silence(s) rather than an ongoing carpet of never-ending sounds." Dedalus features two compositions by Beuger and one by Frey, recorded live on two days in April 2012, at L'Ancienne Brasserie Bouchoule space at Les Instants Chavirés in Montreuil, Paris. In total, the album lasts some seventy-eight minutes, with the shortest piece being twenty-five minutes long.

While the album is rightly credited to Beuger and Frey as composers, the music was actually performed by the sextet Ensemble Dedalus which adds guitar, viola, trombone and percussion or vibraphone alongside their flute and clarinet. Well, "alongside" is not strictly accurate as, throughout the album, it is rare for instruments to play alongside one another. Instead, the music is typical of Wandelweiser, with each instrument being silent more often than it plays. The opening piece, Beuger's "Méditations Poétiques sur Quelque Chose d'Autre," features occasional spoken, sung or whispered words which are deployed more for their sounds than for their meanings. The words blend well with the ebb and flow of overlapping instrumental tones which are sustained long enough for the listener to savour their tonal and timbral qualities. Despite occasional traffic noise from outside, the combination creates a tranquil meditative atmosphere which sets the tone for the album.

In fact, the transition into Frey's "Canones Incerti" is virtually seamless (even the traffic noise remains unchanged), the most obvious difference being that it does not feature vocals. Otherwise, it employs instruments as on the opener, creating a very similar soundscape and mood. As before, the emphasis is very much on the qualities of the individual sounds, rather than the interactions of the players. Its pairing of single guitar notes over longer drone-like sounds is highly effective.

Beuger's composition "Lieux de Passage"—which also featured prominently on the impressive Wandelweiser box set Wandelweiser Und So Weiter (Another Timbre, 2012)—closes the album without breaking the spell created by the preceding tracks. As with that Another Timbre set, Dedalus is a first-rate advertisement for the music of the Wandelweiser group, music which radiates its own sense of peace and calm and makes addictive listening. Utter bliss.

Track Listing: Méditations Poétiques sur Quelque Chose d’Autre; Canones Incerti; Lieux de Passage.

Personnel: Didier Aschour: guitar; Antoine Beuger: flute; Cyprien Busolini: viola; Jürg Frey: clarinet; Stephane Garin: percussion, vibraphone; Thierry Madiot: trombone.

Title: Dedalus | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Potlatch Records


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