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Elisabeth Harnik / Michael Zerang: Dream Disobedience

John Sharpe BY

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Elisabeth Harnik / Michael Zerang: Dream Disobedience
On Dream Disobedience American drummer Michael Zerang and Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik head way out left field, treating their instruments as noise generators in a duet captured live at the Sound Disobedience Festival, in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, in March 2019.

Zerang may be best known as a member of Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet and one third of {Joe McPhee}}'s Survival Unit III, but he also plays with the likes of Ed Wilkerson, Hamid Drake and Steve Swell. He has appeared with Harnik previously, in the company of Dave Rempis on Wistfully (Aerophonic Records, 2016) and Live At Tube's (Not Two, 2020), actually recorded the day before this date. Harnik has also made a name for herself alongside Rempis' erstwhile employer Ken Vandermark in the DEK Trio, as well as in a duo with bassist Joëlle Léandre.

While many free improv encounters begin with the gradual accumulation of small sounds, it is often what happens next that is most interesting. The trajectory here is an unusual one. Early on, Zerang avoids struck resonance, while it is Harnik who is much more likely to hit the repeated patterns, whether on the innards or less often on the keys themselves. Their dialogue is one founded on exchanges of texture, starting with a chorus of dampened Morse code pecks, sighs, and mutters which evinces close listening in the attentiveness to placement, volume and pace.

The set moves forward in steps variously characterised by strummed strings against galumphing moans, a sequence of tremolos against unearthly hums, and eerie shimmer against carefully modulated drum strokes. It is not until almost the halfway point in the 35-minute performance that Zerang's full kit joins with Harnik's post-Cecil Taylor vernacular in a headlong dash. Such animation assumes even greater impact in the context of what has gone before.

But it does not last. After six minutes they once more revert to a hushed discourse: rubber-band twangs against metallic rattling, glinting tinkles against bell-like ringing, and rippling swirls against rasping stridulation. Another burst of fast scuttling keyboard work, embellished with chiming overtones, terminates in a cymbal flourish, the end of a session of dream-like ambience in which the fine detail may be even better appreciated through headphones.

Track Listing

Dream Disobedience

Personnel

Elisabeth Harnik: piano; Michael Zerang: drums.

Album information

Title: Dream Disobedience | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Not Two Records

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