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Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack Intents & Purposes 482 Music 2007
Horns live a weird life in the electroacoustic sound world of Ernst Karel and Kyle Bruckmann. As a duo, EKG (the Ernst and Kyle Group) includes trumpet, oboe and English horn and with the addition of Giuseppe Ielasi they have guitar and piano as well. But all three also play electronics and the gentle chirps and whirrs and pops of their analog devices dominate most of their trio CD Group.
As a duo, EKG have been playing together since the late '90s and while Bruckmann also leads the jazz-leaning quintet Wrack and Karel has played with Balkan and klezmer brass groups, their duo is sonically sparse, with a nervous sort of ambience. When the horns come in, they're often in paired, sustained harmonies, as if mimicking the low-end frequencies of amplified circuitry. It's a small, private and melancholy world they create that spins into vertigo with the occasional appearance of a somber piano line or ringing guitar strings. The more musical moments are reminiscent of Gastr del Sol or some of Cor Fuhler's solo work. But those moments are few and far between and the rest of the five long tracks here are more akin to the singing of machines. It can be quite beautiful, in the AMM-derived way that has become so fashionable, but only if approached with more patience than expectations.
Bruckmann turns the formula upside down with Wrack. On their second release, the instrumentation leans toward the traditional horns and rhythm section, but with a bit of a chamber ensemble feel. While Bruckmann lives in San Francisco, Wrack is very much a Chicago band, with Vandermark 5 drummer Tim Daisy, bassist Anton Hatwich, Jen Clare Paulson on viola and Jason Stein on bass clarinet. They largely follow a theme/solo approach, but Bruckmann's compositions are rich enough to make Intents & Purposes not sound like a soloist record. Some of the seven pieces here are cinematically evocative, but at other times - with prolonged poundings and pausings - they can show a surprising boldness. Whatever the intents, it shows Bruckmann to be an interestingly diverse bandleader who's well worth watching.